Recording the Maghrib: Jews, Muslims, and Music in the 20th Century

Averroës Lecture Series

Recording the Maghrib: Jews, Muslims, and Music in the 20th Century

From the family archives of Gilberte Kalfon

A lecture by Chris Silver (McGill University)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
5:00 PM
Location TBD


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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 of all manner 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 Jewish and Muslim fans and critics, 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 Hespéris-Tamuda, History Today, and online for the USHMM’s Holocaust Encyclopedia. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the subject of Jews, Muslims, and music in twentieth century North Africa.



Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies