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Race and the Early Modern World



Patricia Akhimie, Department of English (Newark)

Ana Laguna, Department of Spanish and Portuguese (Camden)

Henry Turner, Department of English

Caro Pirri, PhD Student, Department of English

This working group draws upon the strengths of scholars across the Rutgers campuses and across disciplinary boundaries whose work entails an investigation of racial difference in the early modern world, read variously as somatic, religious, national, and ethnic difference, and as mutually constitutive with social hierarchies such as class and caste.  In thinking through connections between early modern racial formations and our contemporary historical moment, this working group will also seek to communicate the relevance of early modern studies to our debates about race and racism in the world today.  Fostering publications, projects, and public events including interdisciplinary symposia on race, this working group aims to promote and build on the energy and radical thinking of recent scholarship on race in the early modern world, bringing it to a wider audience, facilitating interdisciplinary work and anticipating new directions in the field.

It is our intention that participants will engage the topic of race and the early modern world from a wide variety of theoretical, critical, archival, and pedagogical perspectives.  Questions of interest include:  How do we define race in the early modern world?   To what extent do the forms and features of early modern social difference relate to modern understandings and experiences of race and racism?  How do disciplinary boundaries limit our approaches to thinking and speaking about race and other forms of difference?  What are the advantages and pitfalls of using critical race theory in discussions of race in the early modern world?  What are our aims (aspirations) in studying the way racial difference works in the early modern world?  What possibilities for teaching students about race in the early modern world emerge from an assessment of documentary, literary, material, visual and other sources?


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