This panel seeks new research and pedagogy on the construction of race, origin, and ethnicity in Islamicate societies from the seventh to the nineteenth centuries.
Understanding how race, ethnicity, and origin were constructed and defined in the Islamicate world is a work in progress. Along with understanding the development of these categories, how we teach and discuss them within our discipline is also vital. Although racial and ethnic biases existed since antiquity, the construction and purpose of what we term racial and ethnic categories remain elusive cross-culturally. The ancient Greeks, along with other cultures of the Mediterranean, theorized human differences were due to a combination of environment, climate, and astrological influences. Those people who were closer to the sun were hot-tempered, whose darker skin was the result of being “burned” skin, while those furthest away were cold-natured with white skin. The temperate zones of the Mediterranean were deemed the most conducive to the development of culture, yet it was understood that people from that zone – the climatic band that encompassed Greece, sections of India and China – varied widely in appearance, from skin color to hair. Medieval Islamicate societies absorbed the intellectual wealth of other cultures, categorizing different peoples according to origin. Such categorizations contained a value judgment based on a how the environment molded character, intelligence, and morality. As the slave trade expanded, so did justifications for enslavement, and manumission. By the early modern era, racial stereotypes and association of enslavement with certain racial and ethnic groups were hardened.
This panel seeks new research and pedagogy on the construction of race, origin, and ethnicity in Islamicate societies from the seventh to the nineteenth centuries. It invites papers that engage these intersections through historical, legal, religious, literary, and other disciplinary lenses. Particular areas of interest include, but are not limited to, how these concepts interacted with genealogy, enslavement, manumission, social mobility, gender, political agency, labor, sexual ethics, nationalism, colonialism, law, and the arts.
Abstract Submission Data: February 14, 2020
Conference Data: October 10-13, 2020
Venue: Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, D.C.
Please submit an abstract of 300 to 400 words to Lisa Nielson (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday February 14, 2020 at 5:00pm EST. When submitting your abstract, please use “MESA 2020” in the subject line. Participants will receive decisions by February 17, 2020. Panelists will be required to upload their abstract to the MESA site by February 18, 2020. You must have a current MESA membership by this date in order to submit an abstract. MESA makes decisions about the program by the end of April 2020. The MESA annual conference takes place this year in Washington, D.C. October 10-13, 2020