From my column in Taki’s Magazine:
Raising the Bard
November 17, 2021
How did Shakespeare use the word “race”?
The meaning of the word “race” keeps shifting in Shakespeare so that you can never pin him down to a single meaning. Yet, each shade of definition seems weirdly related to each other variant. …
Thus, Shakespeare’s understanding of the word “race” was messy but also thought-provoking, and it can help us understand race better than just today’s somewhat desiccated standard meaning of a continental-scale human regional group distinguished by skin tone, hair, and/or facial features, which allows science-denialist tropes that race does not exist to flourish.
There have been two general ways to think about race. The first is the top-down Linnaean scientific approach in which people of unknown ancestral heritage are grouped together according to physical clues that they are related.
The other way is bottom-up: Your parents told you who your ancestors were.
Shakespeare lived in a time when the latter was more natural than the former.
Read the whole thing there.