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Jewish Memory and the Cosmopolitan Order by Natan Sznaider

Jewish Memory and the Cosmopolitan Order


Jewish Memory and the Cosmopolitan Order by Natan Sznaider

Natan Sznaider offers a highly original account of Jewish memory and politics before and after the Holocaust. It seeks to recover an aspect of Jewish identity that has been almost completely lost today - namely, that throughout much of their history Jews were both a nation and cosmopolitan, they lived in a constant tension between particularism and universalism. And it is precisely this tension, which Sznaider seeks to capture in his innovative conception of rooted cosmopolitanism', that is increasingly the destiny of all peoples today. The book pays special attention to Jewish intellectuals who played an important role in advancing universal ideas out of their particular identities. The central figure in this respect is Hannah Arendt and her concern to build a better world out of the ashes of the Jewish catastrophe. The book demonstrates how particular Jewish affairs are connected to current concerns about cosmopolitan politics like human rights, genocide, international law and politics. Jewish identity and universalist human rights were born together, developed together and are still fundamentally connected. This book will appeal both to readers interested in Jewish history and memory and to anyone concerned with current debates about citizenship and cosmopolitanism in the modern world.


In this fine piece of writing, Sznaider confronts us directly with a paradox of current imaginations of new cosmopolitanism in Europe. Sociological Review What is Europe? Not a state, not a territory, argues Natan Sznaider, but a process of shifting borders, and a cosmopolitan memory and vision lived by a multi-lingual Jewish culture. This book exemplifies the richness of cosmopolitan theory and research in the humanities. Ulrich Beck, University of Munich Natan Sznaider brilliantly demonstrates that 'the Jew
has become preeminently the symbol and the vehicle for cosmopolitanism. Jewish universalism and tribalism appear to epitomize the dilemmas and contradictions of the modern cosmopolitan imagination. Through the lens of Hannah Arendt

's philosophy and the traumatic history of European Jews, the author explores the contemporary debate about universal ethics. The result is a tour de force in history, sociology and political theory. Bryan S. Turner, City University of New York This book is a must-read for anyone interested in Jewish or any other politics. Sznaider's main thesis is that the particularity of memories and experiences is not subordinate to the universality of an idea such as cosmopolitanism - that the latter is void of worldly and even human relevance without the former. He makes his case through a close examination of modern Jewish thought, with specific and illuminating emphasis on Hannah Arendt. This is a work of inspired scholarship. Jerome Kohn, New School University Sznaider s book is a welcome addition to the growing list of scholars who understand BJewish politics,^ outside of Israel, as a transnational enterprise of activists, intellectuals, and NGOs. Sznaider s book is a welcome addition to the growing list of scholars who understand Jewish politics , outside of Israel, as a transnational enterprise of activists, intellectuals, and NGOs. (Human Rights Review 2015)'

About the Author

NATAN SZNAIDER is Professor of Sociology at the Academic College in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

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Book Info

Publication date

5th August 2011


Natan Sznaider

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Polity Press


200 pages





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