Academic journal article Chasqui

Review Essay: The "Boom" of Latin American-Jewish Literary Studies

Academic journal article Chasqui

Review Essay: The "Boom" of Latin American-Jewish Literary Studies

Article excerpt

Avni, Haim, et al, eds. Pertenencia y alteridad Judios en/de America Latina: cuarenta anos de cambios. Madrid: Iberoamericana-Vervuert; Bonilla Artigas Editores, 2011. 870 pp. ISBN: 978-84-8489-518-3.

Canovas, Rodrigo. Literatura de inmigrantes arabes y judios en Chile y Mexico. Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2011. 295 pp. ISBN: 978-84-8489-593-0.

Canovas Emhart, Rodrigo, y Jorge Scherman Filer. Voces judias en la literatura chilena. Santiago: Cuarto Propio, 2010. 195 pp. ISBN: 978-956-260-504-5.

Cordeiro Rosa, Debora. Trauma, Memory and ldentity in Five Jewish Novels from the Southern Cone. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2012. 189 pp. ISBN: 978-0-7391-7297-1.

Dolle, Verena, ed. Multiples identidades: literatura judeo-latinoamericana de los siglos XX y XXL Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2012. 267 pp. ISBN: 978-84-8489-639-5.

Ran, Amalia. Made of Shores: Judeo-Argentinian Fiction Revisited. Bethlehem, MD: Lehigh UP, 2011. 173 pp. ISBN: 978-1-61146-014-8.

Ran, Amalia, and Jean Axelrod Cahan, eds. Returning to Babel." Jewish Latin American Experiences, Representations, and Identity. Boston: Brill, 2012. 241 pp. ISBN: 978-90-04-20395-2.

There can be no doubt that the study of Latin American Jewish literature has come into its own as a field of serious academic inquiry in the twenty-first century. More and more Jewish authors are lending their voices to Latin American literature, classes are being created and taught in universities around the world, a burgeoning of doctoral dissertations has occurred, and scholarly activity is producing an abundance of research. Finally, Latin America has gained entrance to Jewish Studies in the United States and Jewish Studies has become an important component of Latin American literary scholarship. Clearly, as this selection of books demonstrates, this "boom" of scholarly interest in Latin American Jewish literature is not restricted to the North American academy. Scholars working in Israel, Europe, Latin America and North America are contributing to investigative projects that are filling voids and opening new avenues of research. This essay addresses the scope and impact of the scholarship contained in these seven volumes published in the short span of 2010 to 2012.

The monumental volume--nearly 900 pages in length--Pertenencia y alteridad Judios en/de America Latina: cuarenta anos de cambios is edited by a team of renowned scholars associated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Haim Avni, Judit Bokser Liwerant, Sergio DellaPergola, Margalit Bejarano, and Leonardo Senkman. As the title indicates, the volume focuses on the past forty years (roughly 1967-2010) and encompasses a broad expanse of fields that range in approach from demographics to political science to history, education and, of course, literature, intersecting with a variety of other disciplines along the way. With a total of thirty-one essays, Pertenencia y alteridad contains a vast amount of information and a diversity of perspectives that seek to define and debate the "place" of Jews in/from Latin America; the identity politics of deliberately choosing "Judios en/de America Latina" as the subtitle are explained in the introduction. For purposes of this essay, my remarks focus only on the last section of the book, "Transformaciones linguisticas y creacion cultural," which consists of five essays.

Peta Sneh, who has long been a leading advocate for the preservation of Yiddish and Yiddishkeit in Argentina, leads this section with her essay "Idish al sur, una rama en sombras." Sneh's thoroughly researched and documented essay traces the origins and troubled continuity of Yiddish in Latin America. Her examination of literary authors and editors, the once thriving Yiddish theater and newspapers, as well as contemporary champions of language and humor--such as the late Eliahu Toker--delineates a rich history and culture. Toker's mission to preserve Yiddish is evidenced in such titles as his El idish es tambien Latinoamerica (2003). …

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