Session Title

Medieval Race and the Modern Scholar: Fear, Theory, and the Way Forward (A Roundtable)

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Sierra Lomuto, Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh, Cord Whitaker

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Pennsylvania, Univ. of California-Berkeley, Wellesley College

Presider Name

Cord Whitaker

Paper Title 1

Fear of an Anti-Black Planet, or, Medieval Studies' Post Racial/Pre-Racial Problem

Presenter 1 Name

Jared Rodríguez

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Northwestern Univ.

Paper Title 2

Acts of Imagination: The Anatomy of Race and Racial Thinking

Presenter 2 Name

Thomas Franke

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of California-Santa Barbara

Paper Title 3

Race and Conversion in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament

Presenter 3 Name

Susan Nakley

Presenter 3 Affiliation

St. Joseph's College, New York

Paper Title 4

"Being" Anglo-Saxonist: Signifier, Profession, Ontology

Presenter 4 Name

Donna Beth Ellard

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Univ. of Denver

Paper Title 5

ISAS Should Probably Change Its Name

Presenter 5 Name

Daniel Remein

Presenter 5 Affiliation

Univ. of Massachusetts-Boston

Start Date

11-5-2017 10:00 AM

Session Location

Bernhard 209

Description

Thomas Hahn’s 2001 JMEMS special edition, Race and Ethnicity in the Middle Ages, spearheaded a critical discussion on race in the medieval period; one that Cord Whitaker continues in the 2015 postmedieval edition, Making Race Matter in the Middle Ages. While the articles included in Hahn’s edition explore the question he poses in his introduction— “What, if anything, does medieval studies have to do with racial discourses?” — Whitaker’s edition takes as its starting point “not whether” the Middle Ages was raced, but “how” it is raced. Making Race Matter pushes the conversation on medieval race into a definitive space significantly evolved from its nascence in 2001. Yet there remains in the larger field of medieval studies a lingering hesitancy to employ the term race when discussing the categorization of difference or the management of alterity within medieval contexts. It often appears in quotations, or is preceded by “pseudo-” or “quasi-.” This panel asks whether and to what extent the discomfort with the concept is a result of the stark binary that has been the cornerstone of race discourse in studies of the Middle Ages: On the one hand, there are scholars even among those who recognize race as a valuable theoretical lens in medieval studies, that still do not consider race integral to the social fabric of the Middle Ages. Rather, they take it as compartmentalized and sequestered, ancillary, a concept that medieval authors and artists could “choose” to “tap into.” Race, for these scholars, is only marginal to a medieval European world view. On the other hand, some scholars have read race as a crucial and rich concept whose categories include various forms of alterity. The notion of the “monstrous races,” for instance, includes Saracens, Muslims, Jews, monsters, and demons. These categories are often discussed together against a usually white, usually male racially homogeneous social norm. In the past few years— in Whitaker’s edition and elsewhere— scholars have complicated this binary in formidable ways. They have identified the extremity of these two viewpoints and opened up a space between them rich for exploration. This panel aims to continue the work performed in Making Race Matter by rigorously theorizing race as a concept in the Middle Ages while at the same time querying the persistent resistance to the terminology and concept of medieval race in modern scholarship.

Sierra Lomuto

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
May 11th, 10:00 AM

Medieval Race and the Modern Scholar: Fear, Theory, and the Way Forward (A Roundtable)

Bernhard 209

Thomas Hahn’s 2001 JMEMS special edition, Race and Ethnicity in the Middle Ages, spearheaded a critical discussion on race in the medieval period; one that Cord Whitaker continues in the 2015 postmedieval edition, Making Race Matter in the Middle Ages. While the articles included in Hahn’s edition explore the question he poses in his introduction— “What, if anything, does medieval studies have to do with racial discourses?” — Whitaker’s edition takes as its starting point “not whether” the Middle Ages was raced, but “how” it is raced. Making Race Matter pushes the conversation on medieval race into a definitive space significantly evolved from its nascence in 2001. Yet there remains in the larger field of medieval studies a lingering hesitancy to employ the term race when discussing the categorization of difference or the management of alterity within medieval contexts. It often appears in quotations, or is preceded by “pseudo-” or “quasi-.” This panel asks whether and to what extent the discomfort with the concept is a result of the stark binary that has been the cornerstone of race discourse in studies of the Middle Ages: On the one hand, there are scholars even among those who recognize race as a valuable theoretical lens in medieval studies, that still do not consider race integral to the social fabric of the Middle Ages. Rather, they take it as compartmentalized and sequestered, ancillary, a concept that medieval authors and artists could “choose” to “tap into.” Race, for these scholars, is only marginal to a medieval European world view. On the other hand, some scholars have read race as a crucial and rich concept whose categories include various forms of alterity. The notion of the “monstrous races,” for instance, includes Saracens, Muslims, Jews, monsters, and demons. These categories are often discussed together against a usually white, usually male racially homogeneous social norm. In the past few years— in Whitaker’s edition and elsewhere— scholars have complicated this binary in formidable ways. They have identified the extremity of these two viewpoints and opened up a space between them rich for exploration. This panel aims to continue the work performed in Making Race Matter by rigorously theorizing race as a concept in the Middle Ages while at the same time querying the persistent resistance to the terminology and concept of medieval race in modern scholarship.

Sierra Lomuto