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Atlantic Diasporas

Jews, Conversos, and Crypto-Jews in the Age of Mercantilism, 1500–1800

This wide-ranging narrative explores the role that Jews, Conversos, and Crypto-Jews played in settling and building the Atlantic world between 1500 and 1800. Through the interwoven themes of markets, politics, religion, culture, and identity, the essays here demonstrate that the world of Atlantic Jewry, most often typified by Port Jews involved in mercantile pursuits, was more complex than commonly depicted.

The first section discusses the diaspora in relation to maritime systems, commerce, and culture on the Atlantic and includes an overview of Jewish history on both sides of the ocean. The second section provides an in-depth look at Jewish mercantilism, from settlements in Dutch America to involvement in building British, Portuguese, and other trading cultures to the dispersal of Sephardic merchants. In the third section, the chapter authors assess the roles of identity and religion in settling the Atlantic, looking closely at religious conversion; slavery; relationships among Jews, Christians, and Muslims; and the legacy of the lost tribes of Israel. A concluding commentary elucidates the fluidity of identity and boundaries in the formation of the Atlantic world.

Featuring chapters by Jonathan Israel, Natalie Zemon Davis, Aviva Ben-Ur, Holly Snyder, and other prominent Jewish historians, this collection opens new avenues of inquiry into the Jewish diaspora and integrates Jewish trade and settlements into the broader narrative of Atlantic exploration.

About the Authors

Richard L. Kagan is a professor of history at the Johns Hopkins University and the translator and editor, with Abigail Dyer, of Inquisitorial Inquiries: Brief Lives of Secret Jews and Other Heretics, also published by Johns Hopkins. Philip D. Morgan is the Harry C. Black Professor of History at the Johns Hopkins University and author of the award-winning book Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry.


"These authors provide a window onto a diverse and fascinating world that challenges a host of popular notions."

- Renaissance Quarterly

"This volume includes pieces by such scholars as Jonathan Israel and Daviken Studnick-Gizbert, who have made outstanding contributions to our knowledge of the international activities, and the social and mental worlds, of the Marrano mercantile community."

- New York Review of Books

"This volume offers an excellent rebuttal to those who think that either Jews or the Atlantic stand apart from nation and empire."

- David Hancock - Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"A major contribution... Sophisticated analyses of culture and excellent archival research, integrating both with the burgeoning field of Atlantic Studies."

- David Graizbord - American Jewish History

"Atlantic Diasporas will inform even experts in a diversity of fields."

- Jonathan Schorsch - New West Indian Guide

"This volume is a very important contribution to our understanding of a very complex diaspora that defies simplistic generalizations."

- Ana Schaposchnik - Journal of World History

"Refashioned the very concept of diaspora and made it into a viable model by which to examine the history of migration and ethnicity."

- Rachel Kranson - Journal of American Ethnic History

"Atlantic Diasporas is well organized, fascinating, groundbreaking, and extremely useful both as a platform to promote further research and as an assigned text."

- Stanley Mirvis - H-LatAm, H-Net Reviews


"This rich volume makes a valuable contribution to early modern Atlantic history and to Jewish studies. It is original, substantial, and theoretically sophisticated."

- Lois Dubin, Smith College
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9780801890345 : atlantic-diasporas-kagan-morgan
328 Pages
$65.00 USD
9780801890352 : atlantic-diasporas-kagan-morgan
Paperback / softback
328 Pages
$35.00 USD

Other Titles by Richard L. Kagan

Students and Society in Early Modern Spain

Richard L. Kagan
Dec 2019 - Johns Hopkins University Press
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Inquisitorial Inquiries, second edition

edited and translated by Richard L. Kagan and Abigail Dyer
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Clio and the Crown

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Road Of Stars To Santiago

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Making Computers Accessible

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