Arabs of the Jewish Faith: The Civilizing Mission in Colonial Algeria

Ebook Details


Joshua Schreier

Year 2010
Pages 256
Publisher Rutgers University Press
Language en
ISBN 9780813547947
File Size 1.01 MB
File Format PDF
Download Counter 34
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"Schreier is a beautiful storyteller, writes in crystalline prose, and presents original and carefully researched historical arguments. He paints a brilliant picture of Algerian Jewries that is far more nuanced than that provided by other sources. His book offers scholars of Algerian/North African/Middle East histories who do not work on Jews a way to understand, situate, and engage this subject."---Sarah Abrevaya Stein, University of California, Los Angeles "In this remarkable book, Schreier argues convincingly that Algerian Jews helped to shape the civilizing mission in colonial Algeria. By means of a nuanced and sophisticated analysis Schreier brings the Jews out of the shadows of the wings and places them at the center of the colonial stage, thus adding greatly to our understanding of the dynamics of race and ethnicity as well as the civilizing ideologies of the early decades of French colonization in Algeria."---Patricia Lorcin, University of Minnesota "By crossing the boundaries that have conventionally separated French, Algerian, and Jewish history, Arabs of the Jewish Faith brilliantly illuminates not only the struggles and transformations of Algeria's Jewish minority but also the ways in which France's `civilizing mission' impacted both the colonies and the metropole."---Zachary Lockman, New York University Exploring how Algerian Jews responded to and appropriated France's newly conceived "civilizing mission" in the mid-nineteenth century, Arabs of the Jewish Faith shows that this mission, while rooted in French Revolutionary ideals of regeneration, enlightenment, and emancipation, actually developed as a strategic response to the challenges of controlling the unruly populations of Algeria's coastal cities. Hoping to weaken the influence of local networks and institutions, French observers insisted upon "civilizing" the supposedly oppressed and corrupt Jews of Algeria in order to attach them to France. Central to this gendered, moralizing campaign was an effort to submit Algerian Jews to French marriage and family law. Taken together, civilizing's various policies were intended to help establish a colonial hierarchy by dividing Jews from their Muslim neighbors. Local Algerian Jews, however, were not passive recipients of this campaign. While energetically adopting the language of civilization, they used it to maintain their own rabbis, synagogues, and schools, and to resist policies intended to reshape their marriage customs, institutional life, and religious faith.