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The Suppression of the Jesuits and the Enlightenment Discourse of Jewish Emancipation: Two Parallel Historical Phenomena

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773 and the Enlightenment discourse of Jewish emancipation in the 1780s resulted from the combination of the Enlightenment discourse of human emancipation and the state-making process in 18th-century Europe. The aim of absorbing man into a "superpersonal entity" largely characterized the 18th-century debate on human emancipation in general and on Jewish emancipation in particular. Both the Jesuits and the Jews were victims of the same intellectual, cultural, and sociopolitical dynamics, namely the Enlightenment discourse of human emancipation and the fact that the growingly centralized and all-encompassing states of 18th-century Europe appropriated the Enlightenment concept of emancipation and adapted it to their purposes. It was in the context of the growth of the nation-state that racial anti-Semitism emerged and spread, proving that discomfort with difference does not disappear when the "others" recant, convert, or assimilate.

Keywords: Enlightenment discourse of Jewish emancipation; Jesuits; racial anti-Semitism; Society of Jesus



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