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The Dumpster Summer of Racism in Medieval Studies


In case anyone was wondering, this is the summer that the sh*t finally hit the fan in certain academic margins and centers, a.k.a. the Dumpster Summer of Racism in Medieval Studies (thanks Dorothy Kim <3). 

Tumblr in the summertime is notorious for a reason, and I decided that instead of answering the same five asks you’ve seen endless permutations of over the last several years, I instead spent as much time as I could (between coping with chronic illness and disability issues) helping individual professors, medievalists, digital humanities peoples and others struggling in the margins in this specific field to bolster their syllabi and powerpoints with some viscerally significant art. I’ve also been spending a lot more time on Twitter and Facebook, since a ton of medievalists have been grouping there to try and Do Something about what’s been going on.

The reason being that medieval studies as a discipline has been harboring white supremacists of various stripes and literal Nazis for decades, and now that our sociopolitical apocalypse is much harder for even the privileged to ignore (especially on college campuses), the time has come to either declare Nazis unwelcome or align your self and/or department with white supremacy.

It’s also a time where the shamelessly ignorant misappropriation of European/centric histories is coming under both a spotlight and a magnifying glass. {For those who enjoy arguing about “Eagle” versus “Raven”; considering I’ve seen and documented hundreds of images to compare the two, and the online shop that sells the cosplay shield (on the left, being brandished ignorantly by the actual scum of the earth) lists it as ‘eagle’ and has a completely separate design for “raven”, I’m still fairly satisfied these are intended to be the same. If, however, I see some compelling evidence that points to definitive ravenness, I’d more than willing to have that conversation which is *honestly the same one*, more or less.}

Not only have more medievalists and classicists been speaking out in ways that are definitive and accessible, but unfortunately the backlash has intensified as well.

[article at The Guardian]

However, for me to see this many people stepping up to really make an impact on how most see and think about the past has been incredibly heartening for me personally, and I can only see it getting louder from here.

The Public Medievalist has an incredible series on Race, Racism, and the Middle Ages here, with a special subseries on antisemitism and its legacy. (I do still owe them an article, but my health has been….well. terrible.)

Sarah Bond has been contributing to Forbes with various articles on both classical and medieval art. Dorothy Kim has been sharing a petition to keep what happened at IMC Leeds (a medievalist conference) whose topic was “Otherness” this time, from happening again. Jonathan Hsy has been curating an incredible Medieval Studies and Race crowdsourced bibliography, which many of you who seek specific article topics should check on often!

There is a ton more going on and many talented people making it all happen, and you can bet I’ll continue doing what I can to support, aid, abet, promote, explain, and do my own thing as well.

And if I might be so bold, I’d love to quote (bestsellingauthorandtwotimeHugoAwardWinner) N.K. Jemisin on a similar community clusterf*ck referred to as RaceFail ‘09:

But here’s the thing.  A lot of people I’ve met in the past year — clarification; a lot of white people — seem to think the “fail” part of RaceFail lay in the fact that it occurred at all. […]

To which I say: bullshit. 

If we didn’t need RaceFail, then why did it occur?  The angry questions that it raised didn’t emerge from a vacuum; they’ve been here all along, and had in many cases been expressed already.

This is Medieval Studies’ RaceFail, and it’s About Effing Time.

Reposted bymarbear marbear

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