Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

The Middle Eastern Shift and Provincializing Zionism

  • Orit Bashkin (a1)

Scholars working on Jewish communities in the Middle East are in the midst of an important historiographical moment, in which the major categories, historical narratives, and key assumptions within the field are undergoing radical changes. A cluster of books and articles written by scholars trained in history, anthropology, and area studies departments, and published in Middle East studies rather than Jewish studies book series and journals, suggests that the study of Middle Eastern Jewish communities in the American academy is undergoing a change which might be termed “the Middle Eastern turn.” For such scholars, the history of Jews in Muslim lands, as modern subjects and citizens, is typified by a multiplicity of categories related to their identities—Ottoman, Sephardi, Mizrahi, Arab-Jewish, and local-patriotic—which they explore by looking at the political organizations and social and cultural institutions that enabled the integration of modern Jews into new imperial and national frameworks. This new scholarly wave is transnational, as it illustrates the importance of Jewish networks and Jewish languages in the Middle East, and likewise seeks to draw comparisons between Jews and other transregional and religious minorities, such as Armenians and Greek Orthodox Christians. It is interdisciplinary, as it attempts to incorporate the insights of sociologists, anthropologists, and literary scholars. Finally, it is postcolonial, in its critiques of national elites, national narratives, and nationalist histories. These new accounts uncover how processes which affected the entire Middle East, like Ottoman and Egyptian reform politics and the rise of nation-states, shaped modern Jewish lives.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Ella Shohat , Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006)

Sarah Abrevaya Stein , Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008)

Lital Levy , “Historicizing the Concept of Arab Jews in the Mashriq,” Jewish Quarterly Review 98 (2008): 452–69

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 0020-7438
  • EISSN: 1471-6380
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 66 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 200 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.