Aomar Boum made his name by researching Muslim-Jewish relations in his native Morocco, where there remain fewer Jews than in his adopted home of Los Angeles. Now the topic is becoming hot, and he is working on books exploring the issue of displacement and the Holocaust in North Africa. Interview in the Daily Bruin (with thanks: Michelle):
“The formula is to at least allow a future generation to at least respect diversity and difference is training and education, from the bottom up,” Boum said.
Aomar Boum, associate professor of anthropology
Boum added he thinks his partnerships with individuals in his home country and with researchers at UCLA are a model for teaching and fostering student initiative and involvement.
Boum said his research on the Moroccan Jewish community examines a history not widely discussed outside Morocco for centuries, and at the same time looks at how the group views itself in the present.
There are approximately 4,000 people who identify as Moroccan Jews living in Morocco today, compared with almost 10,000 Moroccan Jews in Los Angeles, Boum said.
He added he thinks the recent termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program highlighted the dual presence minorities feel between their current places of residence and their ancestral heritage.
“The hyphenated identity is a question always being debated, especially with all the debates about (immigration) now,” he added.
Boum is collaborating with a young Moroccan artist to develop a comic book that tells a story of a young Jewish boy who fled Berlin during World War II and was taken in by a Muslim and Jewish family in Casablanca, Morocco, until the end of the war.
The book will address the situation of refugees around the world, including individuals displaced in Myanmar, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, Boum said.
Sarah Abrevaya Stein, a history professor, who is co-editing a book with Boum titled “The Holocaust and North Africa,” said their work focuses on topics that are often not covered in a single department.