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The Europeanisation of French Jews: French Jewish perceptions of Jews in Southeast Europe, 1840 to 1880

Duhaut, NF; (2017) The Europeanisation of French Jews: French Jewish perceptions of Jews in Southeast Europe, 1840 to 1880. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis explores the changing identity of French Jewry from the 1840 Damascus Affair to the aftermath of the 1878 Berlin Congress. It focuses on the case study of the campaign led by the Alliance Israélite Universelle for the emancipation of Jews in one specific European periphery, Southeast Europe. This dissertation argues that the values the French Jewish elite chose to defend were not only seen as French but also as profoundly European. French Jews gradually constructed a self-image in relation to coreligionists in Southeast Europe, alternatively seeing them as ‘oriental,’ ‘European’ and, more often than not, ‘Europeans-to-be.’ Through their defence of fellow-coreligionists in Southeast Europe, French Jews implicitly placed themselves at the centre of ‘civilisation’ and thus defined themselves as Europeans. The various chapters examine how the Alliance and its supporters defined this campaign as defending the ideals of 1848 for a just and democratic society in Europe, how they drew on the abolitionist discourse as a source of inspiration and legitimacy, as well as how they understood the civilising mission in Southeast Europe primarily as the extension of Western European legal principles to states gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire. Finally, by building and relying on a network of Western European activists in its campaign for the emancipation of Jews in Southeast Europe, the Alliance also reinforced the gap between Western European Jews and Jews in Southeast Europe seen as both powerless and inactive by the former. While most studies on French Jewry in the 19th century analyse French Jewish identity in relation to the broader national identity, this dissertation carries out a different kind of analysis by focusing on the supra-national level. At the same time, by focusing on the level of identification with Europe, this research also unpacks the universalist ambitions expressed by the French Jewish elite.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Europeanisation of French Jews: French Jewish perceptions of Jews in Southeast Europe, 1840 to 1880
Event: University College London
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1538600
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