A Proposal concerning the Study of Race in Comparative-Historical Research

Angel Parham, Loyola University, New Orleans

For most graduate students, the introduction to comparative historical study focuses heavily, sometimes even mainly, on the following areas: the emergence, building, and transformation of nation-states; revolutions; the study of democracies; and comparative study of welfare states. It is quite possible, even likely, that a graduate student taking a course in comparative-historical sociology would not read anything having to do with race or racial systems as the focus of study. That is to say that while race might be a variable of interest when studying one of the core areas listed above, rarely would the emergence and transformation of race, racism and/or racial systems be the focus of any of the readings in the course. And yet, the concept of race, and the concomitant emergence of racism and racial systems are absolutely foundational to the establishment of the modern world. Certainly there is plenty of scholarship on race and racial systems, but this work is not organized into a coherent scholarly framework that can be easily passed on to graduate students with a particular interest in comparative-historical research on race. This absence is limiting in two ways. First, it tends to circumscribe the kinds of students who are drawn to comparative-historical research, thereby artificially narrowing diversity we might otherwise have in the field. Secondly, it deprives existing and emerging comparative work on race from being rooted in and analyzed with reference to a common set of classic cases and questions. In this paper I propose some practical ways of organizing existing scholarship from a variety of disciplines into a set of cases and questions of use for framing comparative-historical research on race.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 145. The Future of Comparative-Historical Social Science Iii: Recovering Submerged Traditions