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2020 LAJSA Awards

LAJSA is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 awards for best book and best dissertation and the Edna Aizenberg Research Award. Under normal circumstances the announcement would be made at the international research conference that was to be held in Curaçao at the end of June. LAJSA would like to thank all those who participated in the selection committees for their time, effort, and thoughtful evaluation of the submissions. We also thank and congratulate all those who submitted their excellent scholarship for consideration. It is heartening to know that we have so many active, innovative, and engaging scholars among our membership.

Adriana M. Brodsky and Darrell B. Lockhart, LAJSA Co-presidents

Best Book Awards

The committee requested that the award be presented to two authors this year as a special exception. This proposal was brought before the co-presidents and the LAJSA Board and approved.

Laura Limonic, Kugel and Frijoles: Latino Jews in the United States (Wayne State University Press, 2019)

This book is pioneering in its overview of the contemporary Jewish immigrant experience from Latin America and explores the distinctiveness of Jewish Latino populations in the process of integrating into U.S. culture. Limonic examines how Latin American Jews constructed a new pan-ethnic identity in this country. Written in an accessible and engaging way, Kugel and Frijoles draws upon the concepts of heterogeneity, interconnectivity, and transnationalism among Jews originating from many Latin American countries and adopting national and religious identities in response to different situations.

Mariusz  Kałczewiak, Polacos in Argentina: Polish Jews, Interwar Migration, and the Emergence of Transatlantic Jewish Culture (University of Alabama Press, 2019)

Mariusz  Kałczewiak has gone far beyond writing an excellent study of transatlantic migrant cultures. Through pathbreaking, multi-archive, multilingual research Polacos in Argentina transforms our understanding of transnational Jewish and Yiddish cultures. As the best studies always do, this book transcends its specific topics to offer new insights into how scholars might understand the movement of peoples across multiple borders, and how long term migrations come to transform both destination societies and the places from which the migrants originally came.

Best Dissertation Award—Dr. Michael Rom

The committee unanimously agreed to present the 2020 LAJSA Best Dissertation Award to Dr. Michael Rom for his work entitled “Brazilian Belonging:  Jewish Politics in Cold War Brazil, 1930-1985” submitted to Yale University (2019). The award committee chose this dissertation for its originality, quality of scholarship and historical analysis, and contribution to the field of Jewish Latin American history in general, and the history of the Jewish community in Brazil particularly. Rom offers a profound and meticulous analysis of the internal and external relationships within the Jewish community of Brazil during the Cold War area, while studying the conflicts within the community’s political spheres during these decades. This dissertation focuses on the impact of national, international and transnational processes on the decision and actions of young Jewish Brazilians within Zionist and Communist circles, resulting often in a conflict of interests and clashes. For his profound investigation of multiple and diverse historical sources, as well as bibliographic references and archive documents, its narrative style, theoretical and scholarly contribution, as well as innovative perspectives Michael Rom is most deserving of the 2020 dissertation award.

Edna Aizenberg Research Award—C. Tova Markenson

The selection committee unanimously agreed to confer the 2020 Edna Aizenberg Research Award to C. Tova Markenson (Northwestern University) to complete her project “Performing Jewish Migration: Gender, Sexuality, and Embodiment in Latin America’s River Plate Basin (1900-1939). The committee positively valued the goal of the candidate to achieve a refreshing approach to the subject. In her description, Ms. Markenson writes: “To offer a new way of understanding the migration experiences of Latin American Jewish women such as prostitutes, moral reformers, and actresses: I argue that they strategically represented their experiences before Jewish and Gentile authorities in order to persuade Latin American authorities that they were ‘morally upstanding.’ In other words, they needed to perform.”