AMST 440
Racial Capitalism
Last Offered Spring 2017
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed AFR 342 / AMST 440
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

This class will interrogate the ways in which capitalist economies have “always and everywhere” relied upon forms of racist domination and exclusion. Although the United States will be in the foreground, the subject requires an international perspective by its very nature. We will consider the ways in which the violent expropriation of land from the indigenous peoples of the Americas, paired with chattel slavery and other coercive forms of labor, made possible the rise of a capitalist world economy centered in Europe during the early modern period. We will then explore ways racial divisions have undermined the potential for unified movements of poor and working people to challenge the prerogatives of wealthy citizens, and served to excuse imperial violence waged in the name of securing resources and “opening markets”. Ideas about gender and sexuality always undergird racial imaginaries, so we will study, for instance, the ways rhetoric about “welfare queens” has impacted public assistance programs, and claims about the embodiment of Asian women play into the international division of labor. We will also be attentive to the means – from interracial unionism to national liberation struggles – by which subjects of racial capitalism have resisted its dehumanizing effects. This is a reading intensive course that will challenge students to synthesize historical knowledge with concepts drawn from scholars working in the traditions of Marxist, decolonial, and materialist feminist thought, including: Angela Davis, Cedric Robinson, Anibal Quijano, Chandra Mohanty, David Roediger, Stuart Hall, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Silvia Federici
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3992
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance and participation; a written mid-term exam; one in-class presentation; research paper proposal; 12-16 page research paper
Prerequisites: previous course work in race and ethnicity, critical studies in neoliberalism or political economy, or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: American Studies majors
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AFR 342 Division II AMST 440 Division II
DPE Notes: Provides analysis of the creation of racial categories as means of legitimizing land theft and forced labor, which created the financial and political basis of the modern market economy. Assignments require students to develop new educational materials (courses, museum exhibits) to challenge the knowledge/power complex that insists racial ascription and violence are incidental to capitalism.
Attributes: AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
AMST 400-level Senior Seminars
AMST Space and Place Electives

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