The Mellon Research Initiative in Racial Capitalism

This initiative brings UC Davis faculty and graduate students together with outside scholars and activists to advance a research agenda that focuses on racial capitalism. The historical relationship between race and capitalism is one of the most enduring and controversial debates in U.S. historiography. Sometimes explicitly, often only implicitly acknowledged, it shapes fundamental questions about inequality, value, life, bondage, and freedom, among others, across the disciplines of race and ethnic studies, history, literary studies, law, economics, sociology and anthropology. Over the course of the next three years we will be staging dialogues across current work and chart new directions for the study of racial capitalism.

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image credit: “Wrong Asian” by Linh-Yen Hoang

The Mellon Research Initiative in Racial Capitalism Presents: Wan-Chuan Kao, “In the Lap of Whiteness”

Wednesday April 21, 2021 | 4-6pm

RSVP here to receive a link to the Zoom event and a copy of Professor Kao’s pre-circulated paper for discussion.

“Periodization,” Wan-Chuan Kao argues, “is the racial logistics of time.” In the material for this workshop, Kao reads historical periodization and racial passing alongside each other, building a reading of Chaucer’s “The Squire’s Tale” with and against theories of the hold by Moten and Harney and by Sharpe. Kao suggests that this text elucidates the connection between whiteness and racial capital through the structures of courtliness and techniques of empathy. Kao then develops the exploration of racial logistics by considering “The Squire’s Tale’s” later reception in terms of the modern legacies of Orientalism.

Wan-Chuan Kao is Associate Professor of English at Washington and Lee University. Wan-Chuan’s research interests include medieval literature, whiteness studies, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, queer studies, hotel theory, affect, cuteness, and critical theory.