RelcoDiff - Antisemitism in Pedagogical Contexts
Religiously Coded Constructions of Difference in Early and Middle Childhood

This interdisciplinary collaborative project will trace religious constructions of difference among children in preschool and elementary school in three different pedagogical contexts (from the perspective of the children, their parents, and their educators and teachers) using empirical methods. This research aims to identify the development of antisemitic attitudes and counteract them at an early stage. It strives for empirically grounded research insights into religiously coded constructions of difference among children in various institutional contexts. The collaborative project will conduct practice-oriented fundamental research based on qualitative research projects. This research will support the development of practical pedagogical concepts that will contribute to the instruction of professional educators and students; continued education and further training; and the conception of teaching materials and recommendations for early childhood education and elementary schools.

Project leader: Prof. Isabell Diehm
Research associate: Saba-Nur Cheema
Research associate: Benjamin Rensch

Subproject 1 RelcoDiff_undirected explores how young children (ages 5 to 10) in preschool and elementary school refer to socially relevant (constructed) distinctions between religion; phenotypic traits such as skin color; and linguistic, cultural, or national difference in their daily social practices. Of key concern are children’s undirected practices of differentiation – how they are expressed and in what institutional and social situations, in what interactive or interdependent constellations, and with what social and interactive effects. The perspectives and practices of children in situ and in actu are of central interest, as well as the perceptions of educators and parents. Since the existing knowledge and data on this subject are so limited, this subproject will conduct empirical research that reconstructs these childrens’ social practices and thus will contribute to fundamental research.

Project leader: Karen Körber
Research associate: Susanna Kunze

The second subproject RelcoDiff_Jewish takes a different perspective from the other two projects and aims to survey the perceptions of the people affected by antisemitism, i.e. Jewish parents and their children, and to ask about their expectations of and experiences with Jewish elementary schools in various locations. Jewish elementary schools have a heterogenous student body, although Jewish children make up the majority in these types of schools. As a result of migration-related growth, the need for Jewish educational institutions has increased since the 1990s; this is most evident in the growing numbers of Jewish elementary schools. The subproject asks how attending a Jewish school influences Jewish parents’ and childrens’ perceptions of religious difference. It thus contributes to a body of historically-oriented research on the return and reestablishment of Jewish schools within a German society characterized by immigration.

Project leader: Dr. Anna Körs
Research associate: Dr. Janne Braband

Subproject 3 RelcoDiff_directed investigates how practices of differentiation are conveyed didactically and reproduced in religious education. As a school subject, religious education guides children in establishing religious (cultural) differences while also working to strengthen their own (religious) identity and to recognize and appreciate other religious (and non-religious) affiliations. Using the example of the Hamburg-based model “Religious Education for All,” this subproject examines how religious-cultural differences are established in this subject, how they are dealt with, and what the consequences are. This research will yield empirically grounded findings that speak to the challenges and potential of religious education, the only school subject that is explicitly devoted to shaping and teaching about (religious) identities, value systems, and moral attitudes. 

Cooperating partners of the collaborative project include the Anne Frank Educational Centre (Bildungsstätte Anne Frank e.V) in Frankfurt am Main and the State Institute for Teacher Education and School Development (Landesinstitut für Lehrerbildung und Schulentwicklung) of the Authority for Schools and Vocational Training (Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung) in Hamburg.


  • RelcoDiff: Benjamin Rensch-Kruse, Saba-Nur Cheema, Yasmine Goldhorn, Isabell Diehm: Antisemitismus unter jungen Kindern. Forschungsgrundlagen und -reflexionen im Kontext einer Differenzforschung in Einrichtungen der frühen Kindheit, in: E. Ilgün-Birhimeoğlu & S. Bostancı (Hrsg.): Elementarpädagogik in der Migrationsgesellschaft. Theoretische und empirische Zugänge zu einer rassismuskritischen Pädagogik, Weinheim und Basel 2023.

  • RelcoDiff: Benjamin Rensch-Kruse, Saba-Nur Cheema, Yasmine Goldhorn: Antisemitismus in der Kita? Einblicke in ein Forschungsprojekt zu Differenzkonstruktionen unter jungen Kindern | Diverse Kindheiten, in: Beitrag in Diverse Kindheiten. Blog für Forschung und Methoden in der frühen Kindheitspädagogik, 01.09.2023.

Alle Publikationen


Dr. Benjamin Rensch-Kruse

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
FB Erziehungswissenschaften
Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 6

60323 Frankfurt am Main

Dr. Karen Körber

Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden
Beim Schlump 83
20144 Hamburg

Dr. Anna Körs

Akademie der Weltreligionen
Universität Hamburg
Gorch-Fock-Wall 7

20354 Hamburg