University of Connecticut

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White 'Figura' and the Animacy of Racialization

Friday, February 23, 2018
4:00pm – 5:00pm

Storrs Campus
Stern Lounge (Austin 217)

The UConn Medieval Studies Program is hosting Wan-Chuan Kao of Washington and Lee University in the "Methodologies of Difference" panel. His paper is titled "The White 'Figura' and the Animacies of Racialization". Description below:

This paper thinks through white materialism as a technique of premodern racialization. In Mandeville’s Travels, Genghis Khan dreams of a knight armed all in white who prophesies a rising empire; in the Eastern original, he sees only a nondescript shaman. Non-human things, not skin tone or religious conversion, are the animating figures of whiteness: fetishes of chivalric ideals. Whiteness renders imperial Tartary intelligible through a fantasy of romance objects that facilitates a mimicking approximation of, but never full identification with, the West. And racialization emerges out of an incomplete, figural whiteness of difference that is unsustainable because already defunct.


Medieval Studies (primary), English Department, History Department, Judaic Studies, Literatures, Cultures and Languages, UConn Master Calendar

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