Jews and Judaism in African History

This timely book is the first to cover the history of Jews from the times of Alexander the Great and Caesar to Idi Amin and Nelson Mandela. Jews have often been a marginalized minority, yet they have played a role in the history of the continent hugely disproportionate to their numbers. They have enriched Africa culturally and economically, serving as innovators and middlemen, government servants and educators. Along the way, they have been victims and victimizers, mercenaries and proxies for others, as well as adjuvants in long-distance trade and sustainable development. While some have converted to other religions and been assimilated into indigenous society, most have retained their Jewish identity in various forms. Jews and Judaism have practically disappeared from Africa today, but the legacy of both endures.

This book covers topics such as Jews in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt; Jews in the western Mediterranean throughout the Inquisition; “New Christians” and the making of the Atlantic world, including the early phases of the modern sugar economy and the slave trade; Jews in Ethiopia from antiquity to the 20th century; Jewish communities in the Muslim world, including Morocco and West Africa; Sudanic civilizations from the 11th to the 21st century; Jews in the making of modern South Africa; and the relationship between modern Israel and Africa.

Richard Hull (New York University) is author of numerous books including Modern Africa: Change and Continuity.