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(Hybrid) Andrew Curran on Who’s Black and Why

Tue September 20 @ 19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min


The birth of scientific racism has been increasingly associated with the Enlightenment era. If this is true, how did the Enlightenment era invent race? Andrew S. Curran speaks about this as well as his new book (co-edited with Henry Louis Gates Jr.), Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter in the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race.

In 1739, the Bordeaux Royal Academy of Sciences held an essay competition on the scientific cause of ‘blackness.’ The Academy received sixteen submissions. Editors Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew S. Curran have published these never-before-seen documents alongside a study of the birth of ‘scientific racism’. Curran will be speaking at the library on this curious competition, the history of race and racism, the relationship of science and the Enlightenment, and the relationship of these ideas to the concept of race in the present-day.

About the speaker: 

Andrew S. Curran is a non-fiction writer and William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities at Wesleyan University. He has contributed to the New York Review of Books, the New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, The GuardianTime Magazine, and more. He is also the author or editor of five books, including The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Era of Enlightenment (2013), which received the 2018 Louis Marin Prize from the Académie des sciences d’outre-mer. He was also a finalist for the American Library in Paris’s best book of 2019 for his Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (Curran will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

This event requires advance registration.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.


Tue September 20
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
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