JIS

Upcoming Events

Friday, October 24, 2014

05:30 pm - 06:30 pm

Yiddish Dance Extravaganza

An evening of live klezmer music by Wesleyan's klezmer band Veeblefetzer and Yiddish dancing led by Steve Weintraub.

The Bayit, 157 Church Street

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

04:15 pm - 05:45 pm

Psychology Colloquium, Andrew Winston, University of Guelph, "Jews, Race, and Essence: The Search for a Mythologized 'Jewish Mind' "

Recent progress in human genetics has been accompanied by a revival of old and very problematic claims: a) Jews are a biologically distinct group with distinct attributes, including higher than average intelligence, and b) the difference in intelligence and other attributes is partly due to heredity and natural selection. This revival has been supported by the study of genetic markers for the ancient Jewish priestly caste of Kohanim, epidemiological study of diseases in Ashkenazi Jews, and new comparisons of IQ scores and Nobel Prizes among ethnic groups. In this presentation, I review the historical background of the psychological study of Jews. The measuring of Jewish heads with calipers and identification of Jewish noses did not begin with Nazi race scientists, but was rooted in the late 19th century work of both Jewish and non-Jewish investigators. Biostatistical research on Jews was used both to combat and promote antisemitism. I explore the collaboration between Joseph Jacobs and Francis Galton, and Galton's use of composite photography to search for a hidden "Jewish essence." Second, I describe how the interwar study of Jewish "attributes" was embedded in the context of American antisemitism and specifically the exclusion of Jews from many academic positions until the end of World War II. Restrictive hiring practices involved folk conceptions of a "Jewish personality" that was thought to endanger the harmonious collegiality of the professoriate. Third, I discuss the interplay between "International Jewish conspiracy theories" and studies of Jewish intelligence. Given that such theories depend on ideas of Jewish cleverness, psychological research has provided a discursive strategy for sustaining these ideas and for supporting contemporary scientific racism and extreme antisemitism.

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