7 2024

Return to Sepharad: Identity & Citizenship among Iberian Jewish Descendants

The Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University invites you to the annual Leonard Wolinsky Lectures on Jewish Life and Education.

This year's lectures are entitled "Returns to Sepharad: Identity and Citizenship among Iberian Jewish Descendants".

Lecture #1: The Sephardi Past, the Converso Present: Literature, Citizenship, and Sephardi Identity

A talk by Dalia Kandiyoti

Who are Jewish judeoconversos (Jewish converts) and why do they matter today? This talk is based on Dalia Kandiyoti’s book The Converso’s Return: Conversion and Sephardi History in Contemporary Literature and Culture. As The Converso’s Return shows, the Iberian past of Sephardi Jews has gained much attention in the past several decades. Within the context of greater visibility for Sephardi history, the story of conversos, occupies a special place, presenting a crossroads of personal and fictional stories from Iberia, the Ottoman Empire, and the Americas. These narratives are about medieval conversions, secret affiliations, and descent, and recent recuperations of the past. Fascinatingly, contemporary fiction, memoirs, and testimonies about converso heritage also show how narratives of the past can shape current identities. Converso’s history’s consequences for citizenship in Spain and Portugal will also be discussed in the context of the 2023 volume Reparative Citizenship for Sephardi Descendants: Returning to the Jewish Past in Spain and Portugal, co-edited by Dalia Kandiyoti and Rina Benmayor.

Dalia Kandiyoti is a professor of literature at the City University of New York (CUNY), College of Staten Island.

Lecture #2: The 2015 Spanish and Portuguese Sephardi Citizenship Laws and their Situated Meanings

A talk by Rina Benmayor

In 2015, Spain and Portugal passed historic laws inviting descendants of Sephardi Jews to apply for citizenship. Given the passage of centuries since the original expulsions, persecutions, and forced conversions, what motivated the states of Spain and Portugal to take such actions at this moment? Why and how did these laws come about, and what motivated Sephardi descendants to seek or not seek these citizenships? Sixteen critical articles and personal essays in Reparative Citizenship for Sephardi Descendants: Returning to the Jewish Past in Spain and Portugal, coedited by Dalia Kandiyoti and myself, comprise the first scholarly volume on this topic. The chapters, authored by scholars and writers from different disciplines and countries, address the above questions, shedding light on the legal, historical, cultural, and personal implications of these laws, and on the choice of the term "reparative citizenship." In highlighting the main arguments of the book, I also discuss my own contribution that explores the affective and emotive dimensions of citizenship.

Rina Benmayor is Professor Emerita in the School of Humanities and Communication, California State University Monterey Bay.

Register to attend: https://yorku.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_cV8AzHQsT8eO28jdGbcl5w#/registration

This calendar is provided as a public information service. UJA Federation does not endorse the content of non-UJA events listed in this calendar.

Check out our Featured Events page.