The Origins of Racism in the West

The Origins of Racism in the West

By: Miriam Eliav-Feldon (editor), Joseph Ziegler (editor), Benjamin H. Isaac (editor)Hardback

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Is it possible to speak of western racism before the eighteenth century? The term 'racism' is normally only associated with theories, which first appeared in the eighteenth century, about inherent biological differences that made one group superior to another. In this book, however, leading historians argue that racism can be traced back to the attitudes of the ancient Greeks to their Persian enemies and that it was adopted, adjusted and re-formulated by Europeans right through until the dawn of the Enlightenment. From Greek teachings on environmental determinism and heredity, through medieval concepts of physiognomy, down to the crystallization of attitudes to Indians, Blacks, Jews and Gypsies in the early modern era, they analyse the various routes by which racist ideas travelled before maturing into murderous ideologies in the modern western world. In so doing this book offers a major reassessment of the place of racism in pre-modern European thought.

About Author

Miriam Eliav-Feldon is Professor of Early-Modern European History at Tel-Aviv University. Her previous publications include Realistic Utopias: The Ideal Imaginary Societies of the Renaissance (1982), The Protestant Reformation (1997) and The Printing Revolution (2000). Benjamin Isaac is Fred and Helen Lessing Professor of Ancient History at Tel-Aviv University. His books include The Limits of Empire: the Roman Army in the East (1990), The Near East under Roman Rule (1998) and The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (2004). Joseph Ziegler is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of General History, University of Haifa. He is the author of Medicine and Religion c. 1300: The Case of Arnau de Vilanova (1998).


1. Introduction Benjamin Isaac, Joseph Ziegler and Miriam Eliav-Feldon; 2. Racism: a rationalization of prejudice in Greece and Rome Benjamin Isaac; 3. The invention of Persia in classical Athens H. A. Shapiro; 4. Racism, color symbolism, and color prejudice David Goldenberg; 5. Early Christian universalism and modern forms of racism Denise Kimber Buell; 6. Illustrating ethnicity in the Middle Ages Robert Bartlett; 7. Proto-racial thought in medieval science Peter Biller; 8. Physiognomy, science, and proto-racism 1200-1500 Joseph Ziegler; 9. Noble dogs, noble blood: the invention of the concept of race in the late Middle Ages Charles de Miramon; 10. The carnal knowing of a coloured body. Sleeping with Arabs and Blacks in the European imagination, 1300-1550 Valentin Groebner; 11. Was there race before modernity? The example of 'Jewish' blood in late-medieval Spain David Nirenberg; 12. Religion and race: Protestant and Catholic discourses on Jewish conversions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Ronnie Po-chia Hsia; 13. Vagrants or vermin? Attitudes towards Gypsies in Early-Modern Europe Miriam Eliav-Feldon; 14. The peopling of the New World: ethnos, race and empire in the Early-Modern world Anthony Pagden; 15. Demons, stars, and the imagination: the Early-Modern body in the Tropics Jorge Canizares-Esguerra.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780521888554
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 348
  • ID: 9780521888554
  • weight: 690
  • ISBN10: 0521888557

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