Artisan dynamics in the age of colonialism: The social history of Moroccan Jewish goldsmiths in the inter-war period

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The article highlights the social history of Jewish goldsmiths in French Morocco between the two World Wars, a period in which the global capitalist system challenged their historical monopoly over production and commerce. Continued external intervention (Moroccan commercial treaties with European capitalist markets), direct competition (the import of cheap industrial products and an influx of entrepreneurs), the mechanisation of local manufacturing, the encouragement of individualism resulting in the breakdown of Jewish social cohesion and the taking over of political institutions by France (the Makhzen) and its local agent (the Muhtaseb) had all eroded the Jewish monopoly of the precious-metals industry and created an unexpected atmosphere of strong economic, political and judicial pressures on Jewish goldsmiths. In order to explore the struggle and survival of Jewish goldsmiths in the new economic order, the article addresses the following key questions: (1) What was the influence of various forces, both external and internal, on the Jewish goldsmiths' industry?; (2) How did the artisans respond to and cope with these new economic conditions?; and (3) Why did the Protectorate revert back from liberal economic policy to that of local producers' protection?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-690
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Review of History/Revue Europeenne d'Histoire
Issue number5
StatePublished - 20 Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was generously funded by the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris (Bourses Fernand Braudel, IFER) and the EU’s Seventh Program for Research, to whom I am grateful.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor and Francis.


  • French Morocco
  • Islamic city
  • Jewish monopoly
  • articulation of modes of production
  • colonial Capitalism
  • values of Hisba

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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