Intersections of Religious Identity and Race Pre Modern Iberian World Research


Intersections of religious identity and race

Modern scholars debate the extent to which race, as a social construct, existed in the European Middle Ages.  Some suggest that religious identity was understood as a much more significant marker of human difference.  Craft a paper examining the intersection of race and religious identity in the pre-modern Iberian world.  If we consider that notions of race revolve around an understanding of blood and genealogy, and the idea that race consists of traits that are inheritable and immutable across generations, can we say that a similar understanding existed surrounding religious identity?  What are ways in which religious identity is malleable, changeable, not fixed?  What are ways in which it is stable, impermeable, and fixed?  What are particular areas in which you see societies expressing their attempts at defining human difference, either in religious or in “racial” terms?  Marriage and/or sexual relations?  Doctrines governing slavery?  Feel free to draw on any readings from our syllabus, but you must also bring in sources you discover through your own research.  Your paper should engage with primary sources and modern scholarship, and must include a minimum of six (6) sources.  For students enrolled in HIEU 264, at least three (3) of your sources must be sources you located through your independent research.

Sources to consider for this topic (this is by no means an exhaustive list):

Siete Partidas (documents 65 & 66 in Medieval Iberia reader) [starts page 5 in Medieval Iberia doc attached]

Joan-Pau Rubiés, “Were Early Modern Europeans Racist?” [attached]

David Nirenberg, “Was There Race Before Modernity?” [attached]

María Elena Martínez, Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion and Gender in Colonial Mexico [attached]

Kenneth Baxter Wolf, “The ‘Moors’ of West Africa and the Beginnings of the Portuguese Slave Trade” [attached]

  • Debra Blumenthal, Enemies and Familiars: Slavery and Mastery in Fifteenth-Century Valencia: Introduction & Chapter 1 [[attached]

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