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Latin American Jewish Cultural Production

David William Foster

Publication Year: 2009

Latin America is home to roughly half a million Jews, preponderantly Ashkenazic Jews. The majority are concentrated in Argentina, but Brazil and Mexico are also home to significant Jewish communities, as are major urban centers in other countries. Jews in Latin America, in addition to their prominent role in business, commerce, and finance, have a significant presence in cultural production and the arts. Like Hollywood, the Argentine and Mexican film industry is heavily Jewish, while the media--print journalism, radio, and television--have long been associated with Jewish interests. The open enrollment policies of many countries--Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico are notable here--have meant that Jews also have a considerable presence in academic and intellectual circles.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Series: Hispanic Issues

Title Page/Copyright/Hispanic Series

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: Latin American Jewish Cultural Production

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pp. ix-xviii

I have always been struck, in the debate over the validity of cultural studies, by what are considered legitimate and illegitimate identities—that is, what one can legitimately say about authors to place them in appropriate sociocultural contexts. Both traditional philological and aesthetic approaches wish to hold the line that such markers are irrelevant. ...

Part I: Latin American Jewish Identity

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1. Notes Concerning Jewish Identity in Brazil: From Word to Image

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pp. 3-23

In his book A imigração (Immigration), the Algerian sociologist Abdelmalek Sayad calls our attention to an apparently banal question, one that seems to me to be fundamental: how immigration must be seen as a “complete social fact” that takes into account the existence of the “emigrant,” the person abandoning his community, ...

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2. "Israel": An Abstract Concept or Concrete Reality in Recent Judeo-Argentinean Narrative?

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pp. 24-40

The re-democratization process in Argentina, beginning at the end of 1983, emphasized a tendency that had emerged within the Judeo-Argentinean fiction (and Argentinean narrative in general) to contemplate on the collective and personal memory, while creating a type of dialogue with the general historic context of the twentieth century. ...

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3. Beyond Exotic: Jewish Mysticism and the Supernatural in the Works of Alejandro Jodorowsky

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pp. 41-60

One of the first things to notice about Alejandro Jodorowsky is how naturally he weaves the strange and the supernatural into his films, performances, and writings. At first glance, his approach brings to mind the work of European travel writers who since the nineteenth century have been engaged in drawing out ...

Part II: The Literary Record

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4. Writing on the Shoah in Brazil

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pp. 63-82

The presence of the Shoah in Brazilian literature is, one must make clear from the start, extremely marginal. Despite direct Brazilian participation on the front in the battles of World War II against Nazi forces, one cannot perceive in Brazilian culture any strong trace of this fact. ...

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5. Judaic Traces in the Narrative of Clarice Lispector: Identity Politics and Evidence

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pp. 83-96

Since the late 1970s, a number of scholars of the work of Clarice Lispector (b. Ukraine 1920, d. Brazil 1977) have been publishing studies that would previously have been almost unacceptable in academic research on this writer.1 They claim to have found in her fiction evidence of the Jewish culture that Lispector absorbed in her family of origin, ...

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6. Argentina's Wandering Jews: Judaism, Loyalty, Text, and Homeland in Marcelo Birmajers's Tres mosqueteros

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pp. 97-116

The twentieth-century dissolution of certainties, summed up for many by the catchword of postmodernism, brought with it a splintering of the frames that once gave communities their shape. These frames are now subject to an almost constant instability; the ties that bind us are no longer sustained by the “logic” of unquestionable meta-narratives. ...

Part III: The Plastic Arts

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7. Spectacle and Spirituality: The Cacophony of Objects, Nelson Leirner (b. 1932)

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pp. 119-134

A silver pendent of charms that includes a Star of David dangles mid-chest against Nelson Leirner’s red T-shirt in the opening pages of Chiarelli, the most current monograph on his work.1 The photograph of the seventy-year-old artist with a cropped head and graying beard hints to the viewer of the telltale intermingling of both disguised and blatant images ...

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8. Text and the City: Design(at)ing Post-Dictatorship Memorial Sites in Buenos Aires

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pp. 135-154

Ongoing debates, both academic and popular, surround the processes of memorialization and commemoration worldwide; that is, the role of art, architecture, public monuments, and museums in creating and preserving collective memory remains highly contested. Controversies regarding the construction of Holocaust memorials and museums, ...

Part IV: Film and Photography

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9. Mexican Women, Jewish Women: Novia que te vea from Book to Screen and Back Again

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pp. 157-177

The first Jews arrived in Mexico during the time of the Spanish Conquest.1 Many Jewish immigrants to the New World were fleeing the Spanish Inquisition and sought religious freedom. Others, evidence demonstrates, were officially “New Christians,” Jews who had converted to Catholicism in order to survive the Inquisition, ...

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10. Catastrophe and Periphery: July 18, 1994, and September 11, 2001, on Film

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pp. 178-197

Paul Virilio argues in City of Panic that we currently live in an era in which an informational war is taking place. Virilio contends that under the guiding premise of exacting revenge for the September 11 attacks, “ambition knows no bounds since it is now a matter of smashing the mirror of the real and thereby causing each and every one of us, ...

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11. Madalena Schwartz: A Jewish Brazilian Photographer

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pp. 198-212

Madalena Schwartz (1922–1993) belonged to a generation of European photographers, in large part Jewish or Jewish-marked, who ended up working in Argentina and Brazil as refugees from Nazi persecution.1 Grete Stern (1904– 1999) is unquestionably the most famous of the group (see Foster, “Dreaming”), ...

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Afterword: Identifying Jewishness

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pp. 213-226

It might be argued that the theme of what it means to be a Jew has preoccupied, and even haunted, those associated, in one way or another, with God’s chosen people. Correspondingly, the self-consciousness that marks the theory and the artistic output of recent decades undoubtedly makes its way into an examination of Latin American Jewish cultural production. ...

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pp. 227-230

Janis Breckenridge is an Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Whitman College. She received her M.A and Ph.D from the University of Chicago. She specializes in contemporary Latin American literature with a focus on women’s writing, testimonial discourse and metafiction, ...


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pp. 231-236

Volumes in the Hispanic Issues Series

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E-ISBN-13: 9780826592552
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826516237

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Hispanic Issues