Diasporas of the Mind: Jewish and Postcolonial Writing and by Bryan Cheyette

By Bryan Cheyette

In this attention-grabbing and erudite ebook, Bryan Cheyette throws new mild on quite a lot of glossy and modern writers—some on the center of the canon, others extra marginal—to discover the ability and boundaries of the diasporic mind's eye after the second one international conflict. relocating from early responses to the loss of life camps and decolonization, via the world over well-known literature after the second one international struggle, the ebook culminates in clean engagements with modern Jewish, post-ethnic, and postcolonial writers.
Cheyette regards a few of the 20th- and twenty-first-century luminaries he examines—among them Hannah Arendt, Anita Desai, Frantz Fanon, Albert Memmi, Primo Levi, Caryl Phillips, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Edward stated, Zadie Smith, and Muriel Spark—as serious exemplars of the diasporic mind's eye. opposed to the discrete disciplinary considering the academy, he elaborates and argues for a brand new comparative technique throughout Jewish and postcolonial histories and literatures. And in so doing, Cheyette illuminates the ways that histories and cultures could be imagined throughout nationwide and communal boundaries.

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Extra info for Diasporas of the Mind: Jewish and Postcolonial Writing and the Nightmare of History

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But the line between universalizing Jewish history and superseding it can be quite thin. In fact, much of this book explores the tension between those who construct Jews as ‘world-­historical victims’ or the quintessential insider/outsider, enabling other victims of history or ambivalent others to speak, and those who wish to go beyond Jewish history in the name of more contemporaneous histories. 51 The problem with such disciplinary thinking is that it reinforces the narrative that diasporic Jewish history ended with the European Holocaust, which is, to compound the Boyarins’ bitter irony (as anti-­nationalists), also the narrative of Jewish nationalism.

We cannot fail to connect the horrific history of anti-­Semitic massacres to the establishment of Israel; nor can we fail to understand the depths, the extent and the overpowering legacy of suffering and despair that informed the postwar Zionist movement. (Said 1994b: 167) In his much-­cited 1997 essay ‘Bases for Coexistence’, Said argues memorably that Jews and Palestinians ‘cannot coexist as two communities of detached and uncommunicatingly separate suffering’ (Said 2000: 208). His sense of exile, in this formulation, is neither detached from ‘the facts of material life’ as ‘metaphor’ (Ahmad 86) nor is it merely ‘postcolonial’.

In The European Tribe, Phillips understands, in this context, that ‘an American black might respond with contempt to an American Jew who told him, “I know what it is to be persecuted; I am a Jew” ’ (Phillips 1987: 53). Such is the anxiety of appropriation, with the fear being that one history of racism expunges other histories. The institutionalized presence of the Holocaust in the United States makes it a convenient filter through which other, more immediate American histories of oppression – such as the history of slavery and the genocide of Native Americans – can be underplayed.

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