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The Global 19th Century Workshop at UCR invites you to a talk by Dorian Bell, Associate Professor in the Literature Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Date: Thursday, April 14
Time: 1:00 – 2:30
Location: HMNSS 2412
Title: Axes of Otherness: Jews, Imperial Capitalism, and the Politics of Scale

This paper reconsiders the displacement that occurred when, according to Fredric Jameson, colonial powers substituted European national rivalries for a more fundamentally unsettling axis of otherness produced in the encounter by Europeans with their imperial subjects. The displacement was never absolute, I argue, and traces of uncontained colonial otherness explain how frequently nineteenth-century European imperial nation-states figured differences among them by means of the Jewish national other. Thus did anti-Semitic ire manifest an anxiety about the nation’s increasing inhabitation of a world system marked by impenetrable complexity and racial alterity—something feasible because of the Jews’ understood racial or conspiratorial association with colonized subalterns—while recoding that anxiety into a more tolerable encounter playing out at a national scale as a matter of national rivalry—something feasible, in turn, because of the same overdetermined Jew’s continued association with the German or British or French national enemy.

Professor Bell’s research interests include French culture and thought since the nineteenth century; histories of empire, race, and anti-Semitism; media theory; film studies; and political and social theory. His work brings the tools of literary and cultural criticism to bear on the history of ideologies. He is particularly interested in the novel and its place within the nineteenth century’s crescendoing debates about empire and race. His current book project, entitled Frontiers of Hate: Anti-Semitism and Empire in Modern France, examines sites of articulation between late nineteenth-century French anti-Semitism and imperialism.

Learn more about Global 19th Century.