As a teenager, Daniel Schroeter was intrigued by communities of Moroccan Jews he found while living in Israel. So in search of new experiences and a little adventure, he set off across North Africa looking for more than souks, minarets, and couscous—he wanted to learn more about Jews living in areas more commonly thought of as Muslim.
These journeys sparked an interest that would carry Professor Schroeter through college and graduate school and into a career as an internationally regarded scholar of modern Jewish history. With a special focus on Jews of the Muslim world, especially Morocco, he has distinguished himself in his field—so much so that in fall 2008 he became the first holder of CLA’s new Amos S. Deinard Memorial Chair in Modern Jewish History.
"My goal was to find ways of rethinking Jewish history as a whole," Professor Schroeter says about his research as a young student. But mentors and researchers in his interest area were few and far between. "I really had to seek out different people in different fields of specialization who were scattered across the globe—in the United States, France, Israel, and Morocco."
Adding that one of the appeals of his research continues to be the connections to people in far flung places—"There is a sense of adventure in my work"—Professor Schroeter continues to conduct field research, these days focusing on rural villages in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. "I’m particularly fascinated with the day to day interactions between Jews and Muslims in rural areas, which is also a very interesting way of looking at issues such as majority/minority relations and cultural change over time."
Mediterranean studies, while not exactly a new field, is poised to grow at Minnesota, and Professor Schroeter is excited about the possibilities. With the increased attention to globalization in nearly all things, the idea of national boundaries as impermeable divisions is also falling in academia. Fields such as history and literature now examine places in terms of movement and flows that transcend national boundaries. The study of the Mediterranean as a region is especially enticing thanks to its position as a hub of religious groups (Jews, Christians, Muslims), continents, and cultures, to name just a few.