The Colonial Dhimmi: Islamic Sovereignty and the Making of the Indigenous Jew in Protectorate Morocco

The Colonial Dhimmi: Islamic Sovereignty and the Making of the Indigenous Jew in Protectorate Morocco

A lecture by Daniel Schroeter (University of Minnesota)

After the French Protectorate of Morocco was established in 1912, leaders of the Moroccan Jewish community pledged their allegiance to the government of France, recognizing that it had become the highest authority in the country.  In the 21st century Moroccan Jews throughout the global diaspora express their unwavering attachment to the king and the Alawid dynasty. In this talk, I will examine how the French legitimized colonial rule in Morocco by preserving the ruler of the dynasty and his religious and moral authority over his Muslim and Jewish subjects. Rather than becoming subjects or citizens of France, Jews became “indigenous,” colonial dhimmis under the symbolic protection of the Islamic ruler. I aim to show how the loyalty of Jews to the Moroccan monarchy, still expressed to this day, was shaped during the colonial period.

Daniel Schroeter is the Amos S. Deinard Memorial Chair in Jewish History and Professor of History at the University of Minnesota.  He has written extensively on the history of Morocco and the Jews of North Africa and the Middle East in premodern and modern times. He is the author of The Sultan’s Jew:  Morocco and the Sephardi World and Merchants of Essaouira: Urban Society and Imperialism in Southwestern Morocco, 1844-1886; and co-editor of Jewish Culture and Society in North Africa, and is currently co-authoring a book with Aomar Boum on the story of King Mohammed V saving Jews during World War II.  


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Published: Tuesday, May 16, 2023