Statement from the Medieval Academy of America Presidential Officers

The Medieval Academy of America unequivocally condemns the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Together with the fact that the current coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affects people of color, these murders have heightened our collective awareness of the pervasive reality of racism and inequality in America. For us as medievalists this should be a moment to reflect on the extent that many aspects of medieval culture contributed to these longstanding problems. As a scholarly organization we have defined our identity and our mission in a recent statement that highlights what we do and the values we strive to embrace:

Founded in 1925, the Medieval Academy supports research, publication, and teaching in medieval art, archaeology, history, law, literature, music, philosophy, religion, science, social and economic institutions, and all other aspects of the Middle Ages.

Membership in the Medieval Academy is open to all persons concerned with the study and teaching of the Middle Ages, including, but not limited to, independent scholars, secondary teachers, graduate students, curators, librarians, and college and university professors of all ranks and at all types of institutions. We aim to foster an environment of diversity, inclusion, and academic freedom for all medievalists.

Our efforts towards inclusion and diversity as medievalists – in the classroom, in our scholarship, and in our professions – must continue.  But in this moment of grave crisis, we also recognize the great responsibility we have as scholars, teachers, and leaders to model the kind of just behavior in our own communities that must also translate to our society at large.

And it is not enough to simply signal our support.  The Medieval Academy of America acknowledges that as teachers and scholars we have a particular responsibility to show how many of the technologies and structures of racism are deeply rooted in the medieval past, and further to reveal how medieval culture is too often weaponized by white supremacists to support racist ideologies.  Over the coming months we will be initiating new projects and resources to aid all teachers and scholars in addressing racism in all our endeavors.

Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, President
Thomas Dale, 1st Vice-President
Maureen Miller, 2nd Vice-President

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