Navigation – Plan du site

2019-1 Judaisms in contemporary lusotopias


  • Marta Francisca Topel, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

  • Cyril Isnart, UMR 7307 IDEMEC, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, France

As branches of a religion that is both rooted in specific territories and extends across several continents (Brodes-Benayoun 2015), certain Jewish communities have maintained a special relation with their Portuguese geographic and cultural origins for historic and political reasons. In Lusotopias, that is, within spaces connected by the history of Portugal, economic activities and colonial expansion encouraged the establishment of Jewish communities right up until the long period of repression led by the Catholic Inquisition. Over several centuries, individuals and groups emerged and developed with a dual sense of belonging to the Jewish religion and the Portuguese context, which was translated by religious, social and cultural strategies of adaptation (Yovel 2009). Even if legal barriers and political and symbolic constructions of Jewish alterity as an inherent fact slowed up these phenomena, ways of life, ritualistic styles, communication networks, patterns of mobility and investment in the future of the nation emerged. However, the episodes of Jewish history that reveal and determine diverse and complementary forms of Jewish identities cannot be limited to the end of the Middle Ages, but stretches from the period of the so-called “Marranos" (Schwarz 1925; Novinsky 1972, 2001) to more recent events (Pignatelli 2017). The dynamic and changing geography of Jewish lusotopias has been sketched out via paths traced by those fleeing the Inquisition from the XVI c. to XVIII c. (Wachtel 2001), patterns of migration adopted by social liberals in the XX c. (Medina et Barromi 1987/1988, Franco 2004), routes carved out by refugees fleeing Nazi persecution (Pimentel 2006, Schaefer 2014), tourists circuits of those tracing Sephardi roots (Leite 2017), as well as the consequences of recent laws concerning Spanish and Portuguese nationality for descendants of Sephardi Jews. Such trajectories are fashioned in relation to diverse geographic and historical references, including to the State of Israel, the Holy Land, the Al'Andaluz, and Mediterranean, European, American or Asian spaces of refuge for Sephardi Jews. At the same time, processes of trans-nationalisation, globalisation and the re-diasporisation of Judaism have reconfigured the identities of these communities via new internal and external religious frontiers.

This Issue of Lusotopie places the focus on the epic journeys of the thousands of 'new Christians' who fled the Inquisition, across the Mediterranean, Europe, Asia and Latin America; the dynamism of those communities who, during the last few decades, lay claim to their Sephardi-Portuguese past; diverse configurations and re-configurations of the rituals and sense of belonging of these groups; forced migration during the first half of the XX c. provoked by the politics of extermination of European Jews; the dispersal of survivors of the Shoah in Africa or on the American continent. In different ways and with variable intensities, these phenomena contribute to a range of religious, political, cultural and kinship recompositions of groups whose links with the Iberia peninsula - and particularly with Portugal - is undergoing perpetual reconstruction, yet continue to fix Israel within their sights.

In order to shed light on the diversity of contemporary forms of Judaism, this issue of Lusotopie refers to "Judaisms" and "Lusotopias" in the plural. This use of the plural allows us to both question and draw out the characteristics, trajectories and resurgences of group and individual identification with their Portuguese identity - be it far-off or imagined, integrated or instrumentalised - which activates collective memories (notably in the evocation of multiple mother-lands), legal frameworks, political structures and the rules of religious conviviality of the contexts in which they are inscribed. The central question interrogates the variations of strategies put in place by Jewish communities, in relation to the histories of Portuguese-speaking countries, to traditional rituals and their religious transmission, as well as their political positioning in such spaces, yesterday and today.

In this way, we are looking for analyses of communities, actors and collective institutions that will enable us to explore the stratification between places of origin and destination, and mobility; to consider how memory is reinvented and re-organised in the present, in its material and symbolic dimension, or in relation to forms of belonging; or, additionally, to examine the influence of law and legislation on the practice of transmission or effacement of religious identifications. Bringing an analysis of recent situations, contributions should privilege the XIX, XX and XXI c. focus on contexts where Sephardi groups are found, that extend beyond the "Lusophone world", and that can draw on complementary perspectives from history, sociology, anthropology, law, political science, Jewish or religious studies.

The authors who wish to propose an article are invited to send a 500 words summary before April 20th, 2018 to lusotopie[at]

If the summary is accepted, complete articles are expected by September 15th, 2018.

Lusotopie publishes articles in French, Portuguese and English.

Bordes-Benayoun, C. dir. 2015, Socio-anthropologie des judaïsmes, Paris, Honoré Champion.
Franco, M. 2004, “Diversão balcânica: os israelitas portugueses de Salónica”, Análise social, XXXIX (170) : 119-147.
Pignatelli, M. dir. 2017, Judeus e Cristãos Novos no Mundo Lusófono, Lisboa, Colibri.
Pimentel, I. 2006, Judeus em Portugal Durante a II Guerra Mundial, Lisboa, A esfera dos livros.
Lehmann, D. 2014, Messianic Jews and ‘Judaizing’ Christians - notes from Brazil and Israel.
Leite, N. 2017, Unorthodox Kin. Portuguese Marranos and the Global Search for Belonging, Berkeley, University of California Press.
Medina, J. e Barromi, J. 1987/1988, “O projecto de colonização judaica em Angola”, Clio, 6 : 79-105.
Novinsky, A. 1972, Cristãos novos na Bahia. São Paulo: Perspectiva.
Novinsky, A. 2001, “Os cristãos-novos no Brasil colonial: reflexões sobre a questão do marranismo”, Tempo, 6-11.
Schaefer, A. 2014, Portugal e os refugiados judeus provenientes do território alemão, Coimbra, Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra.
Schwarz, S. 1925, Os Cristãos Novos em Portugal no século XX, Lisboa.
Wachtel, N. 2001, La foi du souvenir. Labyrinthes marranes, Paris, Seuil.
Yovel, Y. 2009, The Other Within: The Marranos: Split Identity and Emerging Modernity, Princeton University Press.

  • Logo Idemec
  • Logo Aix Marseille Université
  • Logo CNRS – Institut des sciences humaines et sociales
  • Logo MMSH
  • OpenEdition Journals