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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: February 2021

Chapter 3 - Barbarian Moors


Linking the royal Tudor archive to the Tudor/Stuart stage, this article discloses the ways the stage constructs race in the service of nation and empire. From Elizabeth I’s proclamations calling for the expulsion of ‘blackamoors’ to George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar, English conceptions of blackness expose the multifaceted nature of racial formation in the early modern period. The construction of race in early modern England is intimately linked to nascent and emergent English imperial ambitions and dependent upon trade, traffic, and enslavement, particularly in Africa. While previous scholarship on The Battle of Alcazar has focused on the Mediterranean milieu and the seemingly elastic racial signification of the identity marker, Moor, this study shifts both the geographical and racial focus to argue that the Atlantic and Africa are significant sites of imperial interest for the English and that blackness is being discursively produced in order to signal race.

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