The figural Jew : uprooting the discourse of race in French thought, post-1945 / by Sarah Hammerschlag.
The figural Jew: uprooting the discourse of race in French thought, post-1945 focuses on the development of the idea of the Jew that arises from the engagement of modern political and philosophical discourse with "the Jewish question." In particular the project examines the figure of the Jew as it appears in the late-twentieth-century texts of Derrida, Blanchot and Lyotard and examines the sources for this figure in German Idealism, French anti-Semitism, and the responses to anti-Semitism produced by Jean-Paul Sartre and Emmanuel Levinas. By tracing the history of representations of the Jew in modernity, I am able to illustrate how these late-twentieth-century French philosophers have redeployed negatively valenced images of the Jew in order to critique the systems of thought within which the Jew was the declared other. Constructively, the dissertation aims to show that the notion of "the Jew," which develops out of the political and philosophical battles of modernity, gains its political force in its very failure to function as a label for an historic people. Instead, as it is redeployed as an "improper" label of post-modern identity, it can provide a mechanism of critique in the dispute between universalist and particularist definitions of political identity.
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