Moving Histories. The Jews and Modernity in Alexandria 1881-1919
Title: Moving Histories. The Jews and Modernity in Alexandria 1881-1919
Author: MICCOLI, Dario
Citation: Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History. Journal of Fondazione CDEC, 2011, 2 (October), 149-171
External link: http://www.quest-cdecjournal.it/focus.php?id=223
This essay will investigate the history of Alexandria from 1881 to 1919, proposing a re-definition of modernity vis-à-vis the city’s Jews. In the first part I will introduce a case of blood libel that occurred in 1881, the Fornaraki affair, and the consequences it had for the making of an urban (Jewish) bourgeoisie and the spreading of a modern social imaginary in-between Egypt and Europe. I will then consider the École des filles founded in Alexandria in 1900 by the Alliance Israélite Universelle, exploring how French secularism, bourgeois femininity, and Jewish religiosity coalesced in this school – as exemplified by the history surrounding the 1901 initiation des jeunes filles. Lastly, I will look at World War One and the philanthropic activities and public commemorations this event engendered in Alexandria, especially following the arrival of Jewish refugees from Palestine in 1914. Focusing upon these historical narrations, I will attempt to interpret modernity as a dynamic blending of tensions and exchanges in-between Jews and non-Jews, Egypt and Europe, local knowledge and foreign ideas.
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