Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Yale University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Yale University
Muslims and Jacobins: Catholic Representations of the Other in Nineteenth-Century France

Counter-revolutionary Catholics in nineteenth-century France—from influential thinkers such as Joseph de Maistre and Juan Donoso Cortès to later culture warriors like Louis Veuillot, Léon Gautier, and Emile Keller—wrote extensively about Islam in the context of their domestic struggle against secularism, and the resulting orientalist discourse was deeply ambiguous. Catholic apologists respected the religious devotion of their Muslim enemies, and were often critical of secular imperialism, yet they also advocated the work of missions and "civilization." Studying Catholic discourses on Islam will shed light on broader issues in the study of reactionary religion, including how conservative Catholicism constructed its "other" more generally, how it conceived of the relationship between the social and the individual, and how it navigated between modernity and tradition. Far from being an occasional interest, the confrontation with Islam was a central preoccupation of French Catholics in the nineteenth century, to such an extent that their domestic struggle against secularism and Jacobinism cannot be understood without reference to their more global orientalist discourse. Taken together, the plurality of religious opponents unleashed by empire and the plurality of political opponents unleashed by revolution presented a radical challenge to the universalist hopes of Catholicism. How Catholic apologists tried to process this challenge, to find categories from within their tradition for expressing differences which had previously been ignored or repressed—this is what needs to be explored.