Big Ideas: Election 2020: Race, Space and Politics

9/14/2020; 107 minutes

The principle question for this presentation is what is "race" and how does it shape our politics? We begin with an introduction looking at the ongoing western wildfires, its differential impact upon white versus communities of color and the prison workers who get paid pennies a day to fight wildfires in California. From there we turn to a consideration of race and racism as defined by sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant. Together, they define race as "a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies." Using this definition, we consider a range of examples of how racial categories and racial formations are "created, inhabited, transformed and destroyed." We begin with the 1790 Naturalization act which reserved the rights of citizenship to "free white persons." Then move on to consider how racial categories have both fixed our identities and shifted our history from Columbus to the 2020 Census.

Recorded on 09/14/2020.

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