Se réinventer au présent. Les Judéo-espagnols de France, famille, communauté et patrimoine musical.

Presses universitaires de Rennes

Finalist J.I Segal

Prize UQÀM-Respatrimoni

Preface by Edwin Seroussi

(reviews in English, French and Ladino)


In this book, I analyzed the ways in which memory, heritage, and nostalgia of worlds lost through the experience of migration, assimilation, and war are revitalized. I focused on the case of Jews from the Ottoman Empire now living in France (named Sephardic or Judeo-Spanish), and I examined the construction, transmission, and representation of their musical heritage, from the early 20th century to the present.

Regarding its construction, I discovered how this process was the result of a global project where recording companies, folklorists, and musicians from France, Israel, and the United States, as well as international institutions, invested in this music collection through the production of recordings and scores. For the transmission of the musical heritage, my research highlighted how these recordings and scores have been mobilized by professional musicians and singers, outsiders to the community, to transmit Jewish rituals and religious knowledge to those Sephardim in search of their lost heritage. Lastly, for the representation, my ethnography revealed the existence of an inter-relational system where public, community, and family spaces are co-dependent, thus constructing an interactive equilibrium which keeps this musical heritage alive. Indeed, the political implications of the performance of Sephardicness on public stages, in order to offer a counter-narrative to the arduous relationships that Jews and Muslims encounter in France, have encouraged the Sephardim to take advantage of these musical events. Beyond its presence on international public stages, my research shows that this musical revival, through a process of artification (Shapiro and Heinich 2012), allows the community to reclaim this forgotten tradition and to rebuild an intimate space where Ottoman Judaism has been reinvented. During this project, I also integrated Sephardic music into a broader discussion on international cultural policies and religious minorities, and I suggested new ways to analyze and discuss cultural appropriation.