"Race" and "ethnicity" are, as we know, historically grown social constructions with a considerable performative power. Aware of the problematic status of mechanisms of social distinction based on biological attributions, this seminar will focus on a selection of early modern texts in which mankind was divided theoretically into different categories: From Spanish and Ibero-American explanations on the purity of blood to the science of human varieties and the concept of race in the Scottish Enlightenment, but also narratives of colonial encounters. Thus, we are going to read mainly primary texts that are to be critically examined in their respective historical contexts. This should make it possible to reconstruct different theories of the human kind, as they were developed in the Early Modern republic of letters by precursors of modern race theories. More generally, the close reading of the selected primary texts will help to sharpen your historical tools.