I am putting the finishing touches on my upcoming winter quarter course at UC Santa Cruz, "The Political Economy of Race." This class, offered through the Community Studies program, is designed to introduce students to key debates and issues related to the connection between racism and economic inequality. Stories at the intersection of race and political economy appear every day in the news and political rhetoric: from policy reports about the persistence of the racial wealth gap in the United States; to sensationalist claims about the impact of African and Middle Eastern refugees on national economies and unemployment in Europe; to French president Emmanuel Macron’s recent claims that Africa’s economic development challenges can be attributed to civilizational “backwardness” rather than the lingering effects of colonialism.
Our approach in the course will not merely be to examine how wealth is stratified along racial lines (though we will discuss this and related issues), but rather to consider how the modern capitalist world must be situated within the history of global systems of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism. These histories, reworked and reassembled, continue to shape the present—from the plantation to the prison, from colonial labor and resource extraction to the exploitation of racialized migrant labor.
You can find the full syllabus here.