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Speaking the UnspeakableReligion, Misogyny, and the Uncanny Mother in Freud's Cultural Texts$
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Diane Jonte-Pace

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520226005

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520226005.001.0001

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The Sources of Anti-semitism

The Sources of Anti-semitism

Circumcision, Abjection, and the Uncanny Mother

(p.99) Chapter 4 The Sources of Anti-semitism
Speaking the Unspeakable

Diane Jonte-Pace

University of California Press

The chapter examines Freud's comments on the entanglement of anti-Semitism with misogyny. Freud's description of castration anxiety and circumcision as central to both the fear of the Jew and the fear of the mother leads to a set of speculations on the “abject” as the source of both xenophobia and misogyny. Freud's explanation of anti-Semitism in terms of an association of circumcision and castration seems relatively self-evident: it follows the metonymic logic of pars pro toto. Abjection accompanies all religious structurings and reappears, to be worked out in a new guise, at the time of their collapse (1982: 17). Anti-Semitism is precisely a contemporary mask for abjection. By locating the origins of anti-Semitism and misogyny in castration anxiety, Freud developed a theory in which the practice of circumcision is central to the hostility toward Jews.

Keywords:   anti-Semitisim, uncanny mother, abjection, misogyny, circumcision

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