"Staging Africans" is a multidisciplinary one-day conference that will bring together nationally and internationally recognized specialists of early modern European cultures to investigate the representation of race in the theatrical cultures of early modern European colonial powers. How did visual culture and theatrical culture influence each other in each of the European metropoles when it came to representing African subjects? How did the theatrical cultures of those various metropoles influence one another in this respect? And what does this network of influences tell us about the emergence of the notion of race in the period? Finally, what are the relations between the representation of Africans on stage in European metropoles and the development of color-based slavery in their colonies across the Atlantic in the 16th and 17th centuries? Those are the fundamental questions that this conference will try to answer.
Our speakers specialize in critical race studies, early modern theater (England, France, Spain), art history (Italy, Spain), visual culture (England, the Netherlands) and early modern cultures at large (Portugal, the Netherlands). While studies of the representation of Africans in early modern culture have been traditionally limited by national boundaries, this conference ambitiously aims to establish, for the first time, a dialogue between the regimes of racial representations used by all the early modern competitors in the Atlantic race to empire: England, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands -- and Italy. This conference promotes a comparative methodology, based on the idea that the transnational approach is the most exciting and most productive way to advance critical race studies in the early modern field today.