“Race or Religion? The case of Disraeli” A Talk Given by Dr Megan Dent

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June 20, 2018 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
London Inter Faith Centre
St Annes & St Andrews Church
125 Salusbury Rd, London NW6 6RG
£5 Booking NOT Required
Laurence Hillel

Dr Megan Dent received her D.Phil from the University of Oxford in 2016 with her thesis, Disraeli and Religion. She is the author of several journal articles and book reviews on nineteenth-century religious culture, and she recently co-edited a volume called Thomas Carlyle and the Idea of Influence (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2018). She now lives and works in Queen’s Park, tutors in English and Religious Studies, and is working on a book project based on her doctoral thesis.

About Her Talk: There is a widespread assumption in scholarship that Benjamin Disraeli was a racial, rather than a religious thinker. But the entire paradigm of ‘race’ arose in concurrence with shifts in scriptural interpretation. Many of the earliest ‘racial scientists’ were in fact Christians who sought to vindicate passages of Scripture, especially as the literal truth of Bible came under scrutiny from new schools of biblical criticism. Disraeli participated in a racial discourse that was entirely subsumed in religious assumptions and which existed as a species of a larger religious metanarrative to which he explicitly subscribed. His perception of Britain as an exceptional and ‘chosen’ nation were rooted in this racial-and-religious understanding of the British people, which, surprisingly he linked back to the Israelites of the Bible. To what extent is support for Brexit a harking back to that sense of greatness and chosenness which Disraeli upheld?  And is his “racial” view still present in our society today?