Race Lines and the Rhetoric of Distinction through the Académie française
Chapter 7–The Académie, Europe and the Colonial Rhetoric on Race Separation 119
Chapter 7 The Académie, Europe, and the Colonial Rhetoric on Race Separation One thing to remember, when dealing with the Académie française, is the expressed and argued logic for the French to replace the ancient Greeks and to supplant the Romans because of their Latin heritage as well as their posi- tion in the “Europe française” of the Enlightenment era. This in turn made them unofficial speakers for Europe—and its stereotypical white race—when it came to assessing and assigning codes of conduct between Europeans and others; the others being mostly the colonized in far away lands. The mythic story of the Phoenician princess who had a particularly light skin compared to her parents, and was seduced by a bull into traveling to what was to become Europe—named after her for her color as it is said in her Phoenician language—, became the basis for wanting to unite the continent under the idea of a “white race.” As the historian Sédillot concluded, “So, the myth of Europe appears to be the origin of a continent. Europeans are men of white skin, as the daughter of Agenor, granddaughter of Poseidon was white.” (p.14) Sédillot added this: Just as Europa [the Phoenician girl] gave herself to the god of Olympus, Europe [the continent] was born to history with and by Greece: Gortyne, where the virtue of Eu- ropa succumbed, Delphi, where her brother Cadmos consulted, Thebes, which he founded, count among the first homes...
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