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published on October 14, 2017

John Harfouch

Does Leibniz Have Any Place in a History of Racism?

I claim that a genealogy of the philological racism known as ‘orientalism’ should include Leibniz as a founding figure. This argument is framed and motivated by recent publications that seek to exclude Leibniz from the history of race and racism by arguing that he insists on a linguistic, rather than ‘racial,’ schematic of human diversity. A survey of nineteenth-century race theory reveals that this distinction is not only specious, but these recent defenses only further implicate Leibniz in the linguistic tradition that is orientalist racism.

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