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L'Esprit Créateur other's national culture, as though one could assume an identity for culture where bom the very idea of "identity" and "culture" could be determined as single and homogeneous. This is given especial focus in the idea that there is an "opposition between a liberal-pluralist American model of ethnic relations and a monolithic and centralized French conception of die national community " (109). Concluding with discussion of the politics of difference, Mathy calls upon Toqueville and Derrida in order to point to a persistent attention to matters of integration as a matter of respecting alterity ( 167). In particular, Mathy addresses Derrida's patient negotiation of the idea of hospitality with respect to me foreigner, where the notion of integration must also become an act of respecting difference radier man imposing die sameness of national identity founded on models of mat identity belonging to the host country. In distinction to this, and presenting a trenchant critique of U.S. multiculturalism as a politics of nostalgia operating through a desire for homogeneity , Mathy lucidly unfolds the urgent necessity to address that which in die politico-epistemological structures and institutions of both North American and French cultures remains unread, either from one culture to me other, or as the otiier widlin cultures. Julian Wolfreys University of Florida Max Silverman. Facing Postmodernity: Contemporary French Thought on Society and Culture. London & New York: Routledge, 1999. Pp. χ + 198. $24.95 paper. The thesis of Silverman's Üiought-provoking book is that France, die "quintessential modern nation-state" by virtue of its strong attachment to "Uie culture and counter-culture of rationality," is now the nation-state tiiat "most clearly epitomizes me crisis of modernity," which the author equates with postmodernism's democratization of modernism's transgression of the binary categories of modernity: die universal and the particular, the public sphere and Uie private sphere, die real and representation, etc. Silverman examines the repercussions of the breakdown of diese categories in five different areas. Chapter One traces how post-structuralist thinkers responded to die Holocaust by adopting the figure of the Jew as die emblem of opposition to Western logocentrism —a stance tiiat ends up producing a "positive" version of the familiar Western stereotypes of the Jew. In Chapter Two, Silverman argues tiiat a "cliché-ridden" republicanism is fighting a losing "rearguard" battle to preserve a universalist model of integration, which is hardly more tolerant of difference dian die biological racism of old or me cultural neo-racism espoused by die far right. Chapter Three, perhaps the book's most original, looks at how die democratization of the transgressive spatial imagination of üte flâneur has given rise to die postmodern practice of "aestiietic spacing," which collapses die "density" of die social into a "flat and undifferentiated space of surface and representation." This practice of me city is not particularly conducive to meaningful interaction with the otiier in open public spaces and ignores die fact that power now flows tiirough virtual channels tiiat bypass the "space of places" altogether. Chapter Four examines the French debate on the postmodem shift from a spiritual definition of culture as a higher realm of universal truths to an anthropological definition dial includes virtually any representation or artifact a society is capable of producing. Silverman rejects the chauvinism of intellectuals like Marc Fumaroli and Alain Finkielkraut, who condemn die new definition as a Germanic or Anglo-Saxon import; but he also recognizes French contributions to a critique of a form of cultural relativism which "reduces real diversity to the same bland formula of market-led personal taste." The effect of the market on the republican idea of citizenship is a focus of Chapter Five, which praises the efforts of thinkers like Alain Touraine and Etienne Balibar, who are rethinking citizenship outside the classic dichotomies of modern thought Alüiough one might wish for a more lengthy discussion of this particular new direction of French thought or greater emphasis on art and literature, these minor weaknesses pale in comparison to die book's many strengtiis, which 98 Spring 2001 Book Reviews include its accessible discussion of complex ideas, its fair-minded treatment of each side of a given issue, its...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 98-99
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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