The Arab Jew: A History of a Concept


This course invites students to explore the debate around the term “Arab Jews.” A cultural and historical designation, the term now encompasses a range of experiences for Arabic-speaking Jews. These Jews lived in diverse cultural worlds across the Middle East and North Africa, where they developed deep and abiding relationships with non-Jews, and were instrumental in shaping local, regional and national cultures and politics. Their identities and histories, which vary with their place of origin, are presented, assessed, and debated in scholarly articles and monographs, political statements, personal testimonies and memoirs, poetry and fiction, music and cinema as well as on websites and blogs. This surge in research, which has become a prominent subfield of Jewish studies and Middle Eastern studies, is the result of regional changes on the one hand, and the growing interest in the history and culture of the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa on the other. By engaging with the term “Arab Jews,” the course offers new perspectives on questions of Zionism and nationalism, colonialism and geography, religion and secularization, as well as historiography and memory. 

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

Breadth Requirement: None.

Area of Interest:

  • Jewish Cultures, Languages, and Literatures
  • Jewish History and Social Sciences


Day/Time Instructors Location
M12–2 Nizri, Yigal TBA