Financial support to participate in the Summer University entitled “The question of impurity in Atlantic societies, from the 14th to the 20th century”, University of Nantes, Centre for Research in International and Atlantic History, 24-28 June 2013.
The STARACO project (STAtus, “Race” and COlor in the Atlantic World from Antiquity to today), financed by the Pays de la Loire Region of France, and coordinated by António de Almeida Mendes and Clément Thibaud, is inviting ten PhD students and post-doctoral researchers to take part in its first Summer University, which will be held in Nantes from 24th to 28th June 2013.
The sessions will be organized around three main topics:
a) Concepts and justifications of impurity. How was the notion of the impurity of non-European populations constructed in the Atlantic region? This question, which is the major theme of this Summer University, requires a broad timeframe, from the Middle Ages to the present, and a multidisciplinary approach (law, philosophy, anthropology, history), which could explain the changes in this notion, as well as a comparative perspective between continents, imperial formations and the nations derived from them. The justifications for hierarchies between the peoples of the Atlantic, whether in a colonial context or not, cover a very wide spectrum of arguments, ranging from religion to law, political economy and biology.
b) Social and political practices in relation to impurity. The second topic will consider the ways in which social practices construct and redefine the normative outline of impurity. We are thinking, in particular, about social strategies of distance, enabling the “pure” to protect themselves against the proximity of the “impure”. How is impurity expressed in institutional terms? The appearance of a free colored population has often aroused unease amongst the authorities like the white elite. The issue of identity is also important in this perspective, insofar as, during the 18th century, the imperial nations of Europe “racialized” their identity to assimilate certain characteristics of the white populations, thus excluding the liberated. At the social level, the threat of impurity arises particularly within the family, provoking a non-exclusive series of strategies by the population of European origin to whiten themselves, in order to eliminate the original stain by forgetting it. It is thus about shedding light not only on the social strategies of exclusion but also on their reverse, and the practices invented by stigmatized individuals for their characteristics to be forgotten.
c) The endurance of the impurity of non-European populations. The colonial experience in the Americas and in Africa shows how little the legal and political elimination of disgrace and impurity, or of every classification assuming inferiority in relation to “honorable” populations, erases social stigmatization. How can the centuries-old permanence of these representations, despite such decisive changes as abolition, decolonization and democratization of citizenship, be explained? What is the role of the visibility of differences (such as skin color, physical characteristics, body language or certain cultural traits) in maintaining, often unconsciously, discrimination?
Conditions for submissions
The researchers selected will agree to attend all the group activities. They will submit, in advance, the contents of their paper, in one of the working languages of the Summer University (English, Spanish, French, or Portuguese), which will then be reviewed by one of the senior researchers.
STARACO will be responsible for travel and accommodation costs (5 nights in a hotel, breakfasts, lunches and two dinners).
To apply, please send a short CV and proposal for a paper (one page) to Marion Lelay (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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