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Is Theory Good for the Jews?French Thought and the Challenge of the New Antisemitism$
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Bruno Chaouat

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781781383346

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781383346.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Dangerous Parallels

Dangerous Parallels

The Holocaust, the Colonial Turn, and the New Antisemitism

(p.117) Chapter Three Dangerous Parallels
Is Theory Good for the Jews?

Bruno Chaouat

Liverpool University Press

In Chapter 3, I probe the theory of multidirectional memory propounded by literary scholars in Europe and the U.S. The multidirectional-memory hypothesis was born from what those scholars call “the colonial turn” in literary and Holocaust studies. Scholars in postcolonial studies are increasingly turning to the Holocaust to approach the history and memory of colonialism, slavery, and more specifically, the events of the Algerian war. Their stated goal is to use the history and memory of the Holocaust to shed light on colonialism, especially in its French incarnation, or rather, to trigger a dialogue among collective memories. I argue that despite a praiseworthy attempt at rejecting the paradigm of competition among victims, that paradigm returns to haunt multidirectional memory. In order to legitimate its effort at finding consensus by uniting collective memories of suffering and persecution, multidirectional memory tones down the specificity of the Holocaust, and ends up neutralizing complex aspects of the Algerian war (notably, conflicting narratives of victimized groups) and more recent manifestations of Islamic terrorism and Islamic antisemitism. Not only do those blind spots prevent vigorous confrontation with resurgent antisemitism, they utterly obliterate that resurgence.

Keywords:   Multidirectional memory, Competition of victims, Colonial Turn in Holocaust studies, Islamic antisemitism

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