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Ghetto

Jewish Urban Quarters Before The Ghetto, Establishment Of Ghettos, Ghetto As Metaphor For Slum, Black Ghettos

The name of a district in sixteenth-century Venice where Jews were required to live, ghetto came to be the name for any segregated Jewish quarter. The name was applied (1) to compulsorily segregated Jewish residential districts in Europe between 1516 and 1870; (2) to urban areas of first settlement of Jewish immigrants and their distinctive culture after about 1880; and (3) from 1940 to 1944, to rigidly segregated districts in German-occupied European cities where the occupiers imprisoned Jews before methodically murdering them.

As a striking historical example of recurring policies of marginalization and demonization, ghetto was also applied to phenomena of Western history unconnected with Jews. In the nineteenth century, the term came to refer to (1) urban concentrations of distinctive businesses, classes, and ethnic groups. In the twentieth century in the United States, the term was applied to ethnic neighborhoods, particularly to (2) black neighborhoods in northern cities. Other urban areas have been called "the hippie ghetto," "Pakistani ghettos in the (English) midlands," and "the golden ghetto." Before the Enlightenment, mention of the ghetto was meant to arouse revulsion at the inhabitants; afterward, its mention could also be meant to evoke indignation at the infliction of shame and suffering.

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