Mosse Lectures: Sarah Abrevaya Stein

by CJS


Sarah Abrevaya Stein, Professor & Maurice Amado Chair in Sephardic Studies, Department of History, UCLA


“Extraterritorial Dreams: Sephardi Jews, Citizenship, and the Calamitous Twentieth Century”

The governments of Spain and Portugal have recently announced their intention to grant citizenship to any Jew who can demonstrate descent from a family expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in the fifteenth century.  Sephardic families in the United States, Turkey, and Israel (and beyond) have embraced the propositions, seeing Portuguese and Spanish citizenship as a shortcut to EU citizenship—a useful commodity regardless of whether the paper-holder intends to dwell on Iberian soil.  Seemingly unbeknown to the actors involved, all are echoing a drama enacted over the course of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, when countless Ottoman Jews struggled to transfigure an early modern legal status—the protégé, or protected Ottoman subject of a European power—into something approximate to citizenship.  In this series of talks, Professor Stein traces the history of Ottoman Jewish protégés from western Anatolia, the Ottoman Balkans, the eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, and Iraq, considering how, amidst the dismemberment of the empire in which they were born, individual Sephardi women and men sought creative legal footholds in a nationalizing Europe.  These talks also explore how the states of Europe configured extraterritorial Sephardic subjects variously: as strategic allies of neo-colonial ambition, commercial cash cows, residues of a faded imperial order, as symbols, menaces, and poseurs.  Reaching athwart the Ottoman Empire, into western and central Europe and through south Asia, east Asia, and North Africa, this year’s George L. Mosse Lectures will ask how individual Jews negotiated the consolidation of citizenship laws in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century, and how their own, various legal choices influenced their fate over time, even during the determinative period of the Second World War.

“Seductive Subjects: the Balkan Wars and the International Rush on the Jews of Salonica”

Tuesday, September 9, 2014
4:30 p.m.
Room L140 Elvehjem Building (Chazen Museum of Art)

Citizens of a Fictional Nation:  Ottoman-born Jews in France and Britain during the First World War

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
4:30 p.m.
Room L140 Elvehjem Building (Chazen Museum of Art)

“A Sephardic Journey through the Twentieth Century”

Thursday, September 11, 2014
4:30 p.m.
Room L140 Elvehjem Building (Chazen Museum of Art)

Listen to Lectures

These lectures will be available for download through iTunes U. Click here for more information.

About the Speaker

Professor Sarah Abrevaya Stein received her A.B. from Brown University in 1993 and her doctorate from Stanford University in 1999. Her scholarship has ranged across the Yiddish and Ladino speaking diasporas and the British and French imperial, Russian, American, Ottoman and wider Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North African settings, but is always engaged with the reasons for and manifestations of Jewish cultural diversity in the modern period. An elected member of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Stein is the author of Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria (University of Chicago Press, 2014), Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce (Yale University Press, 2008), winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and Making Jews Modern: the Yiddish and Ladino Press in the Russian and Ottoman Empires (Indiana University Press, hardback 2004), winner of the Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize for Best First Book in Jewish Studies for 2003 and finalist for the Koret Jewish Book Award in 2004. Stein is the co-editor, with Julia Phillips Cohen, of Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700-1950 (Stanford University Press, 2014), and, with Aron Rodrigue, of A Jewish Voice from Ottoman Salonica: The Ladino Memoir of Sa’adi Besalel a-Levi (Stanford University Press, 2012). Stein’s most recent book, Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria (University of Chicago Press, 2014), considers how, over a century of colonialism and decolonization in North Africa, a small community of Jews in the Algerian Sahara came to leave a profound imprint on the global imagination.


Mosse Lectures Poster (PDF)