Fight Against Racism Takes Up the Tools of History

The Festival of the Archers, Flanders (1493), Royal museum of fine arts, AntwerpResearchers reveal the exploitation of medieval imagery and language by white supremacists

White Nationalists and neo-Nazis have misused medieval imagery and language to support their cause. Faculty from the University of Missouri-Kansas City are working to reveal the true histories and explore the connections between contemporary issues and medieval concepts of race, gender and identity.

The UMKC Medieval and Early Modern Studies program has launched a lecture series designed to reveal the true histories and explore the connections between contemporary issues and medieval concepts of race, gender and identity. “The Medieval Then and Now: Race, Gender and Identity” will refute erroneous beliefs such as the myth that all of medieval Europe’s population was white and Christian, or that women had no rights in that place and time.

The series features speakers from Wellesley, Penn State and Macalester College as well as UMKC and begins on February 11.

The first lecture, “Belle da Costa Greene: A Medievalist Luminary and the Shadow of White Nationalism,” focuses on the woman who helped financier J.P. Morgan amass the incredible collection of medieval books, artifacts and drawings housed in New York City’s Morgan Library while hiding her African-American heritage throughout her life.

The full series schedule includes:

February 11, 2019, 6:30 p.m., Plaza Branch, Kansas City Public Library, Cohen Conference Center
“Belle da Costa Greene: A Medievalist Luminary and the Shadow of White Nationalism”
Speaker: Sierra Lomuto, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, Macalester College

March 7, 2019, 6:30 p.m., Plaza Library
Co-sponsored by the KC Public Library
“She Nourishes Them According to Her Religion: Interfaith Marriage, Conversion, and Transmission of Culture in the Medieval Islamic World”
Speaker: Janina Safran, Ph.D., associate professor of History, Pennsylvania State University

April 12, 2019, 6:30 p.m., UMKC, Room 101 Katz Hall, 5005 Rockhill Road
“White Supremacy and the Alt-Right’s Middle Ages”
Speaker: Cord Whitaker, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, Wellesley College

May 16, 2019, 6:30 p.m., Plaza Library
Co-sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library
“Gender and Sexuality: How Medieval Are We Still?”
Speakers: Virginia Blanton, Ph.D., Professor of English; Kathy Krause, Ph.D., Professor of French; and Linda Mitchell, Ph.D., Martha Jane Phillips Starr Missouri Distinguished Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, UMKC.