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Routing Race in the Eastern Mediterranean

Thursday 18 March 2021, 5.15PM

Speaker(s): Ambereen Dadabhoy (Harvery Mudd College)

Perhaps the most important contact zone in the early modern period, the Mediterranean Sea linked and separated Europe, Asia, and Africa. It's geography facilitated traffic and exchange, in goods, ideas, and people, and for the English dramatists it functioned as a site of intense curiosity, allure, and anxiety. Even though it was geographically and culturally quite distant from England, the Mediterranean offered English travellers and writers a location through which they could negotiate various forms of cultural, religious, and racial differences. Such literary projects facilitated England’s nascent imperial ambitions and layered an imaginative geography, the Staged Mediterranean, as I call it,  on top of a real one wherein English writers could plot their desires and triumphs. English negotiation of Mediterranean practices, particularly those related to identity, exposes their discomfort with the many ways in which the region promoted fluid and shifting cultural and political affiliations. Moreover, this locale offers the English a space in which to register and taxonomize difference as non-Englishness, non-Christianness, and non-whiteness, thereby contributing to the formation of race in the period. 

Ambereen Dadabhoy is an Associate Professor of Literature at Harvey Mudd College. Her research focuses on cross-cultural encounters in the early modern Mediterranean and race and religion in early modern English drama. She investigates the various discourses that construct and reinforce human difference and in how they are mobilized in the global imperial projects that characterize much of the early modern period. Ambereen's work also seeks to bridge the past to the present to illustrate how early modern racial and religious discourses and their prejudices manifest in our own contemporary moment. Currently, she is working on a project that explores the early modern anti-blackness from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. She has published two articles on teaching premodern race, “Skin in the Game: Teaching Race in Early Modern Literature,” (2020) and “Barbarian Moors: Documenting Racial Formation in Early Modern England,” (2021).

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Location: Zoom