Rethinking a Paradigm
This chapter examines the various constructions that have been used to account for Jewish–Muslim relations in the modern period. These constructions range from the irenic (“things were better back then”), perhaps best epitomized by the “golden age” trope, to the more critical (“Muslims have always treated Jews poorly”). Rather than be accurate descriptors, the chapter suggests that such models say more about those doing the interpreting than they do about the actual historical record. They are, in other words, motivated by politics as opposed to history. If the relations between Jews and Muslims in the premodern period are to be systematically rethought, then such paradigms must be transcended or, at the very least, shown for what they are.
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