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Immigration and National Identities in Latin America$
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Nicola Foote and Michael Goebel

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813060002

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813060002.001.0001

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Motherlands of Choice

Motherlands of Choice

Ethnicity, Belonging, and Identities among Jewish Latin Americans

(p.140) (p.141) 5 Motherlands of Choice
Immigration and National Identities in Latin America

Jeffrey Lesser

Raanan Rein

University Press of Florida

This essay looks at Jews in Argentina and Brazil as part of national culture, not as victims of it. By placing struggles for democratic, pluralist and socially just societies within a broader discussion of ethnicity, we show that protecting Jewish space, especially at times of right-wing Nationalist influence in political, military, and intellectual circles, was a national identity move, not a separatist one. We discuss contemporary identity politics during a period of transition in the history of the Argentine and Brazilian immigrant societies in which there was a constant discussion of the ambiguous meanings of Jewishness, Brasilidade and Argentinidad.In this context attention to mother and father lands among immigrants and their descendants was about creating national identities in a new homeland. As we show, Jewish-Argentines and Jewish-Brazilians often understood Zionism as less about Palestine and more as a strategy that gave Jews a mother country in the same way as Japanese-Brazilians or Syrian-Argentines (or those of Italian, Spanish or Portuguese decent). Through their support for Zionism, Jews became like Argentines and Brazilians in heterogeneous immigrant-descent societies.

Keywords:   Brazil, Argentina, Ethnicity, National Identity, Immigrants, Zionism

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