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< All Fellows and Scholars

Ms. Alma Heckman

Alma Heckman
2013-2014 Takiff Family Foundation Fellowship

“Radical Nationalists: Moroccan Jewish Communists, 1930-1960”

Professional Background

Ms. Alma Rachel Heckman is a PhD Candidate in History, University of California, Los Angeles (USA), and is expected to receive her degree in 2015. Her dissertation is entitled "Radical Nationalists: Moroccan Jewish Communists, 1930-1960." Ms. Heckman earned her Master’s degree in History from UCLA in June 2012 and her CPhil in December 2012. Ms. Heckman speaks French fluently and possesses linguistic skills in Arabic, Spanish, Hebrew, and Ladino. Her awards include a Roter Research Travel Grant from the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies in 2012 as well as a Bluma Appel Fellowship for academic year 2013-2014; an American Academy for Jewish Research (AAJR) travel grant for Summer 2013; and a UCLA International Institute International Fieldwork Fellowship for academic year 2013-2014. While in residence in the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Ms. Heckman worked on her project entitled, “Radical Nationalists: Moroccan Jewish Communists, 1930-1960.”

Ms. Heckman’s first published article “Packed in Twelve Cases: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair” with Frances Malino (Wellesley College), will appear in Jewish Social Studies in Fall 2013. She also published an article concerning the life and literature of former Moroccan Jewish Communist activist and writer Edmond Amran El Maleh in the The Literary Encyclopedia in April 2013. She has presented several of papers at scholarly conferences, including “Radical (Inter)Nationalists: Spanish Civil War, French Colonialism, and Moroccan Jewish Communists,” at “Historical Geographies of Internationalism (1900s-1960s)” the Royal Geographic Society – Institute of British Geographers annual conference, London, United Kingdom, August 2013; “Morocco 1940-1942: Vichy Rule as Catalyst for Jewish Political Participation,” presented at 44th Association for Jewish Studies in Chicago in December 2012; “Palimpsests and Pariahs: Unexplored Interactions between the Moroccan Communist Party and the Black Panther Party in Algeria,” presented at CRASC-CEMA’s “1962: A World” in Oran, Algeria in October 2012; and “Turkish and Moroccan Judeo-Spanish Culture in the Throes of Nationalism,” presented at the UCLA Ladino Symposium of Judeo-Spanish Comparative Studies: Literary, Linguistic, and Cultural Perspectives in Los Angeles in March 2012.

Fellowship Research

For her Takiff Family Foundation Fellowship, Ms. Heckman examined the Selected Records of the National Library of Morocco and the Hélène Benatar Private Collection among the many other relevant collections held by the Museum’s Archives and Library. She studied these collections in order to understand why Moroccan Jews would join the Communist Party instead of other political organizations, including the many Zionist and nationalist movements, and how the Vichy Period may have influenced this. Ms. Heckman’s project shed light on a largely neglected aspect of the Holocaust as well as the first decades after the Second World War.

Ms. Heckman was in residence at the Mandel Center from September 1 to November 30, 2013.