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Jonathan Glasser

Associate professor
William & Mary University
Muslim-Jewish Musical Intimacy in Algeria and France
01 September 2019 -
30 June 2020
Social anthropology and ethnology

Jonathan Glasser is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the William & Mary University and member of the Asian and Middle East Studies Program. His ethnographic and archival research has received support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Institute of International Education (Fulbright), and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies. His research articles have appeared in American Ethnologist, International Journal of Middle East Studies, and Anthropological Quarterly. His first book, The Lost Paradise: Andalusi Music in Urban North Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2016) received the International Musicology Prize “Mahmoud Guettat” from the Tunisian Ministry of Cultural Affairs as well as the L. Carl Brown Book Prize from the American Institute for Maghrib Studies.

Research Interests

Muslim-Jewish relations, Algeria, France, modern and early modern Maghrib, music, poetry, performance, intimacy, kinship, sacred and profane, secularism, voice, anthropology of Islam, anthropology of Jews and Judaism, politics of recognition, semiotics

Muslim-Jewish Musical Intimacy in Algeria and France

This research project asks what music can teach us about Muslim-Jewish relations in Algeria, France, and beyond in the modern era. In the aftermath of the Jewish communities’ departure for France following Algeria’s independence in 1962, Jews’ historical specialization in music has been held up as a symbol of Muslim-Jewish intimacy and of Jewish belonging to the North African social fabric, and as an indication that positive intercommunal relations in France are possible. In this way, music has often stood against the notions of primordial Muslim-Jewish rivalry and Jewish foreignness to Algeria. However, ethnomusicologists have pointed out that in many societies professional musicianship is a low-status occupation, sometimes reserved for members of relatively powerless minority populations. Can we reconcile the idea of music as a sign of intimacy and belonging with the idea that it stands for hierarchy and foreignness? What does this mean for efforts to put music at the service of reconciliation? And how might anthropological theories of kinship and affinity help address these problems? This project tries to answer these questions by combining ethnographic research in Algeria and France with archival research involving recordings, printed materials, and manuscripts in French, Arabic, and Hebrew.


Webconference by Jonathan Glasser, 2019-2020 Paris IAS Fellow, as part of a series of conferences organized with the support of the European Netias network on the theme of Borders
11 Jun 2020 16:00 -
11 Jun 2020 17:00,
What is a Boundary Good For? A Reconsideration through the Muslim-Jewish Musical Question in Algeria
Contemporary period (1789-…)
North Africa, Middle East