Recording North Africa: Jews, Muslims, and Music in the Twentieth Century Maghrib

Lecture | February 11 | 1-2:30 p.m. | 340 Stephens Hall

 Center for Middle Eastern Studies

For much of the twentieth century, North African Jews played an outsized role as both music-makers and purveyors of music across the Maghrib. In Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, all under French rule until the middle of the last century, indigenous Jewish vocalists, instrumentalists, and sonic impresarios utilized the phonograph to record and rescue the classical Andalusian tradition while simultaneously pioneering popular musical forms mixed in style and language. Those efforts engendered fervent responses from a range of Jews and Muslims, and so too, from French authorities apprehensive about the increasingly unfettered flow of recorded music that stirred passions so. Through a focus on a handful of phonograph records and their trajectories, this talk explores both Jewish history and Jewish-Muslim relations in the region anew.

Chris Silver serves as Segal Family Assistant Professor in Jewish History and Culture in
the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill University. He earned his PhD in History
from UCLA. Recipient of awards from the Posen Foundation, the American Academy of
Jewish Research, and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies, Silver’s scholarship on
Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia has appeared in the International Journal of Middle East
Studies, Hespéris-Tamuda, History Today, and the United States Holocaust Memorial
Museum’s Holocaust Encyclopedia. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the
subject of Jews, Muslims, and music in twentieth century North Africa.

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