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Racial Theories in ContextJared Sexton
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Racial Theories in Context

Edited by Jared Sexton

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60927-056-8, 224 pages


This book presents a critical framework for understanding how and why race matters — past, present, and future. The readings trace the historical emergence of modern racial thinking in Western society by examining religious, moral, aesthetic, and scientific writing; legal statutes and legislation; political debates and public policy; and popular culture. Readers will follow the shifting ideological bases upon which modern racial theories have rested, from religion to science to culture, and the links between race, class, gender, and sexuality, and between notions of race and the nation-state.

The authors of Racial Theories in Context discuss the relationship of racial theories to material contexts of racial oppression and to democratic struggles for freedom and equality:

  • First and foremost in this discussion is the vast system of racial slavery instituted throughout the Atlantic world and the international movement that sought its abolition.
  • Continuing campaigns to redress racial divisions in health, wealth, housing, employment, and education are also examined.
  • There is a focus on the specificity of racial formation in the United States and the centrality of anti-black racism.
  • The book also looks comparatively at other regions of racial inequality and the construction of a global racial hierarchy since the 15th century CE.

Racial Theories in Context is part of a two book series specifically developed for African American studies programs. The other book in this series is:

A Historical Perspective of African Americans, edited by Bridget R. Cooks


Jared Sexton is an associate professor of African American studies and film and media studies at the University of California, Irvine. A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, he received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism (University of Minnesota Press, 2008).