Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

10/1/2004 - 9/30/2005

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Colonialism's Forgotten Cultures: European Jews in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1870-1930

FAIN: FA-50204-04

Sarah Abrevaya Stein
UCLA; Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles (Seattle, WA 98195-1016)

In the six decades that bracketed the turn of the twentieth century (1870-1930), European Jews were enormously influential in the development of commercial networks that crisscrossed the colonies of southern Africa, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, and the Belgian Congo, and the nation-states and empires of Europe. In their capacity as merchants and traders, Jews served as intermediaries between Africans and Europeans in southern and central Africa and facilitated the flow of capital across these regions and the Atlantic. By reconstructing European Jews' participation in four commercial networks rooted in sub Saharan Africa (the trade of ostrich feathers, the trade of cattle, the mining and sale of diamonds, and the establishment of a web of itinerant peddlers and smous shops [general stores]), this book project will explore questions crucial to the fields of modern Jewish history, European history, colonial/postcolonial studies, and African studies. To what extent did Jewish trans-national commercial practices facilitate European colonialism in sub Saharan Africa? How did Jews fit into the racial map of colonial Africa: did the presence of Jewish traders complicate the meaning of "Europeanness" or "whiteness" in the colonial setting? And finally, how does the story of European Jews in Africa disaggregate the history of white colonizers?