Since the 1970s, the Latin American Jewish Diaspora has been recognized as a unique phenomenon in diaspora studies, due to the development of new ways of thinking about internationalism and globalization. Important works of the 1980s and 1990s established the critical role of Jews in Latin America. This collection - now in paperback - moves the field forward by providing an interdisciplinary and comparative view of Jewish experiences through history, literature, painting, anthropology, poetry, sociology, and politics. The contributors have been impacted and shaped by their own or their families' memories of the Holocaust and the lived horrors of anti-Semitism in Latin America. The collection explores and celebrates what it means to have memories of an individual and a collective Jewishness, and to uncover and recover the historical fragments of the Jewish experience in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“In this unusual collection, poets rub shoulders with historians, a painter evokes memories that memory strives to forget, and researchers cut through the cant of politicians and the obfuscation of official records to get to the root of the disasters that have overtaken Jews in Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Editor Kristin Ruggiero brings together thirteen insightful interpreters of the Latin American Jewish experience – historians, sociologists and artists who re-create the particular Fragments they have lived. Whether writing as an émigré returning to Cuba, a Mexican savoring his Yiddish legacy, or a desaparecida surviving in an Argentine prison by reciting poetry to herself, each memoirist presents fresh and original ideas. Individual essays, grounded in significant historical research, reorient our thinking about racial identity in Brazil and the forces behind terrorist bombings in Buenos Aires. To a remarkable degree, the writers succeed in conveying the quality of their experience, its distinctive coloration and aroma and historical weight. Drawing the link between Nazism and the policies of Latin American dictators, the essays make plain and undeniable the hostile context for Jewish life on that continent. Dimensions of the pain caused by oppression are expressed in poetry, through ellipsis, con cariño, with love. These Fragments of Memory – of alienation, identity, and resistance – contribute significantly toward a phantom reconstruction of the multifaceted Latin American Jewish experience.” —Judith Laikin Elkin, University of Michigan; a Founder of the Latin American Jewish Studies Association
“Editor Kristin Ruggiero has assembled thirteen essays by keen interpreters of the Jewish experience in Latin America, furthering the interdisciplinary exploration of four prominent themes in the history of the respective Jewries: memory, identity, anti-Semitism, and violence. The contributors’ disciplines include history, anthropology, literature, sociology, and art, which underscores the multifaceted ways of describing Jewish life in Latin America. …These fragments of memory are a significant contribution to our understanding of Latin American Jewish life.” —American Historical Review
“Kristin Ruggiero has assembled a stellar cast of multinational and multidisciplinary scholars and artists that imparts this book both depth and variety. Geographically, the chapters range from Mexico and tropical Caribbean islands to temperate South America and its large Jewish communities. Topically, the volume tackles a multiplicity of contradictory forces and trends: anti-Semitism and Judeophilia; cultural hybridity and separation; terrorism (of various ideological hues) and communal self-defense; collective memory and amnesia. Epistemologically and aesthetically, the essays range from the intellectual impartiality and keenness of first-rate scholarly analysis to the poignant poetics of personal testimonials. The volume’s documentary base extends from diplomatic dispatches and a legendary literary magazine to oral interviews and the diary of a polyglot grandmother. The result is a broad and vivid portrayal of the Jewish presence in Latin America.” —José C. Moya, UCLA, Department of History; Chair, Latin American Studies Program
“Most welcome because it complements other sources on the Jewish experience elsewhere (Levy and Weingrod 2005). The thirteen contributions focus on the twentieth century precisely because the authors emphasize the memories of individuals and their communities to uncover and recover the Jewish experience. In her Introduction, Ruggiero suggests that four themes – memory, identity, anti-Semitism, and violence – have dominated the Jewish experience in Latin America… This interdisciplinary collection explores and celebrates individual lives and collective Jewishness. One cannot depart the pages of this volume without a deep sense of connecting with a culture committed to survival, even through genocide and holocaust. This is not a volume of numbing statistics and dry rhetoric; it is a book of passionate commitment to portraying the Jewish presence in twentieth-century Latin America and the Caribbean.” —Revista Europea de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe
“This set of thirteen essays … provides ample evidence that there was not one common Jewish experience. Immigrants were neither cut from the same cloth nor did they leave their homelands for the same reasons. Their motivations for leaving shaped them as much as the challenges they faced in their new homes. As these essays make clear, some countries were unexpectedly welcoming, while in others, the reception was decidedly more ambivalent.” —The Americas
“This book is an important contribution to an ongoing scholarly and artistic effort to excavate, document and communicate the multifarious diasporic experience of Jews in Latin America during the twentieth century. …Thematically, the contributions concentrate on the collective and individual struggles of Jews to deal with their experiences of discrimination and violence under anti-Semitic and dictatorial regimes. The goal that is set for the book by the editor Kristin Ruggiero is mostly a descriptive one: ‘to uncover and recover another story and history of the fragments of the Jewish experience’. Yet the book does more than the piecemeal collection of ‘fragments’. Essays here depict and probe the very processes of fragmentation which characterize the experiences of Jews in the Diaspora, as well as their attempts to retain and narrate these experiences.” —European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies