"Any of the Arab-looking girls in some postcards sent from Algeria in the early 20th century, could have been my ancestor. In 1850, a British traveler who visited one of the embroidery schools in colonized Algeria reported: “there were several little Jewesses squatting most amicably among the Mauresques, conspicuous only by their simpler robe of colored stuff and a conical cap of red velvet, tipped with gold lace.” The photographs I have of my grandmother in Algeria, taken a few decades later, show her already as a French-looking woman, a Jewish Arab who has learned the lesson of Frenchness these schools were established to impart. Where did my great-great grandmother, who was a native Algerian and could have been one of these girls, disappear to? This lesson of Frenchness, standardization, eradication has a name in French: laïcité. The term “secularism” doesn’t quite capture the stripping bare the worldliness, or being-in-the-world, of a person, which laïcité requires. Part of solving the “Jewish question” in Europe required the refashioning of Jews as secular Europeans (who could still be “Jews” at home) before they could go in public. With the French conquest of Algeria, the Jews were singled out from the Arabs and were made into a “problem,” forced to get rid of what identified them as indigenous, so that a few decades later the colonial regime could reward them for their efforts with the gift of French citizenship. The lecture will explore some aspects of the colonial predicament of the decolonization of bodies."
The lecture will take place online.
For zoom link click here.
Meeting-ID: 821 9266 1889
In cooperation with the Institute for Applied Theater Studies, JLU Giessen, HZT – Inter-University Center for Dance, Berlin; the Art Academy Düsseldorf, and the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm.
This edition of the HTA lecture series is connected to Bodies, un-protected, the International Program on Bodies, Art and Protection at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, running from October 2021 till June 2022.
Organisers: Prof. Dr. Bojana Kunst, Institute for Applied Theater Studies, JLU Giessen; Prof. Dr. Sandra Noeth, HZT-Inter-University Center for Dance, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Francesca Raimondi, Art Academy Düsseldorf, Anna Wagner, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt a.M.
Ariella Aïsha Azoulay, professor of Modern Culture and Media and Comparative Literature, film essayist and curator of archives and exhibitions. Her books include: Potential History – Unlearning Imperialism (Verso, 2019), Civil Imagination: The Political Ontology of Photography (Verso, 2012), The Civil Contract of Photography (Zone Books, 2008) and From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950 (Pluto Press 2011). Among her films: Un-documented: Unlearning Imperial Plunder (2019), Civil Alliances, Palestine, 47-48 (2012). Among her exhibitions Errata (Tapiès Foundation, 2019, HKW, Berlin, 2020), and Enough! The Natural Violence of New World Order, (F/Stop photography festival, Leipzig, 2016).