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The Anthropology of Race, The Race of Anthropology 515p prof. Marc D. Perry Davenport 393

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The Anthropology of Race, The Race of Anthropology
Anthropology 515P

Prof. Marc D. Perry

Davenport 393


The goals of this graduate seminar are multifold. The first pertains to a critical examination of the ways in which “race” has been historically theorized in U.S. anthropological discourse. Here the work of Franz Boas and his followers among others will be explored with regard to the relational configurings of “race” and “culture” so foundational to the discipline of anthropology. Secondly, this seminar will examine the limitations and problematics of such framings as well those of later formulations predicated on a “race/culture” tension such as more recent “culture of poverty” theses, “color-blind” discourses, and anthropologically-sanctioned “no-race” postures. Third, the seminar will examine the emergence of a politics and analytics of “race-and-self” foregrounded by contemporary anthropologist of color. The seminar with then conclude with a survey of recent ethnographies and ethnographically-informed studies of race in the U.S. Broadly speaking the seminar will both critically explore anthropological conceptualizations of race and their political implications, as well as provide race-centered critiques of the disciplinary frame of “American” anthropology. In recognizing how these discussions transcend the disciplinary boundaries of anthropology, we will further explore how these issues resonate within broader fields of public discourse.

Course Work

  • Students are expected to attend all scheduled seminar meetings prepared.

  • Each week’s meetings students are asked to write a one-to-two page thought piece on the assigned reading(s) that critically engages the material(s).

  • Students are also asked to facilitate class discussion one time during the semester. This may involve among other things for a series of critical questions that help stimulate and inform discussion, as well as integrate the materials within the broader scope of the seminar.

  • Students will finally be asked to prepare a semester-end, research-based paper which addresses questions pertaining to the dynamics of race and anthropology broadly defined.


(*subject to modification)

Week 1: Introductions

Week 2: Early Anthropological Constructions of Race

  • Lee D. Baker (1998) – From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 1896-1954 – Chapters 1-4.

  • George Stocking (1994) – The Turn-of-the-Century Concept of Race

  • Edward Said (1979) – Imaginative Geography and Its Representations: Orientalizing the Oriental (from Orientalism)

  • Michel-Rolph Trouillot (1991) – Anthropology and the Savage Slot: The Poetics and Politics of Otherness

  • Franz Fanon (1952) – The Fact of Blackness

Week 3: Franz Boas – Culture vs. Race

  • George Stocking (1974) – The Basic Assumptions of Boasian Anthropology

  • Franz Boas (selections)

  • George Stocking (1984) – Franz Boas and the Culture Concept in Historical Perspective in Race, Culture and Evolution

  • Lee D. Baker (1998) – From Savage to Negro – Chapters 5

  • Julia Liss (1998) – Diasporic Identities: The Science and Politics of Race in the Work of Franz Boas and W.E.B. Du Bois

  • Faye Harrison (1992) “Du Boisian Legacy in Anthropology”

  • W.E.B. Du Bois (1897) “Conservation of Races”

Week 4: Followers

  • Ruth Benedict (1940) – Race: Science and Politics (sections)

  • Ashley Montague (1942) – Man’s Most Dangerous Myth (selections)

  • Melville Herskovits (1941) – The Myth of the Negro Past (selections)

  • Lee D. Baker (1998) – From Savage to Negro – Chapters 7 and 8

  • Leonard Lieberman (1997) – Gender and the Deconstruction of the Race Concept

Week 5: Critiques

  • Robin Moore (1994) – Representations of Afrocuban Expressive Culture in the Writings of Fernando Ortiz

  • Kamala Visweswaran (1998) – Race and the Culture of Anthropology

  • John Hartigan (2005) – Culture Against Race: Reworking the Basis of Racial Analysis

  • William S. Willis (1969) – Skeletons in the Anthropological Closet

  • Walter Benn Michael (1992) “Race into Culture”

  • Talal Asad (1973) – Introduction in Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter

  • Stephan Fechtwang (1973) – The Colonial Formation of British Social Anthropology in Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter.

  • Peter Forster - Empiricism and Imperialism: A Review of the New Left’s Critique of Social Anthropology in Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter.

Week 6: Shades of Color Blindness

  • American Anthropological Association Statement on "Race" (1998)

  • AAPA Statement on Biological Aspects of Race (1996)

  • Faye Harrison (1998) – Introduction: Expanding the Discourse of Race

  • Matt Cartmill (1998) – The Status of the Race Concept in Physical Anthropology

  • Lee D. Baker (1998) – From Savage to Negro – Chapter 10

  • Eugenia Shankles (1998) – The Profession of the Color Blind: Sociocultural Anthropology and Racism in the 21st Century

  • Dinesh De’Souza (1995) – The End of Racism – Chapters 1 and 13


  • David Goldberg (1997) – Wedded to Dixie: Dinesh D’Souza and the New Segregationists

Week 7: Cultures of Poverty

  • Oscar Lewis (1963) – The Culture of Poverty

  • Oscar Lewis (1966) – The Culture of Poverty (from La Vida: A Puerto Rican Family in the Culture of Poverty – San Juan and New York)

  • Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1965) – The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (excepts)

  • Philippe Bourgois (1996) – In Search of Masculinity: Violence, Respect and Sexuality Among Puerto Rican Crack Dealers in East Harlem

  • Laura Briggs (2005) – La Vida, Moynihan, and the other Libels: Migration, Social Science and the Making of the Puerto Rican Welfare Queen

  • Arlene Torres (1998) – From Jíbara to Anthropologist: Puerto Rican Ethnography and the Politics of Representation

  • Brian Montes (2005) – No Longer Silent: A Historical Moment of Latino Student Activism

Week 8: (Black) Racial Contestations

  • Faye Harrison (1991) – Anthropology as An Agent of Transformation in Decolonizing Anthropology: Moving Further Toward an Anthropology for Liberation.

  • Faye Harrison (1991) – Ethnography as Politics in Decolonizing Anthropology

  • Edmund T. Gordon (1991) – Anthropology and Liberation in Decolonizing Anthropology

  • Irma McClaurin (2001) – Introduction: Forging a Theory, Politics, Praxis, and Poetics of Black Feminist Anthropology in Black Feminist Anthropology: Theory, Politics, Praxis, and Poetics

  • Irma McClaurin (2001) – Theorizing a Black Feminist Self in Anthropology: Towards an Autoethnographic Approach in Black Feminist Anthropology

  • Kamala Visweswaran (1994) – Feminist Ethnography as Failure in Fictions of Feminist Ethnography

  • Donna Haraway (1991) – Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: the Reinvention of Nature.


Week 9: Contemporary Racial Theorizations (selected readings)

  • Paul Gilroy (1987) – "Race, Class and Agency" in There Ain't No Black in  the Union Jack

  • Michael Omi and Howard Winant (1986) – "Racial Formation" in Racial Formation in the Unites States

  • Howard Winant (1986) Racial Conditions (chapter excepts)

  • Stuart Hall (1985) - “Race, Articulation, and Societies Structured in Dominance”

  • Stuart Hall (1989) – "New Ethnicies"

  • Gloria Anzaldua  (1987) Borderlands/La Frontera (chapter excepts)

  • Gayatri Spivak (1988) "Can the Subaltern Speak?"

Week 10: Ethnographies of Race
John L. Jackson (2001)– Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America.

Week 11:
Nicholas De Genova (2003) – Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and the Politics of Race and Citizenship.

Week 12:
Arlene Dávila (2004) – Barrio Dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and the Neoliberal City

Week 13:
Martin Manalansan (2003) – Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora.

Week 14:
John Hartigan (2005) – Odd Tribes: Toward a Cultural Analysis of White People

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