Ben-Ur awarded study grant by Hadassah-Brandeis Institute
Associate professor Aviva Ben-Ur of the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies has been awarded a Senior Grant in History from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute for her book project “Eurafrican Identity in a Jewish Society: Suriname, 1660-1863.”
Ben-Ur’s book project focuses on slave society in the former Dutch colony of Suriname in South America, where Jews of Iberian origin were among the earliest colonists. She examines the ever-shifting boundaries and bridges of Jewish communal belonging in Suriname and focuses on the special role enslaved and free Eurafrican women played in expanding the definition of Jewishness and collapsing the social hierarchies that distinguished whites from non-whites. Ben-Ur argues that from the start of Jewish settlement in the colony in the 1650s, females of African descent were key to both Jewish community building and the transformative adaptation of Jewish culture to a multi-ethnic slave society.
In its evaluation, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute review committee identified the project as “not only original, but of historical importance.” The grant will further advance Ben-Ur’s archival research in the Netherlands, where she will be a fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences during the spring 2013 semester.
The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute awards grants to support interdisciplinary research or artistic projects on Jewish women and gender issues.