Jewish Construction

Dr. Sonja Dickow-Rotter, Dipl.-Ing. Mirko Przystawik

The mutual reference of architecture and literature has been of great interest in the German-speaking research context for several years. The project aims to apply an interdisciplinary approach (architectural theory/history, literary studies, Jewish history) to explore architecture and text as constituting "sites" of Jewish self-understanding and thus as "resonant spaces" of Jewish cultural heritage, and to develop theoretical basics on them. Architectural representations are understood here as meaningful for configurations and understandings of Jewish cultural heritage and are evaluated with the same methodological approach. The "text" is understood as a negotiation of the meaning of architecture, architecture as a reflection of the understanding gained in texts. Therefore, the study of the interrelationship between text and architecture – which has of course changed historically and is perceived differently depending on the perspective (Jewish – non-Jewish, etc.) – forms the core of the project, which aims to contribute to the historical and current theorization of the concept of "Jewish cultural heritage". Despite relevant architectural-historical work on Jewish building and literary analyses of Jewish texts, the significance of this "dialogue of the arts" for the construction and discursive negotiation of Jewish cultural heritage from the Haskalah until the 1950s has not yet been adequately researched.

This desideratum is to be remedied in an interdisciplinary tandem project. The focus is on the study of identity constructions in written sources about Jewish architecture and space as part of the Jewish cultural heritage. In doing so, various literary genres such as architectural journals, Jewish periodicals, synagogue dedication writings, travelogues, postcards, narratives, and novels will be examined with regard to the spaces, architectures, and urban places depicted in them. One focus is on the comparison of built reality with its (fictionalized) representation in publications, on their effect, perception and structural reception. Another focus is on the contribution of these texts to the development of concepts of Jewish heritage since 1900. Of interest here is the reflection on Jewish cultural heritage and Jewish architecture by the various Jewish and non-Jewish cultural, religious, and political interest groups. The different forms of representation of the groups and their communication strategies with regard to the construction and negotiation of Jewish identities lead to specific questions and working methods, which are also tied back to the different literary genres and their respective aesthetic means.


DFG-Priority Program "Jewish Cultural Heritage"


Cooperation project between the Institute for the History of German Jews and Bet Tfila - Research Center for Jewish Architecture in Europe (funding period: 2022-2025)

Principal Investigator IGdJ: PD Dr. Andreas Brämer, Project staff: Dr. Sonja Dickow-Rotter
Principal Investigator Bet Tfila: PD Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Knufinke, Project staff: Dipl.-Ing. Mirko Przystawik