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While one strand of the Renaissance celebrated a liberal view of human potential, another limited it by biology, reducing man to beast and prince to stud. Combining population genetic and bioarcheological findings with research in Italian, Latin, Spanish, and Nahuatl, this history follows domesticated animals—including horses, dogs, turkeys, and llamas—to show parallel cultures of animal breeding in Europe and the Americas. Over the course of their collision in the sixteenth century, the dangerous idea of controlled reproduction was brought to life again and again, and a rich, complex, and ever-shifting language of race and breeding was born. The Perfection of Nature excavates historical moments of ambiguity between humanity and animality to reveal that early modern personhood was often culturally conditional rather than legally, biologically, or theologically fated.

This talk is co-organized by the Latin American History and European History (1500-1800) seminars at the IHR.

All welcome – This event is free, but booking is required.

Details on how to join this session will be sent to all registered attendees 24 hours in advance.  Booking will therefore close the day before the scheduled date.