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Racial, Ethnic and National Identity Construction among Latin American Jews

Mon, December 17, 3:00 to 4:30pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Beacon Hill 2 & 3

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Session Sponsor: Latin American Jewish Studies Association


US scholars have done the important work of tracing Jewish access to whiteness and offer useful theoretical approaches applicable to the study of Jewish ethno/racial configurations in a transnational context. However, the study of American Jews has primarily relied on a black-white binary as the measurement of racial formation while also being geographically limited. A new approach is needed to understand the Jewish ethno-racial formation within a Latin American context, one that requires a framework that widens the black-white binary, incorporating other referents. This roundtable seeks to illuminate the methodological and conceptual approaches required for the study of ethno-racial formation and national belonging amongst Jews of Latin America with an emphasis on their changing nature in the context of transnational forces. Participants will draw on their own research to discuss these themes.

The following questions will be addressed:
1. How is Jewish ethnic, racial and national identity conceptualized across Latin America? How does this conceptualization differ in scope from the dominant discourse in the United States?
2. How do Jews fit in to the contemporary racial, ethnic, national and transnational paradigms in the region? Do Jews continue to occupy an “other” or “in-between” category in Latin America?
3. How do regionally specific cultural, social and political forces interact to construct Jewish identity ?
4. And lastly, how does the transnational movement of Jews in the region contribute to the construction and re-conceptualization of Jewish identity?

Judit Bokser-Liwerant
Professor of Political Science
Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, UNAM
Distinguished Visiting Professor, HUJI
Area of expertise: Collective Identities, Transnationalism and Jewish Latin American context

Max Greenberg, PhD Student, Department of Chicana/o Studies, UCLA
Area of research: Racial formation among Jewish Mexicans beyond a binary lens.

Laura Limonic, Assistant Professor, SUNY Old Westbury
Area of research: The racial “trans”formation of contemporary Latino Jewish immigrants in the United States.

Gina Malagold, PhD Candidate, U-Mass, Amherst
Area of research: The interaction of Sephardic and Ashkenazi encounters within the Jewish community in Mexico.

Dalia Wassner, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Brandeis University
Area of research: Political movements in Argentina and their effect on Jewish Argentine identity.

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