Napoleon, the Jews and the construction of modern citizenship in early nineteenth century France / by Scott Glotzer.
In a larger sense, this study explores citizenship as it was conceived during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic era. In a more specific sense, this study explores this era's debate over Jewish citizenship, which exposed the ambiguous nature of the citizenship it sought to construct--an ambiguity that characterizes citizenship in the modern nation-state in general, especially as it relates to minority or marginal groups. Born with the French Revolution, the modern nation-state defined itself both in a territorial sense, by setting its geographic borders, and as a membership organization, by granting or denying citizenship. During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era, liberal constitutional provisions regarding citizenship and civil rights allowed for the inclusion of previously excluded groups. The Jews formed one such group. Central to the debates over how Revolutionary and Napoleonic France would define itself as a "Nation," Jewish citizenship raised a number of difficult questions whose implications would form a constant focus for the polemic that surrounded this issue from the Enlightenment until the Second World War. Premised on an assumption of Jewish moral and economic degradation, questions concerning the relationship between Jewish religious and French civil law, as well as those regarding Jewish social, political and economic status, inspired numerous studies, petitions, and legislative proposals during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era and beyond. Employing such terms as "emancipation," "regeneration," "assimilation," and "utility," these petitions and proposals set the terms of the debate over Jewish citizenship and governed the conditions under which it was granted and preserved. While allowing Jews a chance to integrate themselves politically, economically, socially and culturally into the modern nation-state, these conditions often devalued Jews and Judaism, and have had stark and often unpleasant implications for Western, and world, Jewry throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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