2022.01.17: Dario Miccoli

“The Jews of Alexandria: middle class feelings, urban identity and politics, 1880s-1920s”

January 17, 2022. 16h00-18h00 (Berlin Time). Registration: https://forms.gle/A8AJDvdaQyUiG5qD8


Based on a ‘close reading’ of documents from the archives of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (Paris), the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (Jerusalem) and from articles found in newspapers published in Egypt in the colonial and early monarchic years, this lecture will look at the consolidation of a middle class Alexandrian Jewish identity and its relation to urban politics and sociability in the period that goes from the early 1880s to the mid-1920s. The lecture will discuss the multiple connections that Alexandrian Jews had with the city in which they lived and its socio-political environment, as well as the ways in which its burgeoning Jewish middle class tried to find a place of its own for example by founding schools, hospitals and cultural associations. At the same time, it will also look at the different levels of involvement – or lack thereof – that the Jews could have at local and national level in terms of deliberative practices, debates on political representation and party politics, depending on their socio-economic role, national origin and gender and to what extent this made them feel part of a shared Alexandrian and/or Egyptian public sphere. The aim is to consider Alexandria as a laboratory of (semi-colonial) modernity, at the crossroad of contrasting Ottoman legacies and European models of identity, where people, ideas – from anti-Jewish feelings to Egyptian nationalism and Zionism – and goods circulated and contributed to the making of a diverse, and yet ephemeral, bourgeois imaginary.

Dario Miccoli is assistant professor of Modern Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the Department of Asian and North African Studies, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and member of the board of AISG – Italian Association of Jewish Studies. His research and publications deal with the contemporary history and memory of the Jews of Egypt and the Mediterranean, and Mizrahi Israeli literature. He is the author of Histories of the Jews of Egypt: An Imagined Bourgeoisie, 1880s-1950s (2015) and La letteratura israeliana mizrahi (2016). His new monograph A Sephardi Sea: Jewish Memories Across the Mediterranean is forthcoming for Indiana University Press.

Next session: February 07, 2022: Matthieu Rey

Full 2020-2021-2022 programme of the HISDEMAB seminar

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