Naming Race in the Renaissance: ISI Florence Alumna Awarded Berenson Fellowship

I will be a Berenson Fellow at Harvard’s Villa I Tatti in 2023-24. My book project is called Naming Race in the RenaissanceNaming Race uses archival and printed materials to look at how Italian Renaissance authors discussed the concept of ‘race’. At first, they used it only to describe animals, but slowly it came to apply to humans through a series of slippages. And then, it was used in distinctly pejorative ways to describe certain groups such as Jews and Muslims. Most scholarship on race traces it to Spanish sources, but I show how Italian concepts of race differed from Spanish ideas and had wider purchase over the long term.

ISI Florence‘s Translating the Past summer seminar, which I took in June 2011, is in every way the basis of my work at I Tatti. Translating the Past taught me how to navigate Italian archives, analyze manuscripts, and read Italian scripts. I could not have taught myself these skills, and such training was not offered elsewhere. So ISI Florence Translating the Past really made possible my work in Italian archives. I also met several friends and colleagues at the seminar, including Dr. Stefano Baldassarri (ISI Florence director), with whom I am still close. I recommend taking courses in philology and paleography like those once offered by Translating the Past to anyone interested in engaging with Italian culture, literature, art history, or history. Indeed I cannot recommend them highly enough!

Justine Walden