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Jewish quarter of Tripolis and synagogue of Nabugoye

This conference brings together fresh research on Jews and Jewish communities in colonial contexts, focusing on the African continent in the 19th and 20th centuries. Drawing attention to a significantly under-studied field, the event aims to facilitate new research and inter-disciplinary research networks. The two-day meeting of established scholars, early career researchers and PhD students turns to Jews and Jewish communities in several colonial settings across Africa, asking how Jews acted within imperial networks and interacted with colonial governments. The conference will also examine the impact of Fascist and Nazi rule, adding new perspectives on the history of the Holocaust in Africa and on convergences and divergences between racism and antisemitism. Finally, scholars will address the role of African Jewish communities in postcolonial struggles and processes of decolonization.


MONDAY 13 May 2024

Opening Remarks, 9.00am
Andrea Schatz (King's College London), Daniel Orrells (King’s College London), Ilaria Pavan (IMT School for Advanced Studies, Lucca), Matteo D’Avanzo (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa)

Session 1: Jewish Communities and Colonial Histories, 9.15-11.15
Chair: Adam Sutcliffe (King's College London)

  • Isabella Soi (Università degli studi di Cagliari)
    Rebellion, Ambition and Consolidation: The Genesis of a Ugandan Jewish Community
  • Shaul Marmari (Dubnow Institute, Leipzig)
    Red Sea Crossings: The Jewish-Adeni Scramble for Africa
  • Yair Wallach (SOAS)
    Ashkenazim in Egypt: Between Migrants and Colonial Protégés
  • William Pimlott (Royal Holloway, University of London)
    South Africa's Jewish Colonialism(s): The Yiddish Press and Zionism

Keynote Lecture, 11.30-12.30
Chair: Andrea Schatz

Sami Everett (University of Southampton)
Northern African Intercommunal Entanglements: From Judeo-Indigeneity to the Abrahamic Other

Session 2: Jewish Communities, Fascism, and Colonial Regimes, 14.00-15.30
Chair: Ilaria Pavan

  • Martino Oppizzi (École française de Rome)
    Italian-Jewish Relations in Tunisia and Egypt: The Perspective of Italian Teachers and Consuls
  • Matteo D'Avanzo (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa)
    Navigating Colonial Landscapes: The Journey of Taamrat Emmanuel
  • Livia Tagliacozzo (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
    Defiance in the Dunes: Jewish Resistance in Giado

Session 3: Escaping the Holocaust, Resilience, Spaces of Encounter, 16.00-18.00
Chair: Heather Munro (King's College London)

  • Shirli Gilbert (UCL)
    Jewish Refugees from Nazism in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Dario Miccoli (Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice)
    “A land of refuge, oblivion and rebirth”: Rhodesli Holocaust Survivors in the Belgian Congo and Southern Rhodesia, 1945–1965
  • Eliana Hadjisavvas (Birkbeck, University of London)
    Exile in the Empire: European Refugees and Political Detainees – Legacies of Jewish Displacement in Kenya, 1940-1950
  • Julia Schulte-Werning (University of Vienna)
    Coming to the Dispensary: Jewish Medical Humanitarianism and Spaces of Encounter in Late Colonial Morocco

TUESDAY 14 May 2024

Session 4: Legacies and Transformations in Postcolonial Contexts, 9.00-10.30
Chair: Shirli Gilbert

  • Roni Mikel-Arieli (Ben-Gurion University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) Apartheid, Holocaust and Genocide: On Leo Kuper’s Legacy
  • Ayode Daniel Dossou (Geneva Graduate Institute)
    Life and Contributions of Robert Léon to the Formation of the Post-Independence Ivorian Elite
  • Giordano Bottecchia (IFG Lab - Institut Français de Géopolitique, Paris)
    Reframing National Belonging After Empire: Libyan Jews Between Libya and Italy (1947–1987)

Session 5: Speaking Now, 11.00-12.30
Chair: Matteo D'Avanzo

  • Asher Salah (Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem)
    The Multiple Identities of the Jewish Community in Asmara: Oral Testimonies and Family Memories
  • Rebekah Vince (Queen Mary, University of London)
    Translating Troubled Memories and Remembering Forgotten Futures: A Jewish Childhood in the Muslim Mediterranean (2023)
  • Simcha Getahune (Ethiopian Jewry Heritage Centre, Tel Aviv, and Kibbutzim College) Studies in the History of Ethiopian Jewry: The Beta Israel

Concluding Round-Table: Religion, Racism and Antisemitism in (Post-)Colonial Contexts, 13.30-14.30

Organizing Committee: Matteo D’Avanzo, Alessandro Guetta, Ilaria Pavan, Andrea Schatz

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the European Association of Jewish Studies (EAJS);
the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, the Global Cultures Institute / Language Acts & Worldmaking Research Centre, and the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, King’s College London. 

Images: Tripoli, Libya, c. 1930 (left); Nabugoye, Uganda (right).

Event details

Council Room
Strand Campus
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS