1 x 2-hour seminar weekly
4.5 units of first level topics
Enrolment not permitted
SOCI3044 has been successfully completed
Topic description
In contemporary societies, race is commonly connected to biology. Race, we are told - 'is in our blood'. In this topic we question what is meant by race, by exploring how it is socially constructed. How does race shape how we think about ourselves, and our identities? How is race connected to power? Which ways of 'knowing and being' are privileged in our societies, and which are marginalised? Firstly, we investigate how race emerged as a concept in different historical eras. Secondly, we explore how powerful hierarchies emerged based on the concept of race, hierarchies that privilege Anglophone, 'modern', 'civilised' ways of knowing and being. Thirdly, we think critically about how race relations are connected to gender and sexuality, to class relations, to religion and ethnicity, and to broader social processes such as globalisation, colonialism, war and conflict. Throughout the topic we draw on different sociological theories about race, as well as critically interrogating contemporary case studies that bring issues of race, power, identity and difference to the fore.
Educational aims
This topic has four aims:
  1. Explore the social construction of race
  2. Explore how meanings about race were constructed in different historical eras, and how these meanings connected to significant moments of social change, such as the enlightenment, modernity, industrialisation and colonialism.
  3. Examine how meanings about race set up powerful heirarchies of priviledge and marginality.
  4. Examine how meanings about race connect to other social identities and relations, such as gender, class and religion.
  5. Engage with real life contemporary and historical case studies.
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will have demonstrated your ability to:

  1. Describe, compare and evaluate a range of sociological perspectives relating to race
  2. Demonstrate an understanding that race is a social construction
  3. Critically examine how race is connected to power, by exploring which groups are privileged and which are marginalised through meanings about race.