Course: The Jewish Diaspora in Latin America

HC 424H/421H

Professor: Monique R. Balbuena

Graduation Requirement: This class will fulfill an Arts & Letters Colloquium and an IP Multicultural class. If the student has already taken an Arts & Letters Colloquium, this class will fulfill both of the following requirements: an Elective Colloquium and an IP Multicultural class.

The coupling of the terms “Jew” and “Latino,” or “Jewish” and “Latin American” still elicits surprise and disbelief, especially among those who grew accustomed to identifying “Jewish” with “Eastern European.” However, a growing corpus of Jewish and Latin American literature increasingly demands that we acknowledge and confront both the Jewish contribution to the make-up of the Latin American cultural fabric, and the relevance of Latin American realities in shaping a distinctive Jewish identity.

 This course will study the presence of Jews in Latin America, the construction and representation of Jewish identity, as well as the relationships established between Jews and non-Jews in different Latin American countries. We will read literature written by Latin American Jews, watch movies that present their realities and conflicts in a very diverse region, and observe some of the Jewish contribution to the plastic arts. We will also listen to music by Jews in established Latin American genres, such as the tango, and traditional Jewish Sephardic genres which are now being recovered by contemporary singers.