Contagion and the National Body : The Organism Metaphor in American Thought
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Drawing on the work of George Lakoff, this book provides a detailed analysis of the organism metaphor, which draws an analogy between the national or social body and a physical body. With attention to the manner in which this metaphor conceives of various sub-groups as either beneficial or detrimental to the (social) bodys overall functioning, the author examines the use of this metaphor to view marginalized sub-populations as invasive or contagious entities that need to be treated in the same way as harmful bacteria or pathogens. Analyzing the organism metaphor as it was employed in the service of social injustice through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the United States, Contagion and the National Body focuses on the alarm eras of the restrictive immigration period (1890-1924), the agitation against Chinese and Japanese populations on the West Coast, the eugenic periods targeting of feeble-minded persons and other "defectives," periods of anti-Semitism, the anti-Communist movements, and various forms of racial animosity against African-Americans.