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Portugal’s Ancestral Jews: What It Means to be a Marrano

Hosted By: The Siegal Lifelong Learning Program at Case Western Reserve University

Dr. Naomi Leite will discuss her two decades of research into the persistence and 21st-century resurgence of Jewish identity in an unexpected place: urban Portugal, where hundreds of individuals trace their ancestry to 15th century Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism. Through the life stories of several of these individuals, Dr. Leite provides a vivid glimpse into a complex, little-known identity and shares the compelling story of how some have found belonging beyond their country’s borders.

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Dr. Naomi Leite

Reader, Cultural Anthropology , School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London A cultural and psychological anthropologist, Leite's work focuses on identity, identification, belonging, and exclusion across domains and scales of sociality. She is author of Unorthodox Kin: Portuguese Marranos and the Global Search for Belonging (University of California Press, 2017), winner of the 2018 Stirling Prize for Best Book in Psychological Anthropology, the 2018 Graburn Book Award in Anthropology of Tourism, 2017 National Jewish Book Award Finalist, and honourable mention for the 2017 Douglass Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of Europe. Her second book,  The Ethnography of Tourism (co-edited with Quetzil Castañeda and Kathleen M Adams, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019), was awarded the 2020 Edward Bruner Prize by the Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group of the American Anthropological Association. Her newest project, a multinational, comparative study, focuses on informal sociality, belonging, and exclusion in tacitly or explicitly “inclusive” institutions, with particular attention to cultural models and micropractices that foster or hinder their efforts.
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The Siegal Lifelong Learning Program at Case Western Reserve University

The Siegal Lifelong Learning Program at Case Western Reserve University connects the academic world and Northeast Ohio's wider community through innovative and engaging programming. Adults of all ages pursue their love of learning by participating in courses and lectures with internationally renowned scholars and local experts who share their cutting-edge research and current topics of interest.
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