The latest in the “Communities in Conversation” lecture series at Rhodes College could for one night only be retitled “communities in conflict.” That’s because the topic on Monday night will be Muslims and Jews in France, and Mandel, of Brown University, is just the lecturer to sort through the complicated issues. Her latest book, Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict (Princeton University Press), appeared this past January.
But if you can’t make it to either of Mandel’s Memphis appearances, you can still hear what she has to say on the relationship between French Muslims and Jews. And not only Muslims and Jews. Her book examines the “narrative of conflict” within contemporary French society as a whole — a narrative that cannot be understood unless we also take into account the country’s end-of-empire decolonization, immigration, secularization, racism, and anti-Semitism. Into that polarizing mix, factor in Mandel’s broad compass (postwar North African, Israeli, and Palestinian history) and you have what the author calls “comparative history” and a better understanding of the forces at work. In an interview with Jonathan Judaken that aired last week on WKNO-FM, Maud Mandel explained. •