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'Race', Empire, Postcoloniality


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Yasmeen Narayan
  • Assessment: a 4000-word essay (100%)

Module description

This interdisciplinary module stretches across the social sciences and arts and humanities. It is framed by contemporary debates on new authoritarian populisms, the global pandemic and the resurgence of anti-racist political cultures across the world.

'Race', Empire, Postcoloniality explores early modern histories of colonisation and the beginnings of global racial capitalism, slavery, indenture and other forms of colonial labour, religious ideologies, inventions of land and nature and new imaginations of 'race'. It then turns to debates on 'race' and other systems of categorisation, the development of academic disciplines during 'the age of Enlightenment', imaginations of a distinct human species and ideas of progress and development in relation to further colonial expansion and wealth production. The module then discusses colonial cultures, nationalisms, class, ‘respectability’, the invention of ‘whiteness’ and the further reimagination of different categories. It examines histories of coloniality and genocide, the Shoah and the further development of modern academic disciplines and 'racial science'.

The module then explores histories of anti-colonial, anti-fascist and anti-racist resistance and more recent theorisations of 'race' and ethnicity. It discusses work on 'identity' before examining the postcolonial legacies of colonial imaginations of race, ethnicity, nation, class, tribe, caste, religion, sect, sex and sexuality. The module concludes by exploring psychopolitical approaches to racialised subjectification and debates on the ethics and potential political contradictions of this multidisciplinary body of work.