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NC Jewish Studies Consortium: The ‘Sephardim’: An Imagined Diaspora?
October 7, 2018 at 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
This year’s NC Jewish Studies Consortium will take place on October 7 at UNC Chapel Hill and will feature guest speaker Miriam Bodian, professor of History and director of the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
The consortium is hosted by UNC Chapel Hill with the generous support of the Jewish Studies programs of Appalachian State University, Duke University, UNC Wilmington, and Wake Forrest University.
There is a widespread belief that from the medieval period onward, the great majority of Jews belonged to one of two ethnic sub-groups – the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim – that developed in parallel fashion and are thus somehow comparable. But the structures of these two diasporas are profoundly different. While it is possible to describe an “Ashkenazi culture” (at least up to the nineteenth century) with continuities of language, style, geography, ancestry, and religious environment, the profound disjunctions of Sephardi history make any such description impossible. How, then, has “Sephardi” identity survived? What meanings has it assumed?l