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Margaux Fitoussi


Paloheimo and Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellow

Affiliation at time of award:
Ph.D. candidate, Anthropology
Columbia University

Margaux Fitoussi will be presenting her Scholar Colloquium, “Minor Differences: A Study of Jewishness and Jewish-Muslim Relations” on Wednesday, November 8 at 1:00 p.m.

Paulla Ebron, SAR Wenner-Gren Fellow, 2022-2023

Margaux Fitoussi
Photo courtesy of Margaux Fitoussi

Minor Differences: A Study of Jewishness and Jewish-Muslim Relations

The Jews of Tunisia trace their historical presence to ancient Carthage. In the midtwentieth century, nearly all of them chose to resettle in France or Israel/Palestine—it was a separation one colonial century in the making. The historical Tunisian Jew has come to anchor an idealized Tunisian ‘Golden Age,’ an elegy for a multicultural Tunisia, while the contemporary Tunisian Jew is perceived as an anachronism, a relic of a bygone era, someone to be suspicious of but also, for some, a subject of fascination. The Jews left, but Jewishness remains. Jewishness is (re) signified in surprising ways and becomes attached to people, ideas, and things that may or may not have been Jewish. How has a Jewish absence, or “absent presence,” altered relations among the few Jews who stayed as well as among Jews, Jewishness, and Muslims in contemporary Tunisia? Building on interdisciplinary scholarship on historical memory and on belonging, this project rethinks relations between Jews and Muslims, and the ethical and political possibilities for Judaism in the Arab world today.