Religion and Culture Web Forum

"Antisemitism, Anti-Catholicism, and Anticlericalism" is the first chapter in Joskowicz's book The Modernity of Others: Jewish Anti-Catholicism in Germany and France, now available through Stanford University Press. The most prominent story of nineteenth-century German and French Jewry has focused on Jewish adoption of liberal middle-class values. The Modernity of Others points to an equally powerful but largely unexplored aspect of modern Jewish history: the extent to which German and French Jews sought to become modern by criticizing the anti-modern positions of the Catholic Church. Drawing attention to the pervasiveness of anti-Catholic anticlericalism among Jewish thinkers and activists from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, the book turns the master narrative of Western and Central European Jewish history on its head. From the moment in which Jews began to enter the fray of modern European politics, they found that Catholicism served as a convenient foil that helped them define what it meant to be a good citizen, to practice a respectable religion, and to have a healthy family life. Throughout the long nineteenth century, myriad Jewish intellectuals, politicians, and activists employed anti-Catholic tropes wherever questions of political and national belonging were at stake: in theoretical treatises, parliamentary speeches, newspaper debates, the founding moments of the Reform movement, and campaigns against antisemitism.

Ari Joskowicz is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and European Studies at Vanderbilt University. His recent book The Modernity of Others: Jewish Anti-Catholicism in Germany and France (Stanford 2014) explores how German and French Jews in the long nineteenth century defined their own modernity and national belonging by criticizing the anti-modern politics of the Catholic Church. He is co-editing a volume entitled Secularism in Question: Jews and Judaism in Modern Times (University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming 2015) and is currently working on his new book on the relations between Jews and Roma (Gypsies) during the Holocaust and in memory politics since 1945.

For the corresponding notes to "Antisemitism, Anti-Catholicism, and Anticlericalism," please click here.

Please note that essays and responses are available as pdfs only (requires the free Adobe Acrobat reader).

Image: Stanford University Press

About the Web Forum

The Martin Marty Center's Religion and Culture Web Forum is an online forum for thought-provoking discussion on the relationship of scholarship in religion to culture and public life. Each month the Marty Center, the research arm of the University of Chicago Divinity School, invites a scholar of religion to comment on his or her own research in a way that "opens out" to themes, problems, and events in world cultures and contemporary life. Scholars from diverse fields of study are invited to offer responses to these commentaries.

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The Religion and Culture Web Forum is edited by Emily D. Crews, Divinity School PhD student in the History of Religions.