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Grant number: FA-58162-15

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Aviva Ben-Ur
University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Amherst, MA 01003-9242)

Jewish Autonomy on the Imperial Frontier: Suriname, 1651-1825

Suriname was a Dutch colony on the South American coast (near, but not in Latin America) where 90% of the people were enslaved and Jews comprised 1/3 of the white population. Nowhere else in the Christian world did one find religious tolerance towards Jews more extensively observed, most remarkably in their territorial autonomy. This book project argues that Jews, in conversation with colonial authorities, were leading agents in the construction of the wealthiest outpost of the Dutch Atlantic, from their first organized settlement in the 1660s to the abolition of their communal autonomy in 1825. This study breaks entirely new ground in the burgeoning fields of empire studies and Atlantic history as it explores communal autonomy as a particular form of negotiated authority. It examines both the continuous negotiation and the lived experience of far-reaching privileges in the colonial world, complicated by the tensions inherent in a slave society.

Project fields:
History, General; History, Other; Jewish Studies

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2015 – 8/31/2016