History 101.002

Fall 2006
Instructor (text): 
204 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
TuTh 12:30-2

In this course we will explore the intersections, contradictions, and mutual reinforcements of these two major forces in world history. How have religious traditions come to terms with supposedly ";natural divisions"; running through the human family - especially when nature is taken to reflect divine will? Have they acted more to oppose or to strengthen these divisions? And have they drawn more upon scripture or upon institutional and sociological imperatives in fixing their positions on the ";race question";? My interest derives from my own work on how the supposedly ";universal"; faith of the Catholic Church has at times legitimated racial segregation, but at other times opposed divisions between races, going so far as to push secular authorities to sanction intermarriage. Though supposedly unified in doctrine, Church authorities have also understood the word ";race"; in widely varying ways: at times biologically, and at times culturally. But beginning in the 1930s authoritative figures denied the word any relevance whatsoever. For them ";race"; was a fiction. Though my own specialty is modern European history, this course is open to students of all geographical and period specialties, and with you I hope to explore how people of religious traditions within and beyond Christianity have understood and applied ideas of race to their own practices as believers.