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Distributed for ACMRS Press

Seeing Race Before Race

Visual Culture and the Racial Matrix in the Premodern World

Distributed for ACMRS Press

Seeing Race Before Race

Visual Culture and the Racial Matrix in the Premodern World

Explores the deployment of racial thinking and racial formations in the visual culture of the pre-modern world.
The capacious visual archive studied in this volume includes a trove of materials such as annotated or illuminated manuscripts, Renaissance costume books and travel books, maps and cartographic volumes produced by Europeans as well as Indigenous peoples, mass-printed pamphlets, jewelry, decorative arts, religious iconography, paintings from around the world, ceremonial objects, festival books, and play texts intended for live performance.

Contributors explore the deployment of what coeditor Noémie Ndiaye calls “the racial matrix” and its interconnected paradigms across the medieval and early modern chronological divide and across vast transnational and multilingual geographies. This volume uses items from the Fall 2023 exhibition “Seeing Race Before Race”—a collaboration between RaceB4Race and the Newberry Library—as a starting point for an ambitious theoretical conversation between premodern race studies, art history, performance studies, book history, and critical race theory.

300 pages | 25 color plates, 50 halftones | 9 x 12 | © 2023

Art: European Art

History: European History

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

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Table of Contents

Foreword- by Ayanna Thompson and Daniel Greene
Introduction- by Lia Markey and Noémie Ndiaye
Essay 1. Manuscripts and Printed Books: Book History and Race. By Brandi K. Adams and Carissa M. Harris.
Essay 2. Fashioning Racial Materiality in Nicolas de Nicolay’s Representations of Jews. By M. Lindsay Kaplan and Dana E. Katz.
Note From the Field 1. “Touching each book”: Demystifying Special Collections in Community. By Analú María López.
Exhibition Catalog: “Seeing Race Before Race.” Part 1: Figuring. Entries 1-14.
Essay 3. Geographies of Race: Constructions of Constantinople/Istanbul in the Western European Imaginary. By Roland Betancourt and Ambereen Dadabhoy.
Essay 4. Race, Empire, and Cartography. By Ricardo Padrón and Risa Puleo.
Note From the Field 2. Displaying Black Art in the Medieval Galleries at The Met Museum. By Andrea Myers Achi.
Exhibition Catalog: “Seeing Race Before Race.” Part 2: Mapping. Entries 15-26.
Essay 5. Back Bending Labor, Savage Dances, Pious Stances: Race in Motion between Africa and the Americas. By Elena FitzPatrick Sifford and Cécile Fromont.
Note From the Field 3. Bringing Premodern Critical Race Consciousness to Shakespeare’s Globe. By Farah Karim-Cooper.
Exhibition Catalog: “Seeing Race Before Race.” Part 3: Performing. Entries 27-42.
Interview. On Early Modern Critical Race Studies and Critical Indigenous Studies. By Kim F. Hall, Scott Manning Stevens, and L. Lehua Yim.
List of Contributors

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