Not available in 2013/14
SO461      Half Unit
Racial Formations of Modernity

This information is for the 2013/14 session.


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Human Rights, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy, MSc in Political Sociology, MSc in Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies, MSc in Religion in the Contemporary World and MSc in Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course will explore the sociological, political and philosophical debates that have emerged where the concept of modernity intersects with the formation and reproduction of racial hierarchy. It will look in particular at articulations of modernity with colonial power, war, national character and, above all, with the idea of "race". Four inter-linked lines of enquiry will be followed: 1] We will explore some of the different ways that the subject of modernity has been imagined and articulated in racialised forms; 2] We will see what attributes and experiences have qualified that subject as properly human and rational. How has it been endowed with or deprived of rights? 3] We will try to understand where its human identity has been recognised as coming from, both culturally and materially. 4] We will explore where cosmopolitan loyalties have emerged in conjunction with demands to see and act beyond the boundaries of immediate particularity. These inquiries will be pursued in the urgent spirit that follows from another timely desire: the need to find histories of our multi-cultural present. The intellectual core of this course is historical and sociological but we will also be reading a range of material drawn from a variety of different disciplinary sources. The underlying approach is comparative in character. Students will be asked to become familiar with a number of contrasting historical cases and to examine a wealth of theoretical perspectives that have been applied to the analysis of races, racisms and raciologies by writers who have often enjoyed more than an exclusively scholarly relationship to their analyses of race and racism.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

One formative essay will be required.

Indicative reading

Stephen Toulmin, Cosmopolis; Ivan Hannaford, Race, (John Hopkins); George Fredrickson, Racism: A Short History (Princeton); David Goldberg, The Racial State, (Blackwell). Core readings will be supplemented weekly by a comprehensive combination of essays, journal articles and online materials.


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Attendance at all seminars and submission of all set coursework is required.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information