Document Type



Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Tudor Parfitt

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Erik Larson

Second Advisor's Committee Title


Third Advisor's Name

Albert Wuaku

Third Advisor's Committee Title



religious studies

Date of Defense



This study seeks to explore the little known story of the Sephardi Jewish Orphans of São Tomé. Not much is known about the children who were taken from Portugal to the western coasts of Africa. The story of these 600 Sephardic Jewish children is unique and enigmatic. However, it has been subjected to an unusual interpretation. Notably, many African-Americans have appropriated this portion of Sephardi Jewish history. For some, they have traced their Jewish ancestry to this historical event, and clearly self-identify as Jews based on this narrative. Why do they do this? The theory of Afrocentricity and collective memory is applied to this case study of African-Americans; to consider how they are able to adopt this story as their own. Finally, it is said that nature abhors a vacuum; the lacuna inherent with this story is akin to the historical fate of many African Americans. This study attempts to explore how these two communities, from the past and the present, have come together in the making of history, imagined or real.



Included in

Religion Commons



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Rights Statement

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