Race and Racism: an Introduction
What, exactly, is race? On the one hand, as many emphasize, it’s a social construction, a fiction. But on the other, it’s a reality with extraordinary effects that can be seen and experienced in all aspects of everyday life. It shapes everything from how one is treated to the languages one uses to the very ways we interact with one another. In this course, we will attempt to come to grips with the mechanisms—historical, social, economic, and political—that produce and sort people into the categories of race. What is the process by which a person is racialized—that is, marked as belonging to a particular race? And what impact does this marking have in shaping and determining our social, political, and economic prospects, outcomes, and sensibilities? How, too, does racism emerge from racial sorting? How does it operate, perpetuate, and transform in accordance with changing global social, political, and economic imperatives?
Reading broadly across the field of sociology—from W.E.B. Du Bois to Stuart Hall, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Oliver C. Cox, Anamik Saha, Barbara J. Fields, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Michael Omi and Howard Winant—we’ll consider the many and interrelated processes by which race is constructed. What, as Omi and Winant describe it, is a “racial formation,” and how is the category of race deployed to “make people up”? How was it that race became a “master category” in the United States—and to what end? We will also trace the historical instability of race as a category, and what its malleability might mean for any possible anti-racist and emancipatory politics. Given that race is constructed, what avenues exist for its contestation? And, given that race is both conceptually and historically an obviously unstable category, how is it that racial inequalities are so widespread and tenacious?
Course ScheduleThursday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
November 17 — December 15, 2022
Class will not meet Thursday, November 24th.