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Neilsen Lecture Series in Judaic Studies: Dr. Nimisha Barton

October 11, 2023 6:00 PM until October 11, 2023 7:30 PM Cruzen Murray Library B01 Symposium

All events in the Neilsen Lecture Series in Judaic Studies are free and open to the public. These events bring Jewish scholars, dignitaries, and public figures to campus to speak about tolerance, diversity, history, culture, and current events. They are made possible by the generosity of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.

Last year, a woman recognized the Turkish Sephardic family on the cover of an obscure book in French history called Reproductive Citizens. She contacted its author – Dr. Nimisha Barton – who found herself captivated by the Abouafs, a family expelled from Spain in the fifteenth century, chased out of the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth, persecuted in Europe during the Holocaust, and now scattered across the globe. In spite of the many historical traumas visiting upon this Sephardic Jewish family, their stories and memories emphasized creation and healing over destruction and loss. By braiding together Ottoman, French, and Jewish mystical traditions, the Abouafs managed to create a sense of home, identity, and belonging in a world trying so viciously to tear them out of it.  Their saga suggests how people living in involuntary diaspora experience world-altering trauma and, more significantly, how they can become authors of their own healing using one of the only means available to them – storytelling.

Dr. Nimisha Barton is a Visiting Researcher at UC Irvine and an Equity and Inclusion Consultant in education.Her award-winning research on gender, sexuality, and immigration in modern France has appeared in French Politics, Culture and Society, Journal of Women's History, and various edited volumes. Her co-edited volume on women, gender, and citizenship in modern France appeared in 2018 with the University of Nebraska Press. Her book, entitled Reproductive Citizens: Gender, Immigration, and the State in France, 1880-1945, appeared in 2020 with Cornell University Press. It recently won Honorable Mention for the Society of French Historical Studies’ David H. Pinkney Prize which recognizes the most distinguished book in French history. It also was awarded the J. Russell Major prize offered by the American Historical Association for best Anglophone book in French history.