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Racial Capitalism: Race, Class, and the Black Radical Tradition

Delve into the profound intersections of race, class, and capitalism in a thought-provoking exploration of contemporary radical movements. Join us for an in-depth examination of Cedric Robinson’s concept of racial capitalism and its implications for understanding modernity, nationalism, and Black Radicalism. 

  • All levels
  • 21 and older
  • $335
  • Earn 10% Rewards
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  • Online Classroom
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions

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  • $335
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions
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Class Description

Description

What you'll learn in this lecture class:

“Racial capitalism” is a concept that has become central to contemporary radical movements, from Black Lives Matter and the prison abolition movement to movements for climate justice. The concept was first developed by Cedric Robinson in his monumental Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, where he argues that “the development, organization, and expansion of capitalist society pursued essentially racial directions.” For Robinson, capitalism and racism evolved together and thus must be understood as inseparable from each other. Why, even at its origins, did capitalism follow racial lines? And how, in racial capitalism, are we to understand race, class, and exploitation?

In this course, we’ll take seriously the challenge of thinking through Robinson’s concept of racial capitalism in all of its complexity. Classes will be centered in a close reading of the book Black Marxism. Over four weeks, students will be invited to examine Robinson’s assessment of modernity, nationalism, and the origins of Western racism. We’ll reconstruct the pieces of his argument around the emergence and development of capitalism, the limits of Western radical ideologies, and the making of Black Radicalism. We’ll conclude by exploring the encounter between this Black Radicalism and Marxism. In between, we’ll also supplement our discussions with the work of some contemporary scholars who have carried forward the analysis of racial capitalism (such as Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s and Robin D.G. Kelley’s) and interrogate about the silences in Robinson’s comprehensive book—most notably, the intersections of gender and sexuality with race and class. How do the histories of global capitalism and global racism intersect? Does capitalism need racism—or, as Nancy Fraser asked in a featured essay, “Is Capitalism Necessarily Racist?”—and does racism need capitalism? How does studying racial capitalism help us better understand race, capital, and the contemporary world? What implications does the concept of racial capitalism have to a discussion about identity, consciousness, and ideology? How do anti-capitalist and anti-racist theory and practice align (or fail to align)? What—or who—embodies the Black Radical Tradition in the 21st century?

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

Refund Policy

  • Upon request, we will refund less 5% cancellation fee of a course up until 6 business days before its start date.
  • Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to 75% refund or full course credit.
  • After the first class: 50% refund or 75% course credit.
  • No refunds or credits will be given after the second class.

In any event where a customer wants to cancel their enrollment and is eligible for a full refund, a 5% processing fee will be deducted from the refund amount.

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

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