The Female Voice in the Sephardi Ballad, with Zeljko Jovanovic
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: What is the difference between the themes of the ballads sung by men and women?
A romancero is a collection of Spanish romances, a type of folk ballad dating back to the Middle Ages, and Spanish Jews took these songs with them when they were expelled from Spain in 1492. Many have survived to this day in Sephardic Jewish communities throughout Europe, making this oral tradition one of the most important cultural legacies that remain of the original Spanish Jewish community. Throughout the centuries women have played a vital role in keeping this tradition alive, passing the ballads down from generation to generation.
Zeljko Jovanovic is from Belgrade, Serbia, where he studied Spanish language and literature. He has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, England, where he wrote his thesis on the survival of oral literature among the Sephardim of the former Yugoslavia. He is a currently a Research Fellow at the Language, Literature and Anthropology Institute (ILLA) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid.
He recently gave a talk at the Centro Sefarad-Israel about the important role women have played in the preservation and transmission of these Sephardi ballads.