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Approaches to Diversity: Racism in Historical Perspective




Admissions requirements



In order to understand the place of racism in our own day and age, it is helpful to study the way it has evolved in a variety of human societies. This course will offer an introduction to the ways that historians have 1) approached the concept of “race” and 2) explained the development and functioning of racism in a range of contexts.

Together we will read a variety of texts. These will include works by anti-racist intellectuals such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Franz Fanon, and Angela Davis, as well as pronouncements by racial supremacists who have defended slavery, segregation, immigration restriction, colonialism, and apartheid. We will look carefully at the ways that historians have approached these texts, and we will investigate how different scholars have defined, explained, and compared racisms in different settings. In addition, we will consider how anti-racist movements have travelled (and been translated) across national borders, from the Pan-Africanist and anticolonial struggles of the 20th century to the Black Lives Matter activism of our own day.

Through class discussion, informal web posts, and two formal essays, students will gain skills in evaluating historical scholarship and staking their own scholarly position within a concrete historical debate. They will be expected to engage carefully, empathetically, patiently, and humbly both with the written material and with the ideas of their fellow seminar members.

Course objectives

Successful completion on the course will enable student to:

  • understand how the concept of “race” emerged in history, and how its uses have evolved over time and varied across space

  • identify and explain different historical approaches to the study of racism

  • reflect critically and empathetically on the ways that racism has shaped different societies, including our own

  • write a clearly reasoned historiographical essay


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction



  • class participation (15%)

  • web posts (15%)

  • midterm assignment (30%)

  • final essay (40%)


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Readings will be made available on Blackboard.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Ann Marie Wilson,