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'Race', Colonial Histories, Postcolonial Cultures


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor and tutor: Yasmeen Narayan
  • Assessment: a five-minute oral presentation (0%), essay plan (0%) and 2500-word essay (100%)

Module description

This module stretches across the social sciences and arts and humanities. It is framed by contemporary discussions on histories of empire and the formation of modern Britain, the global pandemic, new authoritarian populisms and resurgent anti-racist political cultures across the world. It examines debates on psychosocial studies and ‘the decolonial turn’; histories of colonisation and ‘race’; colonial cultures, nationalism, class and respectability; histories of the concept of identity; postcolonial belonging, urban cultures and diaspora and global multiculture, ‘race’ and ‘beauty’. It then turns to debates on criminalisation, policing and community resistance and racial nationalisms and religious authoritarianisms. The module concludes through examining postcolonial, psychopolitical approaches to racialised subjectification and ‘whiteness’ before returning to debates on the ethics, silences and potential political contradictions of this interdisciplinary area of study.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Introduction: on ‘race’, colonial histories, postcolonial cultures
  • ‘Race’ and the arts, humanities and sciences in the ‘Age of Enlightenment’
  • Colonial cultures, nationalisms, class, respectability
  • On identity
  • Postcolonial belonging, urban cultures and diaspora
  • Global multiculture, ‘race’, ‘beauty’
  • Histories of criminalisation, policing and community resistance
  • Racial nationalisms and religious authoritarian movements
  • Racialised subjectification, ‘whiteness’, postcoloniality
  • On writing an essay on ‘race’, colonial histories, postcolonial cultures

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key debates in this interdisciplinary subject area, the context in which this body of work has emerged and how these ideas can be applied
  • demonstrate an awareness of the ethical and political implications of the different bodies of work that you engage with throughout your studies.