The Malleability of Race

By Lauren McCoy

While the subject of race has been discussed a lot within our seminar, I was really struck with the malleability of racial identities in this week’s reading. Previously we discussed how Jewishness in far-right rhetorics could be transformed to encompass whatever flavour of anti-semitic conspiracy was most resonated with a national population. A similar flexibility is visible in Güner article in regards to whiteness in Turkey. It’s interested that just last week we discussed anti-turkish violence in the context of anti-immigration and anti-multiculturalism sentiments in German, where this week they become associated with Whiteness as a way to legitimize their “development” in Sub-Saharan Africa. Turkish Whiteness seems to be entirely relative to who they are surrounded by – being white enough to be associated with Europe, yet still not white enough to actually be European.

              A similar malleability is visible in ideas of race and Jewish identity in Moses article, where Indonesian anti-colonialism sentiments surrounding Europe and Israel became interlocked in acts of anti-Chinese racism. While it may seem strange to associate Jewish people and Chinese populations, invoking ideas of anti-semitism global conspiracies seem to have less to do with an actual dislike for Jewish people and more so as a justification for violence against Chinese populations. This isn’t the only example of where a false association with Jewish people was used to imply the threat an ethnic group posed to the national population. In England’s interwar era, a similar conspiracy of a Jewish-Irish alliance was evoked by fascist parties like the League of Fascist and The Britons to showcase the threat of an independent Ireland to empire and as justification to re-conquer the nation.

              I’m not entirely sure how these ideas connect with some of the other readings/videos this week, but I think the malleability of identity, especially around social constructed categorizes of race, will become an important theme in examining European identity in regards to mass migration and de-colonial movements.

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