Public lecture of Esra Özyürek ‘Rethinking empathy: Emotions triggered by the Holocaust among the Muslim-minority in Germany’

On Wednesday evening 13 November 2019 prof. dr. Esra Özyurek (London School of Economics and Political Science) will deliver a lecture:
‘Rethinking empathy: Emotions triggered by the Holocaust among the Muslim-minority in Germany’.

Professor Esra Özyürek is Professor in European Anthropology and Chair in Contemporary Turkish Studies. Esra Özyurek published in 2015 the book Being German, Becoming Muslim: Race, Religion, and Conversion in the New Europe, Princeton University Press. Her new research deals with Holocaust memorization in Germany and the position of Muslim minorities in Holocaust discussions and education. During her public lecture, she will talk about this new research.

Venue: The lecture takes place at the department for Philosophy and Religious Studies of Utrecht University, in Utrecht, Janskerkhof 13, Stijlkamer, from 7pm until 8:30pm.

In the last decade there has been widely shared discomfort about the way Muslim minority Germans engage with the Holocaust. They are accused of not showing empathytowards its Jewish victims and, as a result, of not being able to learn the necessary lessons from this massive crime. By focusing on instances in which the emotional reactions of Muslim minority Germans towards the Holocaust are judged as not empathetic enoughand morally wrong, this article explores how Holocaust education and contemporaryunderstandings of empathy, in teaching about the worst manifestation of racism in history,can also at times be a mechanism to exclude minorities from the German/European moralmakeup and the fold of national belonging. Expanding from Edmund Husserl’s embodiedapproach to empathy to a socially situated approach, via the process of paarung, allows usto reinterpret expressions of fear and envy, currently seen as failed empathy, as instancesof intersubjective connections at work. In my reinterpretation of Husserl’s ideas, theprocess of paarung that enables empathy to happen is not abstract, but pairs particularexperiences happening at particular times and places under particular circumstances toindividuals of certain social standing and cultural influences. An analogy can be made toshoes. Anyone has the capacity to imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes.Nevertheless, the emotional reactions the experience triggers in each person will beshaped by individual past experiences and social positioning. Hence, grandchildren ofworkers who arrived in Germany after World War II to rebuild the country resist anethnicized Holocaust memory and engage with it keenly through their own subjectpositions.

Please, since limited places are available, you have to register for this event. Send a e-mail to:

On Friday 15 November prof. dr. Esra Özyurek will join a panel on ‘talking back’ at the HLCS conference is Europe Inclusive? at Radboud University Nijmegen. More information can be found HERE.

One thought on “Public lecture of Esra Özyürek ‘Rethinking empathy: Emotions triggered by the Holocaust among the Muslim-minority in Germany’

  1. Very simple answer! See the youtube!

    Talking about empathy 🙂

    Go and lecture this spiritual leader and promotor of Erdogan!
    And do not make false accusations towards Europeans for their supposed islamophobia.

    Recite Qur’an instead:
    Indeed, those who believed (muslims) and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans- those who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve. (2/62)

    All of them will have their reward!
    Try to get this in the heads of all muslims! Then you will do something usefull.
    May Allah help us all and increase our knowledge!

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