Ep. 52 – Geraldine Heng, The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages

We’re back, and with an episode featuring frequent guest of the show Sid Issar joining Rachel and John! The trio engages with a two-part article (here and here) by Geraldine Heng, “The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages.” How does Heng’s work reconfigure the temporality of race and racism? What does race-making look like in the Middle Ages, and how does that change our political analyses of the present? In what ways does medieval race-making consolidate whiteness? What genealogies of racialization are lost when we focus on modernity as the exclusive origin of racism? How is Heng’s work related to other investigations into race and racism? How many times can we use Heng’s work to pithily resignify Marxist concepts in just one hour?

Join us for this journey as we come to realize that maybe not EVERYTHING is modernity’s fault.

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The Hereford Mappa Mundi (world map) from c. 1300. Heng uses the map to demonstrate medieval modes of racialization.
By Unknown – unesco.org.uk, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41201813



Interview: Mary Hawkesworth on Embodied Power

Over at New Books in Global Ethics and Politics, John interviewed Mary Hawkesworth on her recent book. Thanks to the NBN, we are cross-posting the episode here. Enjoy!

How can we explain the “occlusion of embodied power” and “lack of attention to race, gender, and sexuality” in the discipline of political science, a field “that claims power as a central analytical concept” (17)? In her new book, Embodied Power: Demystifying Disembodied Politics (Routledge, 2016), Mary Hawkesworth (Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University) brings intersectionality, feminist theory, and post- and de-colonial theory to bear on the mainstream study of politics. She argues for the need to move away from customary concepts of “power” and “the political” that mask state practices that construct various forms of hierarchy. These concepts and the methodologies and epistemologies they give rise to, she argues, lead the discipline unable to grapple with issues such as the carceral state or the violence of nation-building. At the same they cover over the ways that “racialization and gendering have been constitutive of knowledge production within the discipline” (17). In the interview, Hawkesworth discusses these conceptual practices of power as well as how intersectional attention to embodied power can reclaim the study of politics.


Download the mp3