"Yours or Ours?" Muslims Performing Selfhood in Moroccan Jewish Cemeteries Restricted; Files & ToC

Driver, Cory Thomas Pechan (2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/zw12z624s?locale=en
Published

Abstract

My dissertation asks how Moroccan Muslims use performance of affiliation with the former Moroccan Jewish community to create their social identities and develop their idealized moral selfhood. The subjects of my research are the men and women who serve as guides and guards to and at, respectively, Jewish cemeteries and synagogues.

My ethnographic research took place primarily in cemeteries because they offer a material space where performers can mediate issues of loss, nostalgia, friendship, ritual responsibility, authority, authenticity and cosmopolitanism, along with negotiating financial, moral and spiritual capital. Performers and performances of selfhood creation by Muslim Moroccans depend heavily on the residual material presence of Jews in Morocco for the effectiveness of their acts.

My research argues that the guards and guides use performances of ritual and caring acts purposefully to create moral selves that separate them from other members of their now homogenously Muslim community. As a means of claiming an authentic alternative self that is profoundly Moroccan, but simultaneously undermines notions of a mono-ethnically Arab and mono-religiously Muslim Morocco, Imazighen stress their close ties with Jews. Amazigh respondents perform Jewish rituals, like praying for deceased Jews, cleaning tombs and celebrating Passover, to preserve ties that connected ethno-religious communities for hundreds of years, but have ceased since the Jewish mass-emigration from Morocco.

Other people with whom I work use their ties with Jewish sites to harness power and prestige in their communities. For women particularly, running a Jewish site that is frequented by tourists who bring economic capital to rural areas can be a valuable source of social capital as well. Guarding a Jewish site is an avenue for accumulating a position of authority that she may not have another means of accessing in a small village.

Lastly, and most importantly, many of the Muslim Moroccans take care of graves, and seek to preserve Moroccan Jewish traditions, because they had a close Jewish friend or adoptive family.

This dissertation is situated at the intersection of Jewish Studies, the Academic Study of Religion and Middle East and North African Studies.

Table of Contents

This table of contents is under embargo until 08 September 2019

About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
School
Department
Subfield / Discipline
Degree
Submission
Language
  • English
Research field
Keyword
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified No preview

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files