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Virtual PhD and a Cup of Tea: Holocaust or Indifference? The history of the Ethiopian Jews under Italian fascist rule

May 16, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Carlo Alberto Viterbo and Tamraat Emmanuel (Viterbo’s Collection, Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem)

Within the context of the fascist conquest of Ethiopia, the history of the Ethiopian Jews, the Beta Israel, is significant. After the arrival of Italian troops in the 1930s, the Jewish group, which has always been divided by the Christian majority, gained special treatment.

However, the regime’s attitude towards them changed due to the 1938 racial laws. Ethiopian Jews seemed to disappear from the focus of the fascist government, the Italian Jewish press was forced to close down and the break-up of South African troops on the scene of World War II reshaped Ethiopia and its rule. Many years afterwards, research on the Beta Israel resumed and some community members have called for their fates and experiences to be considered part of the Holocaust.

Is it possible to talk about them as victims of genocide? Can we talk about Ethiopian Jews as Holocaust victims? These questions pave the way to new research fields that historiography has neglected and combine topics often neglected in Holocaust studies: racism, antisemitism and colonialism.

About the speaker

Matteo D’Avanzo is a PhD candidate in History at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and INALCO, Paris. He is a fellow of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoa and Yad Vashem. In 2022/2023 he is a visiting fellow of the Vidal Sassoon Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in spring 2023 he will be visiting fellow of the Holocaust Research Institute at Royal Holloway University of London. His research deals with the history of Ethiopian Jews from the Italian fascist rule to the official recognition by the State of Israel.

Virtual seminar guidelines:

  1. The Library will send you a Zoom link and joining instructions via email prior to the event. Please check your junk email folders.
  2. Please try and join 5 minutes before the event start time and we will let you into the room (do try and bear with us if this takes a few minutes).
  3. If you would like to ask a question during the event, the chair may invite you to raise your hand or type your question into the chat function, and we will endeavour to answer as many questions as possible during the Q&A.
  4. This event will not be recorded. The seminar series is generally not recorded because the topics presented are works in progress.
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