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Daniel Bernardo Hershenzon
University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT 06269-9000)
Jewish Manuscripts in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Between Piracy, Redemption, and the Spanish Inquisition

Research leading to publication of a book-length study of religious artifacts and piracy in the early modern western Mediterranean.

I am requesting the NEH Summer Stipend to conduct two months of research in the Bodleian Library (GB) and in the AHN and AGS (Spain) on the negotiations over the restitution of 3,000 Hebrew manuscripts, sent from Livorno to Algiers in the 1630’s, intercepted by Spanish pirates, and sent to the Inquisition’s dungeons. The story forms the 3rd chapter of a book project on religious artifacts—Korans, Bibles, prayer shawls, pictures of Christ and the Virgin, and relics—that as a byproduct of piracy and human trafficking circulated in the thousands in the early modern western Mediterranean, crossing religious boundaries. The project argues that during the 17th century such objects—captured, humiliated, redeemed—helped shape relations between Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the context of maritime piracy. Reconstructing their trajectories sheds new light on the experience of captivity and the practice of redemption, of people and objects.

Project fields:
Cultural History; European History; Renaissance History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2018 – 10/31/2018