Chapter

Tailing the Suspect, or the Braiding of Gender and Ethnic Difference

Jay Geller

in The Other Jewish Question

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780823233618
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241781 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823233618.003.0003
Tailing the Suspect, or the Braiding of Gender and Ethnic Difference

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This chapter maps how European discourses have fetishized body parts of and techniques practiced upon members of cultures whose origins antedate Europe's and whose persistence therefore questions European claims for autonomy and universality. It first traces the weave of gendered and ethno-racial stereotypes of circumcised Jews and pigtailed Chinese as mediated among Germanophones by the morphemic field of Zopf- (braid): Chinesenzopf (the queue), and Judenzopf (a scalp disease). The chapter then focuses on how the tail (Schwanz), as figural displacement of both penis and queue, was used to ascribe gendered ethno-racial difference. It also describes the ways in which hair on the face and head—the beard and the braid—functioned as diacritical marks between (uncircumcised) German and (circumcised) Jew. The writings of Heinrich Heine as well as J. C. Lichtenberg among others are analyzed.

Keywords: Chinese; circumcision; difference; fetish; gender; hair; Heinrich Heine; Jews; stereotype; tail

Chapter.  13619 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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