The Jewish Body

The Jewish Body
A History

Robert Jütte. Translated by Elizabeth Bredeck

416 pages | 6 x 9 | 27 illus
Cloth Dec 2020 | ISBN 9780812252651 | $49.95a | Outside the Americas £41.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Jewish Culture and Contexts
View table of contents and excerpt

"A work of exemplary scholarship over a number of languages and cultures, The Jewish Body is a summa summarum of the various debates on body history, race, gender, ethnicity, and nationalism."—Sander Gilman, Emory University
An encyclopedic survey of the Jewish body as it has existed and as it has been imagined from biblical times to the present

That the human body can be the object not only of biological study but also of historical consideration and cultural criticism is now widely accepted. But why, Robert Jütte asks, should a historian bother with the Jewish body in particular? And is the "Jewish body" as much a concept constructed over the course of centuries by Jews and non-Jews alike as it is a physical reality? To comprehend the notion and existence of a Jewish body, he contends, one needs to look both at the images and traits that have been ascribed to Jews by themselves and others, and to the specific bodily practices that have played an important role in creating the identity of a religious and cultural community.

Jütte has written an encyclopedic survey of the Jewish body as it has existed and as it has been imagined from biblical times to the present, often for anti-Jewish purposes. He examines the techniques for caring for the body that Jews acquire in childhood from parents and authority figures and how these have changed over the course of a more than 2000-year history, most of it spent in exile. From consideration of traditional body stereotypes, such as the so-called Jewish nose, to matters of gender and sexuality, sickness and health, and the inevitable end of the body in death, The Jewish Body explores the historical foundations of the human physis in all its aspects.

Robert Jütte is Director Emeritus of the Institute for the History of Medicine of the Robert Bosch Foundation. He is author of numerous works including Poverty and Deviance in Early Modern Europe, The History of the Senses: From Antiquity to Cyberspace, and Contraception: A History.

Elizabeth Bredeck is an instructor at the University of California, San Diego English Language Institute.

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