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A panel discussion with Aviva Ben-Ur


Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 5:00PM (EDT)

A panel discussion on Aviva Ben-Ur’s “Jewish Autonomy in a Slave Society:
Suriname in the Atlantic World, 1651-1825”

Jewish Autonomy in a Slave Society explores the political and social history of the Jews of Suriname, a Dutch colony on the South American mainland just north of Brazil. Suriname was home to the most privileged Jewish community in the Americas where Jews, most of Iberian origin, enjoyed liberties and owned plantations and slaves. Aviva Ben-Ur sets the story of Suriname's Jews in the larger context of Atlantic slavery and colonialism and argues that, like other frontier settlements, they achieved and maintained their autonomy through continual negotiation with the colonial government. The Jewish experience in Suriname was thus marked by unparalleled autonomy that nevertheless developed in one of the largest slave colonies in the New World.

Aviva Ben-Ur is Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at UMass Amherst specializing in Atlantic Jewish history, slavery studies, and the Ottoman diaspora. She is the author of, among others, Sephardic Jews in America: A Diasporic History (New York University Press, 2009).

Marjoleine Kars is Professor of Early American and Atlantic slavery and of the Age of Revolution at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She recently published Blood on the River: A Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast  (New York: The New Press, 2020) about a remarkably successful rebellion of enslaved people in Dutch Berbice (now Guyana) in 1763-1764.

Stanley Mirvis is Assistant Professor of history and the Harold and Jean Grossman Chair of Jewish Studies at Arizona State University. His most recent book is The Jews of Eighteenth-Century Jamaica: A Testamentary History of a Diaspora in Transition (Yale University Press, 2020), a study of last will and testaments exploring the relationship between colonial and metropolitan Jews and the nature of Jewish creolization in the British West Indies.

This event is co-sponsored by the department of Judiac and Near Eastern Studies at UMass Amherst.

Aviva Ben-Ur’s book is available for purchase here: