Critical Race Conversations: Premodern Race and Religion

M. Lindsay Kaplan, Mayte Green-Mercado, and Rachel Schine

Thursday, May 27, 2021, 3:00 pm
This conversation was originally recorded on May 27, 2021

Religious identity is easily understood as a source of difference-making, but not readily understood as racialized. In this "Critical Race Conversation," scholars speaking across disciplines will discuss how tropes established about certain religious identities travel and were often then applied to other groups in premodern visual and historical representations. Significant shifts in the formation of canon laws, infrastructure, and economic systems also led to legacies of oppression still felt today. Speakers will explore a variety of sources as a means of considering how the premoderns originally constructed whiteness as a religious identity.


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Dr. M. Lindsay Kaplan, Professor of English at Georgetown University, teaches courses on Shakespeare and early modern drama, focusing on gender, race and religious difference. Her most recent publications include a monograph, Figuring Racism in Medieval Christianity (2019) and a volume of essays on The Merchant of Venice in the Arden State of Play series (2020). Her current book project, Medieval Merchant of Venice, traces through the play the persistence of residual medieval Catholic ideas as well as emerging Reformation concepts of Jewish identity in early modern England.

Dr. Mayte Green-Mercado, Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark, specializes in Islamic Studies. She is the director of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Minor and teaches courses on Islamic Civilization, Islamic history in Spain and North Africa, and early modern Mediterranean history. Her courses deal with questions of religion, politics, identity, and race and ethnicity in the medieval and early modern periods. In addition to many articles on Iberian and Mediterranean apocalypticism, she authored Visions of Deliverance. Moriscos and the Politics of Prophecy in the Early Modern Mediterranean (2019). Her current book project is concerned with histories of displacement, migration, and refugees in the early modern Mediterranean.

Dr. Rachel Schine is a Postdoctoral Associate in Arabic Literature and Culture at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In fall of 2021 she will join NYU Abu Dhabi as a humanities research fellow. Her courses focus on identity and community as expressed through the literature, philosophy, and arts of Arab and Muslim societies. Her research interests include storytelling practices, kinship structures, gender / sexuality, and race / racialization in Arabic writings. She has authored and co-authored multiple articles on reading the 1001 Nights (Alf Layla wa-Layla) as well as Arabic epics in the context of histories of gender, race, and place. Her current book project, Black Knights: Arabic Epic and the Making of Medieval Race, analyses the racialization and representation of Sub-Saharan Africans and their descendants in Arabic popular literature.