Mackenzie Cooley

Assistant Professor of History Mackenzie Cooley recently presented a lecture on “The Fragility of Difference: Animals, Humans, & the Renaissance Invention of Race” at Harvard University.

The research presented draws on her first book, The Perfection of Nature: Animals, Humans, and the Renaissance Invention of Race, which develops one half of Cooley’s dissertation, winner of the 2019 Ezio Cappadocia Prize for best unpublished manuscript in Italian history.

Focusing on 16th-century Spanish Italy, Cooley said the talk “traced early modern breeders’ self-conscious struggle to produce and maintain race and natural philosophers’ preoccupation with its sheer artifice.”

She noted that through the Spanish Empire, race became an intrinsic part of both social hierarchy and the study of nature.

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