In early modern Europe, identity markers were used to adduce collective identities prior to the concept of biological race. In the fifteenth century, these heritable markers could be longstanding attributes of natio such as language, costume, or blood; by the middle of the sixteenth century, formerly individual markers such as physiognomy and skin color were increasingly deployed to delimit or characterize a group. Through careful attention to the praxis of determining group identity during these centuries, this project identifies and interrogates shifts in early modern ideas and practices of embodied difference and the history of racemaking.
Carina L. Johnson is Professor of History at Pitzer College and Extended Faculty at Claremont Graduate University. A cultural historian of the early modern Habsburg Empire, her monograph Cultural Hierarchy in Sixteenth-Century Europe: The Ottomans and Mexicans situated Habsburg elite cultural praxis and the central European Reformations in their global contexts and her articles have examined imperial sovereignty, material cultural transfer, evolving ideas and practices of cultural difference, and the early modern history of racialization. Her current research projects focus on identity markers in the early modern world, the affordances of the trace, and experiences of war and violence in the sixteenth-century Habsburg Empire.