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Archive for April 2010

How the Jews Became Japanese and Other Stories of Brazilian Nationality and Ethnicity

What are the intellectual paths that scholars walk when they assume that ethnic specificity is a dominant social or cultural phenomenon that overshadows commonality? This presentation proposes that cross-ethnic comparison introduces new questions into research on Jews, or member of any other ethnic group. Put differently, the presentation emphasizes the question of national culture and asks how it creates similarities in some areas of ethnic life. The comparative analysis of Jews and Japanese within one national context (Brazil) highlights the moments and spaces where Jews are, and are not, the “same thing” as Japanese. -

Jeffrey Lesser, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Latin American History and Director, Tam Institute for Jewish Studies, (B.A., Brown University, 1982; Ph.D., New York University, 1989); modern Latin American history, focusing on ethnicity, immigration and race, especially in Brazil. Author of A Discontented Diaspora: Japanese-Brazilians and the Meanings of Ethnic Militancy (Duke University Press, 2007), Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorities and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil (Duke University Press, 1999) awarded the Best Book Prize, Latin American Studies Association-Brazil in Comparative Perspective Section and Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish Question (University of California Press, 1994) awarded the Best Book Prize, New England Council on Latin American Studies. Editor, Searching for Home Abroad: Japanese-Brazilians and Transnationalism (Duke University Press, 2003); Co-editor, Rethinking Jewish-Latin Americans (University of New Mexico Press, 2008) and Arab and Jewish Immigrants in Latin America: Images and Realities (Frank Cass, 1998).

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Professor Jeffrey Herf, Professor in the Department of History at University of Maryland, will talk about his latest book, Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (Yale University Press 2009). His book draws on German, British and especially American government archives to document and interpret Nazi Germany's Arabic language propaganda campaign aimed at the Middle East during World War II. The ideological collaboration between pro-Nazi Arab exiles and German officials in Berlin comprised one, of many, important chapters in the longer history of radical Islamism and the shift in the center of gravity of anti-Semitism after World War II from Europe to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

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Within the context of the question of how and when law becomes separate from religion, this lecture addresses how the answer to that question in the Judaean world applies to myth and reality in the trial and death of Jesus. We will then consider how long-held assumptions regarding that trial and death have affected Jewish-Christian relations--as seen specifically in legal and quasi-legal situations--for two millennia.

Ori Z. Soltes is Professorial Lecturer in Theology and Art History at Georgetown University. He is the author of over 150 essays, articles and books on various topics, including the forthcoming volume: Famous Jewish Trials: From Jesus to Jonathan Pollard.

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