Topics: Ethnography, Jewish - Muslim Relations, Main Topic: Other, North African Jewry, Cities and Suburbs
Abstract: This article is an investigation of ethno-commercial exchanges and interactions between Jews and Muslims of North African heritage that takes account of their cross-cultural antecedents and continuities. The ethnographic focus is a telecommunications company called M-Switch located in the Parisian neighborhood of le Sentier, the trajectory of which is part of a broader cultural and economic shift observable in the neighborhood from industry to new technologies. This particular company is a privileged site for witnessing how people work with and across religious differences between Maghrebi Jews and Muslims in France. The ethnography looks at how contemporary, non-nostalgic reconceptualizations of the past are utilized to negotiate an ethnically plural and potentially convivial present. Relationships within the company have a Maghrebi center made up of shared cultural memories, economic interdependency, and changing gender and class relations. More specifically, relationships between Jews and Muslims at M-Switch are often defined by a desire to re-appropriate and adapt a Maghrebi world. This project is complicated by French and geopolitical representations of ethno-religious conflict
Abstract: In this paper I critically examine the conflation of Turk with Muslim, explore the Turkish experience of Nazism, and examine Turkey's relation to the darkest era of German history. Whereas many assume that Turks in Germany cannot share in the Jewish past, and that for them the genocide of the Jews is merely a borrowed memory, I show how intertwined the history of Turkey and Germany, Turkish and German anti-Semitism, and Turks and Jews are. Bringing together the histories of individual Turkish citizens who were Jewish or Dönme (descendants of Jews) in Nazi Berlin with the history of Jews in Turkey, I argue the categories “Turkish” and “Jewish” were converging identities in the Third Reich. Untangling them was a matter of life and death. I compare the fates of three neighbors in Berlin: Isaak Behar, a Turkish Jew stripped of his citizenship by his own government and condemned to Auschwitz; Fazli Taylan, a Turkish citizen and Dönme, whom the Turkish government exerted great efforts to save; and Eric Auerbach, a German Jew granted refuge in Turkey. I ask what is at stake for Germany and Turkey in remembering the narrative of the very few German Jews saved by Turkey, but in forgetting the fates of the far more numerous Turkish Jews in Nazi-era Berlin. I conclude with a discussion of the political effects today of occluding Turkish Jewishness by failing to remember the relationship between the first Turkish migration to Germany and the Shoah.
Abstract: In 2015, Spain approved a law that offered citizenship to the descendants of Sephardi Jews expelled in 1492. Drawing on archival, ethnographic, and historical sources, I show that this law belongs to a political genealogy of philosephardism in which the “return” of Sephardi Jews has been imagined as a way to usher in a deferred Spanish modernity. Borrowing from anthropological theories of “racial fusion,” philosephardic thinkers at the turn of the twentieth century saw Sephardi Jews as inheritors of a racial mixture that made them living repositories of an earlier moment of national greatness. The senator Ángel Pulido, trained as an anthropologist, channeled these intellectual currents into an international campaign advocating the repatriation of Sephardi Jews. Linking this racial logic to an affective one, Pulido asserted that Sephardi Jews did not “harbor rancor” for the Expulsion, but instead felt love and nostalgia toward Spain, and could thus be trusted as loyal subjects who would help resurrect its empire. Today, affective criteria continue to be enmeshed in debates about who qualifies for inclusion and are inextricable from the histories of racial thought that made earlier exclusions possible. Like its precursors, the 2015 Sephardic citizenship law rhetorically fashioned Sephardi Jews as fundamentally Spanish, not only making claims about Sephardi Jews, but also making claims on them. Reckoning with how rancor and other sentiments have helped buttress such claims exposes the recalcitrant hold that philosephardic thought has on Spain's present, even those “progressive” political projects that promise to “return” what has been lost.
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, North African Jewry, National Identity, Jewish Identity, Holocaust Commemoration, Holocaust, Jewish Media, Newspapers, Magazines and Periodicals, Ethnography
Abstract: Drawing on ethnographic data from the mid-2000s as well as accounts from French Jewish newspapers and magazines from the 1980s onward, this paper traces the emergence of new French Jewish institutional narratives linking North African Jews to the “European” Holocaust. I argue that these new narratives emerged as a response to the social and political impasses produced by intra-Jewish disagreements over whether and how North African Jews could talk about the Holocaust, which divided French Jews and threatened the relationship between Jewishness and French national identity. These new pedagogical narratives relied on a very different historicity, or way of reckoning time and causality, than those used in more divisive everyday French Jewish Holocaust narratives. By reworking the ways that French Jews reckoned time and causality, they offered an expansive and homogenously “European” Jewishness. This argument works against a growing postcolonial sociological and anthropological literature on religious minorities in France and Europe by emphasizing the contingency, difficulty, and even ambivalence around constructing “Jewishness” as transparently either “European” or “French.” It also highlights the role played by historicity—not just history—in producing what counts as group “identity.”
Export-Import Theory and the Racialization of Anti-Semitism: Turkish- and Arab-Only Prevention Programs in Germany
Abstract: Since the year 2000, remembering the Holocaust and fighting anti-Semitism have come to be accepted as cornerstones of European identity. The flip side of this development has been racialization of Muslims by singling them out as the main contemporary anti-Semites. After discussing the emergence of the concept “Muslim anti-Semitism,” I scrutinize government-issued reports and anti-Semitism-prevention programs in Germany. I show how the recent wave of struggle against anti-Semitism depicts Muslims as outsiders who bring unwanted ideologies, evaluates their anti-Semitism as more dangerous than that of right-wing German nationals, and attributes to Muslims culturally transmitted psychopathologies that make Muslim nations prone to anti-Semitism. Experts locate the root of Turkish anti-Semitism in their “myth of tolerance toward Jews,” and of Arab anti-Semitism in their sense of a “false victimhood” and “desire for power and pride.” Educators focus on each nationality separately to distinguish these alleged group-specific myths and feelings. Efforts and money that go into producing nation-specific Muslim anti-Semitisms depict a new Germany that has fully liberated itself from any anti-democratic tendencies surviving from its Nazi past. It also obscures connections between anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism, both of which are active forces in mainstream German society.
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Holocaust Education, Holocaust Commemoration, Memory, Youth, Racism
Abstract: This essay examines the relationship between contemporary racialized subjects in Germany and the process of Holocaust memorialization. I ask why youths from these contexts fail to see themselves in the process of Holocaust memorialization, and why that process fails to see them in it. My argument is not about equivalences, but instead I examine the ways in which the monumentalization of Holocaust memory has inadvertently worked to exclude both relevant subjects and potential participants from the process of memorialization. That process as a monumental enterprise has also worked to sever connections between racialist memory and contemporary racism. The monumental display of what presents itself, at times, as moral superiority does not adequately attend to the everyday, mundane, repeatable qualities of racialized exclusion today, or in the past.
Topics: Main Topic: Culture and Heritage, Jewish Culture, Jewish Heritage, Jewish - Non - Jewish Relations, Memory, Holocaust Commemoration, Klezmer
Abstract: This article analyzes the growing interest in Jews and all things Jewish in contemporary Poland—from the spectacular popularity of festivals of Jewish culture to the opening of Judaica bookstores and Jewish cuisine restaurants; from the development of Jewish studies programs at various universities and the creation of several museums to artists’ and public intellectuals’ engagements with Poland's Jewish past and Polish-Jewish relations more broadly. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, over sixty formal interviews with Jewish and non-Jewish activists, and informal conversations with participants in various Jewish-centered initiatives, I argue that this cultural phenomenon is related to the attempt by specific political and social groups to build a pluralistic society in an ethnically and denominationally homogenous nation-state. I build on the literature on nationalism and symbolic boundaries by showing that bringing back Jewish culture and “resurrecting the Jew” is a way to soften, stretch, and reshape the symbolic boundaries of the nation that the Right wants to harden and shrink using Catholicism as its main tool.