In this lecture, Stuczynski will explore the significance of 17th-century Jewish philosopher Isaac Cordoso’s major apologetic treatise, “Las Excelencias y Calunias de los Hebreos” (Amsterdam, 1679). In contrast to the ambivalent attitudes of other ex-Converso Jews living in the Sephardic diaspora at the time, Cardoso criticized political dominion, especially contemporary empires, and even rejected the self-critical caveats endorsed by the School of Salamanca. His staunch anti-imperialism will be explained by his apologetic and counter-cultural theological and political views of Judaism. At the same time, Stuczynski will show that these views could have easily undermined Cardoso's efforts to depict the Jews as the most faithful and useful political subjects. Was Cardoso aware of this immanent political contradiction? His case will provide a lens into what pre-Emancipation Jews could and could not argue regarding contemporary empires.
Claude (Dov) B. Stuczynski is an assistant professor at the Department of General History at Bar-Ilan University. His two main fields of research explore the Converso phenomenon—mainly in Portugal—and early modern encounters between Europeans and non-Europeans— mainly Amerindians. He is interested in the relationship between religion and politics in medieval and early modern periods. Last year, he taught at the Department of History at Tel-Aviv University and is a current board member of the Center for the Study of Conversions within Abrahamic Religions at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva.
Stuczynski is the author of The New Christians in Portugal in the 20th Century (Hebrew) and Between Religion and Religiosity: Converso Judaizers of Braganca and the Inquisition of Coimbra in the 16th century (French). His forthcoming books are In Defense of the Nation: Portuguese Converso Apologetics in the 17th century, and Conquistadores' Consciousness, Fray Bartolome de Las Casas and his Defense of the Amerindians.
Sponsored by: The Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies