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A Question of IdentityIberian Conversos in Historical Perspective$
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Renee Levine Melammed

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195170719

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195170717.001.0001

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Modern Manifestations

Modern Manifestations

(p.135) 8 Modern Manifestations
A Question of Identity

Renee Levine Melammed (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Three examples of modern manifestations of converso identity have been chosen in order to examine how the passage of time has affected the converso experience. For centuries the first group, the Chuetas of Majorca, was stigmatized, was known for its endogamy, and lived separately while maintaining a sense of membership in the Nation despite the fact that the level of Judaizing of its members was unclear; recent immigration to Majorca has led to a previously unknown high rate of intermarriage. The conversos of Belmonte, Portugal, managed to perpetuate a crypto-Judaism of their own until the twentieth century; their encounter with modernity has led to many conversions to so-called normative Judaism although signs of syncretism with their “traditional” crypto-Judaism can be detected. The third manifestation originates in the Southwest portion of the United States where individuals are claiming to be the modern descendants of conversos who migrated to sixteenth-century Mexico and maintained secrecy over the centuries. This phenomenon is the most problematic, for there are as yet no clear-cut criteria for determining who is a descendant, if there is a common denominator for them, and what constitutes a converso identity.

Keywords:   Chuetas, Majorca, endogamy, Belmonte, syncretism, crypto-Judaism, Southwest, modern descendants, secrecy

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