RaceB4Race event archive

Rising: A RaceB4Race Symposium

January 26-27, 2024 | Arizona State University

Rising: A RaceB4Race Symposium invites scholars to consider the ways in which literary, artistic, or scholarly practice compels the transcension of racial trauma we find in lived experience, as we navigate premodern texts and the academy. How do we push at the boundaries of difficulty and find joy through art, scholarship, and community?

Co-hosted by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Shakespeare Centre London (Shakespeare’s Globe and King’s College).

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Poetics: A RaceB4Race Symposium

January 27-28, 2023 | Arizona State University

This symposium invited scholars and poets to examine the ways race can, should, and/or does function within poetic paradigms. Along with one of our distinguished speakers, Fred Moten, we ponder "the question of how we can read the poem is redoubled now. now, how can we read this poem?"

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Genealogies: A RaceB4Race Symposium

September 22-24, 2022, University of Toronto

What are the genealogies of racial formation? How do our histories of race-making, of imperialism and enslavement, live on in our present moment? What does it mean to excavate the historical, cultural, and political genealogies of race, and what does such a methodology look like? This symposium explored the multi-layered and interwoven strands of premodern racial formation. Even as it unfolds the critical genealogies that scaffold our understanding of race today, it places pressure on the intellectual and disciplinary conventions that will continue to inform our future.

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Region and Enmity: A RaceB4Race Symposium

October 19-22, 2021, Online symposium

This interdisciplinary symposium, hosted by Rutgers University, focuses on how premodern racial discourses are tied to cartographical markers and ambitions. The notions of enmity and region provide a dual dynamic lens for tracing the racial repertoires that developed in response to increasingly hostile contention between premodern cultural and political forces. The symposium will invite scholars to take up this intersection between region and enmity, and to examine how belief in difference, or the emergence of polarizing structures and violent practices, configured race thinking and racial practices in ways that are both unique to different territories and that transcend them.

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Politics: A RaceB4Race Symposium

May 4-7, 2021, Online symposium

As the first RaceB4Race event to bring classicists into conversation with early modernists and medievalists, this symposium combined scholars working to reconfigure, rehistoricize, and repoliticize the past.

This symposium invited scholars of history, literature, and other disciplines in the premodern eras to consider how the past frames the politics of race, how the politics of the past have influenced race in our disciplines, and how the politics of the present intrude upon, expropriate, and capitalize on these trends. In addition, this event focused on how the practices of scholarship and pedagogy engage with the politics of race and the racialization of politics in our disciplines.

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RaceB4Race Education

Education: A RaceB4Race Symposium

January 20-23, 2021, Online symposium

Featuring Andrea Myers Achi, Barbara Bordalejo, Tarrell R. Campbell, Ambereen Dadabhoy, Eric L. De Barros, Brenna Duperron, Mariam A. Galarrita, Nedda Mehdizadeh, Adrienne Merritt, and Ian Smith. 

The fourth RaceB4Race symposium focused on “Education” because it sits at the heart of our attempts to rebuild premodern studies within an actively antiracist framework. Our ten speakers interrogated how we teach our fields, why we teach our fields, and whom we implicitly and explicitly include and exclude in the process. For if we remember that Stuart Hall was dissuaded from becoming a medievalist and Toni Morrison an early modernist, then we must face the force of education’s push and pull with BIPOC students.

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To Protect and to Serve: A RaceB4Race Roundtable

July 23, 2020, Online webinar

Featuring Margo Hendricks, Cord J. Whitaker, Justin P. Shaw, and Carissa M. Harris, and moderated by Ayanna Thompson.

This roundtable discussion brought together four RaceB4Race alumni, all scholars of color who write and research in the fields of premodern critical race studies. Our speakers addressed the historical and contemporary lenses in which the phrase "To Protect and to Serve" can be inspected, interrogated, and reenvisioned.

While communities around the country fight for social justice and the end of police brutality, we ask: What does it mean to protect and to serve?

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Appropriations: A RaceB4Race Symposium

January 17-18, 2020, Tempe, Arizona

The RaceB4Race event in Tempe in January 2020 focused on how the term appropriation has recently signified in different ways for early modernists and medievalists. For early modernists, “appropriation” figures in crucial analyses of cultural productions, rewritings, and reimaginings of older narratives, most typically those by Shakespeare. Medievalists, in contrast, have increasingly deployed “appropriation” to discuss the ways white supremacists use the period’s imagery for overtly political purposes; and medievalists have been asking whether such uses constitute appropriations, misappropriations, or reflections of an inherent ideological stance within medieval studies as a whole.

Bringing scholars into dialogue about these facets of appropriation, we asked how these different arenas for appropriation, and their various implications, intersect and if they can expand our insights into early critical race studies.

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Race and Periodization: A RaceB4Race Symposium

September 5-7, 2019, Washington D.C.

Race and Periodization was hosted in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library. Following upon the inaugural RaceB4Race event, a collaboration of medievalists and early modernists held at Arizona State University in January 2019, this conference foregrounded the relationship between race and historical periodization. Medievalists and early modernists have long grappled with the meaning and use of their own historical period designations as well as the strictures of periodization itself. This event explored how critical race theory can enable new insights about, approaches to, and critiques of periodization.

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The Inaugural RaceB4Race Symposium

January 18-19, 2019, Tempe, Arizona

This two day event brought together medieval and early modern race scholars seeking to push their fields in new archival, theoretical and practical directions. Scholars, artists and activists gathered to discuss the contemporary implications of premodern critical race studies.

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