Southern Tunisian Jewry in the early twentieth century: Elements of French, Arab and Jewish culture

Shlomo Deshen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In comparative Jewish ethnology, Southern Tunisian Jewry is usually considered to be an extreme case of a highly traditional community, culturally isolated from its surroundings. However, a close reading of pertinent rabbinical sources reveals that the identity of the community is complex. Besides the traditional Jewish elements, there are also elements of the dominant French and Berber cultures. This is demonstrated by a series of specific incidents in which those elements can be noted in interaction. The author initially engages general modernisation theory to conceptualise the features that he uncovers, but he concludes that a better explanation lies in the idiosyncratic local history of the community, particularly when viewed in the context of its relationships with other communities in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-199
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of North African Studies
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2005

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