From Poland to Brazil to New Mexico, many individuals, families, and communities around the world are discovering that they have Jewish ancestors who renounced and/or suppressed their religious identity. What happens when Christians today learn that some of their long-ago relatives were Jewish? The West African island nation of Cabo Verde offers an especially compelling place from which to explore this intriguing process because of the unexpected convergence of Jews and Africans on a remote archipelago in the North Atlantic.
In this talk, Professor Gottlieb will discuss her research with Cabo Verdeans on and off the islands who are, in a variety of ways, reconnecting with their Jewish heritage. What parallels—and differences—do we find linking them with the global trend of reconnecting with lost Jewish ancestry?
Alma Gottlieb is an award-winning cultural anthropologist who has lectured and conducted research around the world for over 35 years. The author or co-author of nine books and dozens of scholarly articles, she has received support for her research and writing from many agencies, including the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since 2006, she has been researching the West African island nation of Cabo Verde, with a special interest in the ways that Cabo Verdeans (on and off the islands) are reconnecting with their Jewish heritage. Her talk to us draws from her book-in progress, Africa across the Seder Table: Jewish Identity in Cabo Verde and Its Diaspora.
Gottlieb has held teaching and research appointments at Princeton University, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), and elsewhere. Currently she is Professor Emerita from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Visiting Scholar in Anthropology at Brown University.
You can read more about her work on her professional website and blog: http://almagottlieb.com.