This course traces the history of racism in the modern world to the middle ages. In this course, we define racism as the social process of ordering and sorting social groups into “races” by their supposedly inherited and unchangeable physical attributes, while simultaneously “attributing differential moral and mental capacities to those physical characteristics, and then using those putative differences to legitimate the unequal distribution of resources and treatment” (Fitzgerald, 2017). The course will demonstrate that racism was circulated by Europeans throughout the world during the Voyages of Discovery (circa 15th - 18th century). Through the Voyages of Discovery, racism was further developed and repurposed by the West to rationalise slavery and colonialism.
Among other things, the intended learning outcomes for this course is to equip individuals with intellectual tools to understand ways in which the modern world was produced and is maintained by White racism. Black thinkers have long pointed out that White racism is an unnamed political system which maintains the current liberal international order that “favour Whites and that have in turn nurtured racism” and White supremacy (Ramiresz-Johnson & Sechrest 2018: 12; Mills 1997). Ultimately, the course will expose activists and students to theoretical and historical understanding of the ways in which racism has been expressed in countries such as the United States, England, Germany, and South Africa.
Mandisi Majavu is a senior lecturer in the department of political and international studies at Rhodes University, South Africa. His research investigates the political history of racial formation in South Africa. Mandisi’s scholarship investigates the intricacies of racial formation across space and time, ranging from White racism and racial formation in South Africa to anti-Black racism in Australia and New Zealand, from White missionaries and Christianity in 19th century South Africa to race and liberalism, from gender and race in sports to the Black diaspora. He focuses on the way in which these narratives intersect. Mandisi is author of the book Uncommodified Blackness (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).