Racisms: From the Crusades to the Twentieth Century
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Racisms is the first comprehensive history of racism, from the Crusades to the twentieth century. Demonstrating that there is not one continuous tradition of racism, Francisco Bethencourt shows that racism preceded any theories of race and must be viewed within the prism and context of social hierarchies and local conditions. In this richly illustrated book, Bethencourt argues that in its various aspects, all racism has been triggered by political projects monopolizing specific economic and social resources.
Racisms focuses on the Western world, but opens comparative views on ethnic discrimination and segregation in Asia and Africa. Bethencourt looks at different forms of racism, and explores instances of enslavement, forced migration, and ethnic cleansing, while analyzing how practices of discrimination and segregation were defended.
This is a major interdisciplinary work that moves away from ideas of linear or innate racism and recasts our understanding of interethnic relations.
conditions. The Kalmuckian bulging elevation under the eyes, beardless chin, flattened nose, thin lips, semiclosed eyes, and flat face had resulted from an adaptation to cold air. The Americans were considered to be a Hunnish race not yet fully adapted to the differences in environment between the north and south of the New World since they carried their features from Northeast Asia and northern America to South America. The critical issue for the environmental explanation was that similar
2009), 232–64. The issue is still shaped by the 1950s’ debate around racism; the first historians who dealt with this problem wanted to avoid the analogy between persecution of New Christians in Spain and the Holocaust. 32. Jonathan Israel, Diasporas within the Diaspora: Jews, Crypto-Jews, and the World Maritime Empires (1540–1740) (Leiden: Brill, 2002); Yosef Kaplan, An Alternative Path to Modernity: The Sephardi Diaspora in Western Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2000); Lionel Levy, La nation juive
the Portuguese chroniclers) any reference to cannibalism in Congo.10 The evangelizing project assumed a good nature on the part of the people targeted. The erosion of the European and Christian presence in Congo changed this perspective. If we compare the first reports in the late fifteenth century with accounts published one and a half centuries later, the dramatic shift from closeness to distance, from a mirror image to an insurmountable strangeness, is striking. Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi, a
are themselves the products of history, which is why we need to contextualize them. The nouns racist and racism were created as recently as the 1890s and 1900s in order to designate those promoting racial theory along with a hierarchy of races. The division of humankind into groups of descent that supposedly shared the same physical and mental features was narrowed down to fit specific political contexts. These groups were placed in a relation of superiority or inferiority. In the 1920s and
designation of the Moriscos as an alien community situated within Christianity in Iberia was not simply a religious issue. These people were not formally Muslims, and they were not expelled because they were Muslims. They were Christians suspected of apostasy and feared as rebellious because part of them refused to assimilate in cultural, religious, and political respects. The suspicion had been there right from the beginning, embodied in the noun Morisco, which underlined their Moorish origins.