Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Frederick A Smith


During the 17th and 18th century a number of Jews settled on the English island of Barbados and the Dutch island of St. Eustatius. The Jews on both islands erected synagogues and a number of key structures essential for a practicing religious community. Although they had strong connections that spanned across geo-political boundaries, the synagogue compounds on each island became key places for the creation and maintenance of a Jewish community. I argue that these synagogue compounds represented diasporic places that must be understood through a tri-partite model that explores the relationships between the Jewish community and its hostland, other dispersed Jewish communities, and the homeland. Furthermore, during the early modern period, these compounds were "heterotopias" within the colonial landscape. Heterotopias, as places of alternative ordering, speak to the constructions of social and cultural difference. For the Jews, the synagogue compounds provided them a chance to create a place founded on their cultural values and ideals within the Christian controlled spaces of both islands. Alternatively, for the Christian communities on the islands, the synagogue compounds highlighted how the Jewish community had different loyalties and values than they did. In exploring the ways that these places served as heterotopias, and for how long they were sites of alternative ordering, this dissertation demonstrates the fundamental role that places play in the formation and maintenance of diasporic communities and the dynamic relationship between spaces, places, and identities in the early modern period.



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