The Question of Judeo-Arabic: Nation, Partition, and the Linguistic Imaginary

29 Mar 2018


Join the Islamicate Studies Working Group at the University of Pittsburgh for a colloquium featuring Ella Shohat, Professor of Cultural Studies at New York University. The colloquium examines linguistic belonging as invented within national and colonial itineraries. Specifically, it explores the genealogy of the concept of “Judeo-Arabic language” and its definition as a cohesive (specifically Jewish) unit separate from Arabic, and classifiable under the historically novel rubric of isolatable “Jewish languages” severed from their neighboring dialects/languages. Does the notion of “Judeo-Arabic” correspond to designation by the speakers of that language themselves, or rather to a paradigm influenced by post-Enlightenment Judaic studies and Jewish nationalism? And in the wake of the colonial partition of Palestine / Israel and the displacement of Jews from Arabic-speaking cultural geographies, how should we regard the salvage project of an “endangered Judeo-Arabic?” What are the implications of a conceptual framework that has left a linguistic practice both rejected and desired?”

*Attendees are encouraged to read the colloquium materials ahead of the event. They are available through the Humanities Center at

Event Date: 
Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm
Sponsored By: 
The Islamicate Studies Working Group, Film Studies Program, Cultural Studies Program, Jewish Studies Program, & the English Department
Humanities Center, Cathedral of Learning 602, University of Pittsburgh