Alon Confino Appointed to Pen Tishkach Chair of Holocaust Studies at UMass Amherst

Alon Confino
Alon Confino

AMHERST, Mass. – Alon Confino has been appointed professor of history and Jewish studies and Pen Tishkach Chair of Holocaust Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, following a June 20 vote by the university’s Board of Trustees.

Confino, who joined the UMass Amherst faculty last year, is the author of “A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide,” which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award in 2014. A native of Jerusalem, Confino is an expert on modern German and European history, Holocaust and genocide, Zionism, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He previously held concurrent appointments as a professor of history at Ben Gurion University in Israel and the University of Virginia from 2013-17. He joined the University of Virginia faculty in 1992 as an assistant professor and was appointed professor in 2006.

Meaning “lest you forget” in Hebrew, pen tishkach is the guiding principle behind the endowed chair, which is awarded to a distinguished scholar of the Holocaust who serves as director of the university’s Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. In 2016, a couple anonymously created the endowment that fosters research and programs on genocide, prejudice and discrimination in response to the upsurge in hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents in the United States.

The author of five other books and dozens of articles and book chapters, Confino was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011. While on a Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Fellowship in 2016-17, he worked on a book on 1948 in Palestine and Israel that tells two stories: one based on the experience of Arabs, Jews and British drawing on letters, diaries and oral history, and the second placing 1948 within global perspective of decolonization, forced migrations, partitions and postwar diplomacy and the Cold War.

He has been an associate fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture (2013-17) and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (2011-12) at the University of Virginia. He was also a visiting fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. In 2009-10, he co-directed the project “Forced Migration and Ethnic Cleansing in the Modern World” at the University of Virginia. Confino was the Lady Davis Visiting Professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 2006 and has also been a visiting professor at Tel Aviv University and the New York University/University of Virginia program in London. He was directeur d’etudes at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris in 1999.

Confino is also the recipient of fellowships from the Humboldt Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and the Israel Academy of Sciences. As a graduate student, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Fellowship.

He received his B.A. in history in 1985 from Tel Aviv University before pursuing graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was awarded his M.A. in 1986 and his Ph.D. in 1992.