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Brunschvig, Robert


BRUNSCHVIG, ROBERT (1901–1990), French Orientalist. Brunschvig, who was born in Bordeaux, began his teaching career at Tunis University. In 1932 he became professor of Muslim civilization at Algiers and in 1945 was appointed professor of Arabic language and literature at Bordeaux. Ten years later he went to Paris, where he became director of the Institute of Islamic Studies at the Sorbonne and editor of the journal Studia Islamica.

Brunschvig wrote many authoritative works on *Islam and Islamic culture, including a monumental political, literary, social, and religious history of the Hafside Kingdom, La Berbérie orientale sous les Hafṣides, des origines à la fin du xve siècle (2 vols, 1940–47). This contains an impressive study of the Jews of Algeria and Tunisia, based on the responsa of North African rabbis. There is also some important historical information about Jews in his Deux récits de voyage inédits en Afrique du Nord au xve siècle (1936).

Always an active Zionist, Brunschvig worked tirelessly on behalf of the persecuted Jews of Algeria during the Vichy regime of World War ii. In 1940, when they lost their education rights, he organized primary and secondary schooling for them throughout the country. He was on the executive of the Committee for Study, Aid, and Assistance which saved the lives of many Jews, and in 1942–43 was president of the Committee of Social Studies which played a political role in the face of Algerian antisemitism.


M. Eisenbeth, Pages vécues 1940–43 (1945), passim; M. Ansky, Les Juifs d'Algérie (1950), passim.

[David Corcos]

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