Ph.D. Student in History, Harvard University; Graduate Student Affiliate & Seminar Coordinator, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
October 14, 2021
12:00pm - 1:00pm
This seminar will discuss Rachel Smith's paper entitled "The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Racial Politics of Ethnography." By applying race as an explicit analytic, Smith reframes the history and historiography of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU), a prominent Franco-Jewish organization established in 1860 to “regenerate” Jews worldwide through political advocacy and French-style education. An in-depth look at one AIU-sponsored ethnographic expedition to the Beta Israel in Ethiopia, undertaken by the orientalist Joseph Halévy from 1867-1868, brings to the fore the multifarious discourses and practices of racialization in which the AIU engaged. In doing so, it demonstrates how ideas of race shaped its work, its archives, and the many communities in which it worked across the Ottoman Empire, North Africa, Iran, and the Balkans.