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Unorthodox Kin is a groundbreaking exploration of identity, relatedness, and belonging in the context of profound global interconnection. Naomi Leite paints a poignant and graceful portrait of Portugal's urban Marranos, who trace their ancestry to fifteenth-century Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism and now seek connection with the Jewish people at large. Their story raises questions fundamental to the human condition: how people come to identify with far-flung others; how some find glimmerings of mystical connection in a world said to be disenchanted; how identities are lived in practice and challenged in interaction; how the horizons of kinship expand in a globally interconnected era; and how feelings of relatedness emerge between strangers and gather strength over time. Focusing on mutual imaginings and face-to-face encounters between urban Marranos and the foreign Jewish tourists and outreach workers who travel to meet them, Leite draws on a decade of ethnographic research in Portugal to trace participants' perceptions of self, peoplehood, and belonging as they evolve through local and global social spaces. Methodologically innovative and written in a compelling narrative style, Unorthodox Kin is a model study in the anthropology of kinship, tourism, and globalization that will appeal to a wide readership.
Naomi Leite is Lecturer in Social Anthropology and Director of Studies in Anthropology of Travel and Tourism at SOAS, University of London.