The Sociology of Race and Empire

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sara Salem Room STC S218


This course is available on the BSc in Language, Culture and Society, BSc in Social Policy and Sociology and BSc in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Optional Course for BSc Sociology for 2nd and 3rd years and the Diploma in Sociology.

Course content

The course provides an introduction to theoretical, historical and contemporary debates around race, racism and empire. It firstly explores the main theoretical perspectives which have been used to analyse the production of race, racism and colonialism in a historical and contemporary framework, and the role of historical events in creating difference, including the “discovery” of the Americas, the transatlantic slave trade, the expansion of European empires, and the Renaissance and Enlightenment among others. It then examines in more detail the areas both theoretical and lived within our contemporary social and political climate where analyses of ‘race’, racism, belonging and identity are urgently needed; as well as the ways in which various categories such as class, gender, sexuality, among others, intersect with race. The course adopts a global lens, focusing on theory and cases from across the world. Topics include: race and empire in historical perspective; race and empire in social theory; colonialism, settler colonialism and post-colonialism; biopolitics and difference; capitalism and race; intersectionality; whiteness, diaspora and hybridity; race, genetics, disease and contamination; race and popular culture; global migration and multiculturalism; the Far Right and the white working class; and the role of race and racism in technology and the future.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in MT Week 6 and LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Reading logs in addition to formative essay.

Indicative reading

  • L Back & J Solomos (Eds), Theories of Race and Racism (2nd Edition, Routledge 2009);
  • K Murji & J Solomos (Eds), Theories of Race and Ethnicity: Contemporary Debates and Perspectives (CUP 2014);
  • MJ Schueller, Locating race: Global sites of post-colonial citizenship (SUNY Press 2009);
  • DF Da Silva, Toward a Global Idea of Race (U Minnesota Press 2007);
  • Y Gunaratnam, Researching ‘Race’ and Ethnicity: Methods, knowledge and power (Sage 2003);
  • R Miles, Racism after Race Relations (Routledge 1993);
  • J Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Duke UP 2017);
  • C Mohanty, Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (Duke UP 2003);
  • H Mirza (Ed), Black British Feminism (Routledge 1997);
  • K Owusu (Ed), Black British Cultural Studies (Routledge 1999);
  • D T Goldberg, Racist Culture (Blackwell 1993);
  • P Gilroy, There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack (Hutchinson 1987);
  • E Baptist, The half has never been told: Slavery and the making of American capitalism (Hachette 2016);
  • P Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought (Routledge 1991);
  • F Fanon, Black skin, White Masks (Grove press 2008);
  • D T Goldberg (Ed), Multiculturalism: A Critical Reader (Blackwell 1994);
  • P.H. Collins & J. Solomos (eds) Sage Handbook of Race and Ethnic Studies (Sage 2010);
  • A Roy, The Doctor and the Saint: Caste, Race, and Annihilation of Caste, the Debate between BR Ambedkar and MK Gandhi (Haymarket 2017).


Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the ST.
Presentation (20%) and literature review (30%) in the LT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essays, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the submission day.

The first assessed literature review is due on the first Thursday of Lent term and the second assessed essay is due by the third Thursday of Summer Term.  

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

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
First 11.3
2:1 52.8
2:2 28.3
Third 0
Fail 7.5

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2018/19: 22

Average class size 2018/19: 10

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information