Have I mentioned the great class on ethnography I'm taking at la UBA? Well, I'm taking this great class on ethnography at UBA this term. It's lead by Ruth Behar a Cuban-American feminist ethnographer. Ruth is encouraging us to be rigorous, honest and creative in our work. The other students are mainly from the department of anthropology (so I'm playing catch up with the name checking) and are researching a wide range of cultures - from Buenos Aires fashion models, to Toba communities in Gran Chaco, to recent Armenian immigrants. Many of them are politically or socially motivated, and active in supporting the communities they work alongside, even living with.
One evening last week, I went with a handful of students to the Synagogue on Avenidad Libertad in the heart of the city. I'd been itching to get a look inside the building, although as it happened we didn't get to see the worship space this time. We were there for a screening of Ruth's film on the Jewish Cuban community, Adio Kerida. You can watch a trailer for the film here, and read more about it.
The film explored the small community of Sephardic Jews in Cuba. descended from the Jewish populations expelled by the Spanish Inquisition in the fifteenth century. (In the film, Ruth notes the irony that the synagogue in Havana is located on Calle Inquisición.) Sephardic (from the Hebrew for Spain) Jews have a deep roots in many cultures - Turkish, north African, Spanish, Cuban, North American - through a long history of migration. And this was particularly clear for me in the scene of Miguelito, a young African-Cuban, drumming out his Jewish faith. This ongoing collection and reapplication of language, traditions and music suggested a creative openness to the world, perhaps enabled by an ancient set of core values and beliefs. Adio Kerida - Goodbye Dear Love, is about the sorrow of leaving and exile, but also about that which we take with us each step of the way.