Challenging Particularity: Jews as a Lens on Latin American Ethnicity

Jeffrey Lesser, Raanan Rein 1*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholarly interest in Jews as a subject of Latin American Studies has grown markedly in the last two decades, especially when compared to research on other Latin Americans who trace their ancestry to the Middle East, Asia or Eastern Europe. In this context, we propose the use of the term ‘Jewish-Latin American’, rather than ‘Latin American Jewry’, in order to shift the dominant paradigm about ethnicity in Latin America by returning the ‘nation’ to a prominent position at a moment when the ‘trans-nation’, or perhaps no nation at all, is often an unquestioned assumption. After analyzing the historiography of the Jewish presence in Latin America as a means of understanding the state of the ‘field’, we advance a series of propositions that might be useful to all students of ethnicity in the region, particularly to scholars working on minorities whose ancestors were characterized religiously as non-Catholic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-263
Number of pages15
JournalLatin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Ashkenazim
  • Asian
  • Diaspora
  • Europe
  • Hebrew
  • Israel
  • Jewish-Latin America
  • Jews
  • Lajsa
  • Latin American Jewry
  • Middle East
  • Nikkei
  • Sephardim
  • Yiddish
  • Zionsim


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