‘A crooked, passion-laden mirror’: ‘Jews’ and ‘Muslims’ as a European question beyond religio-secularism

Yolande Jansen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this article, Jansen attempts to demonstrate that addressing the religious practices of Jews and Muslims from the perspective of a religio-secular framework in today’s European context underestimates the complexity of semiotic relations between Muslims, Jews and other Europeans. She discusses this complexity in terms of ‘intercultural semiotics’ between the three groups. In particular, she focuses on what she calls ‘mirroring relations’, drawing on an expression from Yirmiyahu Yovel about a ‘crooked, passion-laden mirror’ characterizing the ways in which modern Europeans imagined their Jewish neighbours in early twentieth-century Europe. In order to further explain this, Jansen analyses a passage from Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time, which concerns a group of people in late nineteenth-century France, following the Dreyfus Affair, who are perceived by the narrator as Jewish. Thereafter, drawing on Gil Hochberg’s notion of the ‘re-membering’ of the Semite, Jansen analyses semiotic mirroring in the work Projet Deburkanisation (2017) by the Belgian author Rachida Lamrabet, which she reads as a contemporary meta-reflection, involving Muslims, on the mirroring relations between Jews and other Europeans first discussed via her reading of Proust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-45
Number of pages17
JournalPatterns of Prejudice
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Genealogies of ‘Jews’ and ‘Muslims’: Social Imaginaries in the Race–Religion Nexus. A special issue guest-edited by Yolande Jansen and Nasar Meer


  • antisemitism
  • freedom of religion
  • intercultural semiotics
  • Jews and Muslims
  • Marcel Proust
  • piety
  • Projet Deburkanisation
  • Rachida Lamrabet
  • religio-secularism
  • Semite


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