Race & Ethnicity Undergraduate Reading List
This summer anti-racist organizing kicked off on both sides of the Atlantic and is sure to dominate politics on campus this fall. Get ready to go back to educate, agitate, and organize by reading Verso’s Race & Ethnicity 101 syllabus.
This summer anti-racist organizing kicked off on both sides of the Atlantic and is sure to dominate politics on campus this fall. Get ready to educate, agitate, and organize by reading Verso’s Race & Ethnicity 101 syllabus.
Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life
By Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields
“A most impressive work, tackling a demanding and important topic—the myth that we now live in a postracial society—in a novel, urgent, and compelling way. The authors dispel this myth by squarely addressing the paradox that racism is scientifically discredited but, like witchcraft before it, retains a social rationale in societies that remain highly unequal and averse to sufficiently critical engagement with their own history and traditions." – Robin Blackburn
Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed.
Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter
Edited by Christina Heatheron and Jordan Camp
A New York Public Library pick for "A Reading List of America"
Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.
“An urgent and necessary warning cry against hatred and the politics of fear and indifference that fuels it. From the Dreyfus affair to the aftermath of the Paris attacks of 2015, Plenel shows how the normalization of a far-right narrative of rejection, exclusion and otherness will have consequences for us all." – Simon Hooper
For the Muslims: Islamaphobia in France
By Edwy Plenel
A piercing denunciation of Islamophobia in France, in the tradition of Emile Zola
Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race
By Patrick Wolfe
“‘Race is a social construct.’ Sure, but what does that mean? Patrick Wolfe, preeminent scholar of settler colonial studies, tackles this question with theoretical sophistication and vivid historical detail. Spanning four continents and four centuries, Wolfe reveals the operations of race-making in specific historical processes, in the always contingent struggles over land, labor, culture, and power. A magnificent work of erudition and elucidation, Traces of History will change how we talk about the ‘social construction of race.’
– Robin D. G. Kelley, UCLA, author of Africa Speaks, America Answers
“Although racial conflict and racial injustice have shaped the modern history of the entire planet, there is little awareness of how pervasive the legacy of race and racism really is. Traces of History at long last provides a global, comparative text on race. Wolfe draws on a wide range of scholars to provide an accessible text on race and racism as worldwide phenomena. A deeply researched, long-overdue effort. Highly recommended for course adoption!”
– Howard Winant, University of California, Santa Barbara, author ofRacial Formation in the United States
The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamaphobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror
By Arun Kundnani
Powerful critique of UK and US surveillance and repression of Muslims and prosecution of homegrown terrorism
Based on several years of research and reportage, in locations as disperate as Texas, New York and Yorkshire, and written in engrossing, precise prose, this is the first comprehensive critique of counterradicalization strategies. The new policy and policing campaigns have been backed by an industry of freshly minted experts and liberal commentators. The Muslims Are Coming! looks at the way these debates have been transformed by the embrace of a narrowly configured and ill-conceived antiextremism.
I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala
By Rigoberta Menchú
The best-selling account of the life of Latin American peasant woman and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Now a global bestseller, the remarkable life of Rigoberta Menchú, a Guatemalan peasant woman, reflects on the experiences common to many Indian communities in Latin America. Menchú suffered gross injustice and hardship in her early life: her brother, father and mother were murdered by the Guatemalan military. She learned Spanish and turned to catechistic work as an expression of political revolt as well as religious commitment. Menchú vividly conveys the traditional beliefs of her community and her personal response to feminist and socialist ideas. Above all, these pages are illuminated by the enduring courage and passionate sense of justice of an extraordinary woman.
Black Macho and the Myth of Superwoman By Michele Wallace
“Courageous, outspoken, clear-eyed.” —Publishers Weekly
Originally published in 1978, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwomancaused a storm of controversy. Michele Wallace blasted the masculine biases of the black politics that emerged from the sixties. She described how women remained marginalized by the patriarchal culture of Black Power, demonstrating the ways in which a genuine female subjectivity was blocked by the traditional myths of black womanhood. With a foreword that examines the debate the book has sparked between intellectuals and political leaders, as well as what has—and, crucially, has not—changed over the last four decades, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman continues to be deeply relevant to current feminist debates and black theory today.
The Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical Edition
By B.R. Ambedkar
“What the Communist Manifesto is to the capitalist world, Annihilation of Casteis to India.” —Anand Teltumbde, author of The Persistence of Caste
Arundhati Roy introduces this extensively annotated edition of Annihilation of Caste in “The Doctor and the Saint,” examining the persistence of caste in modern India, and how the conflict between Ambedkar and Gandhi continues to resonate. Roy takes us to the beginning of Gandhi’s political career in South Africa, where his views on race, caste and imperialism were shaped. She tracks Ambedkar’s emergence as a major political figure in the national movement, and shows how his scholarship and intelligence illuminated a political struggle beset by sectarianism and obscurantism. Roy breathes new life into Ambedkar’s anti-caste utopia, and says that without a Dalit revolution, India will continue to be hobbled by systemic inequality.
The Invention of the White Race, Volume 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control
By Theodore W. Allen
When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no “white” people there. Nor, according to colonial records, would there be for another sixty years. In this seminal two-volume work, The Invention of the White Race, Theodore W. Allen tells the story of how America’s ruling classes created the category of the “white race” as a means of social control. Since that early invention, white privileges have enforced the myth of racial superiority, and that fact has been central to maintaining ruling-class domination over ordinary working people of all colors throughout American history.
Volume I draws lessons from Irish history, comparing British rule in Ireland with the “white” oppression of Native Americans and African Americans. Allen details how Irish immigrants fleeing persecution learned to spread racial oppression in their adoptive country as part of white America.
The Invention of the White Race, Volume 2: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America
By Theodore W. Allen
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, Martin Luther King outlined a dream of an America where people would not be judged by the color of their skin. That dream has yet to be realized, but some three centuries ago it was a reality. Back then, neither social practice nor law recognized any special privileges in connection with being white. But by the early decades of the eighteenth century, that had all changed. Racial oppression became the norm in the plantation colonies, and African Americans suffered under its yoke for more than two hundred years.
In Volume II of The Invention of the White Race, Theodore W. Allen explores the transformation that turned African bond-laborers into slaves and segregated them from their fellow proletarians of European origin. In response to labor unrest, where solidarities were not determined by skin color, the plantation bourgeoisie sought to construct a buffer of poor whites, whose new racial identity would protect them from the enslavement visited upon African Americans. This was the invention of the white race, an act of cruel ingenuity that haunts America to this day.
Separate and Dominate: Feminism and Racism After the War on Terror
By Christine Delphy
An examination of how mainstream feminism has been mobilized in support of racist measures
Separate and Dominate is Delphy’s manifesto, lambasting liberal hypocrisy and calling for a fluid understanding of political identity that does not place different political struggles in a false opposition. She dismantles the absurd claim that Afghanistan was invaded to save women, and that homosexuals and immigrants alike should reserve their self-expression for private settings. She calls for a true universalism that sacrifices no one at the expense of others. In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, her arguments appear more prescient and pressing than ever.
Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All
By David Roediger
How did America recover after its years of civil war? How did freed men and women, former slaves, respond to their newly won freedom? David Roediger’s radical new history redefines the idea of freedom after the jubilee, using fresh sources and texts to build on the leading historical accounts of Emancipation and Reconstruction.
Reinstating ex-slaves’ own “freedom dreams” in constructing these histories, Roediger creates a masterful account of the emancipation and its ramifications on a whole host of day-to-day concerns for Whites and Blacks alike, such as property relations, gender roles, and labor.
Mapping Subaltern Studies and the Postcolonial
Edited by Vinayak Chaturvedi
Inspired by Antonio Gramsci’s writings on the history of subaltern classes, the authors in Mapping Subaltern Studies and the Postcolonial sought to contest the elite histories of Indian nationalists by adopting the paradigm of ‘history from below’. Later on, the project shifted from its social history origins by drawing upon an eclectic group of thinkers that included Edward Said, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. This book provides a comprehensive balance sheet of the project and its developments, including Ranajit Guha’s original subaltern studies manifesto, Partha Chatterjee, Dipesh Chakrabarty and Gayatri Spivak.
With contributions by David Arnold, C.A. Bayly, Tom Brass, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Rajnarayan Chandavarkar, Partha Chatterjee, Ranajit Guha, Rosalind O’Hanlon, Gyanendra Pandey, Gyan Prakash, Sumit Sarkar, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and David Washbrook
Postcolonial Theory and the Sepcter of Capital
By Vivek Chibber
Postcolonial theory has become enormously influential as a framework for understanding the Global South. It is also a school of thought popular because of its rejection of the supposedly universalizing categories of the Enlightenment. In this devastating critique, mounted on behalf of the radical Enlightenment tradition, Vivek Chibber offers the most comprehensive response yet to postcolonial theory. Focusing on the hugely popular Subaltern Studies project, Chibber shows that its foundational arguments are based on a series of analytical and historical misapprehensions. He demonstrates that it is possible to affirm a universalizing theory without succumbing to Eurocentrism or reductionism.
By Samir Kassir
A passionate meditation on contemporary Arab identity.
Before his assassination in 2005, Samir Kassir was one of Lebanon’s foremost public intellectuals. In Being Arab, a thought-provoking assessment of Arab identity, he calls on the people of the Middle East to reject both Western double standards and Islamism in order to take the future into their own hands. Passionately written and brilliantly argued, this rallying cry for change has now been heard by millions.
More reading lists:
Philosophy Undergraduate Reading List
Art and Aesthetics Undergraduate Reading List
Economics Undergraduate Reading List
History Undergraduate Reading List
Political Theory Undergraduate Reading List
Feminism and Gender Undergraduate Reading List
Cities and Architecture Undergraduate Reading List