Almost Englishmen

Almost Englishmen : Baghdadi Jews in British Burma

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Before the Second World War, two golden "promised lands" beckoned the thousands of Baghdadi Jews who lived in Southeast Asia: the British Empire, on which "the sun never set," and the promised land of their religious tradition, Jerusalem. Almost Englishmen studies the less well-known of these destinations. The book combines history and cultural studies to look into a significant yet relatively unknown period, analyzing to full effect the way Anglo culture transformed the immigrant Bagdhadi Jews.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 202 pages
  • 161 x 242 x 18mm | 449g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0739116460
  • 9780739116463

About Ruth Fredman Cernea

Anthropologist Ruth Fredman Cernea has been researching the history of the Baghdadi Jewish communities of Southeast Asia since her first visit to Burma in 1987.
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Review quote

The author has done a service to Jewish studies by this engagingly written book, documenting a community that has largely disappeared. She has also done a service to the descendants of the people described, who are enabled through this book to recognize their ancestral roots. Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Jewish Studies Well-written with hardly a trace of politically-correct jargon or formulaic social-science talk ... quite literary in its style... [Cernea] seems to write ... for general readers as well as the people it directly concerns. Asian Journal of Social Science Almost Englishmen offers a painstaking record of the rise, flourishing, and slow death of the prosperous community of Baghdadi Jews in Burma (today's Myanmar.) With the keen eye and sympathetic ear of the anthropologist, Cernea has gathered the memories and contemporary impressions of a lost world of merchants at once devoted to tradition and enchanted by the cosmopolitan modernity of British India. H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online The book is of interest to academics as well as non-academics who are personally committed to the history of the Jewish diaspora in South(East)-Asia...Cernea's analysis provides material for comparative anthropological as well as sociological and political research which is concerned with the establishment of religious minorities abroad. It offers a contribution to the analysis of international migratory movements in terms of patterns of assimilation, and the socio-political role and rights of religious minorities within the contexts of statehood and citizenship before and after colonialism. Allegra: A Virtual Lab of Legal Anthropology This newly published volume is a delight: an easy read offering a fascinating account of the lives and times of the small but significant Jewish community-numbering some 2,100 at their peak-of Baghdadi origin in Burma (Myanmar) during and immediately after the Raj. It is illustrated with evocative photos and inventories of community members and their subsequent emigration details. -- David Simon Hadashot
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Table of contents

Chapter 1 Letter from Ellis Sofaer Chapter 2 Introduction: The Baghdadi Diaspora Chapter 3 Adventurers and Entrepreneurs Chapter 4 Beautiful Burmese Days Chapter 5 Three Cheers for the King and the British Empire Chapter 6 The Comforts of Home Chapter 7 Bene Israel vs. Baghdadis: The Court Case Chapter 8 Desperate Passage to India: The War in Burma Chapter 9 Return to Burma Chapter 10 Burma and Israel Chapter 11 Embers Chapter 12 Appendix A: Proceedings of the High Court of Judicature, Rangoon, 1935-1936 Chapter 13 Appendix B: List of Families to Be Evacuated from Burma to Israel Chapter 14 Appendix C: Additional List of Potential Emigrants to Israel, 1949 Chapter 15 Appendix D: Jewish Community of Burma, 1959 Chapter 16 Appendix E: Jewish People and Their Descendents in Burma, c. 1986
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