Help me plan a module on Christianity, Race and Colonialism

This September I’ll be teaching my first ever completely self-designed module, and I’m pretty excited about it. The module will focus on Christianity, race and colonialism, and possibly for the first time ever when teaching I feel like the learning outcomes I have committed myself to actually reflect what I want the module to do:

By the conclusion of this module, a student will be expected to be able to :

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the historical development of racism and colonialism
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of key conceptual frameworks for understanding the development of racism and colonialism
  • Critically evaluate theological texts in light of historical and theoretical accounts of race and colonialism

I have a bunch of ideas, and am trying to figure out how to balance these three central elements – history, theory and theology – in assigned readings and classes, but would love to know: what do you think are the canonical texts, events, ideas etc for this kind of a module? Any and all suggestions gratefully received; I’m especially keen to find resources for engaging with the histories of slavery and colonialism outside of North America, and especially with the histories of slavery and colonialism in relation to the British Empire.

5 thoughts on “Help me plan a module on Christianity, Race and Colonialism

  1. I recommend: The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 1 (January 1997).

    The articles by Braude and Sweet, especially.

  2. When I was at Fuller, Willie Jenning’s “The Christian Imagination” was the primary text used to teach this, and most students seemed to find it quite helpful. He gave a lecture when I was there called “Can ‘White’ People be Saved?: Reflections on Mission and Whiteness” which was brilliant, and a great summary of his work. I immediately thought it would be helpful for an undergraduate course when I heard it:

  3. Several of these might offer some background, but may not really be worthwhile to assign to students. There’s just so much out there, so it depends on what angle you want to take in the course. For example, I don’t list anything in the genealogy of the concept of race. If this interests you, the feel free to email me at mark dot westmoreland at villanova dot edu. Anyway, the list below is what comes to mind at the moment. I strongly recommend covering the Valladolid debate, for which the Pagden book would be very helpful.

    Anthony Barker, The African Link: British Attitudes to the Negro in the Era of the Atlantic Slave Trade. 1550-1807
    Anthony Pagden, The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology
    David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World
    Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Exodus: Religion, Race, and Nation in Early Nineteenth-Century Black America
    George Fredrickson, Racism: A Short History
    Geraldine Heng, “The Invention of Race in European Middle Ages 1: Race Studies, Modernity, and the Middle Ages”
    Henry Goldschmidt and Elizabeth McAlister (Eds), Race, Nation, and Religion in the Americas
    James Blaut, 1492: The Debate on Colonialism, Eurocentrism and History
    Nelson Maldonado-Torres, “Race, Religion, and Ethics in the Modern/Colonial World”
    Pierre Dockes, Medieval Slavery and Liberation
    Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation
    The Public Medievalist: Race, Racism, and the Middle Ages
    Willie James Jennings, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race

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