Foundation series

Antisemitism through the stories of survivors and the music of authors

“Why the Jews? Join us as we tackle this question in a moderated discussion featuring Dr. Josh Kun of USC and Dr. Todd Presner of UCLA, who are members of the USC Shoah Foundation’s Scholar Lab on Antisemitism program. As part of the discussion, Dr. Kun and Dr. Presner will present their research projects examining antisemitism through music and in the accounts of Jewish Holocaust survivors, respectively, focusing on the knowledge they learned about the causes, manifestations and consequences of anti-Semitism. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Alexis Lerner, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the US Naval Academy.

This event is the first in a three-part series of events associated with the USC Shoah Foundation’s Scholar Lab on Antisemitism.

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Speaker Biographies

Josh Kun, PhD

Dr. Kun is a cultural historian, author and curator. He holds the chair of intercultural communication at the USC Annenberg School where he is a professor of communication and journalism. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship (2016), a Berlin Prize (2018) and an American Book Award (2006). His books include Double Vision: The Photography of George Rodriguez, Songs in the Key of Los Angeles, The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles, Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America, and many others. As an artist and curator, he has worked with Prospect New Orleans, SFMOMA, Grammy Museum, the Getty Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, California African American Museum, Skirball Cultural Center, National Museum of American Jewish History, Contemporary Jewish Museum, among others. . He hosts a monthly radio show on Artform Radio and WorldwideFM, and co-hosts Crossfade Lab, a series of Latinx performances and conversations in Phoenix, Arizona. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New Yorker, etc. He co-edits the Refiguring American Music book series for Duke University Press and serves on the boards of the UC Humanities Research Institute, Dublab, Miry’s List and Alma Backyard Farms. He is currently writing a book on 21st century music and migration for MCD Books/FSG. He hosts a monthly radio show that appears on Artform Radio.

Todd Presner, Ph.D.

Dr. Presner is the Michael and Irene Ross Professor and Chair of the Department of European Languages ​​and Transcultural Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on European intellectual and cultural history, Holocaust studies, visual culture and digital humanities. Dr. Presner’s most recent books include Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture (Harvard University Press, 2016), co-edited with Claudio Fogu and Wulf Kansteiner, and Urban Humanities: New Practices for Reimagining the City (MIT Press, 2020). He is currently completing his monograph titled Ethics of the Algorithm: Computational Approaches to Holocaust History and Memory. Dr. Presner is the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation/HASTAC Digital Media and Learning Award and numerous other research and institutional grants.

Dr. Presner earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in Art History from the University of California, Berkeley.

Moderator Biography

Alexis Lerner, PhD

Dr. Lerner is an assistant professor of political science at the United States Naval Academy. Her research focuses on the intersection of authoritarianism and dissent, with a regional focus on Russia and the post-Soviet region, and she is also a Holocaust scholar. His work has been published by Holocaust Studies (2021) and the Routledge’s Handbook of Religion, Mass Atrocities and Genocide (2022). Dr. Lerner is currently completing the manuscript of his book, titled Post-Soviet graffiti: freedom of expression in the streets (under prior contract with University of Toronto Press), which demonstrates that street art is a viable and effective tool of political communication to circumvent autocratic censorship.

Prior to her appointment at USNA, Dr. Lerner was Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in Data at the University of Western Ontario (2020-2021), Visiting Scholar at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute (2017-2019), Visiting Scholar at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2016-2017) and Research Director of the United States-Russia Forum at Stanford University (2016-2018).