Credit: Timothée Andonian / Iméra
Sami Samuel Everett
Summary of the research project
In Arabic and Hebrew the word Zouj shares a root—ZWJ/ZWG—meaning two, pair or couple. This polysemy encapsulates Sami’s dialogical investigation of North African and diasporic spaces of Judeo-Arabic creativity and interchange across the longue durée. The Zouj research project spans shifting socio-political contexts, and changing conceptions of ethnic and religious difference since the turn of the nineteenth century to explore the narratives produced by and around specific pairs (zouj) of cultural producers. Sami specifically employs a hybrid interdisciplinary historically sensitive, critical cultural studies, and anthropological approach to his research, drawing on and analysing digital and physical archives—associational, familial and personal—with a specific focus on their materiality through photos, cassette tapes and video. In tandem with this he conducts virtual and actual interviews and in-person ethnographic participant observation to explore the ways in which relationships within particular spaces have played out in terms of creation, representation and discrimination. Zouj contributes nuanced and grounded knowledge that can be set against the erosion of dialogical debate concerning the purity of ethno-religious categories in the Mediterranean in general and in France in particular. Specifically, it unsettles associated binaries for example that of Jew and Arab or Indigenous and European through an exploration of relational histories and experiences in North African Jewish milieux through cultural interaction and creation with minoritised Muslims and non-minority European society.
The project outputs will be a Zouj monograph, six films, a local exhibition, and a Digital Humanities pedagogical volume. Sami Everett’s scholarly expertise and the international network that he has built up in historical and cultural analysis of Jewish-non-Jewish relations enable him to lead such a collaborative study. Zouj lends itself to a collaborative format particularly between the UK, France and North Africa but also Germany via the Franco-German Mediterranean forum and contacts in Heidelberg, Göttingen and Berlin. Through the ORA funded Encounters project, Sami’s first FIAS fellowship at Iméra, as well as his Marie-Curie Global Fellowship (Morocco-UK), he has developed key HSS scholar networks with whom to take forward the concept and spirit of Zouj, targeting significant funding streams by 2025/26. As a Senior Research Fellow at Iméra he intends to combine the threads and the scholarly communities that constitute these different projects and bring them into fruition in a series of significant and substantive project-based contributions to the Humanities.
Samuel Sami Everett, PhD is a Senior Fellow at the Iméra, Institute for Advanced Study of Aix-Marseille University. His research focuses on the historical-colonial and spatial-political dimensions of North African Jewish and Muslim identification. Trained in political and cultural anthropology he has a degree from INALCO in North African Language and Culture (Arabic, Berber, Judeo-Arabic). His work is located between North African, Middle Eastern, Jewish and Islamic Studies of Diaspora, dynamic interreligious interaction and migratory trajectories.