Skin is the backdrop on which the construction of race, that is, the construction of blackness and whiteness, is staged, for skin is both physical and metaphorical and takes on a physiognomy of its own. Specifically, skin is the backdrop on which eighteenth-century German philosophy and anthropology stage the "idea of European superiority" 1 and where "European existence is... true human existence." 2 The Enlightenment presents a "veneer of universality" 3 while establishing a humanity that is ultimately Eurocentric and the foundation of Western philosophy. How then are blackness and whiteness "staged" in eighteenth-century German philosophy and anthropology, and how and why is the eighteenth-century construction of blackness so essential to the construction and performance of whiteness? In other words, why is the white German philosophical and anthropological "self' so preoccupied with the black "Other, especially since the German states, unlike Spain, Portugal, Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark, had no colonies in the eighteenth century, and failed attempts at colonization in the Caribbean and on the west coast of Africa left the German states on the periphery of the triangular trade, including the slave trade? Martin Bernal suggests that Germany experienced "its most acute crisis of national identity" at the beginning of the eighteenth century because of the "military devastation, political fragmentation and economic backwardness" that resulted from the effects of the Thirty Years' War (1618–48). 4 Furthermore, because of the rise of particularism (kleinstaaterei) after the Thirty Years' War, eighteenth-century Germany, a collection of approximately 300 territorial states (Territorialstaaten) and free towns (Reichstadte), lacked a central metropolitan area like London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. And unlike London which by the eighteenth century had a highly visible black 8population, 5 as William Hogarth's engravings document, Blacks in the German states were primarily confined to the royal courts and perhaps to harbor towns such as Hamburg or Emden. It therefore seems particularly curious that eighteenth-century German intellectuals such as Immanuel Kant and others use the Black as a backdrop for the development of their theories on race. Particularly curious for the construction or "staging" of blackness and whiteness is the context of eighteenth-century German Enlightenment, in which these ideas emerge. Specifically. Enlightenment hierarchies of beauty, intellect, feeling, morality, and ultimately humanity, implicitly codified in skin color, reveal the close connection between the construction of blackness as a backdrop for the formation of a universal and normative whiteness. Locating the apparently universal Enlightenment ideas of beauty, intellect, feelings of the beautiful and the sublime, and morality in Europe while displacing ugliness, emotion, feelings of the trifling, and lack of morality to Africa and places outside of Europe serves to construct implicit and explicit racial binaries as well as hierarchies, which are engraved in skin and skin color, but which have ramifications that go far beyond the skin. It also becomes evident that, at least among the German intellectual community, there was generally no firsthand knowledge of Blacks and this knowledge was rather based on British and French philosophical and travel narratives. In one sense, these theories on race reflect a need to construct a justification of white superiority in light of the black presence in the slave trade. Simultaneously, the main premise of these racial theories, that of Eurocentrism, functions as "a pervasive bias" that "European existence is qualitatively superior to other forms of human life." 6