EUME Workshop
Di 24 Okt 2017 – Fr 27 Okt 2017

Jews in Muslim Majority Countries - History and Prospects

Organized by the Jewish Museum Berlin and the research network "Re-Configurations. History, Remembrance and Transformation Processes in the Middle East and North Africa" of the Philipps-Universität Marburg, in collaboration with the Center for Jewish Studies Berlin-Brandenburg and EUME

W. M. Blumenthal Academy, Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin

More information...


Interview with Yasemin Shooman and Achim Rohde on the TRAFO Blog

Report by Riem Qamari (in Arabic)

Conference Report by Zofia Helena Nowak (in German)


Recent years have seen a growing interest in Jews from Arab or Muslim majority countries of the Middle East across a variety of time periods. Scholars working at Western or Israeli universities often focus on aspects of Jewish communal and political life in Muslim majority countries prior to their exodus in the aftermath of the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948, or on their absorption into the margins of Israeli society in subsequent decades and the increasingly significant Mizrahi factor in contemporary Israeli politics and culture. But there is also a growing trend, mostly carried by scholars interested in research that reaches beyond nationalist or communalist narratives, to conceptualize Jewish populations in Middle Eastern countries as parts of local societies and evolving nation states or (cross-) regional networks. Last not least, a tradition of Jewish Studies exists in various Arab and Muslim majority countries, which is largely separated from western scholarship. Some Middle Eastern countries, like Tunisia and Iraq, have seen a renewed interest in the Jewish heritage of the country, and Jewish contributions to national history among scholars, journalists and artists.

This conference brings together a distinguished group of established and younger scholars from different continents and academic disciplines, who focus on the history and the present of Jewish life in Arab- and Muslim-majority countries within and beyond the existing nation states, and it discusses questions of culture, identity and memory, self-identification and belonging, as well as prospects for ethno-religious diversity and intercommunal relations in the Middle East and elsewhere. The invited papers address related issues from various disciplinary perspectives, including history, sociology, social anthropology, literary studies, media studies, comparative studies of religion, and Middle East area studies.

Apart from offering a unique opportunity for scholars from vastly different backgrounds to meet and discuss their work and explore future prospects of research on Jewish History in Arab and Muslim majority countries, this conference is a window into an area of scholarship that has hitherto been largely overlooked in Germany. It simultaneously serves as the closing event of a yearlong film series "Between Marrakesh and Mashhad - Jews in Islamic Countries" organized by the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin.

Confirmed key note speakers will be Mark Cohen (Princeton University), Orit Bashkin (University of Chicago) and Aomar Boum (University of California). Among the participants are: Ahmed Dallal (Georgetown University in Qatar), Yuval Evri (SOAS, London) , Menashe Anzi (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), Najat Abdulhaq (MiCT – Media in Cooperation and Transition, Berlin), Mohamed Hawary (Ain Shams University, Cairo), Miriam Frenkel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Michelle Campos (University of Florida), Mohammad Ali Tabataba'i & Heidar Eyvazi (Research Institute of the Quran and Hadith, Qom).



Tue, October 24
15:00 - 16:00: 
Arrival and Registration
16:00 - 16:15: 
16:15 - 17:15:
Mark Cohen (Princeton University / Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2002/03): Jews in the Islamic World during the Middle Ages
17:15 - 18:15
Orit Bashkin (University of Chicago): The Jew as a Metaphor, Jews and the Arab Nahda
18:30 - 19:30
Aomar Boum (University of California): Synagogues, Shrines and Cemeteries: Morocco's Jewish Life in Memory
ChairsAchim Rohde (Philipps-Universität Marburg) & Yasemin Shooman (Jewish Museum Berlin)

Watch the video of the Opening Session

Wed, October 25
9:00 - 10:45: 
Panel 1: Between Dhimmi Status and Convivencia
Kerstin Hünefeld (Freie Universität Berlin): Juggling Sharia Law - An Analytical Insight into the Pseudo-Epigraphic Letters of Protection from Yemen and their Jewish Author's Strategies of Empowerment
Miriam Frenkel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Jews' Response to their Dhimmi Status
Mikhail Kizilov (Center of Russian Folklore, Moscow): The Karaite and Rabbanite Jews in the Tatar and Ottoman Crimea in the Early Modern Times: The Legal Status and Relations with Muslim Authorities
Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin (Ben Gurion University / EUME)
11:00 - 12:30: 
Panel 2: Majority-Minority Relations: Muslim Perceptions of Jews and Judaism
Liran Yadgar (Yale University): Ibn Taymiyya's Vision on Judaism
Orly Rahimiyan (Ben Gurion University / Ben-Zvi Institute): The Images of Jews in the Eyes of the Iranians during the 20th Century
Menashe Anzi (Ben Gurion University / EUME Fellow 2014/15): Theosophy and Anti-Theosophy in Basra: Jews, Muslims and Booklets in Arabic
Chair: Walid Abd El Gawad (W. Michael Blumenthal Fellow)
12:30 - 14:00: Break
14:00 - 15:00: 
Panel 3: Minority-Minority Relations: Eastern Christian Perceptions of Jews and Judaism
Alexandra Cuffel (Ruhr-Universität Bochum): Jewish-Christian Relations from the Fatimid-Mamluk Period: Recent Findings and Program for Future Research
Carsten Walbiner (Birzeit University / Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt): Attitudes towards Judaism and Jews in Early Modern Christian Arabic Literature
Chair: Georges Khalil (Forum Transregionale Studien / EUME)
15:00 - 16:00: 
Panel 4: Historiography and Identity Politics
Hakan T. Karatake (University of Chicago / AKMI Fellow 1999/2000): Jewish Perspectives on the Ottoman Polity: A Methodological Assessment
Ahmed Dallal (Georgetown University in Qatar): The Jews of Yemen: Intertwined Identities and the Distortions of Contemporary Historiography
Chair: Sophie Wagenhofer (Verlag Walter DeGruyter)
16:30 - 18:00: 
Panel 5: Jewish Spaces in the Ottoman Empire
Menachem Klein (Bar-Ilan University): Jews and Arabs in the Main Palestine Cities in the Late Ottoman Period
Harvey E. Goldberg (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): The Symbolic Role of the Jews in the Struggle between State and Society in Late Ottoman Libya
Michelle Campos (University of Florida): Rethinking Jewish Spaces and Places in the Modern Middle East
Gudrun Krämer (Freie Universität Berlin / EUME)
Thu, October 26
9:15 - 11:00: 
Panel 6: Jews in Pre-Modern Iran
Alberto Tiburcio (Philipps-Universität Marburg): A Reconsideration of Sources on Jewish Communities in Iran (1666—1747)
Mohammad Ali Tabataba'i & Heidar Eyvazi (Research Institute of the Quran and Hadith, Qom): A 13th/19th Century Jewish Convert to Islam and His Refutation to Judaism
Dennis Halft (Ben Gurion University): Jewish Converts to Twelver Shiite Islam as Cross-Cultural Intermediaries and Go-Betweens in Pre-Modern Iran
Tal Ilan (Freie Universität Berlin)
11:15 - 12:45: 
Panel 7: Jewish-Muslim Relations in 20th Century Lebanon and Syria
Seth Anziska (University College London): Lingering Between Jaffa and Beirut: Jewish Presence and Absence in Postwar Lebanon
Aline Schlaepfer (AUB / Université de Genève): Dynamics of Conflicts and Solidarities in a Transregional Context: Jewish Communities in 20th Century Lebanon
Faedah M. Totah (Virginia Commonwealth University): Jews of the Old City of Damascus
Reuven Snir (University of Haifa / Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2004/05))
12:45 - 14:15: Break
14:15 - 15:45: 
Panel 8: Contemporary Cultures of Remembrance in Literature and Film, Part 1
Yuval Evri (SOAS / EUME Fellow 2013/14): Between Fractions and Continuities: The Arab-Jewish Literary World at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
Najat Abdulhaq (MiCT - Media in Cooperation adn Transition, Berlin): Rethinking Narratives: The Emergence of the "Arab Jew" in Contemporary Arabic Literature
Yaron Shemer (University of North Carolina): Rethinking Egyptian Jews' Cosmopolitanism, Belonging, and Nostalgia: Egyptian Cinematic Perspectives
Christina von Braun (Zentrum Jüdische Studien Berlin-Brandenburg)
16:15 - 17:15: 
Panel 9: Contemporary Cultures of Remembrance in Literature and Film, Part 2
Ronen Zeidel (Tel Aviv University): On the Last Jews in Iraq and Iraqi National Identity: A Look at Two Recent Iraqi Novels
Mazin Ali (Baghdad): Yahud al-Iraq ba'd 2003: Sahfiya, Thaqafiya, Akademiya (Arabic with translation)
Chair: Achim Rohde (Philipps-Universität Marburg)
17:15 - 18:45: 
Roundtable Discussion: Jewish Studies in MENA Countries
Panelists: Mohamed Hawary (Ain Shams University),Mohammed Kenbib (Mohammed V University, Rabat)
Chair: Ella Shohat (New York University)
Fri, October 27
9:00 - 13:00: 
Young Scholar Forum (open for invited participants only)
Speakers: Parisa Mohamadi Kasir Abadi, Iskandar Ahmad Abdalla, Brahim El Guabli, Amir Reza Haghighatkhah, Katharine Halls, Ilker Hepkaner, Tamir Karkason, Ariane Sadjed
Tutors: Orit Bashkin (University of Chicago), Georges Khalil (Forum Transregionale Studien / EUME), Stefanie Schüler-Springorum (Zentrum für Antisemitismus Forschung, Berlin), Reuven Snir (University of Haifa / Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2004/05)
13:00 - 13:30: Closing Session

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