Module Details

HR903-7-SP-CO: Race And Class In The United States, South Africa And Britain: Select Topics

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Year: 2017/18
Department: History
Essex credit: 20
ECTS credit: 10
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: Yes

Supervisor: Dr Jeremy Krikler
Teaching Staff: Dr Jeremy Krikler
Contact details: Graduate Administrator, Department of History, Telephone: 01206 872190

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

As is well known, South Africa and the United States are two countries in which racial identity and conflict became peculiarly entwined with class formation and antagonisms. In the nineteenth century in both countries, slaves were always black, masters white; segregation arose in both places as new classes came into being and old ones (slaves, slaveholders, for example) declined; and labour movements in both states were to be stamped by a racism that often saw unions seeking to keep black workers out of particular jobs. Moreover, ethnic and racial identities came to have a salience so great that all too often they prevented general class solidarities from arising amongst black and white workers. Years of intense class consciousness, which saw great conflicts between labour and capital could also see murderous battles within the working class.

This module aims to explore the complex relationship of race to class in South Africa and the US from the time of the slavery through to the rise of racial segregation in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The module is designed to give students a greater understanding of the contexts which shape racial ideologies, conflict and discrimination. Topics traversed will include the comparative experience of slavery; key moments in slavery and the law; race and class at transitional moments (the Civil War and Reconstruction in the US South; the Boer War and Reconstruction period in South Africa); the relationship of the emergence of capitalism to the rise of segregation; the problem of racism and labour movements; and the utility of psychoanalytic perspectives to the analysis of racial consciousness.

Learning and Teaching Methods

1 x 2 hour seminar per week


100 per cent Coursework Mark


  • J. Cell The Highest Stage of White Supremacy: the Origins of Segregation in South Africa and the American South
  • G. Fredrickson White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History
  • S. Greenburg Race and State in Capitalist Development: South Africa in Comparative Perspective

Further information