On Belonging and Other Dreams. The Ambiguous Positions of the Jews in “Spanish Morocco”

Angy Cohen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents an ethnographic study of autobiographical narratives about Jewish life during the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco (1912–1956). Based on eighteen interviews conducted between 2013 and 2016, this work examines the peculiar process Sephardic Jews underwent as a consequence of the Spanish colonial presence in the north of Morocco. Spanish-Moroccan Jews developed their identity affiliations and allegiances under the influence of different institutions: the Spanish colonial agencies, the Alliance Israélite Universelle, the Jewish Agency, the Jewish community and the Moroccan authorities. These institutions presented different and often contradictory roles for Moroccan Jews. This work shows the tensions and conflicts experienced by the participants when navigating these different cultural and political spheres. The paper examines the participants' narratives about the ambiguous "re-Hispanicization" of Sephardic Jews during the colonial period. It studies the participants' memories about their identification with Spain and the adoption of Spanish habits and customs during the Protectorate period, which transformed Jewish life and redefined the limits between the different ethno-religious groups. This paper shows the impact of the social, historical and political conditions of the Protectorate on the participants' memories about colonial Morocco.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-578
Number of pages32
JournalContemporary Jewry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Colonialism
  • Identities
  • Narratives
  • Sephardim
  • Spanish-Moroccan


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