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Tutor: Roberta Bivins (


What is 'race'? Is 'race' a specifically 'Western' concept? How do the techniques used to interpret human difference reflect the societies and periods from which they have emerged? How have and how can historians study 'race' over time when the concept itself is so fluid over time?

Key Readings

Please read:

  • Dikötter, Frank, ‘Racial Identities in China: Context and Meaning’, China Quarterly 138 (1994), 404-412.
  • Earle, Rebecca, ‘‘If You Eat Their Food . . .’: Diets and Bodies in Early Colonial Spanish America’, American Historical Review 115:3 (2010), 688-713.
  • Garuba, Harry. "Race in Africa: Four Epigraphs and a Commentary', PMLA. 123, 5 (2008):1640-1648.

And ONE additional piece chosen from the list below -- pick the one that is closest to your own interests as defined by geography or chronology. Note that almost all of the journals listed can be found via JSTOR or Project Muse via the main Library database pages.

  • Anderson, Warwick. The Cultivation of Whiteness: Science, Health and Racial Destiny in Australia (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2006). (You need not read the entire volume: choose a chapter according to your interests).
  • Aubert, Guillaume, ‘‘The Blood of France’: Race and Purity of Blood in the French Atlantic World’, William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 61:3 (2004).
  • Bivins, Roberta. 'Picturing Race in the British National Health Service, 1948-1988', Twentieth Century British History, Vol 28, 1, (March 2017): doi: 10.1093/tcbh/hww059.
  • Chaplin, Joyce, ‘Natural Philosophy and an Early Racial Idiom in North America: Comparing English and Indian Bodies’, William and Mary Quarterly, 3ed series, 54:1 (1997).
  • Hahn, Thomas, ‘The Difference the Middle Ages Makes: Color and Race Mixture Before the Modern World’, Journal of Medieval And Early Modern Studies 31:1 (2001).
  • Isaac, Benjamin, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity, Princeton University Press (Princeton, 2004), Introduction.
  • Rossum Deborah J., "A Vision of Black Englishness": Black Intellectuals in London, 1910-1940 Stanford Humanities Review, 5:2 (1997) available at:
  • Stoller, Ann Laura, "Making Empire Respectable: Race and Sexual Morality in Twentieth-Century Colonial Cultures," American Ethnologist 16 (1989): 26-51.
  • Stepan, Nancy Leys ‘Race and Gender: The Role of Analogy in Science’, Isis, Vol. 77, No. 2 (Jun., 1986), pp. 261-277.
  • Sweet, James, ‘The Iberian Roots of American Racist Thought’, William and Mary Quarterly 54:1 (1997).
  • Tezcan, Baki, ‘Ethnicity, Race, Religion and Social Class: Ottoman Markers of Difference’, The Ottoman World, ed. Christine Woodhead, Routledge (London, 2013).

Further Readings

Avrutin, Eugene M., ‘Racial Categories and the Politics of (Jewish) Difference in Late Imperial Russia’, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, 8.1 (2007), pp. 13-40

Cañizares Esguerra, Jorge, ‘Demons, Stars and the Imagination: the Early Modern Body in the Tropics’, The Origins of Racism in the West, eds. Miriam Eliav-Feldon, Benjamin Isaac, and Joseph Ziegler, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 2009).

Cañizares Esguerra, Jorge, ‘New Worlds, New Stars: Patriotic Astrology and the Invention of Indian and Creole Bodies in Colonial Spanish America, 1600-1650’, American Historical Review 104:1 (1999).

Davis, David Brion, ‘Constructing Race: A Reflection’, The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 54.1 (1997), pp. 7-18

Edwards, John, ‘The Beginnings of a Scientific Theory of Race? Spain, 1450-1600’, From Iberia to Diaspora: Studies in Sephardic History and Culture, ed. Yedida Stillman and Norman Stillmann, Brill (Leiden, 1999).

Friedman, John, The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, 1981).
Dikötter, Frank, The Discourse of Race in Modern China, Oxford University Press (Oxford, 2015).

Greer, Margaret, Walter Mignolo and Maureen Quilligan, eds., Rereading the Black Legend: The Discourses of Religious and Racial Difference in the Renaissances Empires, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, 2007).

Harrison, Mark, Climates and Constitutions: Health, Race, Environment and British Imperialism in India, 1600–1850, Oxford University Press (Oxford, 1999).

Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31:1 (2001), special issue: Race and Ethnicity in the Middle Ages.

Kidd, Colin, The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 2006).

McClintock, Anne, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, Routledge (London, 1995).

Ottoman History Podcast on Afro-Turks:

Guterl, Matthew Pratt , ‘The New Race Consciousness: Race, Nation, and Empire in American Culture, 1910- 1925’, Journal of World History, 10.2 (1999), pp. 307-352

Russell-Wood, A.J.R., ‘Before Columbus: Portugal’s African Prelude to the Middle Passage and Contribution to Discourse on Race and Slavery’, Race, Discourse, and the Origin of the Americas: A New World View, eds. Vera Lawrence and Rex Nettleford, Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, 1995).

Stepan, Nancy Leys, ‘The Hour of Eugenics’: Race, Gender and Nation in Latin America, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, 1991).

Stoler, Ann Laura, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule, University of California Press (Berkeley, 2002).

Wade, Peter, ‘Afterword: Race and Nation in Latin America: An Anthropological View’, Race and Nation in Modern Latin America, eds. Nancy Appelbaum, Anne Macpherson and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill and London, 2003).

Weiner, Michael, ed., Race, Ethnicity, and Migration in Modern Japan, vol. 1: Race, Ethnicity and Culture, Taylor and Francis (London, 2004).

Young, Robert, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race, Routledge (London, 1995).