SOC3069 : 'Race', Racism and Society

  • Offered for Year: 2012/13
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Monica Moreno Figueroa
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module aims to explore the emergence of modern ideas of ‘race’, forms of racism, and the social and political forces that have shaped them. A critical approach to the understanding of ‘race’ will be developed and students will be encouraged to assess the social implications of contemporary practices of racism, and persistent racial and racist ideas. As well as examining theoretical approaches to notions of ‘race’, the module will explore empirical analyses of the impact of racism in contemporary society: How are racial ideas conceptualized and justified through a variety of biological, social and cultural discourses? What are the, often complex, relations between ideas of ‘race’, the production of difference and identity, and the pervasiveness of social exclusion? Why does ‘race’ remain such a powerful determinant of individual and collective identities? Why does ‘race’ matter?

The module will be organized around a number of themes, including:

• The emergence and development of racial thinking.

- How did ideas of ‘race’ become relevant? We will explore topics such as: the invention of the idea of ‘race’; slavery; imperialism; nationalism and the development of racial ideologies; scientific racism and eugenics.

• Rethinking ‘race’ and racism.

- We will assess the critiques and shifts in the understanding of the concept of ‘race’ and the complex experience and practices of racism. Topics include: the notion of ethnicity; biological racism, cultural racism; ‘and bio-cultural’ racial discourses.

• Culture, politics and identity.

- This includes an examination of the problematic relationship between the experience of racial stratification and racism, and the discourse of ‘cultural difference’. Topics to discuss are ‘identity politics’ and difference in relation to ‘race’, class and gender; whiteness; mixed-race identities; hybridity; multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism; and notions of home and migration.

• Contemporary practices of racism.

- What are the forms in which racism has shaped into in contemporary society? What are the effects of the pervasiveness of the lived experience of racism? Exploring these questions will include a discussion of the relationships between notions of ‘race’ and racism with popular culture, emotions, the body, notions of beauty and attractiveness, family life, the social geography of race, consumer culture and ideas about the exotic ‘other’. We will additionally explore the development of anti-racist strategies and initiatives.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module explores the development of ideas of ‘race’ and forms of racism, drawing upon theoretical perspectives from sociology, cultural studies, history and anthropology. As well as examining these various theoretical approaches to notions of ‘race’ and racism, the module will insist in exploring empirical analyses and examples of the impact of racism in contemporary society. It will include cases from the UK and the US but will also look at wider European and Latin American examples.
Typically, key themes will include:
• The Emergence of ‘Race’ and the Enlightenment;
• Slavery and the Colonial Enterprise;
• The Science Fiction of ‘Race’;
• Rethinking ‘Race’, Moving to Ethnicity;
• Problematising Whiteness: Racialising Privilege;
• The Racialised Body: Embodying Class and Gender;
• Seeing ‘Race’, Visibilising Otherness;
• Racial embodiment and the Lure of Beauty;
• Racialised Emotions: Feeling ‘Race’;
• Mixedness: Mixed-Race Identities, Mestizaje and Creolisation;
• Racialising Space, Place and the City;
• Consumption, ‘Race’ and Exoticism;
• Multiculturalism and Cosmopolitanism;
• Migration, Mobility and Racism; Antiracism.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading140:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice124:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity14:004:00Seminar activity: T’he Colour Beads’ observation and diary.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision11:001:00Portfolio on-line supervision
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The two-hour lecture slot is intended to combine substantive material with discussion of case studies and illustrative material. Nine seminars will be student-led and will focus on their reading and participation in activities set by the module leader (and seminar tutor if applicable). The portfolio assessment requires students to get in touch with module leader via email to get their topics approved and receive feedback and project supervision. Students will dedicate 169 hours to independent study which includes: assessment preparation and completion, directed research and reading, skills practice, project work and their participation in a reflective learning seminar activity which include observations and the writing of a diary.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502000 words
Portfolio1M50Portfolio, which includes a 1500 words critical report and a data file (equivalent to 500 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

With the essay, students will explore one topic in some depth: read around the topic, draw from and organise sources to develop an argument, etc. The portfolio will give students the opportunity to assemble raw materials and analyse them, critically assessing their own work and their learning processes. The combined assessment will provide evidence that learning has occurred and that learning outcomes have been met.
Reflecting moves to standardise a resit assessment strategy within GPS, the resit will be 100% of formal examination - duration 3 hours.

Reading Lists


Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.