Not available in 2023/24
SO4C2      Half Unit
Racial Capitalism

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sara Camacho Felix CBG 4.07


This course is available on the MSc in Inequalities and Social Science. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Places are allocated based on a written statement. Priority will be given to students on the MSc in Inequalities and Social Science. This may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.

Course content

This course analyses the historical and structural mechanisms that connect modern capitalism to forms of racial domination and exclusion.  It begins with a historical account, analysing the centrality of the expropriation of indigenous land, labour and resources and traces the rise and development of plantation slavery. The course also explores the late colonial period, examining the creation of global labour chains through indenture, factory organisation and new forms of debt and extraction. Finally, the course examines processes of decolonisation as well as the creation of a globalised economic order from the 1980s to the 2000s.

Key topics include slave economies, resource extraction, land rights, debt, global indenture, colonial economies, industrial labour, political rights, economic redistribution, welfare, immigration, decolonialisation, and globalisation.  Each of these will be analysed not only in their historical and economic contexts, but as concepts that have racial, social, moral and political functions, and that profoundly help to reshape social and racial boundaries.  The course also explores sites of resistance to racial capitalism.  This includes international solidarity movements, interracial unionism, anticolonial socialisms, the rise of more radical international structures and the possibility of reparations.

The course draws on the traditions of Black Marxist and Radical thought, Critical Race Theory, De/Coloniality, and Black Feminist traditions, and will include work by Eric Williams, Walter Rodney, Cedric Robinson, Angela Davis and Ruth Gilmore Wilson.


20 hours of seminars in the WT.

The course will be team-taught. We will use a mixture of lecture, discussion and group seminar activities.  During week 6, students will receive additional training in producing podcasts.

Teaching arrangements may be adjusted if online teaching is required at any point.

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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce a 1,500 written introduction, literature review and outline of their final essay project, due in Week 7 of Lent Term.

Indicative reading

  1. Prathama Banerjee (2020), ‘Labour, Hunger and Struggle’ and ‘Equality and Economic Reason’, in Elementary Aspects of the Political: Histories from the Global South, Duke University Press.
  2. Gargi Bhattacharyya (2018), ‘What Racial Capitalism Is and Is Not’, in Rethinking Racial Capitalism: Questions of Reproduction and Survival, Rowman & Littlefield, London.
  3. Angela Davis (2019), Women, Race and Class, Penguin Random House UK.
  4. Nancy Fraser (2016), ‘Expropriation and Exploitation in Racialized Capitalism’, Critical Historical Studies, 3,1, pp. 163-178.
  5. Ruth Wilson Gilmore (2022), Change Everything: Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition, Haymarket Books, Chicago.
  6. Tania Li (2014), ‘Enclosure’ and ‘Capitalist Relations’, in Land’s End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier, Duke University Press.
  7. Eric Williams, (1943), ‘Chapter One: The Origin of the Negro Slavery’ and ‘Chapter 5: British Industry and the Triangular Trade’, in Capitalism and Slavery, University of North Carolina Press.
  8. Cedric J. Robinson (2000), ‘Chapter One: Racial Capitalism’, in Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, 2nd Edition, University of North Carolina Press.
  9. Walter Rodney (2018), ‘Chapter Five: Africa’s Contribution to the Capitalist Development of Europe’ and ‘Chapter Six: Colonialism as System for Underdeveloping Africa’, in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Verso, London.


Essay (80%, 3500 words) in the ST.
Presentation (20%) in the WT.

The presentation will be a 10-15 minute case study presentation (podcast). The presentation will be due in Weeks 9-10 of Lent Term in seminar sessions.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the first Tuesday of Summer Term.

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

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2022/23: 18

Average class size 2022/23: 16

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

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.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills