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#1442: Jews in Haitian Imagination : McAlister's article

From: Elizabeth McAlister <emcalister@mail.wesleyan.edu>

As the question of Jews in Haiti has surfaced again, let me let the list
know that my scholarly article on the subject has just been published.  I
would like to thank the many members of the Corbett list who corresponded
with me on the subject last year and the year before.  Here is the
publishing info:

Elizabeth McAlister, "The Jew in the Haitian Imagination:  Pre-Modern
Anti-Judaism in the Post-Modern Caribbean."  In Chireau and Deutch, eds,
Black Zion:  African American Religious Encounters with Judaism.  Oxford
University Press, 1999.

Here is a brief summary:  This piece begins with the contemporary Haitian
ritual of "bwile jwif" or burning Judas in effigy, and argues that the
medieval Christian association of "the Jews" with the devil, cannibalism,
poisoning, desecration of the host, etc., were "blueprints for
demonization" and were transferred wholesale onto Africans and Afro-Creoles
in the colony of San Domingue.  "Burning the Jew" is the result of
"inherited anti-Judaism."  The piece goes on to discuss interview material
with Rara presidents who stated to me over and over that Rara was a "Jewish
festival" practiced first upon the crucifixion of Christ.  The article
argues that some Haitians like these Rara members, embrace the negative
referent of "the Jew" as a way to position themselves against Catholic
hegemony.  The article ends with a brief outline of the "real" history of
Jewish migration to Haiti and talks about other images of "the Jew" in
Haitian society (carnival, Vodou, diaspora politics, etc).  (This is a very
abridged version of a complex argument)  The whole piece sits in a larger
volume about African American and Jewish religious interactions.

Thanks again to the list members for the many conversations on the subject
in past years.

* * * * * * * * *
Elizabeth McAlister
Department of  Religion
Wesleyan University
Middletown, CT  06459
Tel:  (860) 685-2289
Fax:  (860) 685-2821