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SouthTalks: 'Jews, Heathens, and Other Dissenters'

Lectures: ''Jews, Heathens, and Other Dissenters': New Perspectives on Race and Religion in the American South' presented by Shari Rabin


The 1669 Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina anticipated the arrival of Jews alongside “heathens, and other dissenters from the purity of the Christian religion.” Meanwhile, the Code Noir, which governed French Louisiana, banned Jewish settlement altogether. Nevertheless, by the middle of the eighteenth-century Jews came to settle in both places, and by 1749 and 1828, respectively, they had formed Jewish congregations. This talk will explore how Jews fit into the complex power relations of the colonial South and the broader Atlantic world; what the extant evidence tells us about the religious lives they created; and why these histories are important for understanding broader dynamics of race and religion in the region.

Shari Rabin is associate professor of Jewish studies and religion and chair of Jewish studies at Oberlin College. She is the author of Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth-century America, which won the National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies. She is currently at work on a history of Jews, religion, and race in the US South, from the seventeenth century to the present day.

This event is cosponsored by the Jewish Federation of Oxford.

SouthTalks is a series of events (including lectures, performances, film screenings, and panel discussions) that explores the interdisciplinary nature of Southern Studies. This series is free and open to the public, and typically takes place in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory unless otherwise noted. Visit for current information about all Center events. During the 2023–24 academic year, the programming theme is “Creativity in the South.”

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