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First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Concept of Race in Society and History

Semester and Year FA 2018
Course Number FIRST-UG109
Section 001
Instructor Kimberly DaCosta
Days TR
Time 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


This course offers a comparative social and historical analysis of race. Using a wide range of empirical and theoretical materials, we problematize what is too often considered settled: what constitutes race. We challenge the prevailing assumption that race is a biological fact and investigate race as a social construct--one that has changed over time, and varies across societies. A major goal of the course is to understand the mechanisms through which racial domination is (re)produced. We ask questions like: How do systems of racial classification stem from and facilitate patterns of prejudice, discrimination, and segregation? How do those patterns relate to racial violence and even genocide? Why do some societies sanction interracial sex and/or marriage and not others? We read selections from sociology, anthropology, history and literature on ethnoracial division in the US, Western Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Readings may include works by Stephen Gould, George Fredrickson, Virginia Dominguez, Carl Degler, James Baldwin, Barbara Fields, Pierre Bourdieu, Loic Wacquant, Ann Stoler, Zygmunt Bauman, Dorothy Roberts and Colson Whitehead.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Interdisciplinary Seminars (FIRST-UG)