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UM Frankel Center Event: David Nirenberg
March 19 4:00 pm - 5:30 pmFree
“Race” in Christianity and Islam: the Case of Converts from Judaism
David Nirenberg, University of Chicago
Race and racism are important concepts, but their history is challenging. On the one hand, most historians (and biologists) today do not believe that biological race exists. On the other hand, they do not doubt that racial concepts played powerful roles in some (but not all!) periods in the past. How can we tell when a concept we encounter in the past is “racial”? And what do the racial concepts of one period in the past have to do with those of another? Can we speak of “the origins of race” in any particular period or place? These are the questions addressed in this talk, which focuses on times and places in which conversion from Judaism to Christianity or Islam has produced the idea that religious characteristics are biologically reproduced.