This essay argues that in the negotiation of their own power and privilege, early modern English women were crucial to the development of the English strategies of racialization that licensed chattel slavery and English empire. This is to challenge how we frequently understand racial constructions—not, as is so often thought, as instruments for the powerful to maintain their prominence but more often as tools for the powerless to gain distinction. This reorientation of our perspective on the early modern period already has a long and visible history in England and the Anglo-Americas. In considering the construction of race and racism in early modern England, this essay also tries to make sense of the critical strategies that ignore the complicity of early modern Englishwomen in this construction and that instead render this history invisible once more.


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pp. 55-61
Launched on MUSE
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