This module will explore the issues of race, racism, racial conflict, and race relations in contemporary Britain and worldwide. Although we will mainly refer to Britain, global examples from Europe, the US, the Caribbean, Africa, and South America will be frequently used. Beginning with colonial discourses of the “racial other”, and focusing on the start of mass colonial mass immigration to Britain in the aftermath of World War Two, this module will examine the various historical, social, cultural, and political forces and processes through which the concept and reality of race have been constructed, shaped, and changed over time.
The intellectual rationale of this module is to introduce race and ethnicity both as arbitrary labels that are pinned on people who are “different” from “us”, while also being experienced as “lived” social divisions that impact on and limit people’s welfare, opportunities, and horizons through prejudice, and direct or indirect discrimination.
Some key questions and issues that we will be thinking and talking about during this module include: What is race and racism? How/When does race emerge as a concept and a lived reality? Has racism always existed? (Why) is “the other” such a threat? (How) can race be understood as a social division? How does race relate to gender, ethnicity, politics and culture? Is nationalism a bad thing? Are some civilisations/cultures better than others? Is “difference” a good or a bad thing? Do we/can we ever live in a post-racial world? (Why) has multiculturalism failed? Is cosmopolitanism a utopia?