Society for the Anthropology of Religion
Oral Presentation Session
After living under colonial rule for over a century, the Jews of North Africa have experienced decolonization in the 1950s and early 1960s as the ultimate stage of their access to European identity and French civil society. For the Jews of Algeria who had been granted French citizenship in 1870 under government ruling, migration to France after the independence of their native country was the culmination of decades of assimilation into French culture that affected religious practice and resulted in specified forms of secularization. To be full-fledged citizens, Jews had to practice their religion mainly within the boundaries of the private sphere, or in a government-controlled synagogue system. As a result, religion withdrew to the domestic realm. Pots and plates turned into boundary keepers and highly structured systems of religious practice. This paper will analyze how this historical process produced the distinction, in menus, ingredient composition and eating collectivities, between the private and the public expression of religious identity in late 20th century French society.