Page 118 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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110
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
in s titu tions an d poo rly m a in ta in ed archives. Small popu la t io n s
a re less likely to g e n e ra te th e in te llec tua l yeastiness r e q u i re d
fo r serious scholarly self-analysis. In Latin Am e rica specifically,
re sea rch is im p e r iled by f re q u e n t reg im e changes , lead in g to
the d e s tru c t io n o f arch ives, th e i r concea lm en t o r sh ipm e n t to
Israe l fo r sa fekeep ing . T h e comm un itie s ’ own d e s ire to keep
a low p ro f ile c rea tes severe p rob lem s o f access to w ha t re co rd s
exist. T h e political powerlessness o f Jew ish comm un itie s has no t
m ade them an a ttrac tive sub ject fo r fo re ign re se a rch e rs with
an in te re s t in elites, dec is ionm ake rs , o r o th e r m overs an d sh ak ­
ers; n e i th e r do Jew s p a r tak e o f the exotic to th e same e x te n t
as Am azon ian tribes o r d is f ran ch ised comm un ities o f runaw ay
slaves, each o f which has a t tra c ted m o re re se a rch e rs th a n have
Jews. T h e absence o f a s tro n g Jew ish p re sence in th e c rea tive
a rts (a s itua tion th a t is only now chang ing ) fo rec losed a n o th e r
ch ann e l by which th e Jew ish p re sen ce m igh t have becom e b e t te r
known . Lastly, th e d ep rec ia t io n o f Jew s in Latin Am e rica finds
its c o u n te rp a r t in th e d ep re c ia t io n o f Latin Am erica in th e U n i t­
ed States, with th e re su lt th a t Latin Am e rican Jew s a re regu la r ly
cons igned to th e ca tego ry o f “O th e r ” when th e Jew ish com m u ­
nities o f the w orld a re discussed .
Practical obstacles also h am p e r re sea rch in this a rea . P rinc ipa l
am o n g these m u s t be th e variety o f languages involved , in c lu d ­
ing a t th e very least Span ish , Po r tugu e se , Y iddish a n d H eb rew ;
the geog raph ic d isp e rs ion o f th e small presses a n d pub lish ing
houses th a t issue re lev an t titles, an d which may be loca ted in
any coun try o f Latin Am erica , Israe l, an d the US (ra re ly E u ­
rope ) . O nce pub lished , the d issem ina tion o f re se a rch su f fe rs
from th e d isc ip linary sep a ra t io n be tw een Latin Am e r ican s tu d ­
ies an d Jew ish stud ies -— a g u l f so wide th a t th e m e re concep t
o f a field called Latin Am e r ican Jew ish S tud ies as it beg an to
a p p e a r in p ro fess iona l jo u rn a ls in 1980 becam e a fo rm o f
consciousness-raising . All these fac to rs have o p e r a te d so as to
lim it no t ju s t re sea rch , b u t also th e acqu isition o f m a te r ia ls re l ­
evan t fo r La tin Am e rican Jew ish s tu d ie s .1
1 Only a few libraries acquisition in this area specifically. In the United States,
these are the YIVO Institute o f Jewish Research in New York; the Widener
Library at Harvard University; the American Jewish Historical Society on
the campus o f Brandeis University, and the Klau Library o f Hebrew Union
College in Cincinnati. In Israel, the National and University Library in Jer­
usalem constitutes a major resource.