The Richard H. Popkin Papers at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library: Modernity and the Discourse on the Origin of Mediterranean Peoples

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
4:00 pm PST

Little Theater, Macgowan Hall
245 Charles E. Young Dr., East

Early Modern Cosmopolitanisms Lecture

—Carlos Cañete, CSIC, Spain


The American philosopher Richard H. Popkin (1923–2005) is well known for his study of the history of skepticism in the early modern period. Less known is the fact that his contributions went well beyond this particular topic. Of special significance is his research on the emergence of alternative ideas during the early modern period concerning the origin of humankind, as well as the relationship of these ideas with religious polemics. In his later years Popkin explored the relation of those ideas to relevant intellectual developments in more recent times, from polygenism and racial categories to the more general philosophical context of modernity. New work on Popkin’s papers demonstrates that some parts of his unpublished research shed new light on current debates about the construction of a unified anthropological image of the Mediterranean. This talk will explore the possibilities that Popkin’s legacy has for the development of a consistent history of anthropological categories of the Mediterranean and the project of modernity from the sixteenth century to recent times.

Carlos Cañete is the Juan de la Cierva Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Human and Social Sciences CSIC (Spanish National Research Council) and lecturer for the M.A. in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Málaga (Spain) and is currently a visiting scholar at the Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies (UCLA). His research focuses on the historiography of cultural representations of Africa and the Mediterranean, the intellectual history of debates concerning human origins, orientalist discourse, and postcolonial theory.

This lecture is presented as part of Early Modern Cosmopolitanisms, a lecture series hosted by the Transnational Subjects and Early Modern Empire Working Group and sponsored by the UCLA Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies.