Barbara J. Fields

BARBARA J. FIELDS is Professor of History at Columbia University, author of Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground: Maryland During the Nineteenth Century and coauthor of Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War.


  • The Academic & the Artist: Discussion Series with Karen Fields, co-author of Racecraft

    Next Thursday, Barbara Fields will discuss Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life with Atlantic senior editor Ta-Nehisi Coates at the CUNY Graduate Center. The book, which Fields co-wrote with her sister, Karen Fields, is dense with ideas and there will be lots to cover in the conversation.

    In advance of the event, we recommend the Academic & the Artist podcast, which Karen Fields has appeared on three times now. The programs provide a great opportunity to explore some of the challenging debates circulating around the book's central themes of race, inequality and the mythical belief in a "post-racial" America.

    In the first interview, which was released shortly after Racecraft was published in the fall of last year, Fields talked to the podcast hosts José F. Moreno and Sergio Muñoz about racial identity, the racializing of inequality, and the problems inherent in fighting inequality with social policy that has been constructed on racial terms. Music by Stevie Wonder—Fields is a fan—was played during musical interludes. Click here to listen to the first show. 

    Continue Reading

  • Django Unchained and Lincoln: A reading list on race, plus your chance to win 3 titles

    Out in the UK this month, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and Steven Speilberg's Lincoln has energized interest in a period of American history defined by race. Rather than make our own critiques or slap downs, we present these books to fill the gaps left by Hollywood.

    Continue Reading

  • Karen Fields interviewed about Racecraft

    That race is a mere social construct is an oft-repeated assertion in the media and academia. That there is no currency to the color of someone’s skin, but there is for the content of his or her character has become the mantra of this supposedly post-racial era. Then why does the concept of race still poison our discourse? And in a time of rapidly growing income inequality, how does race cloak the much-needed issue of tackling this problem for all Americans, regardless of race?

    In their fantastically lucid and much-needed exposé of the mental terrain that underlies the issue of race, Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life, Karen and Barbara Fields deal with how it obscures gross income inequality. They coin the term “racecraft”—the illusion of race produced by the practice of racism.

    Karen Fields discussed these and other topics concerning the practice of racecraft in two illuminating interviews, respectively for the New Books in Sociology podcast and The Academic and the Artist on KBeach radio.

    Audio below the jump

    Continue Reading