From Caste to Kant? Göttingen's Enlightenment Racial Scientists and the 'Mestizos' of Peru

Research Seminar – Kant Jubilee 2024

  • Public event without registration
  • Datum: 20.02.2024
  • Uhrzeit: 11:00 - 13:00
  • Vortragender: Adrian Masters
  • Ort: Villino Stroganoff, Via Gregoriana 22, 00187 Rome and online
  • Kontakt:
 From Caste to Kant? Göttingen's Enlightenment Racial Scientists and the 'Mestizos' of Peru
What links an Inca princess to Immanuel Kant, and the son of a disgraced Peruvian conquistador to Johann Friedrich Blumenbach? On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of Kant's birth in 2024, this seminar traces how Iberian ideas of 'mixing' influenced German racial thinking in the crucial Enlightenment period.

In late 1700s Göttingen, a number of authors tinkered with foreboding revolution in regimes of human difference. Göttingen-linked authors Georg Forster, Immanuel Kant, Christoph Meiners, and J. F. Blumenbach increasingly sought nature's laws and mankind's destiny in the human body. In the process, each believed they found in the Iberian world's laboratory of human 'mixing' nature's answers. Their visions collided and interacted with two Iberian currents: a centuries-old Iberian-Peruvian tradition celebrating 'mixing,' and another more recent view grimly predicting the triumph of white settlers over the passive Indian. This talk argues that German racial science and Iberian traditions strongly influenced one another, resulting in fateful outcomes. The subsequent seminar discussion explores the ways in which visuals contributed to this discourse on caste.

Raised in Costa Rica, Adrian Masters obtained his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018, before holding postdoctoral positions at the Austin Institute for Historical Studies and Tübingen University. Currently the Junior Research Leader of GloViB at Trier University, he is the author of We, the King (Cambridge University Press, 2023), The Radical Spanish Empire (co-authored with Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra and forthcoming with Harvard University Press), a book manuscript about 1600s Spanish Manila (under review), and several award-winning articles.

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Scientific Organization: Linda Müller

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