This course investigates how Western societies have comprehended humanity's physical diversity and why these understandings have changed over time. We will examine the historical processes which gradually encouraged this diversity to be read both as evidence of permanent, innate, 'racial' difference and justification for socio-political inequality, or 'racist' discrimination. The course considers the concept of 'race' within the contexts of the development of scientific knowledge regarding the natural world and the intellectual history of what it was to be human. Students will explore how these ideas shaped colonisation and chattel slavery; nationalism and empire; segregation and sexuality; eugenics and genocide.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
1. develop their ability to think historically. That is, they will learn how we go about comprehending the past; explaining change and continuity over time.
2. practise articulating their knowledge of the past and be able to explain how that knowledge relates to the wider historiography as well as present-day concerns.
3. acquire research experience in the history of ideas and the history of science.
4. practise tracking the development of a particular social process (in this case, the process of racialization) over time, thus learning that racial identities, and their attendant inequalities, are neither entirely natural nor inevitable.
Tutorial participation/presentation: (10% of the final grade). Presentations will be scheduled for the second half of the semester [LO 1, 2]
Book review exercise: 1000 words (20% of the final grade) [LO 1, 2]
Research proposal: 1000 words (10% of the final grade) [LO 1, 3]
Research essay: 4000 words (60% of the final grade) [LO 1, 4] As this task takes the place of a final exam it will be due in the first week of the scheduled examination period.
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorials; and b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Ivan Hannaford, Race: The History of an Idea in the West (Baltimore, 1996); Nell Painter, The History of White People (New York, 2010).
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.
- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees. Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.
Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links
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Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.