Creole Jews: Negotiating Community in Colonial Suriname by Wieke Vink

By Wieke Vink

This examine offers a elegant research of Surinames-Jewish identifications. the tale of the Surinamese Jews is considered one of a colonial Jewish group that grew to become ever extra interwoven with the neighborhood atmosphere of Suriname. Ever for the reason that their first payment, Jewish migrants from different backgrounds, every one with their very own narrative of migration and cost, have been confronted with demanding situations caused via this new atmosphere; a colonial order and, in essence, a race-based slave society. a spot, additionally, that used to be continually altering: economically, socially, demographically, politically and culturally. in contrast heritage, the Jewish group reworked from a migrant group right into a settlers group. either the Portuguese and excessive German Jews followed Paramaribo as their crucial position of place of dwelling from the overdue eighteenth century onwards. Radical fiscal adjustments such a lot particularly the decline of the Portuguese-Jewish planters type not just inspired the commercial wealth of the Surinamese Jews as a gaggle, but in addition had significant effect on their social prestige in Suriname s society. the tale of the Surinamese Jews is a main instance of the numerous ways that a colonial surroundings and diasporic connections positioned their stamp on way of life and affected the demarcation of group limitations and workforce identifications. The Surinamese-Jewish neighborhood debated, contested and negotiated the pillars of a Surinamese-Jewish staff identification not just between themselves but additionally with the colonial gurus. This e-book relies at the writer s dissertation."

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Children under the age of three were exempted from poll tax, as well as planters and slaves who had recently arrived in the colony. 11 Six years later, the number of Jews residing in the colony had grown to about 575 persons. David Nassy,12 who based his estimate on the poll-tax register of 1690, wrote: The Jewish population at that time, as far as could be calculated from the list of contributors, amounted to ninety-two families, not counting ten to twelve German Jews who were united to Portuguese persons there by bonds of marriage; and about fifty bachelors who did not belong at all to these families.

The Colonial Reports no longer classified people by skin colour, but referred to landaard (a combination of nationality and origin with a strong racial connotation), differentiating between Europeans and ‘natives’. 20 The data are further complicated by the fact that Surinamese Jews did not constitute an all-white community, as interracial relationships between Jews and blacks had produced offspring since the early years of Jewish presence in Suriname. 21 Their numbers must have increased, as towards the end of the eighteenth century a group of about a hundred coloured Jews challenged the (self-)identification of High German and Portuguese Jews as white colonial communities.

In a petition, the leaders argued against the admission of poor Jewish migrants, noting the deterioration of the Surinamese plantation economy, and the constant threat of Maroon attacks that had caused various community members to leave the colony (Robert Cohen 1991:21-2). Ulterior motives were involved, too, as Portuguese Jewish leaders in particular were deeply concerned with upholding their status as a colonial elite. Poor Jewish settlers – who lived side by side with the free black and coloured inhabitants of Paramaribo – not only posed a direct threat to the carefully constructed image of the Portuguese Jewish community, but also to the image of the white colonial community at large.

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