Communities of Violence : Persecution of Minorities in the by David Nirenberg

By David Nirenberg

Makes a speciality of particular assaults opposed to minorities in fourteenth-century France and the Crown of Aragon. This booklet argues that those assaults - starting from massacres to verbal attacks opposed to Jews, Muslims, lepers, and prostitutes - have been frequently perpetrated by means of teams that manipulated and reshaped the on hand discourses on minorities.

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Nor did I follow those who trafficked in nightmares, like the political scientist Samuel Huntington, whose The Clash of Civilizations, published in the same year (1996) as Communities of Violence, prophesied a new world order of increasingly religious confrontation in which geopolitical conflict would be structured along the fault lines between competing civilizational blocks, each unified by a shared religion and culture that would put them at odds with their neighbors. I had (and have) little confidence in such prophets, and least of all in their pretensions to quantify the relative capacity for violence of a given religion or civilization.

The result is a rose-tinted scapegoating theory, in which any act of violence can be interpreted as part of a system of tolerance, draining history of all its horrors. In short, the years since the publication of Communities of Violence have impressed upon me the power of our yearning to “periodize through violence, to divide the … world into opposing categories of tolerance and intolerance, mutual interest versus mutual hostility, open society or closed,” rather than accepting the “dependence of the one upon the other” (245).

Ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhäuser. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1991. Vol. I. 696. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MANY OBLIGATIONS, material and spiritual, were incurred in the writing of this book. Financial support for the project came from a variety of institutions. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Ford and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundations under the auspices of the Social Science Research Council; the Fulbright-Hays/Spanish Government program; the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain’s Ministry of Culture and American Universities; and the Mrs.

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