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The recycling of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory into an anti-Morisco one in Early Modern Spain: the myth of El Vengador, the serial-killer doctor

The recycling of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory into an anti-Morisco one in Early Modern Spain: the myth of El Vengador, the serial-killer doctor
The recycling of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory into an anti-Morisco one in Early Modern Spain: the myth of El Vengador, the serial-killer doctor
This work examines how the study of emotions can help us understand the appeal of conspiracy theories and how they are exploited by governments and elite institutions to provoke fear and forge collective identities. It focuses on a particular conspiracy theory in early modern Spain: that of a vengeful Muslim doctor known as el vengador who systemically murdered Christian patients. It argues that the myth was in fact a clumsy recycling of a well–established anti-Semitic myth and that it also built upon existing anxieties about medical treatment. Sara Ahmed’s research on modern British society has demonstrated the role played by hate and fear in the creation of collective identities by creating boundaries with ‘others’ who are constituted as a ‘threat’ to the existence. Likewise, the libel of medical murder was part of an “affective politics of fear” in which the discourse of hate was instrumentalized by sections of the ruling hierarchy and polemicists to mobilize early modern Iberians against certain groups designated as a threat. Jews and Muslims became negative reference groups, equal objects of fear and anxiety whose role was interchangeable in order to formulate a normative collective identity.
1540-5877
233-255
Soyer, Francois
3ccef83c-fad6-46be-b6a0-300d69a30528
Soyer, Francois
3ccef83c-fad6-46be-b6a0-300d69a30528

Soyer, Francois (2016) The recycling of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory into an anti-Morisco one in Early Modern Spain: the myth of El Vengador, the serial-killer doctor. eHumanista/Conversos. Journal of Iberian Studies, 4, 233-255.

Record type: Article

Abstract

This work examines how the study of emotions can help us understand the appeal of conspiracy theories and how they are exploited by governments and elite institutions to provoke fear and forge collective identities. It focuses on a particular conspiracy theory in early modern Spain: that of a vengeful Muslim doctor known as el vengador who systemically murdered Christian patients. It argues that the myth was in fact a clumsy recycling of a well–established anti-Semitic myth and that it also built upon existing anxieties about medical treatment. Sara Ahmed’s research on modern British society has demonstrated the role played by hate and fear in the creation of collective identities by creating boundaries with ‘others’ who are constituted as a ‘threat’ to the existence. Likewise, the libel of medical murder was part of an “affective politics of fear” in which the discourse of hate was instrumentalized by sections of the ruling hierarchy and polemicists to mobilize early modern Iberians against certain groups designated as a threat. Jews and Muslims became negative reference groups, equal objects of fear and anxiety whose role was interchangeable in order to formulate a normative collective identity.

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Accepted/In Press date: 31 July 2016
Published date: 4 October 2016
Organisations: History

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 401153
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/401153
ISSN: 1540-5877
PURE UUID: 1444e987-1fd2-46a7-a2b4-131e1172bcbd

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Date deposited: 10 Oct 2016 13:44
Last modified: 11 Dec 2021 12:01

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Contributors

Author: Francois Soyer

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