College of Liberal Arts

The Uses of Jewishness in Late-Colonial Cuba

Friday Apr 7, 2017 12:00 PM | CLA 2.402

The Gale Collaborative on Jewish Life in the Americas, of the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at UT Austin, presents a talk by Stephen Silverstein, assistant professor of Spanish at Baylor University.

In “The Uses of Jewishness in Late-Colonial Cuba,” Silverstein offers an overview of the Jew’s textual representation in nineteenth-century Cuba and the broader concerns that this figure personified. The conceptual Jew, he argues, became a vehicle through which white creoles negotiated their anxieties about political, economic, and social instability. Further, by recuperating the notional Jew’s critically overlooked yet prominent presence in late-colonial Cuba, Silverstein provides a different lens through which to reread the Cuban abolitionist genre and rethink many of our traditional assumptions regarding such questions as the portrayal of black people in the abolitionist project, late Spanish colonialism, imperial liberalism, slave labor, and the advent of industrial capitalism in the Pearl of the Antilles.
Stephen Silverstein holds a PhD from the University of Virginia (2012). He is the author of The Merchant of Havana: The Jew in the Cuban Abolitionist Archive (Vanderbilt, 2016). His scholarly interests go well beyond the questions pursued in The Merchant of Havana; he has made inquiries into matters as diverse as contemporary Cuban music, crypto-Jewish writing and religiosity in colonial Mexico, and the experimental models of subjectivity engaged with in more recent Latin American literary production.

Free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Naomi Lindstrom.

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