Vanessa Paloma Elbaz

Vanessa Paloma Elbaz
Vanessa Paloma Elbaz

Position: Research Associate

Department:Faculty of Music and Peterhouse College

Keywords:Gender, Minorities, Nationalism, Maghreb

My research focuses on the simultaneous use and silencing of Jewish voices within narratives of diversity and identity construction in Morocco and Spain during the last century.
Informed by the racial stratification that was institutionalized in Spain and its diaspora after the expulsion of both Jews and Muslims centuries earlier. One of music’s central functions has been encoding cultural diversity and intimately familiar difference within national identities in this region. I also explore how official Moroccan, French and Spanish institutions have narrated or ignored the voice of the Jewish minority through a century-long span of research and cultural diplomacy.

Drawing on archival work, oral histories and discourse analysis, my research focuses on the role that Jewish music and musicians have played in colonial and post-colonial cultural interactions and how that has transformed into the current heritagization of Jewish sounds. The high mobility of Moroccan Jews in the last century, as well as their simultaneous multiple linguistic and cultural affiliations, has created an environment that blurs official tropes of belonging and non-belonging and that is often represented through music. Pan-Arabism, Moroccan nationalism, the establishment of the State of Israel and more recently, efforts to stem Islamic radicalization of Morocco’s youth have had a direct impact on the popularization (or silencing) of Jewish repertoires as a sonic entity. My work theorizes how the establishment of publicly accepted Jewish heritage repertoires in the trans-Gibraltar region during the last century follows a pattern supported by philo-Sephardi intellectual discourse which began before Spanish colonialism in Morocco.

Get in touch: vpde2 [at] cam.ac.uk, twitter @vanessapalomaelbaz