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“An umbrella made of precious gems”: An examination of memory and diasporic identities in Kerala Jewish songs and literature
Published in Aesthetics Media Services
Volume: 12
Issue: 5
The Jews living in the state of Kerala enact their diasporic identities through a unique narrative network including songs, stories, and memoirs. Drawing on memory studies and affect theory, this article aims to examine selected Jewish folk songs as an example of entanglement of memory and culture, nostalgia and narrative. We study Oh, Lovely Parrot (2004), which is a compilation of 43 typical Kerala “parrot songs” – devotional hymns and songs for special occasions – translated from Malayalam into English by Scaria Zacharia and Barbara C. Johnson. Performances of these songs constitute cultural as well as affective phenomena that bring together Jewish identities, especially female rituals, in a collective effort to preserve their ethnic memory and its associated social identity. The music unique to this community illustrates the ancestry and tradition of the Kerala Jews which held them together even after ‘aliyah’ (a Hebrew word referring to the migration to the nation state of Israel post-1948). Using selected songs from the book, the article aims to examine the community's cultural identity markers related to experiential and discursive diasporic memory. It also draws on the memoir Ruby of Cochin: An Indian Jewish Woman Remembers (2001) by Ruby Daniel and Barbara C. Johnson to analyse the affective quality of songs which unites the community in collective imagination and in complex nostalgia narratives. © AesthetixMS 2020.
About the journal
JournalRupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities
PublisherAesthetics Media Services
Open AccessNo