The Formation of the Concept of Racism: Where Did it go Wrong?

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Engelska parken The Humanities Theatre
  • Lecturer: Robert Bernasconi, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies at the Department of Philosophy, Pennsylvania State University, US
  • Contact person: Stella Marceta
  • Föreläsning

You are kindly invited to attend a guest lecture on the topic "The Formation of the Concept of Racism: Where Did it go Wrong?" with Uppsala Forum Visiting Fellow Professor Robert Bernasconi (Pennsylvania State University). Free of charge, open to the public. No pre-registration is required.

Since the 1930s there has been a widespread and concerted effort to fight racism under that name, but it has proved largely unsuccessful because the problem was misdiagnosed from the outset. Racism was narrowly defined with an emphasis on its reliance on bad science in the hope and expectation that education in science would eradiate its myths and fallacies.

In this presentation, Professor Bernasconi investigates the role of Franz Boas and his students in shaping the concept of racism subsequently promoted by UNESCO and widely adopted elsewhere. He contrasts their approach with the challenges of Black thinkers, such as Oliver Cromwell Cox and Frantz Fanon, who understood that the problem was a form of systemic racism that could not be separated from the economic inequalities produced by slavery and colonialism. By sketching a genealogy of the concept, Professor Bernasconi encourages suspicion around the easy consensus against racism.

Organizers: The research program Engaging Vulnerability, the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, the Department of Philosophy, the Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism, the Department of Law, Forum for Africa Studies and Uppsala Forum, all at Uppsala University.