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Course on What is Race?

Alana Lentin | 19.03.2004 13:26 | Anti-racism | Education | Migration | Oxford

WHAT IS RACE? Beginning April 20, 2004. Tuesday evenings for 10 weeks.
A course lookig at 'race' from the birth of racism to the contemporary racism of immigration policy in an era of globalization to be held at the Oxford University Department of Education.

Oxford University Department for Continuing Education

What is Race?

Alana Lentin

Dr Alana Lentin is an EC Research Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University. She is a political sociologist whose areas of interest are ‘race’, racism and anti-racism, immigration and social movements.

 10 weekly meetings

 Tuesdays

 7.30-9.30pm
starting 20 April 2004

 £70.00


 10 CATS Points (Level One)

A critical review of the concept of ‘race’ from an historical, sociological and political perspective, which will assist in furthering participant understanding of the centrality of race in the framing of politics in the modern era. We will trace the conceptualisation and impact of race from the ‘Golden Age’ of ‘scientific racism’ as an apology for imperialism and Empire to present-day debates on immigration policy and asylum with their often unacknowledged assumptions of an unknowable ‘other’.

Attention will also be paid to the politics of anti-racism and solidarity movements and the deflection of the discussion of race from the political to the cultural sphere: from the struggle for equal rights to the celebration of difference.

Background Reading:

Balibar, E. & Wallerstein, I., Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities (Verso, 1991)
Goldberg, D. T., The Racial State (Blackwell, 2002)
Bauman, Zygmunt, Modernity and the Holocaust (London: Polity Press, 1989)
Fanon, Frantz, Black Skins, White Masks (London: Pluto Press, 1967)
Lentin, A., Racism and Anti-Racism in Europe (Pluto Press, June 2004)
Voegeliu, E., Race and State(Louisiana University Press, 1933/2000)

If you are planning to buy books, please keep in mind that courses with insufficient students enrolled may be cancelled.

For further information on enrolment, concessionary fees and our study skills programmes, please contact the Weekly Class Administrator, OUDCE, Ewert House, Ewert Place, Summertown, Oxford, OX2 7DD
Telephone: 01865 280893 or 01865 280892.



Course Aim and Objectives

The course aims to critically review the concept of ‘race’ from an historical, sociological and political perspective. This will assist in furthering participants’ understandings of the politics of racism in the modern era, from the ‘Golden Age’ of ‘race’ to present-day immigration policy. Attention will also be paid to anti-racism and the way it has conceptualized and sought to explain ‘race’ and racism.

Course Content

This course will analyse the development of the political idea of 'race' from the Golden Age of modern racism to the contemporary 'crisis' of immigration.

The course is interdisciplinary, drawing on texts in history, sociology, anthropology, politics and literature. It will appeal to those interested in furthering their knowledge of the history of racism in the modern era in the aim of understanding problems raised by racism in Europe today. It may particularly appeal to practitioners and activists in anti-racism, refugee and asylum seekers' rights.

 Introduction: Critically approaching ‘race’, racism and anti-racism.
 When is ‘Race’?
 ‘Race’ and Politics.
 ‘Race’ and Racism/Nation and State.
 Racialisation and Dehumanisation.
 Responding to Racism I.
 Responding to Racism II.
 The End of ‘Race’ and the Transformation of Racism?
 Back to the Future: The return of immigration.
 Racism, Globalisation and the ‘War on Terror’

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:
 Have a good overview of the critical literature on the politics of ‘race’, racism and anti-racism.
 Be able to conceptualise and articulate the debates on ‘race’, racism and anti-racism presented in the course.
 Be able to make informed links between the literature read and discussed and contemporary debates that are of relevance to the themes discussed during the course.

Teaching/Learning Methods

Seminars will be run interactively with full participation from students in the presentation and discussion of the reading. Apart from session 1 which the tutor shall present, students will be expected to present the required readings. The tutor will also present a summary of each session that has the purpose of relating the contents of each seminar to the one to come in order to trigger questions about the coming sessions and help students conceptualise the course in its overall logic.

Students will be able to use a variety of materials to make their presentations (power point, transparencies etc.). Such materials will also be used by the tutor where relevant.


At the beginning of the course, students will be asked to volunteer to present and discuss the readings for each of the sessions (2-10). One or two presenters plus one discussant will be required for each session. Students will be expected to analytically discuss the readings in the form of a short paper presentation rather than to summarize their contents. Presenters and discussants will be expected to communicate with each other and with the tutor in advance to ensure a coherent presentation. These presentations will serve as a means to assess students’ progress and to ensure a balanced participation. The papers prepared by the presenters may be submitted to the tutor for further comment to with a view to developing them further should the student so wish.

Students enrolled on this course will be expected to do coursework. This is a condition set by the Higher Education Funding Council for payment of the grant which subsidises the course fee. Please phone the Student Adviser on 01865 280355 for further information.

Alana Lentin
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