Barbara C. Johnson

Barbara C. Johnson is associate professor of anthropology and coordinator of Jewish Studies at Ithaca College in New York. Continuing over thirty years of research and writing about the Cochin Jews of Kerala, she is currently writing a book on Kerala Jewish women’s culture in India and Israel, framed by translations, description and analysis of their Malayalam-language songs. Her publications include Ruby of Cochin: An Indian Jewish Woman Remembers, co-authored with Ruby Daniel (1995) and Oh, Lovely Parrot!: Jewish Women’s Songs from Kerala. (Compact disc with commentary and English translations, The Jewish Music Research Center, Jerusalem, 2004).

Articles by this author

Hortense Powdermaker

Hortense Powdermaker explored the balance of involvement and detachment necessary for participant-observer fieldwork in cultural anthropology, stressing the ability to “step in and out of society.” Her secular Jewish identity was apparently a factor in learning this skill, exemplified in an academic career that included thirty years of college teaching and the writing of five major books based on widely diverse fieldwork studies.

Ruby Daniel

Ruby Daniel’s 1995 book, Ruby of Cochin: An Indian Jewish Woman Remembers, combines recounting of historical events with engaging storytelling. The book endures as a significant contribution to Jewish history and ethnography.

Cochin: Jewish Women's Music

For many centuries, Cochin Jewish women have sung Jewish songs, both in Hebrew and in the Malayalam language of Kerala, their ancient homeland on the tropical southwest coast of India. Kerala Jews are unusual among halakhically observant communities in the complex intertwining of female and male knowledge and performance throughout their musical repertoire.


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Jewish Women's Archive. "Barbara C. Johnson." (Viewed on May 19, 2024) <>.