Call for researchers: “What remains of Noether”?

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Call for researchers: “What remains of Noether?”

We call upon researchers at any academic stage to join a research group that will be active in the 2022/23 academic year.

Emmy Noether (1882-1935) was a trailblazer in German academia. A German-Jewish scientist, she was pivotal in shaping modern algebra. The 1918 Noether Theorem became a cornerstone of modern physics and in the general theory of relativity in particular. Early in her career, because she was a woman, she was not allowed to register in a university, and only received that “privilege” in 1904. She completed her doctoral studies summa cum laude in 1907, but was prevented from teaching for many years, although during those years she established her status as the only woman among the leading mathematicians of the time. Thanks to legislative changes following Germany’s defeat in WWI, she was allowed to receive an academic appointment. Thus, in 1919, Noether became an external lecturer – a junior status. The Nazis’ rise to power and the laws they passed to remove Jews from public office brought her academic career to an end and she was dismissed because she was a Jew. Noether managed to leave Germany for the United States, where she was hired as a mathematician in the prestigious women’s college of Brin Mawr, where she died in 1935.

Noether was not the only woman scientist and scholar from Central Europe and Germany in particular who tried to blaze her own trail and who had to cope with the implications of her intersectional identity as a woman and a Jew. Others like her, in different research areas, were historian Hedwig Hintze Guggenheimer, orientalists Hedwig Klein and Ilse Lichtenstadter, and physicist Lise Meitner.

Thanks to her extraordinary status and influence, Noether will serve us as a model for deepening our discussion of German-Jewish scholars and scientists from a broad perspective. In the group’s work, we will trace the personal and professional histories of these scholars and scientists, learn of the future direction of the research they have worked on, and assess the meaning of their studies, their genealogy, knowledge transfer and continuity. We will do so by examining alternative pathways taken by women who were prevented from joining universities and research institutes. The group’s work will combine several areas including the history of science, gender studies, institutional history, exile studies, conflict studies, and political science.

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