Keywords: History of Race; Historiography and Public Debate on Racism; Racial Politics in the Early Modern Age
Despite the fact that the concept of race has no scientific basis and is a pure invention, racist ideas are still persuasive and they do have a political impact today. This paper proposes a reflection on the contribution that historiography can make to the debate on race and racism, which is often limited to the present or to the heritage of the past. The analysis starts from the interpretative proposals of Jean-Frédéric Schaub and Silvia Sebastiani’s monograph Race et histoire dans les sociétés occidentales (XVe-XVIIIe siècle), but it also deals with other recent studies. The focus is on the periodisation of the history of race and racism, in which the early modern age played a crucial role. The history of racism should therefore be seen in a long-term perspective, but it cannot be interpreted as a genealogy of the models of racism that prevailed in the 19th and 20th centuries.