Living in Silverado
Secret Jews in the Silver Mining Towns of Colonial Mexico
In this thoroughly researched work, David M. Gitlitz traces the lives and fortunes of three clusters of sixteenth-century crypto-Jews in Mexico's silver mining towns. Previous studies of sixteenth-century Mexican crypto-Jews focus on the merchant community centered in Mexico City, but here Gitlitz looks beyond Mexico's major population center to explore how clandestine religious communities were established in the reales, the hinterland mining camps, and how they differed from those of the capital in their struggles to retain their Jewish identity in a world dominated economically by silver and religiously by the Catholic Church.
In Living in Silverado Gitlitz paints an unusually vivid portrait of the lives of Mexico's early settlers. Unlike traditional scholarship that has focused mainly on macro issues of the silver boom, Gitlitz closely analyzes the complex workings of the haciendas that mined and refined silver, and in doing so he provides a wonderfully detailed sense of the daily experiences of Mexico's early secret Jews.
Overall, this book provides a better understanding of the wider crypto-Jewish community in late sixteenth-century Mexico beyond the Carvajal narrative and beyond Mexico City. It also opens up the study of mining cities to which historians have not previously paid as much attention in the historiography.'--Rafaela Acevedo-Field, H-LatAm
David Gitlitz gives a remarkably detailed account of the lives of three large extended families of immigrants to sixteenth-century Mexico who secretly practiced Judaism while earning their living in the burgeoning silver mining industry. He manages to combine scrupulous accuracy with a vivid narrative style that constantly maintains the reader's interest and truly makes us care about these individuals.'--Michael McGaha, author of Coat of Many Cultures: The Story of Joseph in Spanish Literature, 1200-1492
Drawing on a wide range of original sources, Gitlitz forces us to readdress our understanding of the dynamics of crypto-Jewish identity.'--Seth D. Kunin, author of Juggling Identities: Identity and Authenticity among the Crypto-Jews
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