[PAST EVENT] "A Cosmic Struggle? How Historians Grapple with Religion as a Casual Force" (Dr. Sarah Cramsey)

April 12, 2022
5pm - 7pm
Tucker Hall, 127A
350 James Blair Dr
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Access & Features
  • Open to the public
Dr. Sarah Cramsey
Dr. Sarah Cramsey

Religion hovers over history as an ideological force that has the power to compel actions and create boundaries between behaviours and peoples. Historians exploring the lives of “rabbis”, “caregivers of young children”, “subtle anti-semites,” who become violent at a certain moment, and, finally, “Jews and Christians who lived as neighbors during times of deep anxiety” must understand these east central European actors as operating within religious structures and refracting their perspectives in religious ways. The belief systems inherited, disavowed and passed on by these groups are, to quote William Sewell, as “integral to the life of our species as respiration, digestion or reproduction.” If historians follow Sewell and understand religious behaviour and belief in biological terms, they can draw increasingly closer to the lived reality of the past, explain how human behavior and perceptions change over time and more effectively contribute to the struggle inherent in the “doing of history.”

Sarah Cramsey is a historian of east central Europe and Assistant Professor of Judaism and Diaspora Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Her first book, Uprooting the Diaspora: Jewish Belonging and the “Ethnic Revolution” in Poland and Czechoslovakia, 1936-1946, will be published by the Modern Jewish Experience Series at Indiana University Press in 2023. She graduated from W&M with degrees in History and Religious Studies before completing graduate work at Oxford and the University of California, Berkeley. She has two daughters, one husband and a slight addiction to Belgian pralines.


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