Journal Article

The Debate over a Crypto-Jewish Presence in New Mexico: The Role of Ethnographic Allegory and Orientalism

Michael P. Carroll

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 63, issue 1, pages 1-19
Published in print January 2002 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2002 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712537
The Debate over a Crypto-Jewish Presence in New Mexico: The Role of Ethnographic Allegory and Orientalism

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Since the 1970s, an increasing number of Hispanics in the Southwest have claimed descent from Sephardic crypto-Jews who settled in that area centuries ago to escape the Inquisition. Although these claims were generally received sympathetically by scholars and scholarly journals, serious doubts about these claims have now been raised in the popular media. One goal of the present article is to provide a balanced overview of the debate as it now stands, and, in particular, to assess the plausibility of the claims being made and the evidence advanced in support of these claims. There are, however, certain patterns associated with the scholarly discourse on Southwestern “crypto-Judaism” which suggest that this discourse might have an appeal to educated publics that has little to do with “evidence” per se. Another goal of this article, then, is to provide a new perspective on the debate over Southwestern crypto-]udaism by relating it to (1) James Clifford's work on the functions of “ethnographic allegory” and (2) arguments put forward by a variety of scholars regarding the “orientalization” of New Mexico in Anglo (English-speaking) discourse.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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