Making European Skin in the Early Modern World, 1450-1750 (EUC Spring Brown Bag Lecture Series)
From Sydney Lazarus
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This brown bag lecture was given by Craig Koslofsky, Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. In his current research on the history of skin, he focuses on the two key dermal projects of the early modern world: marking skin and knowing skin. These projects, Koslofsky argues, merged to create the culture of skin color in the Atlantic world. In this presentation, he will show how Europeans responded to the widespread, honorable, and aesthetic skin marking practices of precolonial West Africa and the Americas (scarification, tattooing, dyeing, and piercing). Initially baffled by the positive functions of dermal marking in the wider world, Europeans developed new ways of knowing skin (through anatomy, microscopy, and ancient history, for example) in order to mark themselves as white.