The Right To Difference: French Universalism And The Jews

Hardcover | November 2, 2016

byMaurice Samuels

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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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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...

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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Format:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:November 2, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022639705X

ISBN - 13:9780226397054

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“Samuels presents a highly nuanced and sophisticated analysis of French universalism through the exploration of its various historical iterations as it has engaged with the Jews of France since the French Revolution. This superb study is a major contribution to the scholarship on the themes of assimilation, acculturation and minority distinctiveness, and diversity that continue to be vexed problems in France to this day.”