Abstract

Abstract:

This essay uses the "Race and Periodization" conference of 2019 as a point of departure to consider the role played by different types of words that contributed to the construction of racial thinking over the centuries. The words to be examined in the main sections include race and one of its synonyms (kin), a proper name (Aryan), and adjectives denoting colors (black and white in Old English). The concluding section circles back the word Anglo-Saxon to compare the trajectory of the semantic development of this word with those of race and Aryan in order to foreground some of the resemblances among these three. In order to place its investigation of race and other English words in a larger, global perspective, this essay begins each section with brief accounts of events that took place in two very different parts of the world: namely, England and Japan. While it is more common to consider the question of race in relation to the Western hemisphere, this essay encourages us to look in the other direction to recognize the global impact of racial thinking.

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