The topic of identity is a highly debated topic among Jewish scholars as well as a recurrent theme in works of literature written by Jewish authors throughout the world. In the twentieth century several historical events have shaped and transformed the way Jewish people regard themselves, notably the Holocaust and the formation of the State of Israel in 1948.
Latin America experienced waves of Jewish immigration from colonial times to the present. Most of these immigrants integrated into their societies and, as occurred elsewhere, this specific population produced writers who are, to varying degrees, both members of the dominant culture in which they live and members of the Jewish culture. Moreover, the experience of cultural hybridization opened new spaces where the works of these writers gained visibility outside traditional Jewish circles. Their themes address issues of Jewish identity and the experience of minority identity in a Latin American society. Whereas their work reflects the multicultural and multiethnic culture of Latin America, it also examines issues such as memory, assimilation, trauma, holocaust, and other questions of concern to those of Jewish heritage in the context of their adopted countries.
In this dissertation entitled "Issues of Identity in the Narratives of Jewish Authors from the Southern Cone: Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay,” I examine three novels by Jewish authors at the beginning of the twenty-first century: Marcelo Birmajer from Argentina and his novel "No tan distinto"; Francisco Dzialovsky from Brazil and his novel "O Terceiro Testamento" and Teresa Porzecanski from Uruguay and her novel "Perfumes de Cartago." I explore the presence of Judaism and Kabbalah in the lives of non-religious people of Jewish heritage, examine the ways in which Birmajer, Dzialovsky, and Porzecanski depict Jewish characters in their search for identity and self-knowledge, and consider the theme of the Jews vis a vis other topics such as immigration, assimilation, integration and the loss of culture. Studying these characters through religious, sociological, and linguistic lenses allows for a more complete understanding of the experiences of Latin American Jews.