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Notions of shared humanity or fundamental difference among nations, races, and sexes have histories. Since the early modern era countless philosophers and scientists, agents of church or state, and ordinary women and men have attempted to ground fluctuating categories—appearance, language, spiritual beliefs, mode of subsistence, technology and material culture, bodily strength, gender roles, and sexuality—in a divine or natural order to explain existing or desired hierarchies, social relations, and political arrangements. Other individuals have actively resisted such scholarly theories, legal or religious categories, and popular prejudices, implicitly or explicitly putting forward their own understandings of individual and communal identities. These encounters and contests, be they in distant borderlands or urban spaces, have been shaped by individual experiences and aims as well as broad historical processes of exchange, migration, conquest, and sexual contact. The Department of History of Seton Hall University will be hosting a symposium, including scholars whose work addresses these issues through diverse historical methodologies as they pertain to regions around the world. This symposium will provide a comparative view of the varied physical places where diverse peoples and ways of life have come into contact as well as the myriad ways through which individuals and groups have defined, maintained, and undermined categories of difference.

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Seton Hall University


Arts and Humanities | History

Contact Zones: Articulating and Practicing Difference

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