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Moses Mendelssohn And The Polemics Of History

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Chapter Summary

During the nineteenth century, European nation-states demanded the Jews’ religious, cultural, and political transformation in exchange for civic liberties. Viewing the national as the realm of cultural interaction, production, and contestation has underlined the tortuous, conflicted process of the Jewish minority’s integration and self-assertion within the emerging nation-states. The proliferation of modern Jewish historiography during the nineteenth century across national and cultural boundaries facilitated the refashioning of a common past and the imagining and maintaining of relations with other Jewish communities. The process of reception and adaptation at the same time created distinct Jewish histories within existing nation-states, when, at the end of the nineteenth century, new research agendas emerged in Germany, France, England, and America. Situating Jewish heritage production within a transatlantic space of cultural transmission and collision underscores the interrelationships among Jewish communities that fostered trans national loyalties and accentuated and fermented cultural differences.

Keywords: civic liberties; European nation-states; Jewish communities; Jewish heritage production; Jewish minority’s integration; modern Jewish historiography; nineteenth century



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