SO244      Half Unit
The Sociology of Race and Empire

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Hakan Sandal-Wilson STC S217


This course is available on the BSc in Language, Culture and Society and BSc in Sociology. This course is not available as an outside option. This course is available with permission to General Course students.

This course has a limited number of places (it is capped). Places are allocated on a first come first served basis.

Course content

The course provides an introduction to theoretical, historical and contemporary debates around race, racism and empire. It covers the following thematic areas: history; theory; experience; futurism.

We begin by exploring the historical events and contemporary afterlives that have created a world structured by racism and colonialism. From the Enlightenment to nationalism; from science to secularism, we look at how this world came to be, and why these often-hidden histories matter. We then look at different ways people have tried to understand this world. Theoretical paradigms include anticolonial theory, the Black Radical Tradition, Queer theory, Trans* theory, and postcolonial theory, decoloniality and settler colonialism, among others. The third block looks at the everyday experiences of race and empire. From the food we eat to the way we travel, we will see that race and empire are never far from the scene. We look at the politics around tourism, climate change, technology, intimacy, movement and food to unpack the very minute and not-so-minute ways race and empire seep into and structure our daily lives. We end the course by thinking about abolition as a means of imagining a future free of racism.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures/seminars and online materials totalling a minimum of 20 hours in MT.

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

Formative coursework

One formative essay (1500 words) due in Week 7 of MT.

Indicative reading

Cesaire, A. 1955. Discourse on Colonialism. Grove Press.

Said, E., 1978. Orientalism: Western representations of the Orient. Pantheon.

Steinmetz, G., 2013. Sociology and empire. Duke University Press.

Fanon, F., 1963. The wretched of the earth. Grove Press.

Mills, C.W., 2014. The racial contract. Cornell University Press.

Davis, A.Y., 2011. Women, race, & class. Vintage.

Mohanty, C.T., 1988. Under Western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses. Feminist review, (30), 61-88.

Sharpe, C., 2016. In the wake: On blackness and being. Duke University Press.

Wekker, G., 2016. White innocence: Paradoxes of colonialism and race. Duke University Press.

Collins, P.H., 2002. Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Routledge.


Essay (80%, 3000 words) in the LT.
Presentation (20%) in the MT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the submission day. Assessed essay due Thursday of Week 1 in LT.

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

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2021/22: 34

Average class size 2021/22: 34

Capped 2021/22: Yes (34)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.