Abstract

By reflecting on the turn to the “global” and its role in inscribing alterity in both the early modern period and today, this position paper extends the critical vocabulary with which early modernists might understand the operations of racism. Recognizing the construction of an early modern “global south,” I argue, brings into view the racialized imaginary at work in the period. As a term, the “global south” has developed theoretical purchase in recent years, but it also has a surprisingly clear foothold in early modernity. Early modern geography mapped a field of difference through the broad designations of cardinal direction, naturalizing pejorative assumptions about the peoples of the “southern nations” of the world. Today, Global Shakespeare’s openness to nontraditional Shakespeares has the potential to unsettle normative cultural practices and to bring into view the racisms that have structured global relations since early modernity. However, the field risks repeating earlier occlusions if it simply affirms, uncritically, the extraordinary reach of Stratford’s Shakespeare. This essay reflects on the emergence of an explicitly “global” Shakespeare in the pages of this very journal in the 1970s, when SQ editor John Andrews began to solicit materials that would enable what he called an “experimental” new form of Shakespeare scholarship based on “‘global’ coverage.”

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-3555
Print ISSN
0037-3222
Pages
pp. 125-135
Launched on MUSE
2016-08-15
Open Access
No
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