9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN31 Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Discursive Constructions Building II, C5.05

Displacement and Reiteration: Europe's Othello, The Merchant of Venice and Gaza

Displacement and Reiteration: Europe's Othello, The Merchant of Venice and Gaza
Using Shakespeare's Othello and The Merchant of Venice, I want to register the cultural reiteration of racism of various kinds that ongoing performance of these texts ensures. To do this I want first to register what the presentation of outsider figures in Venice precipitates in both texts. Unease in Othello, about the unruliness of (English) masculinity is partly contained by the play's use of the Moor, particularly at its end. The Merchant of Venice is racist in more complex ways throughout. The extent to which anxieties about economic intercourse are in the play displaced onto the figure of the Jew has been much acknowledged. But I want to note as well the extent to which evidence of Christian exegetical readings of the Bible and of Judaism in the play, in turn, contribute to construction of a phantasmagoric figure of evil. Secondly, I want to register the extent to which both plays have continued to be performed in Europe, particularly in the case of the Merchant, Britain and Germany, as well as elsewhere. Finally I want to initiate an examination of the kinds of displacement and reiteration that might be found in cultural representations of recent events in Gaza. In what ways might what we know about these plays and their reception, intersect with European, Palestinian or Israeli cultural representations of these recent events?