Book

Obstinate Hebrews

Ronald Schechter

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2003 | ISBN: 9780520235571
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929357 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520235571.001.0001
Obstinate Hebrews

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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Enlightenment writers, revolutionaries, and even Napoleon discussed and wrote about France's tiny Jewish population at great length. Why was there so much thinking about Jews when they were a minority of less than one percent and had little economic and virtually no political power? This book offers fresh perspectives on the Enlightenment and French Revolution, on Jewish history, and on the nature of racism and intolerance. Informed by the latest historical scholarship and by the insights of cultural theory, this book offers a fascinating tale of cultural appropriation cast in the light of modern society's preoccupation with the “other.” The book argues that the French paid attention to the Jews because thinking about the Jews helped them reflect on general issues of the day. These included the role of tradition in religion, the perfectibility of human nature, national identity, and the nature of citizenship. In a conclusion comparing and contrasting the “Jewish question” in France with discourses about women, blacks, and Native Americans, the book provocatively widens its inquiry, calling for a more historically precise approach to these important questions of difference.

Keywords: Enlightenment; Napoleon; France; Jews; French Jews; French Revolution; cultural theory; national identity; citizenship

Book.  339 pages. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Obstinate Hebrews

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Conclusion in Obstinate Hebrews

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