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Book cover of Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity

Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity

by Dorothy Matilda Figueira

Publisher: State University of New York Press
Pages: 220
Paperback
ISBN: 9780791455326






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Overview of Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity

Explores the construction of the Artan myth and its uses in both India and Europe. BACKCOVER: In Aryans, Jews, Brahmins, 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.

Author Biography: Dorothy M. Figueira is Professor and Head 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 SÅaµkuntala in Nineteenth-Century Europe, both published by SUNY Press.

Synopsis of Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity

In this cross-cultural study of the Aryan myth in which Brahmin Indian and European races but not Semitic ones share roots, Figueira (comparative literature, U. of Georgia) reads canons and "loose can[n]ons" in this origin myth's construction from Enlightenment and Romantic discourse to Indian reformers' anti- myths. Annotation c. Book News, Inc.,Portland, OR

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