published on October 14, 2017
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.