Jewish Diaspora

David Graizbord

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online August 2011 | | DOI:
Jewish Diaspora

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  • History of the Americas
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  • Regional and National History


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Despite the existence of various academic works on Jews in or of various corners of the Atlantic, the study of Jews in the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic basin, consciously pursued as a subfield of research under the rubric of “Atlantic studies,” is still in its very early stages. Therefore, the boundaries of the subject of the present bibliography, a subject one may provisionally call the “Atlantic Jewish diaspora” and/or the “Jewish Atlantic,” are still vague. Unlike other fields and subfields, for instance, the “black Atlantic” and the “Iberian Atlantic,” this one does not have a name that specialists regularly employ or that would be readily recognizable to scholars outside of the small, relatively multidisciplinary subfield itself. The works listed below are mostly of two kinds: First, traditional studies of Jews and their diaspora, either focusing on or merely including Jews in the Atlantic basin. These works, several of which were published before the 1980s, have served to undergird works of the second kind. Many of these latter works have been published after the 1980s and are conscious responses to the emergence of Atlantic studies as a subfield and approach. Some works of this second type may thus be categorized as consciously “Atlanticist” in some way. The chronological focus of the literature is, in both cases, tilted heavily toward the early modern period. The concept of an “Atlantic Jewish diaspora,” such as it exists, owes its current momentum to at least three main factors: first, the development, especially since the 1990s, of the wider field of Atlantic studies, itself based on the concept of the Atlantic as a context of new and qualitatively (and quantitatively) unique exchanges and cultural formations. The second factor is the emergence of the field of Early Modern Jewish studies. This emergence, as David Ruderman has pointed out, was marked by the work of Jonathan Israel, whose research is of particular significance to Atlanticists. The third phenomenon is the seminal notion of the “Port Jew,” David Sorkin’s original designation of an early modern Jewish social type, usually a Sephardic or Italo-Jewish subject, whose economic, political, and social purviews were transoceanic, and thus, according to the concept’s proponents, typified a proto-modern—or at least nontraditional—and relatively cosmopolitan outlook favorable to acculturation.

Article.  5591 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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