Photography in Economies of Demonstration: The Idea of the Jews as a Mixed-Race People
Abstract

Abstract:

Photographs played an important role in the development of the idea of the Jews as a mixed-race people. This article tracks the trajectory of this idea from the 1880s, when it was first introduced by the liberal Austrian anthropologist and archaeologist Felix von Luschan, through the works of American Jewish physician Maurice Fishberg and German Jewish linguist Sigmund Feist, to its appropriation and inversion by the prominent Nazi theoretician of race Hans F. K. Günther in the 1920s. By tracing the circulation of one photograph, analyzing the roles of photographs in argumentation, comparing their status with other types of empirical sources, and arguing that the key to their analysis is performative, pertaining to the relationships photographs form, I argue for the essential contingency of ideas that in retrospect have been identified as fundamental to antisemitic arguments.