The Ashkenazi Arab: Jewish European integration in the Middle East

Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies

Source: Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies

Yair Wallach

The idea of Ashkenazi Jews integrating into Arab societies and culture in the Middle East appears today as far-fetched, even a contradiction in terms. The speaker's research, focussing on the 19th and early 20th centuries, has unearthed a wide spectrum of practices of integration and acculturation, from the adoption of dress, food, and music; through business integration and local politics; to high-level involvement in Ottoman and regional politics, military service to crime and radical politics. The lecture will discuss this forgotten history and its implications.

The event will be chaired by Professor François Guesnet.

Yair Wallach is the Head of the Centre for Jewish Studies at SOAS, University of London. He is a Reader in Israeli Studies and the head of the Centre for Jewish Studies, at SOAS, University of London. His book A City in Fragments (Stanford, 2020), on Arabic and Hebrew street texts in early 20th Jerusalem, won the 2022 Jordan Schnitzer book prize. He has written for the Guardian, Haaretz and other publications.

François Guesnet is Professor of Modern Jewish History at University College London. He specializes in Eastern European Jewish History and is co-chair of the editorial board of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry. His book publications include Polnische Juden im 19. Jahrhundert (Vienna, Cologne, 1998), and, as editor, Warsaw. The Jewish Metropolis (2015, paperback 2017). A collected volume Sources on Jewish Self-Government in the Polish Lands from Its Inception to the Present is forthcoming (Boston, Leiden: 2022).

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