In the nineteenth century, anthropologists, eager to discover the origins of and demarcations between different “races”, regularly looked to the Jews – believed to be a pure and long-existing race – to test their theories. Taking these early anthropological ideas we can see how modern race theory was constructed. This lecture will deal with notions of racial purity, racial origins and the desire of pioneer anthropologists to “sort out” different racial groups. Professor Stone will conclude by connecting the discussion with today’s attempts to discover “Jewish genes” and to develop ethnically-directed medicine.
This lecture is one of a series being held alongside the Blood – Uniting and Dividing exhibition at the Jewish Museum London (5 November 2015 – 28 February 2016), which was conceived in collaboration with the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism.