Modernity and the Jewish Question: Perspectives on Jewish Modernity in Moroccan before and during Protectorate
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As the European population in contact with Moroccan Jews began to grow, most noticeably from 1862 when the country’s first Alliance Israélite Universelle school was founded, European culture and a conceptualization of what modernity entailed was projected onto the native Jewish population and emulated in real ways by that same population. The accounts of Europeans having visited or lived in Morocco dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries afford this study capacity to analyze how modernity as a concept was employed in the imagining of a vaguely national Jewish character and in the creation of an imagined ethnic hierarchy within Morocco. Into the period of the French Protectorate in Morocco (1912-1956), the Jewish “question” remained on the minds of colonial administrators and Zionist leaders increasingly in contact with Morocco’s urban Jewish elite. Accompanying modernity during the protectorate were questions of national destiny and identity, most vividly in the accounts of native Moroccan Jews. In this context, the Casablanca journal L’Avenir Illustré was a crucible for the fermentation of a new Jewish character in Morocco under the auspices of Europe, one devoted to debating modernity under colonialism.