Cloth $85.00 ISBN: 9780226123608 Published May 2014
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226123745 Published May 2014
E-book $7.00 to $27.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226123882 Published May 2014

Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria

Sarah Abrevaya Stein

Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria
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Sarah Abrevaya Stein

272 pages | 27 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $85.00 ISBN: 9780226123608 Published May 2014
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226123745 Published May 2014
E-book $7.00 to $27.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226123882 Published May 2014
The history of Algerian Jews has thus far been viewed from the perspective of communities on the northern coast, who became, to some extent, beneficiaries of colonialism.  But to the south, in the Sahara, Jews faced a harsher colonial treatment. In Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria, Sarah Abrevaya Stein asks why the Jews of Algeria’s south were marginalized by French authorities, how they negotiated the sometimes brutal results, and what the reverberations have been in the postcolonial era.
Drawing on materials from thirty archives across six countries, Stein tells the story of colonial imposition on a desert community that had lived and traveled in the Sahara for centuries. She paints an intriguing historical picture—of an ancient community, trans-Saharan commerce, desert labor camps during World War II, anthropologist spies, battles over oil, and the struggle for Algerian sovereignty. Writing colonialism and decolonization into Jewish history and Jews into the French Saharan one, Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria is a fascinating exploration not of Jewish exceptionalism but of colonial power and its religious and cultural differentiations, which have indelibly shaped the modern world. 
Joshua Schreier, Vassar College
Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria is a fascinating and extremely well-researched book. It is imaginative, quite original, broad in scope, and deals with a truly understudied topic: the small community of Jews of the M’zab valley in the Algerian Sahara. Stein uses their experience to highlight a number of fascinating episodes in Jewish, French, Algerian, and even American history, and as such it will appeal to a wide audience.”
Benjamin C. Brower, University of Texas at Austin
“This wonderfully told story breaks new ground in the history of North Africa. Stein brings the Mzabi Jews of the Sahara into the main currents of colonial-era Algerian history for the first time. She shows clearly how colonial texts produced Mzabi Jews as the archaic vestiges of a ‘lost tribe,’ and how this version was recycled into the work of the anthropologists, philanthropists, and administrators who wrote the rules that gave form to Mzabi Jews as political subjects. Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria admirably pulls Mzabi Jews from the footnotes, and like the very best work of historians it gives rise to a critical interrogation of the present.”
Julia Clancy-Smith, University of Arizona
“Stein’s compelling study takes us into the vexed spaces where nation and empire, family and colony, religion and the state, and knowledge and law converged and collided. By situating ‘Saharan Jews’ at multiple, unsteady historical margins, the book argues that colonial military legislation and policy called into existence this ‘Southern Algerian’ indigenous community. Scholars of the Middle East and North Africa have long fixated upon the Orientalist East-West divide, but Stein’s masterful account redirects attention to the genealogies of North and South through a sort of micro-history set in motion that never loses sight of the big story.”
Daniel Schroeter, University of Minnesota
“The granting of Algerian Jews French citizenship by the Crêmieux Decree of 1870 is a central theme in the history of colonial Algeria, yet forgotten in this standard narrative is how the Jews in the Saharan region of the Mzab valley were excluded from this new status. Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria explores how Mzabi Jews came to be differentiated from other Algerian Jews under the French military regime that governed the Southern Territories by legally designated them as ‘indigenous’ along with the Muslim inhabitants of Algeria. Stein begins by telling the intriguing story of an ethnographic study of the Jews of Ghardaïa, the major Jewish community of Mzab, undertaken by the American anthropologist, Lloyd Cabot Briggs, and his assistant, Norina Lami Guède, on the eve of Algerian independence in 1962. Yet rather than treating the study as an authentic source on an isolated Jewish community to be mined for information, Stein analyzes it as a product and culmination of eighty years of French colonial rule in the Sahara. Stein then traces the encounter of the Mzabi Jews with French colonialism from the time of the conquest of the Sahara to the period of decolonization and mass departure of the community. Drawing from a rich array of archival evidence and primary accounts, Stein poignantly reveals how the Saharan Jews were shaped by events and processes of change in colonial Algeria: the Dreyfus Affair and settler anti-Semitism, military conscription, public health, education, Vichy in the Sahara, the oil and natural gas boom of the 1950s, the Algerian war of independence, and emigration. In examining the distinctive ways that Jews of Mzab experienced French rule, Stein’s richly documented and eloquently written book offers exciting new insights not only on the importance of regional differentiation in Algerian history, but into larger questions on the relationship between colonialism, decolonization, and the Jews.”
Note on Translation and Transliterations
Prologue: The Lost Archive
Introduction: Inventing Indigeneity
Chapter 1. Anthropology and the Ghost of the Colonial Past
Chapter 2. Jews Northern and Southern: The French Annexation of the Mzab and the Boundaries of Colonial Law
Chapter 3. Governing Typologies: From the Conquest of the Mzab to the Touggourt/Dreyfus Affair
Chapter 4. Contested Access: Conscription, Public Health, and Education from the Fin de Siècle through the Interwar Period
Chapter 5. Saharan Battlegrounds: From the Vichy Regime to a Postwar World
Chapter 6. Oil, the Algerian War of Independence, and Competing Stories of Departure
Conclusion: Colonial Shadows
Epilogue: Dark Matter
Abbreviations of Archival and Library Collections
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