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Aryans, Jews, Brahmins
Theorizing Authority through Myths of Identity
Aryans, Jews, Brahmins
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Dorothy M. Figueira - Author
SUNY series, The Margins of Literature
N/A
Hardcover - 217 pages
Release Date: September 2002
ISBN10: 0-7914-5531-9
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5531-9

Out of Print
Price: $29.95 
Paperback - 217 pages
Release Date: September 2002
ISBN10: 0-7914-5532-7
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5532-6

Quantity:  
Price: $29.95 
Electronic - 217 pages
Release Date: February 2012
ISBN10: N/A
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-8783-9

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Explores the construction of the Aryan myth and its uses in both India and Europe.

In Aryans, Brahmins, Jews, Dorothy M. Figueira provides a fascinating account of the construction of the Aryan myth and its uses in both India and Europe from the Enlightenment to the twentieth century. The myth concerns a race that inhabits a utopian past and gives rise first to Brahmin Indian culture and then to European culture. In India, notions of the Aryan were used to develop a national identity under colonialism, one that allowed Indian elites to identify with their British rulers. It also allowed non-elites to set up a counter identity critical of their position in the caste system. In Europe, the Aryan myth provided certain thinkers with an origin story that could compete with the Biblical one and could be used to diminish the importance of the West’s Jewish heritage. European racial hygienists made much of the myth of a pure Aryan race, and the Nazis later looked at India as a cautionary tale of what could happen if a nation did not remain “pure.”

As Figueira demonstrates, the history of the Aryan myth is also a history of reading, interpretation, and imaginative construction. Initially, the ideology of the Aryan was imposed upon absent or false texts. Over time, it involved strategies of constructing, evoking, or distorting the canon. Each construction of racial identity was concerned with key issues of reading: canonicity, textual accessibility, interpretive strategies of reading, and ideal readers. The book’s cross-cultural investigation demonstrates how identities can be and are created from texts and illuminates an engrossing, often disturbing history that arose from these creations.

“This is a marvelously learned and engaging book. It asks serious questions about the relations between language and race, and locates compelling answers in the texts that Indians and Europeans were reading simultaneously, often reinventing them for their respective purposes. The quality of the research and the vigor of the interpretations make this a valuable resource for cultural and intellectual historians, as well as for literary critics interested in emerging ideologies of ‘right reading.’” — Gauri Viswanathan, author of Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief

Dorothy M. Figueira is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia. She is the author of The Exotic: A Decadent Quest and Translating the Orient: The Reception of Sakuntala in Nineteenth-Century Europe, both published by SUNY Press.


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Shared Myths
The Aryan Canon
Methodology and Plan

Part I. The Authority of an Absent Text

1. The Enlightenment and Orientalist Discourse on the Aryan

The Enlightenment Background
Voltaire and the Search for Authority
Locus of Poetic Inspiration or Site of Cultural Decay?
Conclusion

2. The Romantic Aryans

Romantic Myth Theory
Friedrich Schlegel and the Foundations of Romantic Linguistics
Romantic Mythographers and the Upnekhata
Romantic Indology: The Case of Max Müller
Conclusion

3. Nietzsche’s Aryan Übermensch

Introduction
Reading Nietzsche Reading India
Manu as a “Semitized” Aryan Sourcebook
The Aryan as Übermensch
Christianity, an Anti-Aryan Outcaste Religion
The Jew and the Aryan
Conclusion

4. Loose Can[n]ons

Racial Theory: An Overview
Gobineau and the Aryan Aristocrat
Houston Stewart Chamberlain: Aryan Publicist
Alfred Rosenberg and the Nordic Aryan
Conclusion

Part II. Who Speaks for the Subaltern?

5. Rammohan Roy

Reading Reform
The Complexity of the Colonial Subject
Scriptural Authority and the Hermeneutics of Sati
Misreading Monotheism: Idolatry and Brahmin Perfidy
Rammohan Roy’s Syncretism and Its Challenge to Postcolonial Theory

6. Text-based Identity: Dayanand Saraswatı's Reconstruction of the Aryan Self

Introduction
Dayanand’s Canon and Hermeneutical Strategies for Reading the Aryan World
Aryan Masculinity and the Teleology of Decay
Conclusion

7. Aryan Identity and National Self-Esteem

Introduction
Justice Ranade and Lokamanya Tilak
Swami Vivekananda
Conclusion

8. The Anti-Myth

Introduction
The Aryan and Its Other
Mahatma Phule
Dr. Ambedkar
Conclusion

Afterword

Notes

Bibliography

Index



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40849/40850(NE/MS/MC)

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