Jews in Muslim Majority Countries

History and Prospects

Recent years have seen a growing interest in Jews from Arab or Muslim majority countries of the Middle East and North Africa across a variety of time periods. Scholars working at Western or Israeli universities often focus on aspects of Jewish communal and political life in Muslim majority countries prior to their exodus in the aftermath of the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948, or on their absorption into the margins of Israeli society in subsequent decades and the increasing role of Mizrahi Jews in contemporary Israeli politics and culture. But there is also a growing trend in research that reaches beyond nationalist or communalist narratives to conceptualize Jewish communities in Middle Eastern countries as parts of local societies and evolving nation states. Moreover, a tradition of Jewish Studies exists in various Arab and Muslim majority countries that is largely separated from Western scholarship. Some North African and Middle Eastern countries, like Tunisia and Iraq, have seen a renewed interest in the Jewish heritage of the country, and Jewish contributions to national history.

Bringing together established and younger scholars from different continents and academic disciplines, the conference discusses questions of culture, identity and memory of Jewish life in Arab and Muslim majority countries, self-identification and belonging, as well as prospects for ethno-religious diversity and intercommunal relations in the MENA region.

This conference is a window into an area of scholarship that has hitherto been largely overlooked in Germany. It is jointly convened by the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin and the “Research Network Re-Configurations. History, Remembrance and Political Transformations in the Middle East and North Africa”, located at Philipps-Universität Marburg, in cooperation with the Center for Jewish Studies Berlin-Brandenburg and “Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe” (EUME), a research program at the Forum Transregionale Studien.


In Kooperation mit:

Zentrum Jüdische Studien Berlin-Brandenburg

EUME Forum Transregionale Studien