Enfilade

Call for Participation | Blackness, Immobility, and Visibility, 1600–1800

Posted in Calls for Papers, resources by Editor on June 24, 2020

From the Call for Participation:

Blackness, Immobility, and Visibility in Europe, 1600–1800
Journal18 | Creating a Collaborative Scholarly Resource

Contributions due by 1 August 2020

Hyacinthe Rigaud, Young Black Man Carrying a Bow, 1697, oil on canvas (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dunkerque).

As people across the world step into the fourth or fifth month of a global pandemic and nearly universal lockdown, movement has gained new valence as an aspirational condition of human life. Concurrently, the Black Lives Matter movement singularly illuminates the racialization of the purportedly universal freedom to cast breath, stretch one’s legs, move of one’s own will. One aspect of recent protests and mobilizations has been to show how this ‘immobilization’ and related violence has a very long history and has been enshrined in monuments that are being dismantled around the world. At this crucial juncture, Journal18 is initiating a project to create a collaborative resource for teaching, research, and collective discussion around these issues.

Over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, European powers formulated, debated, and enacted myriad policies and laws to direct and restrict the movements of people of color in Europe, usually in conjunction with similar or more severe steps taken across sites of empire. Of note is how these measures usually privileged the proprietary rights of colonizers and enslavers over the lives of people of color, and how through such measures ‘blackness’ acquired the characteristics of a legible visual category. Blackness as lived experience and colonial category thus both illuminates and often (mis)informs art historical assessments of race in 17th- and 18th-century European art and visual culture, especially in relation to lives that spanned and were interconnected across the globe.

Journal18 invites its readers to contribute to a timeline chronicling the representation and regulation of black bodies in Europe, ca. 1600–1800. Setting these dates in relation to black lives that scholars have judiciously traced within colonial archives and a selection of works of European and colonial art that picture black sitters or subjects, our goal is to create a digital resource for use by researchers, educators, and students of the long 18th century. Given the critical role of dates in art historical scholarship, our aim is to underscore through the spatial proximities of a timeline, historical affinities that can allow us to connect what we can see within works of art with what we are learning to discern in the archives.

How to participate:

Our goals is to create a timeline of events and artworks—a pedagogical tool that is not exhaustive in scope, but rather a cross-referential visualization of the juxtapositions and connections through this history.

1  Take a look at the Google Doc (www.shorturl.at/gBHJK) containing preliminary dates, events, and artworks relating to the presence and movement of black bodies in Europe during the period under consideration. This is a starting point, but there is still much to add.

2  We invite you to add to the document: pertinent dates, relevant artworks (submitted either as copyright-free digital images or as hyperlinks), the names or accounts of relevant historical actors, or anything else that might contribute to or improve the proposed timeline (including any necessary corrections to existing items).

3  Please contact our Notes & Queries editor, Zirwat Chowdhury (zirwat@ucla.edu) with any questions and additional suggestions, or if you have any trouble accessing or editing the document.

4  Make sure you have made all your contributions by 1 August 2020. We hope to publish the timeline in Journal18 for the start of the Fall 2020 semester.

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Note (added 24 June 2020) — The original posting incorrectly listed the due date as August 15.

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