Deconstructing The Colonial Narratives Surrounding Migration — Part 2

AEHJ
7 min readJan 9, 2022

A Short Essay On The Origins Of Whiteness And White Supremacy

In order to understand whiteness, one has to tackle Aristotelian dualism.

Aristotle is an ancient Athenian philosopher who has theorized the concept of “masters” (who could accidentally fall in slavery) and “natural slaves”, a dyadic perception of the world that will hegemonically condition the western philosophy for centuries to come.

Everything from the Greek city-states to the Roman empire will function on a binarist scheme: citizens vs barbarians, men vs women, masters vs slaves, dominant vs dominated etc. and will ultimately lead to the foundations of the European modern thought starting what’s commonly known as the “Renaissance”.

Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda reportedly used the Aristotelian concept of “natural slaves” to justify the colonization and enslavement of Africa and the Americas.

But nor Aristotle nor any of the European philosophers who explored his dyadic concept of masters/slaves (Kant in his Dialectic or Nietzsche in his Genealogy of Morals) have attributed ethnic origins or skin color to these categories, so where does the ethnic hierarchisation come from?

Whiteness as a (germanic) tribal blood-based structure of domination

The first historical references of some kind of (proto) ethnic profiling and skin-based hierarchisation seem to have emerged in central Europe among the Goths, according to Hannah Arendt.

In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt argues that the idea of “blood purity” is a remnant from germanic customs that mixed up with Roman law in the so-called “Dark Ages” (late Antiquity/early Middle-Ages) directly after the collapse of the Roman Empire. However, those customs seemingly remained local/anecdotal and were not deployed on a structural, large-scale level probably due the tumultuousness of that era (period of great invasions with the Huns from Asia pushing gothic tribes towards western Europe and North Africa)

It is important to note that while Italian Fascism in the 1920–30s tried to “whitewash” the history of ancient Rome and create an impression of continuity between the ancient empire and Mussolini’s project (Fascismus, etymologically speaking, comes from ‘Fasces’ and ‘Fascinus’ both ancient Roman artefacts) there is already a consensus among…

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AEHJ

Aspiring terraformer | Eco-minimalist | Interested in: #Justice #Decolonization #PostGrowth #History #Semantics #Narratives #Concepts #Deconstruction #Systems