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The Right to DifferenceFrench Universalism and the Jews$
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Maurice Samuels

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226397054

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226399324.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Universalism in Algeria

Universalism in Algeria

(p.73) 3 Universalism in Algeria
The Right to Difference

Maurice Samuels

University of Chicago Press

Chapter Three explores the complex intersection between colonialism and the “Jewish Question” in nineteenth-century Algeria. It shows how debats about whether to extend French citizenship to the indigenous Jewish and Muslim populations were reflected in Théophile Gautier’s play La Juive de Constantine [The Jewess of Constantine] (1846). The play, which depicts a Jewish woman rejecting her traditionalist upbringing to marry a French officer, dramatizes how French philosemitism in Algeria, which eventually led to the Crémieux Decree of 1870 enfranchising Jews but not Muslims, was predicated on a belief in the Jew’s supposedly greater aptitude for assimilation. The chapter shows that the example of the Algerian Jews’ naturalization helped solidify the opposition between French universalism and minority difference that would prevail both in France’s other colonial encounters and back in the metropole. The chapter also shows, however, that the struggle to extend French universalism to the Algerian Jews allowed metropolitan French Jews to express their difference in public and political ways.

Keywords:   Algeria, colonialism, Jews, Muslims, Théophile Gautier, La Juive de Constantine, Crémieux decree

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