Race & Race-Making

This is a “roughed out” quals list for graduate students interested in the study of race and race-making since the mid-nineteenth century. I expect every student to personalize it in some fashion, adding titles here and subtracting others. Students should also supplement this with a focused list of no more than 25 titles (essays, chapters, books) on a subject of their choosing. This focused list should be unique to a specific subject, related to a proposed dissertation topic or an area of burgeoning academic expertise.

The List: There are roughly 100 titles on this list. They represent a wide variety of approaches to this subject, from straightforward histories and biographies to works of performance studies. The list is ecumenical, broad, and complex. These books are written at different scales, and with different foci, and on different subjects. The overall goal isn’t to provide you with sweeping comprehensive coverage, but to illuminate the major themes and analytics of this large field – the state and social dynamics, movement and migration, identity in relation, and power and resistance – and to provide you with specific examples, plotlines, case studies, dramatic interventions, revolutions that you will need for your qualifying exam.

How to Read: Don’t read for coverage. Read for argument, for evidence, for illustration, and for method. Instead of starting on page one and just briskly moving forward, begin with the table of contents and then read the preface and conclusion, and search for chapters that seem especially significant. Except for those works that are narratively driven – biographies and histories – quest for argument, look for a few examples, try to figure out the set of questions, debates, and scholars that the author has engaged. Take notes – but no more than a single page. Expect to forget a lot. The notes will help you remember.

Questions: It is a good idea to frame your reading of any list with questions. So, for instance:

How would you periodize the history of race and race-making in the postemancipation United States? What events or biographies or moments stand out as especially revealing of this periodization? How do various social formations, group dynamics, and inter-racial relations play a role in this storyline? What social forces, political currents, and cultural dynamics structure this timeline?  Where do you locate the influence of things like transnationalism and migration, power and resistance, the urban and the rural, nationalization and the state? Or of gender and class?  How does this periodization contrast with the conventional, decade-focused markers of traditional United States history (Gilded Age, Progressive Era, WWI, Depression, WWII, Cold War Civil Rights Era, etc.)  Is the history of race organized differently than, say, the history of sex?  Or the history of rights?

The goal isn’t to have definitive answers to these questions, but to try to conceptualize the beginnings of such. And to be able to refer to the literature – and to historical detail – in support of your speculative conceptualizations.

Textbooks: It is a good idea to be familiar with the broader sweep of American and world history as a backdrop for this reading list. Here are six textbooks – some global, some nation-based, and some rooted in very specific group histories.

Oakes, et. al., Of the People: a History of the United States.

Stearns, et. al., World Civilizations: the Global Experience

Rosenzweig, et. al., Who Built America? Vol. 2.

Kelley, To Make Our World Anew

Takaki, Strangers From a Different Shore

Gutierrez, Walls and Mirrors

The List:

Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

Alexandrov, The Black Russian.

Baker, From Savage to Negro, 1896 to 1954.

Baldwin, Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life 

Bay, The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Ideas about White People, 1830-1925.

Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917.

Bonilla-Silva, Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and Racial Inequality in the US.

Borstelman, The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena.

Briggs, Somebody’s Children: The Politics of Transnational and Transracial Adoption. 

Briggs, Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico.

Brooks, Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910.

Brown, Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Shaping of the Modern.

Campbell, Middle Passages.

Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist.

Chang, The Color of the Land: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Land Ownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929.

Choy, Empire of Care.

Corbould, Becoming African Americans: Black Public Life in Harlem, 1919-1939.

Deloria, Playing Indian.

Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places.

Downs, Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering During the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy.

Dyer, White.

Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism.

Elam, The Souls of Mixed Folks: Race, Politics and Aesthetics in the New Millennium.

Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War.

Feimster, Southern Horrors:Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching.

Fleetwood, Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality and Blackness.

Fredrickson, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914.

Fredrickson, White Supremacy.

Gaines, Uplifting the Race: BlackLeadership, Politics and Culture in the Twentieth Century.

Gerstle, American Crucible:Race and Nation in theTwentieth Century.

Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896– 1920.

Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California.

Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness.

Goodman, Stories of Scottsboro.

Gordon, The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction.

Gruesz, Ambassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing.

Hartigan, Racial Situations: Class Predicaments of Whiteness in Detroit.

Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Slavery, Terror, and Self-Making in 19th-Century America.

Hernandez, Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, “African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race,” Signs, 17.2 (Winter, 1992): 251-274.

Hobbs, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life.

Thomas C. Holt, “Marking: Race, Race-making, and the Writing of History,” AHR, 100 (February 1995): 1-20.

Horseman, Race and Manifest Destiny.

Hunter, To ‘Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War.

Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race.

Jacoby, Shadows at Dawn: An Apache Massacre and the Violence of History.

Johnson, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity.

Kahrl, Andrew W., The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South.

Kasson, Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man: The White Male Body and the Challenge of Modernity in America.

Kelley, Hammer and Hoe.

Kluger, Simple Justice.

Kurashige, The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles.

Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture.

Lewis, W.E.B. Du Bois (Vols. 1 & 2)

Lopez, White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race.

Lott, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class.

Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics.

Luis-Brown, Waves of Decolonization: Discourses of Race and Citizenship in Cuba, Mexico, and the United States.

Makalani, In the Cause of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917-1939.

Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.

Miles, Ties That Bind: An Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and in Freedom.

Mitchell, Righteous Propagation: African Americans and the Politics of Racial Destiny after Reconstruction.

Molina, How Race is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts.

Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America.

Mumford, Interzones: Black/WhiteSexDistricts in Chicago and NewYork in the Early Twentieth Century.

Munoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics.

Naylor, Celia E., African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to Citizens.

Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Aliens and the Making of Modern America.

Nelson, Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination.

Omi and Winant, Racial Formation in the United States from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Painter, The History of White People.

Ransby, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision.

Renda, Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of US Imperialism, 1915-1940.

Rivera, New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone.

Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty.

Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America.

Savage, Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America.

Seigel, Uneven Encounters: Making Race and Nation in Brazil and the United States.

Singh, Black is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy.

Smith, American Archives.

Smith, Photography on the Color Line.

Takaki, Iron Cages.

Tompkins, Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the Nineteenth Century.

Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power.

Pascoe, What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America.

Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class.

Saunt, Black, White and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family.

Somerville, Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture.

Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit.

Vogel, The Scene of the Harlem Cabaret: Race, Sexuality, and Performance.

Watkins-Owns, Blood Relations: Caribbean Immigrants and the Harlem Community, 1900-1930.

Wacquant, Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality.

Wailoo, Dying in the City of the Blues: Sickle Cell Anemia and the Politics of Race and Health.

Waldinger, Still the Promised City?: African-Americans and New Immigrants in Postindustrial New York.

Warrior & Smith, Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee.

Wu, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Modern Minority Myth.

Wu, Yellow.

Yu, Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America.


Last updated: May 20, 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s