Research Highlight

July 25, 2022

Pamela A. Patton, director of the Index of Medieval Art, has published “What Did Medieval Slavery Look Like? Color, Race, and Unfreedom in Later Medieval Iberia” in Speculum, the flagship journal of the Medieval Academy of America. Patton’s article examines a group of Iberian Gothic manuscripts in which enslaved people were depicted using a Black stereotype despite the relative rarity of sub-Saharan African slaves in the northern Iberian kingdoms at this time. Rather than functioning mimetically, it argues, such images drew on racially charged iconography from antiquity and the earlier Middle Ages to link the state of unfreedom with transculturally dominant ideas about how blackness and whiteness intersected with morality, identity, and social and racial difference.