The Jewish family in Europe and the Mediterranean from the Middle Ages to our days

Michael Gasperoni

Call for articles:
The Jewish family in Europe and the Mediterranean from the Middle Ages to our days
Thematic volume of the Annales de démographie historique (2018/2),
edited by Luca Andreoni, Michaël Gasperoni and Cyril Grange

The history of the family is at the center of a considerable historiographical renewal that has marked Jewish studies during the last decades. The medievalists were the first to widely study small groups and Jewish family networks in order to better understand the settlement and diffusion of the Jewish population in a territory or their relations with the majoritarian society. Being particularly heterogeneous, the Jewish diaspora is traditionally divided into several groups and factions dependent on ritual practices, geographic provenances and affiliations or legal traditions, more or less influenced by the local contexts the different Jewish populations were settled in. These differences clearly had an impact on the matrimonial practices and family structures of Jews in Europe and the Mediterranean : Whilst the Ashkenazi Jewish tend less to marry among very close relatives, Sephardic families are known for their pronounced intrafamilial endogamy and a certain tolerance towards polygamy (Goiten 1978 ; Stow 1987 ; Katz 1992 ; Bonazzoli 1998 ; Oliel-Grausz 2000; Galasso 2002 ; Hidiroglou 2003 ; Gasperoni 2013). Thus, the rules of incest prohibition of the Jewish populations differ strongly from those of the Christian ones, being particularly strict and cognatic. On the contrary, they come rather close to the ones of the populations in the Mediterranean basin who practice the so-called "arabic" marriage, that is to say such favoring unions between close relatives, in particular agnatic ones (Barry 2008 ; Delille 2013).
In fact, the matrilinear transmission of Jewishness and the consequential asymmetry of Jewish incest prohibitions (Di Segni 1989) tend to attune the Jewish kinship system to the one shaping societies that widely contract unions between agnatic relatives - a practice based on a more or less strict prohibition of relations between uterine parents as the letter were considered the actual "relatives" in the sense of a common identity (Barry 1998; 2000; 2008). The marriage between cousins, between uncle and niece, the levirate marriage – which constitutes one of the rare matrimonial prescriptions in Judaism – and the sororate marriage are frequent practices that shape dynamics of social reproduction as well as the transmission and redistribution of the patrimony within the families. Therefore, it is not surprising that these mechanisms of transmission have attracted the attention of researchers, who have stressed the importance of the dowry and female contributions in the Jewish societies of the past (Allegra 1993 ; 1996 ; 1997 ; Luzzati et Galasso 2007 ; Francesconi 2009 ; Frank 2009 ; Gasperoni 2013 ; 2015).
Recent studies have shown the variety of demographic configurations in Jewish societies, especially influenced by the respective economic, social and cultural surroundings, even in a context of spatial and social segregation (Allegra 2009). Is the notable diversity of family structures and matrimonial practices known in particular for Italy (so-called "Italian" Jews, Sephardim and Levantines, Ashkenazim, Marranos) common to all geographic areas? Can we observe such a diversity in other spaces of the Ashkenazi settlement or in the Ottoman Empire? How can we measure and analyze social mobility within communities starting from demographic behavior? Did the emancipation and full integration of the Jews in the European societies have an impact on marriage practices and the family structures?
Comparative, diachronic, interdisciplinary and quantitative perspectives are welcome: we do not intend to limit the volume to case studies, but to analyze the Jewish family on a larger scale and in its diversity by combining the existing rich historiography on the subject with efforts towards synthesis and original pieces of research opening new prospects of research.

Conditions of submission and evaluation
- Proposals of 5000 characters maximum with a short CV are to be submitted to and no later than September 1st 2017. A response will be given on septembre 15, 2017.
- The full articles must be submitted to the scientific committee before February 1st 2018 and will be submitted to double blind peer review. The scientific committee will receive the final versions before September 30 2018 (for a publication of the volume in the beginning of 2019).
- Articles may be written in French or English and contain a summary (around 15 lines). They must not exceed 75 000 characters, tables and figures included.

Scientific coordinators
Luca Andreoni, has been a post-doctoral researcher (assegnista di ricerca) at the Università Politecnica delle Marche, Department of economic and social scientes (Ancona, Italy), and has been visiting researcher in France on several occasions. His works focus on the rural history of Europe and the economic and social history of the Jewish in the Mediterranean.
Michael Gasperoni, chargé de recherches at the CNRS, UMR 8596, Centre Roland Mousnier, is working on the history of social segregation and the family in early modern Italy. He has published several works on the Jewish and Christian kinship system, matrimonial practices and demographic, legal, economic and social aspects of the Jewish ghettos in Italy. He is a member of the research group « Traitement Informatique de la Parenté » (TIP).
Cyril Grange, directeur de recherches at the CNRS, UMR 8596, Centre Roland Mousnier. His works focus on the social history of French elites in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1996, he published Les gens du Bottin Mondain, Y être c’est en être (Paris, Fayard) and Une élite parisienne, les familles de la bourgeoisie juive 1870-1939 at the Editions du CNRS in 2016. He is a member of the research group « Traitement Informatique de la Parenté » (TIP) author of the the Puck software (Program for the Use and Computation of Kinship Data).

The Annales de démographie historique
Founded in 1964 by the Société de Démographie Historique, the Annales de démographie historique, are outstanding as the only French journal in its domain and publish international pieces of research in French and English on the history, or rather the histories, of populations and the family with contributions paying special attention to their methodology and categories of analysis, approaches open to social history, the history of medicine, anthropological and economic history. The Annales de démographie historique are published with support of the INSHS (CNRS).

For guidelines for authors and the style sheet of the Annales de démographie historique see:



Michael Gasperoni

CNRS - Centre Roland Mousnier, Université Paris Sorbonne, 1, rue Victor Cousin, 75230 Paris Cedex 05

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