The Ghriba pilgrimage in the island of Jerba: the semantics of otherness


  • Dora Carpenter-Latiri University of Brighton


Ritual -- Judaism, Pilgrims and pilgrimages -- Judaism, Tunisia -- History, Other, The, Jewish saints, Jews -- Diaspora, Pluralism, Religious, Islam, Religious minorities, Arab countries, Arabic language, Sacred space


This article examines the Jewish pilgrimage to the Ghriba Synagogue on the island of Jerba (or Djerba) in Tunisia, with a focus on the semantics of other­ness as it is condensed in the devotion to the Ghriba, the eponym­ous local saint of the synagogue. The author explores the semantics of the pilgrimage to the Ghriba (the ‘stranger saint’) and in particular, the polysemy of the name and the ambivalence of otherness in the Tunisian context, in particular in representations through discourse in the Tunisian Arabic language as shared by Muslims and Jews. She argues that this complex and ambivalent representation is the central meaning of the ritual of the Ghriba pilgrimage, as the negative connotations of otherness are reversed and amplified into the affirmation of a positive, healing ritual, dedicated to the stranger saint as a symbolic allegory of the otherness of the Jewish community as a whole, or as an allegory of the alienated, exiled, marginalized self. 



How to Cite

Carpenter-Latiri, D. (2010). The Ghriba pilgrimage in the island of Jerba: the semantics of otherness. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 22, 38–55.