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Black Jews in Africa and the Americas
by Tudor Parfitt


Overview -

"Black Jews in Africa and the Americas" tells the fascinating story of how the Ashanti, Tutsi, Igbo, Zulu, Beta Israel, Maasai, and many other African peoples came to think of themselves as descendants of the ancient tribes of Israel. Pursuing medieval and modern European race narratives over a millennium in which not only were Jews cast as black but black Africans were cast as Jews, Tudor Parfitt reveals a complex history of the interaction between religious and racial labels and their political uses.  Read more...


 
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More About Black Jews in Africa and the Americas by Tudor Parfitt
 
 
 
Overview

"Black Jews in Africa and the Americas" tells the fascinating story of how the Ashanti, Tutsi, Igbo, Zulu, Beta Israel, Maasai, and many other African peoples came to think of themselves as descendants of the ancient tribes of Israel. Pursuing medieval and modern European race narratives over a millennium in which not only were Jews cast as black but black Africans were cast as Jews, Tudor Parfitt reveals a complex history of the interaction between religious and racial labels and their political uses.

For centuries, colonialists, travelers, and missionaries, in an attempt to explain and understand the strange people they encountered on the colonial frontier, labeled an astonishing array of African tribes, languages, and cultures as Hebrew, Jewish, or Israelite. Africans themselves came to adopt these identities as their own, invoking their shared histories of oppression, imagined blood-lines, and common traditional practices as proof of a racial relationship to Jews.

Beginning in the post-slavery era, contacts between black Jews in America and their counterparts in Africa created powerful and ever-growing networks of black Jews who struggled against racism and colonialism. A community whose claims are denied by many, black Jews have developed a strong sense of who they are as a unique people. In Parfitt s telling, forces of prejudice and the desire for new racial, redemptive identities converge, illuminating Jewish and black history alike in novel and unexplored ways."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780674066984
  • ISBN-10: 0674066987
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publish Date: February 2013
  • Page Count: 225

Series: Nathan I. Huggins Lectures

Related Categories

Books > Social Science > Black Studies (Global)
Books > Social Science > Jewish Studies
Books > History > Africa - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-11-26
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this wide-ranging cultural examination of the intersections of blackness and Jewishness, the emeritus professor of modern Jewish studies at the University of London focuses primarily on blacks who claim, or have had ascribed to them by anthropologists and other intellectuals, Jewish origins or characteristics. Parfitt (The Lost Ark of the Covenant) discusses the Beta Israel of Ethiopia and the Lemba of southern Africa (DNA testing has revealed that members of the Lemba have genetic links to Semitic peoples), as well as more ideologically driven movements, such as postimperial black African Jews, who "developed as a radical alternative to other identities in a partly religious, partly racial frontier zone... between colonizer and colonized," and black churches in America that enunciated a "racialized theology" that adopted "the literalist notion that the Israelites of old were black Africans who had started out in Ethiopia." Often, characteristic practices of these groups are syncretistic, as in the "Judaizing" of Christian churches in Kenya. Supported by a large cast of thinkers and religious leaders, this brief but extensive look at a partly authentic, largely invented ethnic-religious identity will interest students of religion, race relations, and postcolonialism. (Feb.)

 
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