[P6505] Rethinking Race as an Analytic in the Early Twentieth Century

Created by Frances S. Hasso
Monday, 11/29/21 2:00 pm


The early decades of the twentieth century in contemporary Middle East Studies are dominated by analyses of war, empire, revolution, colonialism, and nationalism. This panel focuses on race as a category and racism as an ideology, system, and set of practices that shaped anxieties, discourses, and projects, as well as the distribution of resources, in multiple settings during these decades. White supremacy and racism were fundamental sources of tension from the beginning of the century at international scholarly conferences, as were continuing challenges by colored peoples of the world to the coherence of race and the superiority of white men and women. Concerns about eugenic fitness, the racial composition of populations, and birth and death rates were ubiquitous, especially among white global powers. The global color line that divided whites from non-whites was central to the politics of white Western states and empires (including, for example, the Japanese and the Ottoman) and how they ceded, allocated, and extracted power and resources. The League of Nations and the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference, for example, were not simply projects of war and peace but motivated to maintain white economic and political supremacy, a point rarely addressed in scholarship on the Middle East. “White slave trade” rhetoric and hysteria emerged in multiple settings in the the Jim Crow United States and in the midst of Western imperial predation on the colored, and often colonized, peoples of the world. Concern with the racial, class, and sexual composition and fitness of citizens and nations shaped immigration policies, law, and even the Class A, B, and C Mandate system. “Civilization” often stood in for a vaunted class of European and U.S. Christian whiteness that set the terms on which other peoples of the world were forced to compete, informed by local and regional prejudices and hierarchies, including their own racisms and "civilizing" missions. This panel examines race as an analytic without imposing anachronistic categories, informed by critical race studies, decolonial studies, and feminist studies, among others. The papers rethink common periodizations and draw on a range of theories and methods and original research to push forward race analytics as they intersect with formations already prominent in the field for the purpose of developing new angles of empirical and theoretical inquiry.


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Frances S. Hasso

(Duke University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer; Presenter;

Michael Ferguson

(Concordia University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Francesca Biancani

(University of Bologna)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Sarah Ghabrial

(Concordia University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Kyle Anderson

(SUNY Old Westbury)
My research on the history of modern Egypt focuses on two main areas. One is a longstanding interest in the social history of labor and especially what labor recruitment mechanisms can tell us about the state-society relationship in the countryside. The...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

George Topalidis

(University of Florida)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;