3 to 5 pm
Race and Capital:Towards an American Intellectual History
Paul A. Kramer, Vanderbilt University
This paper provides an intellectual history of the relationship between race and capital in the 20th century United States, with the aim of historicizing and problematizing protracted debates between “race” and “class” critique in American social thought and political life. It will explore the the complex and competing ways that scholars, intellectuals and activists have debated capitalism’s relationship to racial domination, including those who saw capital as a bulwark of racial power, those who saw race as an instrument of class domination, and those who saw capital as inherently non-racial or anti-racial. In exploring these and other alternatives, the paper will emphasize the vast structural obstacles to independent, radical dialogue over these questions–from the segregated academy, to racially divided working-class movements, to anti-Communism, to Communist orthodoxy–as well as the creative intellectual-political work that successfully navigated through these difficult straits.
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