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School of History

HST4605 – Race and the Desire for Difference

Module code: HST4605

Credits: 15
Semester: SEM 2

Module Convenor: Dr Leslie James

Race is not a biological fact. It is a social category historically made. In 1963 James Baldwin affirmed: 'I am not a negro. I am a man. But if you think I am a negro, it means you need it. And the question you must ask yourself is, why?' This module explores how race emerged and developed in history as a powerful category for differentiating peoples. We will begin by looking at how human differences were understood in medieval Europe and how the scientific category of 'race' emerged. The course ranges over different geographic territory with examples from Britain and Europe, South Asia, Africa, and America. We will examine the connections between race, religion, sex, gender, class, and migration. While the course will look at how the idea of race has been used to separate people, we will also examine how people throughout history have defied and challenged the categories of racial difference in their daily life and in social and cultural movements.


Assessment: Seminar Leadership 10%, Museum Review (1,000 words) 35% and Essay (2,000 words) 55%
Level: 4