Jewish–Muslim Interactions

BookJewish–Muslim Interactions

Jewish–Muslim Interactions

Performing Cultures between North Africa and France

Francophone Postcolonial Studies, 11


November 10th, 2020



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By exploring dynamic Jewish-Muslim interactions across North Africa and France through performance culture in the 20th and 21st centuries, we offer an alternative chronology and lens to a growing trend in media and scholarship that views these interactions primarily through conflict. Our volume interrogates interaction that crosses the genres of theatre, music, film, art, and stand-up, emphasising creative influence and artistic cooperation between performers from the Maghrib, with a focus on Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and diaspora communities, notably in France. The plays, songs, films, images, and comedy sketches that we analyse are multilingual, mixing not only with the former colonial language French, but also the rich diversity of indigenous Amazigh and Arabic languages. The volume includes contributions by scholars working across and beyond disciplinary boundaries through anthropology, ethnomusicology, history, sociology, and literature, engaging with postcolonial studies, memory studies, cultural studies, and transnational French studies. The first section examines accents, affiliations, and exchange, with an emphasis on aesthetics, familiarity, changing social roles, and cultural entrepreneurship. The second section shifts to consider departure and lingering presence through spectres and taboos, in its exploration of absence, influence, and elision. The volume concludes with an autobiographical afterword, which reflects on memories and legacies of Jewish-Muslim interactions across the Mediterranean.
Contributors: Cristina Moreno Almeida, Jamal Bahmad, Adi Saleem Bharat, Aomar Boum, Morgan Corriou, Ruth Davis, Samuel Sami Everett, Fanny Gillet, Jonathan Glasser, Miléna Kartowski-Aïach, Nadia Kiwan, Hadj Miliani, Vanessa Paloma Elbaz, Elizabeth Perego, Christopher Silver, Rebekah Vince, Valérie Zenatti

"This collection dances off the page, with a series of engaging, accessible, insightful essays on the many ways in which Jewish and Muslim artists and performers from North Africa engaged (and continue to engage) with one another creatively, through comedy, art, film, theater, and music, from the colonial period to the present day."
Sarah Abrevaya Stein, UCLA

"Excellent ouvrage appelé à faire date. Savamment argumenté et novateur, il bouscule intelligemment des schèmes et des préjugés fossilisés. Les éclairages qu'il apporte sur les relations entre Juifs et Musulmans, oubliées ou occultées, sont pertinents et vivifiants. La mise en évidence, solidement argumentée et nuancée, de leurs affinités artistiques, culturelles et autres, va à contre-courant de l'approche conflictuelle habituelle de leurs interactions. Ce livre a l'immense mérite de sortir des sentiers battus et d'ouvrir de stimulantes perspectives de recherches. A l'ère des extrêmes et du déferlement du populisme, sa lecture s'impose absolument." - Mohammed Kenbib, Université Mohammed V de Rabat [Original quote]
"A landmark volume that skilfully and innovatively disrupts fossilized schemas and prejudices through its arguments. The insights that it brings to bear on Jewish-Muslim relations, hitherto obfuscated or forgotten, are pertinent and restorative. Its elucidation of artistic and cultural affinities, convincingly argued and with great nuance, serves as a counterpoint to the more commonplace narrative of conflict when it comes to such interactions. This book is particularly noteworthy as it takes us off the beaten track and opens up stimulating avenues for research. In an era of extremes and a surge in populism it is a must read." - Mohammed Kenbib, Université Mohammed V de Rabat [English translation]

"Quand les arts et la création artistique racontent les relations des juifs et des musulmans, ils offrent, alors, au lecteur les échos vibrants d'une histoire partagée dont les héritages résonnent encore aujourd'hui. C'est le défi relevé par les auteurs de cet ouvrage, affranchis des paradigmes politiques et idéologiques, et qui entre passé et présent renouent avec une histoire qui n'existe plus." - Karima Dirèche, CNRS TELEMME [Original quote]
"When the creative and performing arts recount relations between Jews and Muslims, they offer to the reader vibrant echoes of a shared history whose legacies continue to resound today. Such is the challenge taken up by the authors of this volume who, free from political and ideological paradigms, reconnect with a forgotten history, somewhere between past and present." - Karima Dirèche, CNRS TELEMME [English translation]

"A fascinating, eminently readable collection of essays documenting the dynamic, creative, and surprisingly close collaboration between Muslims and Jews in all domains of the performing arts in the Maghreb and in France from the 1920s to the contemporary post-independence period. In this collection, we encounter a colourful gallery of artists, authors, producers – both Muslims and Jews – who together entertained generations of mixed audiences with theatre plays in vernacular Arabic, cabaret performances, concerts, films, and comic one-man shows.
This volume offers us a welcome and timely antidote to the feeling of complete deterioration of the relations between Jews and Muslims in recent decades."
Professor Lucette Valensi, École des hautes études en sciences sociales

'In brief, this is an exciting and much needed contribution to intercommunal religious studies in North Africa and France. …Scholars in art, music, theater and film will undoubtedly applaud the incontestable demonstration that the arts deeply matter in history and geopolitics.'
Tamara Dee Turner, The Journal of North African Studies

Author Information

Samuel Sami Everett is a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. Rebekah Vince is a Lecturer in French in the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film at Queen Mary, University of London.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
I. Accents, Affiliations, and Exchange31
1 Albert Samama, a Tunisian Filmmaker in the Ottoman Empire at War (1911–1913)33
2 More than Friends? On Muslim-Jewish Musical Intimacy in Algeria and Beyond53
3 Nationalist Records: Jews, Muslims and Music in Interwar North Africa71
4 Marie Soussan: A Singular Trajectory91
5 Retelling the Jewish Past in Tunisia through Narratives of Popular Song111
6. Free but United? Artistic and Political Issues of Intercommunal Solidarity in Tunisi and Algeria, 1940–1960131
II. Absence, Influence, and Elision157
7 Neglected Legacies: Omissions of Jewish Heritage and Muslim-Jewish Relations in Algerian Bandes Dessinés 1967 through the 1980s159
8 Forgotten Encounters: Sounds of Coexistence in Moroccan Rap Music179
9 Unmuted Sounds: Jewish Musical Echoes in Twenty-first Century Moroccan and Israeli Soundscapes199
10 Connecting the Disconnect: Music and its Agency in Moroccan Cinema’s Jewish-Muslim interactions219
11 Jerusalem Blues: On the Uses of Affect and Silence in Kamal Hachkar’s Tinghir–Jérusalem: Les échos du Mellah (2012)241
12 A Newfound Voice from across the Mediterranean: Kamal Hachkar’s Dan tes yeux, je vois mon pays (2019)253
13 Creative Coexistence or Creative Co-resistance? Transcultural Complexity in the Work of Street Artist ‘Combo’271
14 Shalom alikoum! Challenging the Conflictual Model of Jewish-Muslim Relations in France through Stand-up Comedy291
15 Post-face311
16 Afterword319
About the Contributors327