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Aomar Boum

Lecture and Q&A: The Female Jewish Troubadour: Imaachar and Narratives of Purity and Danger in Tahala, Southern Morocco

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Aomar Boum
Aomar Boum

Date & Location

03 may 2022, 17:00 GMT+1

Online Event, Zoom

About the Event

ABSTRACT: Jewish women from rural, southeast Morocco preserved several material and immaterial customs until their mass immigration. Years of settlement in Israel led to the disappearance of many of these traditions. Imaachar, a Judeo-Amazigh tradition, is one of these customs that has vanished as a result of Jewish emigration. Although anthropologists Abdellah Hammoudi and Paul Silverstein, among others, have studied carnival and masquerades, the studies of the practice of Imaachar in the Anti-Atlas are still scarce and far between. Moreover, discussions of issues of gender are marginal. In this presentation I wish to tell a story about a female Jewish singer  named Raysa Aisha whose story I heard during my fieldwork in Tahala from a large group of great grandmothers. It was believed by these women that Aisha was a central figure in the annual carnival of Imaachar whose singing services were sought after by Muslim and Jewish communities alike. In this presentation I make the argument that the use of humor, dance, and song  during the masquerade of Imaachar allowed Jews and Amazigh families in Tahala and the rest of Sous region over the years to maintain social relations around distance and proximity. Like Mimouna, the festival of Imaachar was an annual social space attended by the community and used to socialize youth about purity and danger in a context of religious diversity.

BIOGRAPHY: Aomar Boum is Maurice Amado Chair in Sephardic Studies in the Departments of Anthropology, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, and History at the University of California, Los Angeles and Faculty Fellow at the Université Internationale de Rabat. He is the co-editor of The Holocaust and North Africa and Wartime North Africa: A Documentary History, 1934-1950.

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