Race and Erudition

Overview

Nineteenth-century theories of race were meant to provide a comprehensive account of the history and evolution of civilizations. What they produced instead were the modern foundations for prejudice and its politics. In this enlightening book, with a new preface and postscript for the Anglophone audience, Maurice Olender investigates the unsuspected links between erudition and race, showing the affinities between the social sciences and the concept of “race.”

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Overview

Nineteenth-century theories of race were meant to provide a comprehensive account of the history and evolution of civilizations. What they produced instead were the modern foundations for prejudice and its politics. In this enlightening book, with a new preface and postscript for the Anglophone audience, Maurice Olender investigates the unsuspected links between erudition and race, showing the affinities between the social sciences and the concept of “race.”

Beginning with a brilliant study of the Protocols of Zion, the book turns to Indo-European origins of language, culture, and human “types” and moves on to studying some of the more important figures in the twentieth century, such as Eliade, Dumézil, and Momigliano. Olender elegantly teases out the cultural history of the word “race,” a history that explains its diverse political uses and its continuing relevance to our global contemporary society. In doing so, he provides an accessible and lucid pathway through the labyrinth of race and erudition and examines how to deal with diversity without the problematic heritage of racial stereotypes.

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Editorial Reviews

Peter Sacks
Race and Erudition is a brilliant, riveting work of warning and illumination. It is crucial reading for anyone seeking to understand the fabric, or rather the fabrication, at the highest (and lowest) levels, of the social fictions and myths of otherness, by which we live and die, by which we continue to suffer and inflict often atrocious suffering.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674034044
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Maurice Olender is Maître de Conférences at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
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Table of Contents


  • Acknowledgments

  • Preface to the English- Language Edition: “Race” without History

  • Introduction: Racism, a Semantic Trap


  1. The Hunt for (Self-)Evidence
  2. Pierre Charles, the Society of Jesus, and Protocols of the Elders of Zion

  3. The Indo- European Idea between Myth and History
  4. The Revival of Indo-European Studies: Georges Dumézil (1898–1986)

  5. Political Uses of Indo-European Prehistory

  6. Discussion after the Lecture “Political Uses of Indo-European Prehistory”

  7. The Secret Feasts of Georges Dumézil: A Dialogue (1983)

  8. The Long Indo-European Memory

  9. III. The Black Gold of Origins
  10. Mircea Eliade (1907–1986)

  11. History of Religions and the Nostalgia for Origins: On the Eliade–Pettazzoni Correspondence

  12. IV. Alterities
  13. Barbarophilia and Greek Wisdom: Arnaldo Momigliano (1908–1987)

  14. V. Two Figures of Resistance
  15. An Untimely Lucidity: Marcel Mauss (1872–1950)

  16. A Historian of Forgetting: Léon Poliakov (1910–1997)

  17. VI. The Silence of a Generation
  18. The Nazi Past of German Universities: Rudolf Schottlaender (1900–1988)

  19. Hans Robert Jauss (1921–1997)

  20. The University, Barbarism, and Memory, by Karlheinz Stierle

  21. “The Radical Strangeness of Nazi Barbarism Has Paralyzed a Generation of Intellectuals”: Dialogue with H. R. Jauss (1996)

  22. On Silence as a Possible Form ofWitnessing


  • Postscript for Günter Grass

  • Notes

  • Sources

  • Index


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