Between Religion, Commerce, and "Race": The Elusive Definition of a "Judeo-Portuguese" Atlantic

Thursday, January 6, 2011: 4:00 PM
Room 205 (Hynes Convention Center)
David Graizbord , University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Responding to academics’ fascination with the role of Sephardic Jews and Jewish-identified New Christians or “conversos” in the Portuguese trading nation (“a nação portuguesa”) of the Iberian Atlantic, this paper will discuss a key problem inherent in the definition of that “Nation” as an object of inquiry within the rubric of Atlantic Studies. While acknowledging the usefulness of the paradigm of “Atlantic Community” in describing aspects of the nação’s character and functioning as a group, my discussion will concentrate on ways in which the variable interplay of ethnicity, religion, the construct of “race,” and economic behavior in the lives of “Men of the Nation” challenges totalizing models of these subjects’ Jewishness and “Ibero-Atlanticity,” so to speak, and argues for a more nuanced approach to Jewish and judeoconverso identity, and hence, to the notion of a “Jewish Ibero-Atlantic” that students of Atlantic and Jewish Studies have only recently begun to chart.
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