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Professor Carmen Fracchia's Inaugural Lecture - Identity, Colour and Race in Transatlantic-Spain

Venue: Birkbeck Clore Management Centre

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How can we disclose the historical foundations of the formation of a Hispanic Identity in Global Spain? How can we untangle the complex relations between the meanings of colour in the visual arts and the hierarchy of human diversity? Can the visual archive unfold the histories and cultural contributions of the African Diaspora and their descent in early modern Spain? And how can we redefine the early modern period in Spanish history to include ‘other’ narratives and rescue them from historical oblivion?

In her inaugural lecture, Professor Fracchia will explore the complex and contradictory processes of the visibilisation of the African Diaspora and their descent in the Leicester Mexican Casta paintings (newly discovered) and in Iberian porcelain sculptures, drawings, paintings, and reliefs in polychromed wood produced during the Transatlantic slave-trade. Particular attention will be made on the cultural significance of colour in the formation of the free subject.



Carmen Fracchia is Emerita Professor of Hispanic Art History. She worked for 31 years at Birkbeck, University of London, starting in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, which later merged into the Department of Cultures and Languages, currently in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.  Her book ‘Black but Human’: Slavery and Visual Art in Hapsburg Spain, 1480-1700 (Oxford: OUP, 2019; 2023) is in its second edition. She is currently contributing to projects in three museums, The Rijksmuseum (Holland), and in The Menil Collection and The North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation in the USA. For Prof Fracchia’s latest news and publications, see here.


Event details: 

The lecture will take place at 6pm on Wednesday 28th February 2024 in Clore Management Centre B01, followed by a drinks reception at 7pm. Please note that this is a free event but booking is required.

If you would like to access the lecture online, please email


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