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Faculty & Grad Student Workshop: “‘Like Negros . . . and Mohammedans’: Levantine Jews and the American Racial Imagination”

February 15 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Working paper presented by Professor Devin Naar (University of Washington)

Abstract: ┬áSpeaking Ladino rather than Yiddish, with different customs and appearances, Sephardic Jews from the Ottoman Empire who arrived in the United Stated during the early twentieth century did not fit the typical American Jewish mold, not even in New York. The Jewishness of these so-called Levantine Jews was frequently denied or demeaned, often in radicalized language. This article explores their overlooked story and compels us to grapple with intra-Jewish prejudice and America’s racial hierarchies, and to rethink the American Jewish narrative.

Precirculated paper, lunch provided; RSVP to

Devin E. Naar is the Isaac Alhadeff Professor of Sephardic Studies and Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Washington. A former Fulbright scholar, he directs the Sephardic Studies Digital Collection, the largest repository of digital Ladino texts in the world. His book, Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece, won a National Jewish Book Award and the grand prize from the Modern Greek Studies Association.



February 15
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


Conference Room, Keene Flint