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Old memories, new histories: (re)discovering the past of Jewish Dalits

Egorova, Y.; Perwez, S.

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S. Perwez


This paper explores processes of self-identification and constructions of historical memory among the Bene Ephraim of Andhra Pradesh, a community of former Madiga untouchables who came to practising Judaism in the late 1980s. Our discussion is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2009–2010, in-depth interviews, and an analysis of written sources on the history of the Bene Ephraim produced by community leaders. We consider the case study of the Bene Ephraim in the context of broader academic discussions about the universalist and particularist dimensions of the Jewish tradition and suggest that this movement illuminates both the exclusive/genealogical and the inclusive aspects of Judaism. We argue that though the perceived “ethnocentricity” of Judaism may have been the basic logic for the emergence of the Bene Ephraim movement, it nevertheless resulted in the development of groups demonstrating syncretic practices and diverse modes of engagement with the Jewish tradition.


Egorova, Y., & Perwez, S. (2012). Old memories, new histories: (re)discovering the past of Jewish Dalits. History and Anthropology, 23(1), 1-15.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2012
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2012
Publicly Available Date Feb 10, 2015
Journal History and Anthropology
Print ISSN 0275-7206
Electronic ISSN 1477-2612
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 1-15
Keywords Judaism, India, History, Dalits, Identity


Accepted Journal Article (255 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in History and anthropology online on 21 February 2012, available online at:[Article DOI].

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