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.


Anonymous said…

Ottoman History Podcast is a noncommerical website intended for educational use. Anyone is welcome to use and reproduce our content with proper attribution under the terms of noncommercial fair use within the classroom setting or on other educational websites. All third-party content is used either with express permission or under the terms of fair use. Our page and podcasts contain no advertising and our website receives no revenue. All donations received are used solely for the purposes of covering our expenses. Unauthorized commercial use of our material is strictly prohibited, as it violates not only our noncommercial commitment but also the rights of third-party content owners.

We make efforts to completely cite all secondary sources employed in the making of our episodes and properly attribute third-party content such as images from the web. If you feel that your material has been improperly used or incorrectly attributed on our site, please do not hesitate to contact us.