Race and Political Thought

This course serves as an introduction to the study of race and political thought. Historically, race has enabled regimes of discourse and power that have granted privilege to some and not others. As a complex system of social and political categorization, race has been a key marker of difference, inequality and power. Taking our orientation from the tradition of political theory, an enterprise devoted to the study of such topics like justice, equality, identity and power, we will attempt to (1) develop a political conception of race, (2) survey key debates that animate questions of racial identity and power, (3) consider ethical arguments and political solutions for the achievement of racial justice. By the end of the course, students will be able to develop answers to the following questions: What exactly is race? How has it been constructed by the modern state? How does language work to codify racial distinctions? What is Anti-Semitism; anti-black and colonial racism? What is “whiteness,” and how is it constituted? What role does gender play in racial identity? Should race be abandoned? Are reparations or affirmative action ever a desirable policy for the achievement of racial justice? Authors under consideration will include Brown, Fraser, Goldberg, Larsen Omi and Winant, Fanon, Mills, Sartre, Lorde, Alcoff, Jacobson, McCarthy.