Race in Transnational Perspective: Racial Difference across Time and Space

AHA Session 285
Sunday, January 7, 2018: 11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Marriott Ballroom, Salon 1 (Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level)
Robin D. G. Kelley, University of California, Los Angeles
Miscegenation in the Medieval European Imagination
Lynn Ramey, Vanderbilt University
Before the Human: Africans, Sovereigns, and Slaves
Herman Bennett, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Robin D. G. Kelley, University of California, Los Angeles

Session Abstract

Race as a social and political identity varies greatly across time and space. Historians of the United States have increasingly recognized racial difference as key to national life, but that does not necessarily mean the concept is relevant, or at least relevant in the same ways, to other national experiences. In short, understandings of race are often shaped by place. A transnational approach to the history of race must explore how the concept has changed not just over time but across regions and national boundaries as well. Much of the intellectual history of race has long taken a global perspective; the historiography of race and the Enlightenment is a case in point. Transnational studies of race also consider how different nations have legislated race as an idea, how racialized groups have mobilized culturally and politically both in different countries, and across national boundaries, and how the racial identities of individuals and groups change as they cross national frontiers. Finally, the transnational history of race must consider its absence as well as presence, exploring those areas where racial distinctions do not loom large socially, culturally, or politically. The papers in this roundtable session will address these issues, in the process laying out possible frameworks for future explorations of the transnational history of race.
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