Ben Badis' Jews: Islamic Reform and Colonial Subjecthood in Interwar Algeria

Thu 5/26 • 4PM PDT

UCLA, Bunche Hall

Among Algeria’s interwar Muslim reformists, ‘Abd al-Hamid Ben Badis, the son of an old, notable family in Constantine, was the most prominent. Serving as editor of the journal al-Shihab which he published between 1925 and his death in 1940, he was a key figure in the articulation of a modern Arab-Muslim political identity that informed subsequent decades’ Algerian nationalism. As suggested by a number of articles in al-Shihab, this project involved not only reporting on events in Palestine, which recent scholarship has usefully addressed, but examining the meaning and place of Jews and Judaism in history—as well as how modern colonialism had transformed that place. So while Ben Badis gained notoriety for calming tensions between Jews and Muslims during several days of riots in Constantine in 1934, he also sought to understand and explain how French rule had transformed Jews, a longstanding component of Constantine’s Arab-Muslim society, into something different—and potentially threatening.

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