Back from Shingly: revisiting the premodern history of Jews in Kerala

Gamliel, O. (2018) Back from Shingly: revisiting the premodern history of Jews in Kerala. Indian Economic and Social History Review, 55(1), pp. 53-76. (doi:10.1177/0019464617745926)

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Abstract

Jewish history in Kerala is based on sources mainly from the colonial period onward and mostly in European languages, failing to account for the premodern history of Jews in Kerala. These early modern sources are based on oral traditions of Paradeśi Jews in Cochin, who view the majority of Kerala Jews as inferior. Consequently, the premodern history of Kerala Jews remains untold, despite the existence of premodern sources that undermine unsupported notions about the premodern history of Kerala Jews—a Jewish ‘ur-settlement’ called Shingly in Kodungallur and a centuries-old isolation from world Jewry. This article reconstructs Jewish history in premodern Kerala solely based on premodern travelogues and literature on the one hand and on historical documents in Old Malayalam, Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic on the other hand. Sources of the early modern period are then examined for tracing the origins of the Shingly myth, arguing that the incorporation of the Shingly legend into the historiography of Kerala Jews was affected by contacts with European Jews in the Age of Discoveries rather than being a reflection of historical events.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This article is affiliated with research funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement n° 647467—JEWSEAST) at the Ruhr University Bochum.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gamliel, Dr Ophira
Authors: Gamliel, O.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Journal Name:Indian Economic and Social History Review
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN:0019-4646
ISSN (Online):0973-0893
Published Online:16 February 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Indian Economic and Social History Association
First Published:First published in Indian Economic and Social History Review 55(1): 53-76
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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