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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Humanism and Enlightenment are words associated with the birth of rights-bearing Man. Yet this birth was accompanied by the rise of another Enlightenment concept: race. This chapter theorizes the effects of the twinned, contradictory birth of pseudo-biological human difference and “universal” Man. Starting in the Renaissance and concluding in the “posthuman” present, the chapter shows how conceptions of the human emerged from interactions between Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. From the Enlightenment onward, theories of religion, politics, and culture have centered on contestations over the limits of this human. Rather than telling a linear narrative of Man–human–posthuman, such contests present an unfinished project that continues to this day.

Keywords: race, humanism, posthuman, modernity, science, trans-Atlantic slavery, Haitian Revolution, religion

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