International Journal of Middle East Studies

Modern Morocco


Oren Kosansky c1 and Aomar Boum c2


In this historically and anthropologically oriented article, we situate the recent wave of Jewish-themed Moroccan films within the context of the liberalizing transformations and associated nationalist narratives promoted by the current Moroccan regime. Reflecting Mohammed VI's commitment to widening the space of civil society, the task of enacting these transformations and producing these narratives devolves increasingly to nonstate agents in the public sphere. Previously monopolized and managed more comprehensively by the state, the “Jewish Question”—that is, contestations over representations of Jews as authentic members of the Moroccan body politic—is now taken up in a range of public media less subject to direct government control. We demonstrate that the role of cinema in this process reflects the shifting relationship between state and civil society in the late postcolonial period. More specifically, we argue that the production, circulation, and reception of Jewish-themed films is diagnostic of the state's ability to open new spaces of public representation and debate that foster precisely those images of the state and nation promoted by the current regime in regional and global contexts.

(Online publication July 26 2012)


c1 Oren Kosansky is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Ore.; e-mail:

c2 Aomar Boum is an Assistant Professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.; e-mail: