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Picture of Jewish Latina/o Cultural Production Working Group Meeting

This UNC Latina/o Studies Program working group is dedicated to exploring the histories, cultures, and cultural productions of Jews in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America (inclusive of the Caribbean) as well as that of Latina/o Jews or Jewish Latina/os in the United States. The triangular nature of the investigation is important for bringing historical (temporal and geopolitical) analytical depth to the experiences and cultural productions of Latin American Jews and United States-based Latina/o Jews. Readings, film screenings, individual and panel presentations, and selected speakers will be distributed among the three sub-areas of exploration (the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America, and the United States). The challenge of the working group is to trace paths of inter-relation between these three sub-areas of investigation.

People who have committed to participating: Rosa Perelmuter, Corina Dueñas, Martin Ariel Sueldo, and Thomas Phillips from the UNC-CH Department of Romance Languages; Yaron Shemer from the Department of Asian Studies; Ariana Vigil from UNC-CH Department of Women’s and Gender Studies; Nicole Winnik Berland, Sarah Workman, María DeGuzmán, Hannah L. Palmer, Rachel Norman, and John Ribó from the UNC-CH Department of English & Comparative Literature; Joseph Megel in the Department of Communication Studies; Jessica Boon from the UNC-CH Religious Studies Department; Dean Franco from the Department of English at Wake Forest University; Rodrigo Dorfman, filmmaker based in Durham, North Carolina; Leonard Rogoff, historian, Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina, based at Duke; Ilana Dubester from The Center of What Works at the Rensselaerville Institute; and Alejandro Moreiras-Vilarós, Middle School Social Science Teacher at the Carolina Friends School.

Participants who have yet to commit: Please email Dr. DeGuzmán to let her know of your interest. Her email addresses are: and

Readings and other materials will be compiled by the working group members themselves.

Funding for this UNC Program in Latina/o Studies working group will be provided by the UNC Program in Latina/o Studies in conjunction with the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies and the UNC Department of Romance Languages. Funds may be spent on speakers brought to campus in connection with the working group, films to be purchased to be viewed together, photocopying of articles to be read together or the purchase of other educational materials to be perused as a group, the organizing and advertising of a panel or several panels of presentations by members of the working group to be held on the UNC campus but also advertised to the larger community, and any other activity that benefits the work of the group as a whole on the chosen topic (with its sub-areas) and in which the members of the group may participate to advance knowledge of Hispano-, Latin American-, and Latina/o Jewish histories and cultural production.

Suggested background bibliography:

Abu El-Haj, Nadia. The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology. Chicago: The U of Chicago Press, 2012. Begins to break down the Ashkenazi-Sephardi binary, etc.

Ben-Ur, Aviva. Sephardic Jews in America: A Diasporic History. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2009. I would recommend the chapters “The Jews Who Weren’t There: Scholarly and Communal Exclusion,” “Immigration, Ethnicity, and Identity,” and “The Hispanic Embrace.”

Benbassa, Esther and Aron Rodrigue. Sephardi Jewry: A History of the Judeo-Spanish Community, 14th–20th Centuries. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993.

Gerber, Jane S. The Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic Experience. New York, NY: The Free Press, 1994.

Gil, Lydia. “A Balancing Act: Latin American Jewish Literature in the United States (or Towards a Jewish-Latino Literature).” In A Companion to US Latino Literatures. Carlota Caulfield and Darién J. Davis, editors. Rochester: Boydell & Brewer, 2007. Print. 177-190.

Halevi-Wise, Yael, ed. Sephardism: Spanish Jewish History and the Modern Literary Imagination. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012. Ariana Vigil suggests we read Dalia Kandiyot’s chapter on Sephardism in Latina Literature.

Kandiyoti, Dalia. “What is the ‘Jewish’ in Jewish American Literature?” Studies in American Jewish Literature. 31.1 (Spring 2012): 48-60. Web. 22 April 2013. Engages with the marginal status of Sephardi texts in the larger context of American Jewish Literature.

Kruger, Steve F. The Spectral Jew: Conversion and Embodiment in Medieval Europe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2006.

Martínez, Elena, María. Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion, and Gender in Colonial Mexico. Stanford, 2008.

Wachtel, Nathan. The Faith of Remembrance: Marrano Labyrinths. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

Zohar, Zion, ed. Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry: From the Golden Age of Spain to Modern Times. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2005.

Examples of Jewish Latina/o films listed showcased at the 2012 San Diego Latino Film Festival:

El premio directed by Paula Markovitch (2011)
Salsa Tel Aviv directed by Jorge Weller (2011)
Mi primera boda directed by Ariel Winograd (2011)
Papirosen directed by Gaston Solnick (2011)
Las razones del corazón directed by Arturo Ripstein (2011)
Ocean Blues directed by Salomon Askenazi (2011)
0.56% ¿Qué le pasó a México? directed by Lorenzo Hagerman (2010)
36 Righteous Men directed by Daniel Burman (2011)

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