This chapter examines the cultural self-fashioning in which the descendants of the Spanish exile would create a transnational Sephardic society built upon a shared concept of Iberia as a common homeland. By the second half of the sixteenth century, the old rabbinic term Sepharadim was in common use among Mediterranean Jews as a broad reference to Jews of Iberian heritage. However, this term and the images it invoked remained quite fluid, much like the actual communities and networks of the Sephardim. Indeed, the exiles of 1492 did not bring with them any concrete sense of an ancestral “Spanish” homeland. Rather, such a notion only evolved over the course of sixteenth century as the result of three interconnected factors: the experience of expulsion and continued migration, the conflation of recent events and distant history reinforced by the native Jewries among whom the Sephardim came to settle, and the image of a distinct Sephardic society.
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