Identity and Authenticity Among the Crypto-Jews
Juggling Identities is an extensive ethnography of the crypto-Jews who live deep within the Hispanic communities of the American Southwest. Critiquing scholars who challenge the cultural authenticity of these individuals, Seth D. Kunin builds a solid link between the crypto-Jews of New Mexico and their Spanish ancestors who secretly maintained their Jewish identity after converting to Catholicism, offering the strongest evidence yet of their ethnic and religious origins.
Kunin adopts a unique approach to the lives of modern crypto-Jews, concentrating primarily on their understanding of Jewish tradition and the meaning they ascribe to ritual. He illuminates the complexity of this community, in which individuals and groups perform the same practice in diverse ways. Kunin supplements his ethnographic research with broader theories concerning the nature of identity and memory, which is especially applicable to crypto-Jews, whose culture resides mainly in memory.
Kunin's work has wider implications, not only for other forms of crypto-Judaism (such as that found in the former Soviet Union) but also for the study of Judaism's fluid nature, which helps adherents adapt to new circumstances and knowledge. Kunin draws fascinating comparisons between the intricate ancestry of crypto-Jews and those of other ethnic communities living in the United States.
""Seth D. Kunin's book fills a large void in the academic literature treating crypto-Judaism and is an extremely significant contribution to the field. This work should attract the attention of a wide audience, both academic and lay alike. For academicians in the fields of social science and history, as well as university libraries, this book should be a requirement for their shelves."" — Stanley M. Hordes, University of New Mexico
"A fascinating ethnographic study... highly recommended. " — Choice
"Seth D. Kunin's book fills a large void in the academic literature treating crypto-Judaism and is an extremely significant contribution to the field. This work should attract the attention of a wide audience, both academic and lay alike. For academicians in the fields of social science and history, as well as university libraries, this book should be a requirement for their shelves." — Stanley M. Hordes, Latin American and Iberian Institute, University of New Mexico, and author of To the End of the Earth: A History of the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico
"In this small and new field, there is a shortage of book-length studies by academic authors. This volume is the first to include a long-term anthropological research component, with a sample far greater in size than those of previous studies. The crypto-Jewish theme is important to many, both within the communities involved and among those interested in the problem of identity. Seth D. Kunin presents a compelling methodology for addressing the proof value of many of the practices and phenomena and for assessing the importance of such proofs to the communities and the value of previous research. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in crypto-Jews or in the complex question of emerging communities of identity." — Seth Ward, University of Wyoming
1. Diversity and Complexity
2. The Case Against the Authenticity of Crypto-Judaism in New Mexico
3. The Case for the Authenticity of Crypto-Judaism in New Mexico
4. Ideal Types of Crypto-Jewish Identity
5. Crypto-Jewish Practice: Memory and Bricolage
6. A Postmodern Take on Crypto-Judaism
Theoretical Appendix. (Neo)-Structuralism: A Basis for Understanding the Transformative Use of Structure in Crypto-Jewish Culture