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Keywords:

  • fundamentalist religion;
  • modernity;
  • women;
  • Latin America;
  • haredi Jews

Conservative religious movements are multivalent. Depending on the context in which they are practiced, they are capable of signifying to their adherents modernity as much as tradition. Women who embrace these movements may find them meaningful and appealing precisely for this reason and irrespective of their apparent patriarchy. In this article, I examine the case of Argentine Jewish women of Syrian descent who have abandoned their self-described traditional form of Jewish practice and embraced Jewish ultraorthodoxy. I focus on how local concerns about modernity and “Third Worldism” inform these transformations. In so doing, I demonstrate that women, as conservative religious actors, may be motivated by the same kinds of public sphere concerns that are normally attributed to their male counterparts.