Traces of Jewish Memory in Contemporary Tunisia

This project aims to produce new knowledge on the history of the Jews of Tunisia that will stimulate economic growth in the country.
Project status

Cultural heritage and memorialisation each have a key role to play in building and achieving sustainable growth. Rather than simply investing in the restoration of forgotten Jewish sites in the spirit of heritage, it is hoped that through the production of new knowledge on the history of a forgotten minority in Tunisia, this project will contribute towards stimulating economic growth in the country by creating new cultural initiatives, developing new tourist opportunities and generating jobs for unemployed university graduates.

Until now, most studies on the Jews of North Africa have concentrated on Algeria or Morocco. The few published accounts on the Jews of Tunisia have generally been aimed at academic audiences working in a field or discipline. This research will draw on historical, literary, anthropological and ethnomusicological methods and discussions to uncover Jews’ forgotten contribution to the creation of modern Tunisia. It will pay attention to the changes in Jewish social and cultural relations and to the inter and intra-communal gender boundaries. The research team intends to also uncover the spaces inhabited by Jewish performers of the stage and screen and the extent to which Jews drew on existing local practices in their music and artistic expression. It will also assess Jews’ political lives in colonial society.

Programme Highlights:

Once Upon a Time in Nazi Occupied Tunisia playwright Josh Azouz spoke to historian Dr Daniel Lee, an expert on the period, about what life was like in Tunisia in the run-up to and during the Second World War, specifically for its Jewish and Muslim populations. The full transcript of the conversation is now available.

Principal Investigator: Dr Daniel Lee, University of Sheffield 

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