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Race and PhotographyRacial Photography as Scientific Evidence, 1876-1980$
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Amos Morris-Reich

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226320748

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226320915.001.0001

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Racial Photographs from Icons to Schemes

Racial Photographs from Icons to Schemes

The “Case” of Central and Eastern European Jews, 1880–1927

(p.85) Chapter 2 Racial Photographs from Icons to Schemes
Race and Photography

Amos Morris-Reich

University of Chicago Press

Chapter Two shifts perspective from an investigation of various photographic methods and techniques to close analysis of the actual roles of photographs in scientific argumentation. Focusing on the single most influential racial definition of Jews between the 1880s and the 1920s- the idea of the Jews as a mixed race people- the chapter analyzes the role photographs played in the scientific economy of this idea. In this vein, the chapter traces a genealogy from Felix von Luschan, through Maurice Fishberg, to Sigmund Feist. The analysis reveals a transformation in the use of photographs, from illustrations of an argument in the 1890s to the gradual emergence of serialized photographs in the 1910s. It shows that, in the transformation of the racial photograph from icon to matrix, photographs were more thoroughly integrated into scientific demonstration. The chapter agues that this transformation destabilized definitions of both “type” and “race”. The chronologically ordered narrative is interrupted by two excurses that intersect the immediate subjects of the chapter. The first focuses on the interaction between Felix von Luschan and Hermann Struck, and explores the exchange between art and science. The second reflects on the relationship between the archive and the imagination in the history of race and photography. 

Keywords:   photography in scientific argumentation, idea of Jews as mixed race people, illustration of argument, iconic photograph, serialization of photographs, photographic matrix, type, art and science, photography as medium, archive and imagination

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