Michael Keevak, Visiting Fellow in History at Princeton University and professor of foreign languages and literatures at National Taiwan University, will present "How Did East Asians Become Yellow?" at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, in the Shriver Center Heritage Room.
Keevak argues that the conceptual relationship between East Asians and yellow skin did not begin in Chinese culture or Western readings of East Asian cultural symbols, but in anthropological and medical records that described variations in skin color. Eighteenth-century taxonomists such as Carl Linnaeus, as well as Victorian scientists and early anthropologists, assigned colors to all racial groups, and once East Asians were lumped together as members of the "Mongolian race" they began to be considered yellow, according to Keevak.
Keevak is the author of the recently published Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking, and of The Story of a Stele: China's Nestorian Monument and Its Reception in the West, 1625-1916 and The Pretended Asian: George Psalmanazar's Eighteenth-Century Formosan Hoax, among other books.
His talk, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Asian/Asian American studies program, the departments of English and history, the Center for American and World Cultures and the honors program.