Racial Theories in Context (Second Edition)

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-15 00:05Z by Steven

Racial Theories in Context (Second Edition)

224 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60927-056-8

Edited by:

Jared Sexton, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Film & Media Studies
University of California, Irvine

This book presents a critical framework for understanding how and why race matters — past, present, and future. The readings trace the historical emergence of modern racial thinking in Western society by examining religious, moral, aesthetic, and scientific writing; legal statutes and legislation; political debates and public policy; and popular culture. Readers will follow the shifting ideological bases upon which modern racial theories have rested, from religion to science to culture, and the links between race, class, gender, and sexuality, and between notions of race and the nation-state.

The authors of Racial Theories in Context discuss the relationship of racial theories to material contexts of racial oppression and to democratic struggles for freedom and equality:

  • First and foremost in this discussion is the vast system of racial slavery instituted throughout the Atlantic world and the international movement that sought its abolition.
  • Continuing campaigns to redress racial divisions in health, wealth, housing, employment, and education are also examined.
  • There is a focus on the specificity of racial formation in the United States and the centrality of anti-black racism.
  • The book also looks comparatively at other regions of racial inequality and the construction of a global racial hierarchy since the 15th century CE.


  • Introduction / Jared Sexton
  • A Long History of Affirmative Action—For Whites / Larry Adelman
  • The Cost of Slavery / Dalton Conley
  • Statement on Gender Violence and the Prison-Industrial Complex / INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence and Critical Resistance
  • Introduction To Racism: A Short History / George M. Fredrickson
  • Rape and the Inner Lives of Black Women in the Middle West / Darlene Clark Hine
  • Understanding the Problematic of Race Through the Problem of Race-Mixture / Thomas C. Holt
  • The Sexualization of Reconstruction Politics / Martha Hodes
  • The Original Housing Crisis / Derek S. Hoff
  • The American Dream, or a Nightmare for Black America? / Joshua Holland
  • The Hidden Cost of Being African American / Michael Hout
  • Slavery and Proto-Racism in Greco-Roman Antiquity / Benjamin Isaac
  • Colorblind Racism / Sally Lehrman
  • The Wealth Gap Gets Wider / Meizhu Lui
  • Sub-Prime as a Black Catastrophe / Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro
  • Unshackling Black Motherhood / Dorothy E. Roberts
  • Is Race -Based Medicine Good for Us? / Dorothy E. Roberts
  • Understanding Reproductive Justice / Loretta J. Ross
  • The History of the Idea of Race / Audrey Smedley
  • The Liberal Retreat From Race / Stephen Steinberg
  • “Race Relations” / Stephen Steinberg
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The Mercurial Nature and Abiding Power of Race: A Transnational Family Story

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2010-01-21 21:19Z by Steven

The Mercurial Nature and Abiding Power of Race: A Transnational Family Story

The American Historical Review
Volume 108, Number 1 (February 2003)
pages 84-118

Martha Hodes, Professor of History
New York University

There are many ways to expose the mercurial nature of racial classification. Scholars of U.S. history might note, for example, that the category of “mulatto” first appeared in the federal census of 1850 and then disappeared in 1930, or they might discover that immigrants who had not thought of themselves as “black” at home in the Caribbean found themselves classified as such upon passage to the United States. Such episodes serve to unmask the instability of racial systems, yet simply marshaling evidence to prove taxonomies fickle tells only a partial story. In an effort to tell a fuller story about the workings of “race”—by which I mean principally the endeavors of racial categorization and stratification—I focus here on historical actors who crossed geographical boundaries and lived their lives within different racial systems. A vision that accounts for the experiences of sojourners and migrants illuminates the ways in which racial classification shifts across borders and thus deepens arguments about racial construction and malleability.

At the same time, however, the principal argument of this essay moves in a different direction. We tend to think of the fluid and the mutable as less powerful than the rigid and the immutable, thereby equating the exposure of unstable racial categories with an assault on the very construct of race itself. In a pioneering essay in which Barbara J. Fields took a historical analysis of the concept of race as her starting point, she contended that ideologies of race are continually created and verified in daily life. More recently, Ann Laura Stoler has challenged the assumption that an understanding of racial instability can serve to undermine racism, and Thomas C. Holt has called attention to scholars’ “general failure to probe beyond the mantra of social constructedness, to ask what that really might mean in shaping lived experience.” Hilary McD. Beckles affirms that “the analysis of ‘real experience’ and the theorising of ‘constructed representation’ constitute part of the same intellectual project.” Drawing together these theoretical strands, I argue that the scrutiny of day-to-day lives demonstrates not only the mutability of race but also, and with equal force, the abiding power of race in local settings. Neither malleability nor instability, then, necessarily diminishes the potency of race to circumscribe people’s daily lives…

Read the entire article here or here.

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