The Right to Difference: French Universalism and the Jews

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

Universal equality is a treasured political concept in France, but recent anxiety over the country’s Muslim minority has led to an emphasis on a new form of universalism, one promoting loyalty to the nation at the expense of all ethnic and religious affiliations. This timely book offers a fresh perspective on the debate by showing that French equality has not always demanded an erasure of differences. Through close and contextualized readings of the way that major novelists, philosophers, filmmakers, and political figures have struggled with the question of integrating Jews into French society, Maurice Samuels draws lessons about how the French have often understood the universal in relation to the particular.

Samuels demonstrates that Jewish difference has always been essential to the elaboration of French universalism, whether as its foil or as proof of its reach. He traces the development of this discourse through key moments in French history, from debates over granting Jews civil rights during the Revolution, through the Dreyfus Affair and Vichy, and up to the rise of a “new antisemitism” in recent years. By recovering the forgotten history of a more open, pluralistic form of French universalism, Samuels points toward new ways of moving beyond current ethnic and religious dilemmas and argues for a more inclusive view of what constitutes political discourse in France.
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About the author

Maurice Samuels is the Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French and director of the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism at Yale University. He is the author of The Spectacular Past: Popular History and the Novel in Nineteenth-Century France and Inventing the Israelite: Jewish Fiction in Nineteenth-Century France.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Nov 2, 2016
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9780226399324
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / France
History / General
Law / Civil Rights
Literary Criticism / European / French
Religion / Judaism / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The New York Times Bestseller

In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the 29-year-old NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency's widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. As the arguments rage on and the government considers various proposals for reform, it is clear that we have yet to see the full impact of Snowden's disclosures.

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