“Places: Loss and Memory.” This talk will focus on the movement of Sefardim, their exile from beloved homes, their attachments to different places, and how their loss and memory are layered one upon the other.
Dr. Ruth Behar‘s Stroum Lectures on May 18th and 20th will move between the personal essay and poetry, history and ethnography, exile and diaspora, and the role of the sea in remembrances of Sefarad in such places as Istanbul, Havana, Miami, New York, and Seattle. Dr. Behar will discuss the idea of dreaming about Sefarad and the dilemma of how to tell the story of waking from the dream to the loss of Sefarad. She will explore what that loss meant in 1492 and how the memory of that loss reverberates into the present day among twenty-first century descendants trying to define a contemporary Sephardic identity. Dr. Behar will give the lectures in English and weave in Spanish and Ladino, examining the desire for a language of home.
The Stroum Center is delighted to be bringing a scholar of Dr. Behar’s caliber to campus for the 40th anniversary of the Stroum Lectures, the annual marquis event for UW Jewish Studies. We thank our community supporters and our departmental co-sponsors: Dept. of Anthropology, Dept. of Comparative Literature, Dept. of English, Dept. of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program, and the Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese Studies at the University of Washington.
About Dr. Ruth Behar:
Dr. Ruth Behar is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Acclaimed for her scholarship and teaching, her honors include a MacArthur “Genius” Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University, and an Excellence in Education Award from the University of Michigan. She is also the recipient of a Doctor of Humane Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Known for her writing about the search for home in our global era, her books include The Presence of the Past in a Spanish Village; Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart. Ruth frequently visits and writes about her native Cuba and is the author of An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba and Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys. She is the editor of the pioneering anthology, Bridges to Cuba, and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World.
She has written editorials about Cuba for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Jewish Week, and the Huffington Post. Her documentary film, “Adio Kerida/Goodbye Dear Love: A Cuban Sephardic Journey,” distributed by Women Make Movies, has been shown in festivals around the world. Also a creative writer, her poetry and short fiction have appeared in several anthologies.
For further exploration of Dr. Behar’s fascinating perspectives on Cuba and Jewish identity, here is a post with multi-media links to recent articles and media appearances, many of which feature discussion of the latest developments in the Cuban-American diplomatic relationship.
By Hannah Pressman | March 15th, 2015