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Knowledge, Race, and Justice: A Transhistorical Perspective
CHUM 342
Fall 2018 not offered

This course examines the relation between the production of knowledge and discourses of race/alterity in three significant historical moments: during the 16th-century expansion of Spain into the Americas, during the 18th-century Enlightenment in Europe, and in the late 19th- and early 20th-century postbellum United States. In each period, a school of thought will be under investigation. The course begins with the Spanish School of Salamanca's discussion of the "affairs of the Indies," undertaken in the context of the then-emergent juridical/natural law perspective that was articulated as the primary basis of ethical judgments and that served as the conceptual framework within which the question of the status of the indigenous peoples and the expropriations of their lands was to be considered. Then the course moves to the European Enlightenment (Scottish, French, and German), where one of the central preoccupations remained a new taxonomy classifying human groups, this as part of an increasing scientific perspective. Finally, the Dunning School of historiography, located primarily at Johns Hopkins and Columbia universities, is examined. The formulations of this school of thought emerged in the aftermath of the Civil War and provided intellectual justification for the reconfiguration of racial hierarchy during the era of Reconstruction and beyond. Moreover, several of the prominent historians associated with the school played an important role in the founding and in the early development of the professionalization of the discipline of history in the United States.

Each school of thought will be examined for its respective insights as well as for the limitations that we can perceive from a contemporary standpoint. These intellectual movements will be analyzed for their conceptualization that made the colonization of the Americas (in the case of the Spanish), the hierarchical categorization of human groups (in the case of the Enlightenment), or the reaffirmation of a postslavery racial hierarchy (in the case of the United States) seem legitimate and just.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS CHUM
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (HIST-MN)(HIST)

Last Updated on OCT-04-2023
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