AFR 353
Capitalism and Racism in the American Context and Beyond: A Global Approach Spring 2022
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed AMST 345 / AFR 353 / GBST 344

Class Details

American Studies emerged with the idea that transdisciplinarity is crucial for comprehending the concept of America. Building on this framework, this course foregrounds transepistemology as an equally important method for understanding the dynamics of America, both locally and globally, at the level of the world-system. In addition to tracing the consubstantial genealogy of racism and capitalism, we will examine their local manifestations, mainly in Asia, Europe, Africa and America, as well as their current geopolitical, social and economic outcomes, especially the reproduction of systemic inequalities and domination. Through an interdisciplinary approach and engagement with a variety of resources from economics, anthropology, sociology, critical race theory, comparative ethnic studies and decolonial thinking, this course will address the following: i) review the different forms of economic organization of human societies throughout history (with special focus on the work of Karl Polanyi); ii) trace the epistemological origins of capitalism and investigate what makes capitalism and its crises unique; iii) trace the genealogy of the concepts of race, racism and discrimination; iv) interrogate the intersection of racism and capitalism in different traditions of thought and epistemologies in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. For example, we will read key texts from “French theory”, (Deleuze, Foucault, etc.), US Black tradition, (W. E. B. Du Bois and Cedric Robison, etc.), Chinese social sciences (Li Shenming, Cheng Enfu, etc.) and African economy and anthropology (Mahdi Elmandjra, Cheikh Anta Diop, etc.) and Latin American decolonial philosophy (Quijano, Dussel, Mignolo, etc.) By doing this, we will situate the rupture that capitalism and racism introduced at the level of global history, which is the first step to conceptualizing racism and capitalism. After showing that the development of capitalism and racism are historically linked, we will proceed to examine the manifestations of their interaction at local and global levels. Locally, we will focus on the effects of racism on the labor market: discrimination in hiring, wage discrimination, segregation, duality and stratification of the labor market, etc. We will also analyze how sexism and racism play out in the labor market in racialized communities. We will also reflect on the links between racism and politics and their effects on economic policies. From a more global perspective, we will analyze the roots of the global economic crisis and the resulting geopolitical issues at the international level and the racist dynamics they generate. Overall, as we will move through readings, we will situate the United States in a cross-regional perspective that would enable us to develop critical insights concerning links and convergences between capitalism and racism.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 20
Class#: 3989
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Requirements: An active participation is required of students in terms of engaging in the debate about the texts assigned and regular contribution to the seminar discussions. In-class short oral presentations, weekly short responses reacting to class discussion and texts, and a final research paper. Evaluation: Participation 25%; Weekly Response (350-500 words) 25%; In-class short oral presentations 10%; Final Research Paper (12-15 pages) 40%
Prerequisites: None, open to all.
Enrollment Preferences: American Studies majors, sophomores, and higher
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 345 Division II AFR 353 Division II GBST 344 Division II
DPE Notes: This course addresses questions of difference, power, and equity through its examination of domination, racialization, the economics of discrimination, geopolitical and epistemological inequalities at the world-system level. Students will learn how racism and capitalism produce social categories, such as race, ethnicity, and class; how they interact with issues of gender; and how they perpetuate difference, power dynamics, and inequalities across these categories.

Class Grid

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