With studies of Jewish communities in port cities ranging from sixteenth century Livor to modern Singapore, this book develops and extends the concept of the port Jew using a blend of conceptual invation and original research. The first section explores the world of the Sephardi Jews, revealing patterns of mobility and networks that intertwined commerce, community and kinship. Individual case histories based on Livor, Amsterdam, Curacao, Charleston, Liverpool and Bristol examine how Jewish identity was formed in the unique milieu of the cosmopolitan maritime trading centre, how the commercial ethos of the bustling port promoted tolerance, and how the experience of civic inclusion was both a boon and a threat to Jewish life and culture. Challenging research on Charleston and Liverpool shows how slavery cast a shadow over the Jewish population and created an environment of racialized identities in which Jews occupied an ambiguous and ambivalent position. The second section concentrates on the experience of Ashkenazi Jews in the modern era, when the port was less a commercial hub for exchange and more a location of production, transhipment, and transmigration.Jews went from being primarily settlers and traders to becoming commodities in the business of mass migration. A disturbing case study of Hamburg under the Nazis shows that a history of diversity was guarantor of tolerance. Yet research on Glasgow, with its ethnic and religious fragmentation, shows how far Jews and n Jews in port cities could get along functionally and amicably. All these contributions explore the concepts of diaspora and identity, probe the links between commerce and inter-communal relations, and map the subtle, shifting contours of language, culture, and community in the unique mercantile environment in the worlds greatest ports.
David Cesarani is Research Professor in History at Royal Holloway, University of London. From 2000 to 2004 he presided over the port Jews project as Director of the AHRB Parkes Centre for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations, Southampton University. His publications include (ed.) Port Jews: Jewish Communities in Cosmopolitan Maritime Trading Centres, 1650-1950 (2002), and Eichmann: His Life and Crimes (2004). Gemma Romain works at The National Archives, Kew on a Heritage Lottery Fund project, 'Your Caribbean Heritage', cataloguing and researching colonial office correspondence from the British Caribbean. Her postdoctoral fellowship at the AHRB Parkes Centre, University of Southampton, explored diasporic and ethnic identities of Jews in Charleston, South Carolina, and Jamaica. She is the author of Connecting Histories: A Comparative Exploration of African-Caribbean and Jewish History and Memory in Modern Britain (2005). She was a researcher and writer for the 'Connections: Hidden British Histories' exhibition exploring Asian, Caribbean and Jewish history in Britain.