Modern Manifestations

Renee Levine Melammed

in A Question of Identity

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780195170719
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835416 | DOI:
 Modern Manifestations

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Three examples of modern manifestations of converso identity have been chosen in order to examine how the passage of time has affected the converso experience. For centuries the first group, the Chuetas of Majorca, was stigmatized, was known for its endogamy, and lived separately while maintaining a sense of membership in the Nation despite the fact that the level of Judaizing of its members was unclear; recent immigration to Majorca has led to a previously unknown high rate of intermarriage. The conversos of Belmonte, Portugal, managed to perpetuate a crypto-Judaism of their own until the twentieth century; their encounter with modernity has led to many conversions to so-called normative Judaism although signs of syncretism with their “traditional” crypto-Judaism can be detected. The third manifestation originates in the Southwest portion of the United States where individuals are claiming to be the modern descendants of conversos who migrated to sixteenth-century Mexico and maintained secrecy over the centuries. This phenomenon is the most problematic, for there are as yet no clear-cut criteria for determining who is a descendant, if there is a common denominator for them, and what constitutes a converso identity.

Keywords: Chuetas; Majorca; endogamy; Belmonte; syncretism; crypto-Judaism; Southwest; modern descendants; secrecy

Chapter.  14833 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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