HIST7356: Race and the Sciences: Modern Ideologies of Human Difference
Dr Lars Fischer
Since the early nineteenth century, the category of ‘race’ has been used to classify people of different origin and to legitimize hierarchical social orders. The course will give an introduction into the history of ‘race’, as it is embedded in European colonialism, the slave trade and Empire building. It will analyse how the concept of ‘race’ was both supported and contested by the sciences of the times. It will also explore how gender orders and racial orders are intertwined. We will read and interpret classic texts of racist thought of the 19th c., cover the Nazis’ move from racism and anti-Semitism to genocide and war, discuss efforts by 20th c. scientists to counter the legitimacy of ‘race’ and investigate recent revivals of ‘race’ in the late 20th c.
1. Introduction: origins (Colonisation, classification, encounters with the other)
2. Race and Empire (Historians’ interpretations of racial orders of the 19th c.)
3. Reading classical text on race and racial difference, 19th c. (Gobineau, Galton, Spencer, Darwin)
4. Critical voices on racial difference, 19th and early 20th c. (J. Huxley, Haddon)
5. Nazi racism and extermination policies, 1933-45
6. Post 1945 efforts: Contesting ‘race’ (UNESCO, anthropologists, geneticists)
7. Marriage bans and miscegenation: challenging and establishing racial orders, 19th, 20th c.
8. Intelligence and race: the bell curve debate, 1990’s
9. The racialization of medicine, late 20th c.: genes, race, and new perspectives on the past
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