European Jews, argues Iris Idelson-Shein, occupied a particular place in the development of modern racial discourse during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Simultaneously inhabitants and outsiders in Europe, considered both foreign and familiar, Jews adopted a complex perspective on otherness and race. Often themselves the objects of anthropological scrutiny, they internalized, adapted, and revised the emerging discourse of racial difference to meet their own ends.
"e;Difference of a Different Kind"e; explores Jewish perceptions and representations of otherness during the formative period in the history of racial thought. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including philosophical and scientific works, halakhic literature, and folktales, Idelson-Shein unfolds the myriad ways in which eighteenth-century Jews imagined the "e;exotic Other"e; and how the evolving discourse of racial difference played into the construction of their own identities. "e;Difference of a Different Kind"e; offers an invaluable view into the ways new religious, cultural, and racial identities were imagined and formed at the outset of modernity.