Hannah Barker F'20

Hannah  Barker
Assistant Professor
Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies
Arizona State University

ACLS Fellowship Program 2020
Assistant Professor
Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies
Arizona State University
Race, Slavery, and Law in Medieval Italy

This project historicizes the concept of race in relation to slavery by focusing on its function in a specific genre (legal documents) and a specific historical context (northern Italy in the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries). In this genre and context, race was used to commodify people, collapsing their individuality into a finite, commensurable set of categories to provide a legal basis for their status as slaves and facilitate their exchange in slave markets. This form of racial categorization did not rely on physical, visual, or biological characteristics, making it a useful point of comparison for present systems of racial categorization based on skin color.