Tuesday, June 13, 2017

#MoreVoices: Citation, Inclusion, and Working Together


[UPDATE: a partial snapshot publication of this bibliography was published in postmedieval in December 2017; you can download that PDF here!]

Screenshot of the crowdsourced bibliography (in progress, June 13, 2017): "Race & medieval studies: a partial bibliography." The corner of the toolbar indicates anonymous contributors are at work (each represented by a colorful animal-shaped icon).

Over the past week or so, there has been an effort (launched by medievalists on social media) to crowdsource a bibliography on RACE AND MEDIEVAL STUDIES. This project grows out of an ongoing conversation about increasing the visibility of scholarship by people of color and ethnic/religious minorities in the field. The crowdsourced bibliography is soliciting references relating to race in medieval studies (including modern appropriations of the medieval past), with an emphasis on minority scholars and perspectives.

The bibliography-in-progress can be accessed through this online Google doc; feel free to go to the site and add new items! More references beyond the West and/or Global North are especially welcome.

Anyone with the link can edit and add items until the end of day tomorrow, June 14. After that point, the document will migrate to a stable platform with (moderated) comments.

Thanks to Julie Orlemanski for launching this effort through an initial kernel of eleven items (first posted as a comment on a public Facebook thread); the list has now expanded to over two hundred items (thanks to all the people who have contributed so far)!


Why is this crowdsourced bibliography important? I see this collective labor as part of a larger effort to support people of color and ethnic/religious minority perspectives in medieval studies, especially when it comes to public medievalist discourse on topics relating to urgent cultural issues such as race, language, religion, and nation (we can all think of reasons why such topics are "hot" these days). I posted some my own thoughts about this last week on twitter but will repeat some of the main points here:
  • It's very encouraging that white medievalists are openly addressing racism, xenophobia, and abuse of the medieval past, but it's disappointing that minority voices haven't been cited in such public discourse (other than, perhaps, on this blog).
  • When writing about contemporary topics such as race, language, nation, religion, and cultural appropriation, please acknowledge the important scholarship that has come before. Some of these topics might be "new" to many in the field, but there are some scholars (among them racial, ethnic, and religious minorities) who have been thinking and publishing about such issues for quite some time.
  • A key to white allyship and antiracism is to speak with and alongside minorities, not "about" (or for, or over) such voices; check out the readings for the recent Whiteness in Medieval Studies workshop at #Kzoo2017 and the post-workshop reflections.
  • Learn from our colleagues in adjacent historical eras: classical studies (Eidolon blog and the group Classics and Social Justice) as well as early modern studies ("The Color of Membership" plenary session at the Shakespeare Association of America in 2017, new Shakespeare Quarterly issue on race).
  • Coalition building can also mean reaching across period divides; note the upcoming GW MEMSI (Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute) symposium on "The Future of the Past: Race, Inclusion, Change."
For my part I hope this bibliography is just a starting point for more awareness and mindful public medievalist discourse in the future. Building a truly inclusive medieval studies takes all of us: people of color, ethnic and religious minorities, and (yes) people of whiteness. #MoreVoices #TheMoreYouKnow


Maia said...

A small observation: all of these titles are in English. All of them. There may well be excellent reasons for this (of course there are) — but since they are not explained, the matter becomes a weighty one. For readers in a variety of contexts outside and inside the Anglosphere, this is a choice replete with political implication

Unknown said...

Thanks very much for doing this!

Jonathan Hsy said...

@Maia: Thanks, suggestions for items in languages other than English are indeed welcome! A few non-Anglophone items have added to the Google doc (which we have kept open so people can add more suggestions). When the bibliography takes its permanent/stable form, we will include all of these contributions.