Racial Capitalism:The nexus of antiblackness, settler colonialism, & white supremacy in U.S. capitalism



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This course examines how race and capitalism are co-evolutionary partners in U.S. society and culture. Different from the European Marxist tradition that centers the white working class, a racial capitalist framework provides a more nuanced and accurate account of how capitalist exploitation, dehumanization, and accumulation persists and is normalized within the settler colonial and antiblack context of the U.S. In studying and engaging racial capitalist thinkers and activists, this seminar is guided by two related learning goals. The first goal is to identify and make sense of what a racial capitalist critique and analysis of power in U.S. society offers us other radical and progressive frameworks such as liberalism or traditional Marxist approaches do not. The second goal is to apply what we’ve learned in studying racial capitalism in the U.S. by looking at examples of how communities have and are currently building movements that address, confront, and resist forms of racial capitalism and its persistence in the U.S. Core questions this seminar takes up and engages are: how does what W.E.B. Du Bois calls the “wages of whiteness” continue to shape the consciousness and actions of the white working and middle classes in the U.S.? How have the twin projects of enslavement and indigenous land dispossession and extermination fueled capitalist accumulation for the white ruling class in the U.S. and benefited the white working and middle classes? Finally, how does a racial capitalist understanding of U.S. society and culture help us better understand how questions of racial, gender, and economic, and environmental injustice should be addressed in U.S. society and our own lives and communities? In examining and exploring these questions, we engage theorists and activists who have helped form racial capitalist critiques of U.S. society such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Cedric Robinson, Eric Williams, Angela Davis, Jodi Melamed, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Robin D.G. Kelley and others.


Fall 2021
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