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

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-183
Number of pages34
JournalJewish Social Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Photography
  • Hittites
  • Ethnographic photography
  • Jewish peoples
  • Black and white photography
  • Articles
  • Marine photography
  • Cultural anthropology
  • Linguistic anthropology
  • Jewish history
  • Photographs
  • Jews
  • Racially mixed people
  • Identity
  • Social aspects
  • Mischlinge (Nuremberg Laws of 1935)
  • Günther
  • Hans F. K.
  • 1891-1968. Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes
  • Jews -- Europe -- Pictorial works
  • Race
  • Religious aspects
  • Analysis
  • Antisemitism
  • Images
  • Photographic
  • Art
  • Argumentation
  • Physicians
  • Biraciality
  • Anthropology
  • Piaget
  • Jean (1896-1980)
  • German
  • Politics
  • Society
  • Jewish Americans
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Race relations


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