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Enlightenment in the Colony:
The Jewish Question and the Crisis of Postcolonial Culture
Aamir R. Mufti

Paperback | 2007 | $29.95 | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691057323
344 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 1 line illus.
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Enlightenment in the Colony opens up the history of the "Jewish question" for the first time to a broader discussion--one of the social exclusion of religious and cultural minorities in modern times, and in particular the crisis of Muslim identity in modern India.

Aamir Mufti identifies the Hindu-Muslim conflict in India as a colonial variation of what he calls "the exemplary crisis of minority"--Jewishness in Europe. He shows how the emergence of this conflict in the late nineteenth century represented an early instance of the reinscription of the "Jewish question" in a non-Western society undergoing modernization under colonial rule. In so doing, he charts one particular route by which this European phenomenon linked to nation-states takes on a global significance.

Mufti examines the literary dimensions of this crisis of identity through close readings of canonical texts of modern Western--mostly British-literature, as well as major works of modern Indian literature in Urdu and English. He argues that the one characteristic shared by all emerging national cultures since the nineteenth century is the minoritization of some social and cultural fragment of the population, and that national belonging and minority separatism go hand in hand with modernization.

Enlightenment in the Colony calls for the adoption of secular, minority, and exilic perspectives in criticism and intellectual life as a means to critique the very forms of marginalization that give rise to the uniquely powerful minority voice in world literatures.


"By the late eighteenth-century...the 'protean Jew' was...'neither outsider nor one of us'. Mufti begins with the 'paradigmatic narratives' of minority existence within a liberal nation state...which constituted the so-called Jewish Question in modern Europe. He is especially concerned with the processes of secularization...[and focuses] on the connections between the violent resolution of the 'Jewish Question' and the formation of 'majoritarian' cultures. Mufti [provides] nuanced and historically grounded accounts of the 'Jewish Question'. At a time when these issues have assumed a renewed urgency--under the febrile sign of a 'new' anti-Semitism--[this] outstanding [book offers] a contextualized and scholarly approach to the subject."--Bryan Cheyette, Times Literary Supplement

"Aamir Mufti's Enlightenment in the Colony: The Jewish Question and the Crisis of Postcolonial Culture offers the most substantial theoretical intervention, one that is likely to have a significant impact on the field in future years."--New Literatures


"This is a remarkable exploration of the idea of the 'minority.' Through close and historically situated readings of literary and political texts in German, English, and Urdu, Mufti has produced a comparative account of Jewish and Muslim minority-ness in Europe and India that is both dazzling and profound. An outstanding first book from a brilliant young mind."--Partha Chatterjee, Director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

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Table of Contents:

A Note on Translation and Transliteration ix
Acknowledgments xi
Abbreviations xv

Prologue: Towards a Genealogy of Postcolonial Secularism 1

Part I Emergence: Europe and Its Others

Chapter One: Jewishness as Minority Emergence of a European Problematic 37

Chapter Two: Inscriptions of Minority in British Late Imperial Culture From Daniel Deronda to A Passage to India 91

Part II: Displacements: On the Verge of India

Chapter Three: Jawaharlal Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad Discovering India 129

Chapter Four: Saadat Hasan Manto A Greater Story Writer Than God 177

Chapter Five: Faiz Ahmed Faiz Towards a Lyric History of India 210
Epilogue: In My Beginning Is My End Jewish Exile and the Language of English India 244
Notes 263
Works Cited 295
Index 315

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