Sponsored Working Group

Race and the Early Modern World

This working group draws upon the strengths of scholars across the Rutgers campuses and across disciplinary boundaries whose work entails an investigation of racial difference in the early modern world, read variously as somatic, religious, national, and ethnic difference, and as mutually constitutive with social hierarchies such as class and caste. In thinking through connections between early modern racial formations and our contemporary historical moment, this working group will also seek to communicate the relevance of early modern studies to our debates about race and racism in the world today. Fostering publications, projects, and public events including interdisciplinary symposia on race, this working group aims to promote and build on the energy and radical thinking of recent scholarship on race in the early modern world, bringing it to a wider audience, facilitating interdisciplinary work and anticipating new directions in the field. It is our intention that participants will engage the topic of race and the early modern world from a wide variety of theoretical, critical, archival, and pedagogical perspectives. Questions of interest include: How do we define race in the early modern world? To what extent do the forms and features of early modern social difference relate to modern understandings and experiences of race and racism? How do disciplinary boundaries limit our approaches to thinking and speaking about race and other forms of difference? What are the advantages and pitfalls of using critical race theory in discussions of race in the early modern world? What are our aims (aspirations) in studying the way racial difference works in the early modern world? What possibilities for teaching students about race in the early modern world emerge from an assessment of documentary, literary, material, visual and other sources?



akhimie photo 3 Patricia AkhimiePatricia Akhimie ​(Ph.D. Columbia University 2011) is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark, where she teaches Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, and early modern women’s travel writing. She is the author of ​Shakespeare and the Cultivation of Difference: Race and Conduct in the Early Modern World (​ Routledge). She is co-editor, with Bernadette Andrea of ​Travel and Travail: Early Modern Women, English Drama, and the Wider World (​ University of Nebraska Press). Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Ford Foundation, and The John Carter Brown Library. She is a member of the executive board of the ongoing conference series and professional network Race B4 Race.



Early Modern Race Ana LagunaAna Laguna (Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, 2002) is a Professor of Golden Age Literature at Rutgers University - Camden. Her research on the culture of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century Spain explores the relationship among literature, politics, and the visual arts, focusing on how literature reflects prominent artistic and socio-political anxieties. She is the author of Cervantes, the Golden Age, and the Fight for Spanish Cultural Identity in the 20th Century (Bloomsbury, 2021), Cervantes and the Pictorial Imagination (Bucknell University Press, 2009), and co-editor of the volume Goodbye, Eros:Recasting Forms and  Norms of Love in the Age of Cervantes. (Toronto University Press, 2020). Recent publications include “La verdad como problema:  Cervantes, las crónicas de Indias y las noticias falsas.” Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos (forthcoming), “In the Name of Love: The Harem as a Mediterranean Stage in La gran Sultana” in Beyond the Playhouse: Cervantes’s Theatrical Revelations (forthcoming), and “Othello, Lepanto, and the Blackening of Iberia”  Revista Hispánica Moderna, (forthcoming).



Turner HeadshotHenry S. Turner is Professor of English and Vice President for Academic Initiatives at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He specializes in Renaissance literature and intellectual history, especially drama, philosophy, and the history of science. He is the author of The English Renaissance Stage: Geometry, Poetics, and the Practical Spatial Arts, 1580-1630 (Oxford, 2006), Shakespeare’s Double Helix (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2008), and The Corporate Commonwealth: Pluralism and Political Fictions in England, 1516-1651 (Chicago, 2016). His articles, essays, reviews, and interviews have appeared in Annals of Science, Configurations, differences, ELH, Isis, JEMCS, Nano, postmedieval, Public Books, Renaissance Drama, Renaissance Quarterly, Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare Studies, South Central Review, and The Spenser Review, as well as in a wide range of edited collections. He is currently co-writing a book with Jane Hwang Degenhardt (U-Mass, Amherst) tentatively entitled The Shakespearean Horizon: Worlds Upon Worlds in The Renaissance and Today. His is work has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, and by a Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies for residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.



 Sylvester CruzSylvester Cruz is the graduate student coordinator of the Race and the Early Modern World working group, and has been a doctoral student at Rutgers - New Brunswick since 2018. He currently holds a Pre-Doctoral Leadership Development Academy fellowship from the Rutgers Center for Organizational Leadership, and his research interests include the history of interpretation from antiquity into the early modern period, the history of dramatic form, and the historical experience of emotion. He is a third culture adult, having been raised as a dual citizen of both the United States and the Republic of South Africa, and earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz



Mercado Mayte 

Mayte Green-Mercado (Ph.D. The University of Chicago 2012) is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark, where she teaches courses the history of Islamic civilization, Mediterranean history, medieval and early modern Iberian history, race in the pre-modern Mediterranean, and migration, displacement, and refugees in the Mediterranean. She is the director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Minor, and co-director of the Mediterranean Displacements Project at Rutgers- Newark. She is the author of Visions of Deliverance. Moriscos and the Politics of Prophecy in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Cornell University Press, 2019). In 2018 she edited a special issue titled “Speaking the End Times, Early Modern Politics and Religion from Iberia to Central Asia,” in the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. She has written articles and book chapters on apocalypticism in Iberia and the Mediterranean in the early modern period, the forced conversion of Muslims in Spain, and on ethnic groups in Renaissance Spain. She is currently working on a monograph on Morisco migration and displacement in the sixteenth-century Mediterranean.