Inscribing Devotion and Death
Karen B. Stern
Reliance on essentialist or syncretistic models of cultural dynamics has limited past evaluations of ancient Jewish populations. This reexamination of evidence for Jews of North Africa offers an alternative approach. Drawing from methods developed in cultural studies and historical linguistics, this book replaces traditional categories used to examine evidence for early Jewish populations and demonstrates how direct comparison of Jewish material evidence with that of its neighbors allows for a reassessment of what the category of “Jewish” might have meant in different North African locations and periods and, by extension, elsewhere in the Mediterranean. The result is a transformed analysis of Jewish cultural identity that both emphasizes its indebtedness to larger regional contexts and allows for a more informed and complex understanding of Jewish cultural distinctiveness.