April 25, 2017

Paola Tartakoff

Professor of History and Jewish Studies

Rutgers University

Conversion and Competing Identities in Medieval Europe: the Case of a Contested Child

Respondent: Prof. Tamar Herzig, Department of History, Tel Aviv University

Paola Tartakoff is associate professor of History and Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. As a social and cultural historian of the Jews in medieval Spain and northern Europe, she is fascinated by the history of conversion to and from Judaism, both in its own right and also as a lens through which to examine broader cultural dynamics. In particular, she seeks to understand how constructions of individual identity and the nature of communal boundaries can illuminate how Jews have understood themselves in relation to others, as well as how non-Jews have viewed Jews. Her most recent publications include Between Christian and Jew: Conversion and Inquisition in the Crown of Aragon, 1250–1391 (2012) and a journal article “Testing Boundaries: Jewish Conversion and Cultural Fluidity in Medieval Europe, 1200–1391” (2015). She is currently working on a book project titled Conversion, Circumcision, and Ritual Murder in Medieval Europe, which establishes a more conceptually and geographically expansive framework for the study of medieval Jewish conversion.