Saharan Jews in French Algeria

with Sarah Stein

hosted by Alma Heckman

Crosslisted from tajine

The 1870 Crémieux Decree extended French citizenship to most, but not all, of Algeria's Jewish population. The Jews of the M'zab Valley were excluded from this legislation. As Professor Sarah Abrevaya Stein explains in this episode, this was due to a complex web of historical confluences including the chronology of conquest, shifting military and administrative structures for French Algerian rule, and perceptions of Jewish, Arab and Berber indigeneity. This story, while anchored in the local, participates in wider discussions of international Jewish philanthropies, decolonization, citizenship, belonging and marginality amid rapidly shifting global conditions.

Sarah Abrevaya Stein is a professor in the Department of History and Maurice Amado Endowed Chair in Sephardic Studies at UCLA. In addition to Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria (University of Chicago Press, 2014), she has written a number of award-winning books and articles including Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews and a Lost World of Global Commerce (Yale University Press, 2008), winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. She is the co-editor of Sephardi Lives: a Documentary History, 1700-1950 (Stanford University Press, 2014), a primary source reader of over 150 documents translated from fifteen different languages into English along with Professor Julia Phillips Cohen of Vanderbilt University.

Alma Rachel Heckman is a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA's history department. Her dissertation is entitled "Radical Nationalists: Moroccan Jewish Communists 1945-1975" and concerns Jewish engagement in Morocco's national liberation movement, intertwined with global political developments and migrations.


Stein, Sarah Abrevaya. Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.

Brower, Benjamin Claude. A Desert Named Peace The Violence of France's Empire in the Algerian Sahara, 1844-1902. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

Stora, Benjamin. Les trois exils juifs d'Algérie. Paris: Stock, 2006.

Shepard, Todd. The Invention of Decolonization: The Algerian War and the Remaking of France. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2006.

Schreier, Joshua. Arabs of the Jewish Faith The Civilizing Mission in Colonial Algeria. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010.