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Week 9 Tutor

Professor Rebecca Earle

Roberts, Dorothy, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century, New Press (New York, 2011), Part 1: “Believing in Race in the Genomic Age’ (e-book library)

Saini, Angela, Superior: the Return of Race Science, 4th Estate (London, 2019), chapter 3: ‘Scientific Priestcraft’ (e-book library))



  1. 'Is race a useful category of historical analysis?' Discuss,
  2. Is it possible to have a non-racist analysis of race?
  3. How do the techniques used to interpret human difference reflect the societies and periods from which they have emerged?
  4. How has the historiography of race changed in the last three decades and why?
  5. 'We are witnessing the emergence of a new form of racism in America, in which the State's power to control the life and death of populations relies on the classify life relies on classifying them by race'. Discuss in relation to Dorothy Roberts's Fatal Invention.

Additional Reading:

Bartlett, Robert, ‘Medieval and Modern Concepts of Race and Ethnicity’, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31:1 (2001), pp. 39–56.

Davis, David Brion, ‘Constructing Race: A Reflection’, The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 54:1 (1997), pp. 7-18.

Earle, Rebecca, ‘‘If You Eat Their Food . . .’: Diets and Bodies in Early Colonial Spanish America’, American Historical Review 115:3 (2010).

Gould, Stephen Jay, The Mismeasure of Man (New York: Norton, 1981, revised 2006)

Hahn, Thomas, ‘The Difference the Middle Ages Makes: Color and Race before the Modern World’, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31:1 (2001), pp. 1-37.

Loomba, Ania, and Jonathan Burton (eds), Race in Early Modern England: A Documentary Companion (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Morgan, Jennifer L., ‘‘Some Could Suckle over Their Shoulder’: Male Travelers, Female Bodies, and the Gendering of Racial Ideology, 1500-1770’, The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 54:1 (1997), pp. 167-192.

Ordover, Nancy, American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2003).