Race: Conflict and Change Introduction


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This week will consist of an introduction and overview of the course and the various topics and issues which will be examined throughout. We will also be looking at some key issues in the study of race and racism such as the question of whether racism is natural or socially constructed, whether race is a scientific (biological, genetic or psychological) issue or one that is better treated by the social sciences, and the relationship between racism and nationalism.

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  • Introduce Niki
  • Race is Modern: We think about racism as something that is natural or certainly age-old. However, the word ‘race’ as it used today can be traced back to 1684. While the word existed before and used to mean ‘clan or ‘tribe’ there was no link between belonging to a race and the idea that this was natural. It is only with the Enlightenment at the then end of the 17 th Century that race begins to be a term used to describe apparently natural difference between human beings. Enlightenment need to classify and rationalise everything. But the idea of race was slow to evolve. Most people were religious and believed in Creation – that all human beings were created by God in “His” image. This idea starts to be challenged by influential enlightenment thinkers. Gives rise to polygenism – the belief in a variety of origins. This paves the way for evolutionism (Darwin). At the same time, Europeans were beginning to travel and conquer lands in Africa and Asia. Evidence appeared to exist for the varieties between human groups. The fact that these populations looked different from Europeans was used as evidence of racial theory – the idea that it is possible to classify people into different racial groups and that each race is distinct from each other and natural. By this view it is impossible to change race – everything about an individual (physical appearance and mental characteristics) is determined by race. Racism vs. Fear of the Other: In modern usage, racism has come to stand for the general idea of hatred or fear of the other. This is used to make the argument that racism is age-old and somehow natural. Because, certainly, human groups have always hated or feared strangers, we believe that racism is just a fact of life. However, racism and fear or even hatred of the other is not the same thing. Racism is based on a theory of different others as immutable – that is fixed naturally or biologically and therefore fundamentally different to ourselves in ways that cannot be surpassed. Colonialism / the state The origins of racism are not dissociable from politics. The race concepts developed by so-called racial scientists were put to use as a system of justification for explaining and legitimising slavery and colonialism. Racial theory could be used to justify enslavement, conquer and even murder of racial others because they were, it was proposed, inferior to Europeans. Racism as the opinion of individuals is backed up by a system that legitimises racial discrimination. For example, common beliefs about the danger posed by immigrants in Britain today are backed up by a discriminatory immigration regime.
  • Social construction does not mean it is not real. What is real is the experience of race and the racism that ensues. And people DO look different from each other. The problem we are left with is how to explain human differences without resorting to the naturalisation and fixing of racism. Du Bois: Du Bois’s badge of race refers not to biology, but to the ‘physical bond’ that the ‘common history’ of those who ‘have suffered a long disaster and have one long memory’ are compelled to carry with them
  • Race: Conflict and Change Introduction

    1. 1. Race: Conflict & Change Week 1
    2. 2. Today we will be Asking ourselves what we mean by racism? Reflecting on common misconceptions Getting an overview of the course Getting information on how to use the course website
    3. 3. Show Racism the Red Light <ul><li>A film made by two school goers in Brighton. This film is interesting because it highlights many common perceptions of racism </li></ul>http://www.tinyurl.com/showracism
    4. 4. Questions <ul><li>What were the main attitudes to racism expressed? </li></ul><ul><li>How honest do you think the answers were? </li></ul><ul><li>Was there anything missing from these views? </li></ul>
    5. 5. What is race? What is racism? Take a minute to think about what race and racism mean to you
    6. 6. Myth-busting: 4 common viewpoints on race & racism
    7. 7. Racism is age-old and natural <ul><li>Or is it? </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Race’ is modern. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a crucial difference between ‘fear of the other’ and racism. </li></ul><ul><li>Racism cannot develop independently from structures of domination (state and colonialism). </li></ul>http://tinyurl.com/racismahistory
    8. 8. Racism is about physical appearance <ul><li>Race is not about skin colour or about belonging to something called a race. </li></ul><ul><li> ‘ Race’ is socially constructed. </li></ul><ul><li>But it is socially meaningful. </li></ul><ul><li> Racism and experience. W.E.B. Du Bois: “The Badge of Race” </li></ul>
    9. 9. Racism is a matter of ignorance <ul><li>Racism has been treated as a psychological attitude. </li></ul><ul><li>Racism is seen politically as an aberration. </li></ul><ul><li>Intercultural knowledge is insufficient to counter racism. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Race doesn’t matter <ul><li>Can we really be ‘colour-blind’? </li></ul><ul><li>Do we live in a post-racial age? </li></ul>
    11. 11. Week-by-Week <ul><li>Week 1: Course Introduction and Overview </li></ul><ul><li>Week 2: The Concept and Construction of Race </li></ul><ul><li>Week 3: Race and Immigration </li></ul><ul><li>Week 4: Race, Citizenship and Identity </li></ul><ul><li>Week 5: Race and (Multi)Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Week 6: Race, Gender and Sexuality </li></ul><ul><li>Week 7: Special Topic </li></ul><ul><li>Week 8: Race, the Law, Crime and Civil Unrest </li></ul><ul><li>Week 9: Anti-Racism </li></ul><ul><li>Week 10: “Here’s a good one...” Racism and Humour </li></ul>
    12. 12. Teaching & Learning <ul><li>Lectures & Seminars </li></ul><ul><li>Reading: </li></ul><ul><li>Library </li></ul><ul><li>Study Pack </li></ul><ul><li>Study Direct </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment: </li></ul><ul><li>2,000 word Essay </li></ul><ul><li>1 hr exam </li></ul>
    13. 13. Study Direct <ul><li>Get an avatar </li></ul><ul><li>Online resources (films, podcasts, books, articles, links, RSS...) </li></ul><ul><li>Forums </li></ul>