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Keith Kahn-Harris

Sociologist, freelance writer, editor

Location icon United Kingdom

A sociologist by training, I am senior lecturer at Leo Baeck College, London, director of the European Jewish Research Archive at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and associate lecturer at Birkbeck College.

I've published widely, including four books (with a fifth one currently under contract). I have written non-academic articles and reviews for many years for a range of publications

This portfolio highlights some of the work I am most proud of, the diversity of my interests and my ability to write for a wide range of audiences.



Notting Hill Editions
Denial: The Unspeakable Truth - Notting Hill Editions

The Holocaust never happened. The planet isn't warming. Vaccines cause autism. There is no such thing as AIDS. The Earth is flat. Kahn-Harris sets out not just to unpick denialists' arguments, but to investigate what lies behind them. The conclusions he reaches are disturbing and uncomfortable.

David Paul Books | Uncivil War: The Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community

Uncivil War: The Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community by Keith Kahn-Harris "The relationship between Anglo-Jewry and Israel is perilous, complex terrain - and there are few better placed to navigate it than Keith Kahn-Harris." Jonathan Freedland The author explores the causes of the conflicts and describes his own innovative efforts at conflict resolution.

Hodder Education
Judaism: All That Matters

For a group of people so limited in number, the Jewish community has had a huge impact on both global events and local politics. In this vibrant new look at Judaism, sociologist and cultural critic Keith Kahn-Harris provides a remarkably sharp insight into this history, and particularly the diverse Jewish communities (and diverse ideas of Read more ...

Bloomsbury Publishing
Turbulent Times

The first book-length study of contemporary British Jewry , Turbulent Times: The British Jewish Community Today examines the changing nature of the British Jewish community and its leadership since 1990.

Bloomsbury Publishing
Extreme Metal

Extreme metal--one step beyond heavy metal--can appear bizarre or terrifying to the uninitiated. Extreme metal musicians have developed an often impenetrable sound that teeters on the edge of screaming, incomprehensible noise. Extreme metal circulates on the edge of mainstream culture within the confines of an obscure 'scene', in which members explore dangerous themes such as death, war and the occult, sometimes embracing violence, neo-fascism and Satanism.

Essays, articles and opinion pieces

A dull sort of ache

Sometimes I feel like my life story is missing something. When I recount my experience of growing up as a Jew in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, there seems to be an absence at its heart.

the Guardian
How a radical new form of anti-racism can save Labour | Keith Kahn-Harris

An announcement by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that it is launching a formal investigation into antisemitism in the Labour party is one more sign that the controversy cannot be addressed by internal procedures alone. Was it ever solvable through the party's own efforts?

Between the Rock and a hard place: Gibraltar's Brexit limbo

"No one knows anything right now." The Gibraltarian MP Marlene Hassan Nahon's first words when we meet, at a tapas bar just off Gibraltar's Main Street, could refer to the UK in general in these uncertain times. In particular, they recall the insecurity of Northern Ireland as it waits to see whether it will return to the days of borders and conflict.

Searching for the real jews

If you walk past me in the street, if you find a picture of me online, what do you see? Some days you might see a middle-age man whose look tends towards hipsterdom, but without the commitment: my expansive beard leans towards Shoreditch, the rest of me is more mundane.

Listening to the devil's sounds

Last summer, the family in the house whose garden backs on to mine held a party for their son's 18th birthday party. In what is normally a quiet neighbourhood, the joyous sounds cut through the sticky July night. Whoops, cheers and amplified music continued till 3am.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Being Civil Doesn't Have to Mean Remaining Silent

Well over a year since the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign withdrew its job offer to Steven Salaita, citing intemperate tweets and statements he made about the 2014 Gaza war, the decision continues to reverberate. In early August, a federal judge refused to dismiss Salaita's lawsuit against the university.

The politics of ME, ME, ME

The conflict in Gaza has dominated world headlines since the closing days of 2008. The war there is an exceptional event yet it also contains many elements of the familiar - in part because even at the "best" of times, media coverage of the middle east can be intense.

Times Higher Education
It's time to put the point back into the pen of scholarly writing

A few weeks ago I had a review of an edited book of middling quality published in a reasonably widely read academic journal. I actually submitted the review in 2008. The book itself was published in 2006, based on a conference that took place in 2003.

Unreasonable doubt

It wasn't supposed to be like this. We were supposed to be living in a world in which the methodical, rational, scientific accretion of knowledge would lead us down a path to a better world. That was the dream of Enlightenment, the bedrock of modernity. But much has happened to challenge this dream.

Naming the movement

The early 21st century is marked by a profusion of initiatives that bring people together to discuss and explore big questions. It amounts to a great river of change - but to realise its potential the movement needs a formal designation, says Keith Kahn-Harris.

the Guardian
What it really means to be healthy

For the past 15 years, I have suffered from myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as ME or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). I contracted ME following a bout of glandular fever at university and have never fully recovered.

Jewish issues and antisemitism

the Guardian
Why banning David Irving books from university libraries would achieve little | Keith Kahn-Harris

The effort to get the University of Manchester to remove David Irving's books from open display, now backed by Rowan Williams, reminded me of my own experiences browsing through library stacks as an undergraduate. While I never encountered Holocaust denial, I did stumble upon the complete works of Kim Il-sung, a pamphlet praising the Khmer Rouge and a book arguing that the Armenian genocide never occurred.

On the strangeness of contemporary antisemitism

It seems that antisemitism is everywhere these days. Violent attacks on Jews in Copenhagen and Paris come on top of surveys and monitoring exercises that suggest that antisemitic incidents and attitudes may be on the rise in Europe. Yet it is perhaps more accurate to say that discourse about antisemitism is everywhere these days.
Stop the pretense: There's no consensus among Diaspora Jews on Israel - Opinion

There is a growing recognition that Diaspora Jewish communities are becoming increasingly divided over the question of Israel. In my recent book Uncivil War: The Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community, I examined how, since the start of the second intifada in 2000, a range of Jewish positions on Israel have emerged in...

Book reviews

The Independent
KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps by Nikolaus Wachsmann,

For most of us, the Nazi concentration camp, the Konzentrationslager (or 'KL') is a place that is both incredibly familiar and completely alien. Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen Belsen and, above all, Auschwitz are part of the pantheon of evil, totems of terror.

Does the left have an anti-Semitism problem?

This article is a preview from the Winter 2016 edition of New Humanist. You can find out more and subscribe here. The Left's Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism (Biteback), by Dave Rich In a contentious age, the conflict within the Labour Party since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader in September 2015 (and his re-election a year later) takes some beating in the anger it generates on and offline.

Does civility in politics matter?

This article is a preview from the Summer 2016 edition of New Humanist. You can find out more and subscribe here. Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom (Haymarket Books) by Steven Salaita Universities have long been at the epicentre of some of the fiercest political and cultural battles of our times, including the Israel-Palestine conflict.


Slayer and Me

It wasn't the first time I've seen Slayer live. As a metal fan for over twenty years it's been hard to avoid seeing them, given the frequency with which they tour. Nor would I want to avoid seeing them. They are after all the ur-band, the mother lode of extreme metal, never wavering in their commitment to a tight-riffing, hyper-disciplined sound.

Metal Beyond Metal

What would it look like if metal culture abandoned music? How necessary in fact is music to metal? This might seem absurd, but there are precedents of a sort. Both goth and punk are only partially dependent on music. Music is one element of goth culture, alongside fashion, literature, visual arts and film.

Faster for the master

For most people - believers or not - the idea of Christian heavy metal is a non sequitur. Isn't heavy metal all about black leather, power chords and Satan? Yet Christian metal has been around for decades in the US, and a small but committed underground scene exists in the UK.

Jewish Quarterly (edited by me 2014-15)

Other interests

Why I love tax havens - Endless Magazine - Medium

A few days ago a friend shared on Facebook the image above. The image was surely intended to provoke outrage, as well it should: the tax avoidance strategies of corporations such as Walmart are offensive and exacerbate the rampant and rising inequalities that scar our world.

the Guardian
Luxembourg: posh restaurants and free clubbing in the party city

I was sitting, hungover, in a sauna full of naked men and women taking part in a Japanese ritual, while a guy clad only in a towel banged gongs, sprayed water and burned incense. It was the morning after a protracted night of drinking, walking and discovering and as I sweated off the alcohol in this stylish Asian-themed sauna in a sprawling spa resort.

The Scooby Doo Fallacy and Other Explorations in Social Science Fiction

This is 'book' 4 in the series The Impossible Books of Keith Kahn-Harris . The cover was created by Gus Condeixa. For more on this series, read the introduction . What sort of book is it? An odd mixture of criticism, sociology and playfulness. It could perhaps work as a quirky introduction to sociology.

Talks, lectures and interviews

Five Books
Keith Kahn-Harris on Metal Music

Most of the time we hear about metal through the musicians or critics. What is your perspective, as both a sociologist and a fan? It is difficult for me to disengage my sociological interest from my personal interest in metal.

This website screwed the format and wouldn't let me delete!

The Jewish Chronicle
In the new Trump era, Jews are being used as pawns

Despite the appointment of Steve Bannon as an advisor with ties to the antisemitic "alt-right"; despite the use of antisemitic tropes in electoral material; despite the antisemitic attacks on journalists by supporters during the campaign; despite all this: Donald Trump and his team have a ready-made response to accusations of using antisemitism: "How could we be antisemitic?

The Jewish Chronicle
In the new Trump era, Jews are being used as pawns

Despite the appointment of Steve Bannon as an advisor with ties to the antisemitic "alt-right"; despite the use of antisemitic tropes in electoral material; despite the antisemitic attacks on journalists by supporters during the campaign; despite all this: Donald Trump and his team have a ready-made response to accusations of using antisemitism: "How could we be antisemitic?

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