Vincente Albán; Ecuador, Spain (c. 1783)
Those who learn about history through pop culture (or even those who rely on their high school history education), might assume that medieval Europe was populated solely by white people. But the blog Medieval POC (which stands for people of color) is trying to change that misconception.
"Allegory of the Sense of Smell"; Circle of Bartolomeo Pasarotti; Italy (c. 1620s)
Specifically, blog author Malisha Dewalt is focused on amassing primary sources—the medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern art that depicts people of color. Her easy-to-use site lets visitors search by century or keyword, and the sheer volume of relevant material forces users to confront their preconceived notions about the past.
"The People of Compision"; Jeanne de Montbaston; France (1340)
"Journey of the Magi"; Anonymous French Illuminator; France (c. 1450s)
Dewalt spoke in depth about the project in an NPR interview, and here's the blog's mission statement:
The focus of this blog is to showcase works of art from European history that feature People of Color. All too often, these works go unseen in museums, Art History classes, online galleries, and other venues because of retroactive whitewashing of Medieval Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia.
Although the focus is toward art dating from the fall of the Roman Empire until about 1650, it will also include Baroque and Early Modern pieces, as well as works from places other than Europe, Scandinavia and Asia. Ancient Greek, Egyptian and Celtic works featuring People of Color are also fair game.
My purpose in creating this blog is to address common misconceptions that People of Color did not exist in Europe before the Enlightenment, and to emphasize the cognitive dissonance in the way this is reflected in media produced today.
The ubiquity in modern media to display a fictitiously all-white Europe is often thoughtlessly and inaccurately justified by claims of “historical accuracy”; this blog is here to emphasize the modern racism that retroactively erases gigantic swaths of truth and beauty.
A tertiary effect of showcasing these works is to provide a vehicle for correcting assumptions that works of fantasy based in “re-imagined” worlds of Medieval or Renaissance Europe that omit the contributions and presence of People of Color are made with “historical accuracy” in mind. In fact, the opposite is often the case.
Modern media does not exist in a vacuum.
"Shah ‘Alam Conveying the Grant of the Diwani to Robert Clive"; Benjamin West; England (c. 1765)
"The Queen of Sheba Before Solomon"; Canterbury Cathedral; England (1178-1180)
"The Queen of Sheba"; Conrad Kyeser; Bohemia (c. 1405)
You can also follow Medieval POC on Tumblr and Twitter.
Previously: In Fantasy Worlds, Historical Accuracy is a Lie
The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College has a weekly newsletter devoted to drones. Here’s a sampling of the military and domestic drone technology spotlighted this week. The BBC looked at new anti-drone devices like Raytheon’s “Phaser” that may have been sent to the Middle East after the attack on Saudi […]
In an effort to get more people reading, the New York Public Library set out to take advantage of Instagram’s huge user base. Mother New York designed “Insta Novels” as a way to read entire novels in Instagram Stories. The books feature carefully selected fonts, beautiful animations, and some clever hacks to allow such an […]
Law school grads routinely go to work for crusading nonprofits and even those in private practice do pro bono work, thanks to a widespread understanding that lawyers have a professional duty to work for the public interest -- after all, understanding and navigating the law is a necessary precondition for freedom and fairness.
Most people don’t spare a lot of thought on the potting for their plants. Perhaps something with a color that matches the walls, but that’s as far as it goes. After all, the plants don’t care what they’re wearing. Do they? Actually, they might. As eye-catching as the AIRSAI Floating Bonsai Plant Pot is, its […]
With the gains real estate has made over stocks in the past 25 years, it’s easy to see why the rich constantly use it to expand their wealth. What’s slightly less obvious is why only the rich seem to ever break into real estate investment. There are a lot of reasons, but a couple of […]
If you’re a coder, there’s a multitude of avenues for you to take your skills. Whether you’re just jumping into the world of programming or looking to rise up the ranks as an established professional, a wide base of knowledge is key. And this Premium 2020 Learn to Code Certification Bundle is a resource that’s […]