History of Racism and Anti-Semitism

Course NameHistory of Racism and Anti-Semitism
Course CodeHIS380 / HIS580
DescriptionThe course traces the development of racial prejudice and anti-Semitism, from their roots in the classical and medieval worlds to the rise of National Socialism in the early 20th century. Particular emphasis will be paid to the manner in which religious, cultural, linguistic and physical/biological forms of exclusion have overlapped and reinforced each other. It is one of the principal contentions of this course that National Socialism’s exterminatory anti-Semitism is not merely a product of centuries of anti-Jewish prejudice; rather, racial anti-Semitism must be understood as something which evolved in close symbiosis with racial prejudices directed against Africans – slave and free – and colonial peoples from the early modern period, culminating in the historically-particular form of exterminatory racial anti-Semitism which formed the necessary precondition of the Holocaust.
Learning OutcomesUpon completion of this course, students will be able to:
– Be familiar with many of the most important intellectual and historiographical controversies concerning the study of racism, slavery, imperialism, nationalism and anti-Semitism;
– Understand the development of racial thinking from antiquity to the 20th century;
– Grasp the connections between anti-Semitism and various forms of exclusionary racial discourses within European history (anti-Slavic prejudice; anti-Roma prejudice) and earlier forms of physical racialism which developed in relation to Africans and colonial subjects;
– Understand long-term historical continuities in certain memes of racist discourse: polygenesis; ritual murder accusations; the taint of “blackness”; “barbarism” and natural slavery;
– Equally appreciate the many radical breaks and departures in racial discourse: notions of the “purity of blood”; craniometry and physiological racism; anti-Judaism to anti-Semitism; 19th century, imperialism, Darwinism and inheritance and the eugenics movement;
– Critically evaluate the complex process by which linguistic definitions of racial affiliation – “Aryan,” “Semite,” “Turanian” and “Slav” – became hardened into physiological, pseudo-scientific racial concepts;
– Finally, understand the lineages of National Socialist racism and genocide in these discourses – but especially in the histories of slavery, imperialism and eugenics.
SchoolSchool of Humanities & Social Sciences
LevelBachelor / Master
Number of credits (US / ECTS)3 US / 6 ECTS
PrerequisitesHIS122 / HIS600