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Conversion, Sex, and Segregation

Conversion, Sex, and Segregation

Chapter:
(p.89) [5] Conversion, Sex, and Segregation
Source:
Neighboring Faiths
Author(s):
David Nirenberg
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226169095.003.0006

This chapter looks at how the 1391 massacres/mass conversions of 1391 affected the ways diverse communities of Christians, Muslims, and Jews imagined themselves in terms of each other through interfaith sexual relations, outlining the common logics and enduring metaphors of sex that medieval Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities used to help define/identify themselves as a collective and heighten the barriers of honor (with which that collective surrounded itself), and discussing the various ways the 1391 conversions of Jewish communities affected Christian anxieties about sexual boundaries. Conversions provoked a Christian “identity crisis” that sharply constricted available space for religious diversity in the Peninsula. It was a very different crisis from the later ones that would transform Iberia into a land of inquisitors and pure-blood statutes, with Christians in the years immediately after 1391 concerned not that religious identity was unchanging but rather the opposite--that the disappearance of the Jews and the emergence of the conversos would undermine the distinctive value/meaning of Christian identity. Correspondingly, their attention was not focused on the religious practices of the converts or on establishing differences between Old Christian and New, but on reinforcing what they took to be the more fundamental Christian/Jewish sexual boundaries.

Keywords:   Jews, Judaism, Christians, conversion, Converso, Vincent Ferrer, miscegenation, interfaith relations, interfaith sexual relations, Mudéjar-Christian relations

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