The Value of an Unflinching Gaze: Black Women and Luxury in Early Modern Europe

I am looking to understand the way that new comprehensions of value, of anti-mercantilism, of the transition from feudal to early modern economic systems are made tangible; I do so through those who were at the heart of the alchemy, of the perverse ideological maneuvers that imagined black women perpetually delivering speculative capital through their birth canals—I then demand that we need to look to them for theories of value that escape the violence embedded in racial capitalism.

Lecture Description

In this lecture, Morgan uses a portrait painted in 1585 of an African Women in Bologna, Italy to explore the emerging contours of value and enslavement in Europe and the Atlantic World. Drawing on art history, histories of capitalism, and black feminist methodology, Morgan argues that the painting serves as an entryway for an exploration of an intellectual history of early modern enslaved women.


Gender, Masculinity, Femininity Slavery

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