The Other of the Other
Marranos were Spanish or Portuguese Jews living in the Iberian Peninsula who converted to Christianity to avoid being massacred or forced to flee following the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain in 1391 but they continued to practice Judaism in secret. They outwardly embraced Catholicism but preserved Judaism in their hearts.
While the Marranos are commonly associated with the persecution of Jews at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, Donatella Di Cesare sees the Marranos as the quintessential figure of the modern condition: the Marranos were not just those that modernity has cast out as the ‘other’, but were those ‘others’ who were forced to disavow their beliefs and conceal themselves. They were ‘the other’s other’, the product of a double exclusion, condemned to a life of existential duplicity with no way out, spurned by both Catholics and Jews and unable fully to belong to either community. But this double life of the Marrano turned out also to be a secret source of strength. Doubly estranged, with no possibility of redemption, the Marrano was the protagonist not only of an external emigration but also of an internal migration: the exploration of the inner territory of the self and a predisposition towards radical thinking that would become hallmarks of modernity.
By treating the history of the Marranos as a prism through which to grasp the defining features of modernity, this highly original book that will be of interest to wide readership.