cover of book

Jewish Portraits, Indian Frames: Women's Narratives from a Diaspora of Hope
by Jael Silliman
Seagull Books, 2001
eISBN: 978-1-80309-023-8 | Paper: 978-0-85742-991-9

Reveals the forgotten history of Baghdadi Jews’ journey into India through the stories of four generations of Jewish women.
An invaluable cultural document shaped from personal experience, Jewish Portraits, Indian Frames explores the fascinating social and cultural history of Baghdadi Jewish women in Calcutta, India. Through the lives of her foremothers over four generations, Jael Silliman discovers how they “dwelled in travelling” despite being widely dispersed across Asia, which created a moving geography of Baghdadi Jewish culture. She shows us how they negotiated multiple identities, including that of emergent Indian nationalism, and how they perceived and shaped their Jewishness and gender in response to changing cultural and political contexts. She also traces the trajectory of a Jewish presence in one of the most hospitable cities of the diaspora.
These rich family portraits convey a sense of the singular roles women played in building and sustaining a complex diaspora in what Silliman calls “Jewish Asia” over the past 150 years. Her sketches of the everyday lives of her foremothers—including the food they ate and the clothes they wore—bring to life a community and a culture, even as they disclose the unexpected and subtle complexities of the colonial encounter as experienced by Jewish women.
Now back in print and featuring a new preface by the author, Jewish Portraits, Indian Frames will be a vital resource for those interested in Jewish histories as well as women’s studies and will prove to be a fascinating narrative for a general readership as well.

See other books on: Diaspora | Hope | Jewish Studies | Silliman, Jael | Women's Narratives
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