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Race in the Americas: Themes and Problems (HI923 - Withdrawn)

This module has now been permanently withdrawn and is no longer taught in the Warwick History Department.


Context of Module
Aims and Objectives 
Seminar Programme
Short Essay Titles
Context of Module

This is the core module for the MA in the History of Race in the Americas. The module, taught in the Autumn term, may also be taken by students on the MA in History, the MA in Modern History, or any taught Master's students outside the History Department.

Aims and Objectives

The MA programme in the history of race in the Americas introduces students to the history of race and the construction of ethnic identities in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, from the colonial period to the present day. It focuses particularly on indigenous peoples and Africans and their descendants and on their relations with European Americans and with each other. This core module familiarises students with key texts, offers critical approaches to theories of race and ethnicity as they relate to the Americas, and provides a framework for undertaking more specialised research in the dissertation. It is designed to complement ‘Theory, Skills and Methods’.

Seminar Programme

Week 1. Introduction: Contact Zones and Colonialism (RE)

Please note seminar for week 1 will be held at an unusual day/time: Friday 7 October, 14:00-16:00

Week 2. Writing the New World (JK)

Please note seminar for week 2 will be held at an unusual time: Wednesday 12 October, 11:15-13:00

Week 3. Slavery and Resistance (SL)

Please note seminar for week 3 will be held at an unusual day/time: Thursday 20 October, 15:00-17:00

Week 4. Law and Race in Colonial Spanish America (FE-B)

Please note seminar for week 4 will be held at an unusual time: Wednesday 26 October, 11:00-13:00

Week 5. Theorising Race (RE)

Please note seminar for week 5 will be held at an unusual day/time: Tuesday 1 November, 15:00-17:00

Week 6. Reading Week (No Seminar)

Week 7. Indians/Native Americans and Creole Republics (GT)

Week 8. Inventing Whiteness (SL)
Please note seminar for week 8 will be held at an unusual day/time: Thursday 24 November, 15:00-17:00

Week 9. Race and Culture in Post War America: The struggle for Civil Rights (RF)

Week 10. Indigenismo and Indians in C20th Latin America (GT)

Short Essay Titles

These are sample essay titles. You are welcome to use other titles suggested by members of staff or a title of your own devising, provided, in the latter case, that you first confirm its suitability with the relevant staff member.

  • Did colonial rule create and promote racism? Discuss with reference to sixteenth-century Spanish America and eighteenth-century Anglo America.
  • Analyse the image of the barbarian and the ‘noble savage’ in any colonial chronicle and in Montaigne’s essay ‘On Cannibals’.
  • Discuss the sources on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
  • Can The Tempest be read as an ‘American’ fable?
  • Analyse the characters of Prospero, Caliban, Ariel and Miranda in The Tempest.
  • Why has The Tempest played such a significant role in postcolonial criticism?
  • Why did Europeans treat Africans and Native Americans differently in the Americas?
  • How far was the introduction of slavery to the Americas an ‘unthinking decision’ (W. Jordan)?
  • Why were there more slave revolts in the Caribbean and Latin America than in the United States?
  • What is ‘race’?
  • Have scientific ideas of ‘race’ changed substantially over the last 300 years?
  • How and why have historians differed in their assessments of the significance of the Haitian Revolution?
  • ‘Nothing but freedom.’ Is this a fair assessment of the black experience in post-emancipation societies?
  • Is there such a thing as ‘whiteness’ and what, if anything, does it mean?
  • To what extent are women the real markers of race and/or ‘whiteness’ and ‘blackness’?
  • When did the Irish become ‘white’ and for what reason?
  • How did Amerindian resistance shape state and nation building in 19th-century Latin America? Discuss with reference to one or more country.
  • What role does race play in formulations of American history and nationhood? Give specific examples from American visual culture.
  • How did early anthropologists (before c. 1930) explain ‘racial’ differences?
  • Did indigenismo represent a reversal in the negative stereotype of the Indian?
  • Did indigenous people benefit at all from indigenismo?
  • What role did religion play in the US Black Freedom struggle?


1 assessed essay of 5,000 words: the course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars



Various please see module handbook

Term Autumn
Tutorial Day Wednesdays
Time 10.00 am to 12 noon


Seminars will take place in each tutor's office.

Tutors' Offices
Guy Thomson H3.38
Rebecca Earle H3.37
Roger Fagge H3.41
Frank Eissa Barroso H3.36
Sergio Lussana H3.39