Jewish Studies

Vered Sakal

Reports, Evaluations and Coerced Religious Revolutions: A Postcolonial Critique of the Altaras-Cohen Report

Section: Articles
Jewish Studies Quarterly (JSQ)

Volume 27 () / Issue 1, pp. 58-72 (15)
Published 02.03.2020

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This paper studies the Altaras-Cohen Report, a report about the Jews of Algeria that was presented to the French government in 1842, from a postcolonial perspective. By doing so, it strives to penetrate the implicit intentions and the interpretive structures through which 19th-century French Jews apprehended different types of Jewishness. Portraying Altaras and Cohen's work as colonial literature, the paper discusses inter-Jewish hierarchies in which Jews not only criticize »other« forms of Jewishness as inferior, but also have access to formal state powers with which they can directly coerce »other« Jews into being Jewish in a certain way. The paper also explores the idea of reporting (scrutinizing and measuring a certain population, constructing measurable variables, doing »field work,« etc.) as a colonial praxis that establishes and demonstrates supremacy and control.

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