Adolphe Crémieux, a typical failed French universalist?Noëmie Duhaut's work deals with the relationship between French, European and Jewish identities in the nineteenth century. Her new research project is a biography of the French Jewish lawyer and statesman Adolphe Crémieux (1796–1880). He has attracted little attention from historians despite being a crucial figure in nineteenth-century French, European, and Jewish politics. In contrast to earlier francocentric approaches, this biography analyses his role in the wider transnational, European and colonial contexts. The second innovation is to examine how the various aspects of his career as a lawyer, politician and defender of Jewish rights at home and abroad influenced each other.
By focusing on individual agency rather than abstract structures, this project casts light on Crémieux’s role in shaping the development of the French model of secularism, colonial definitions of citizenship and the emergence of modern Jewish politics in Europe. Through the lens of personal history, this project chronicles the evolution of France as a national, imperial and European power in the nineteenth century, concentrating on how French Jews negotiated their place within these three evolving and overlapping contexts.