The Global Color Line

History 103U.004

Fall 2014
Instructor (text): 
Amanda Behm
Day & Time: 
F 10-12P

The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the Color Line,” argued American civil rights activist and author W. E. B. DuBois in 1906. This course explores the global debate over race and equality which gripped the world from the mid-nineteenth to the twentieth century. We will focus mainly on the ideological and political dynamics of, and powerful resistance to, racial discrimination in the British and French empires, the United States, and South and East Asia from 1860 to the 1930s. We will also consider the Color Line’s major antecedents and legacies: i.e., nineteenth-century debates over slavery and colonial violence, and the politics of race that shaped decolonization and the Cold War. What was the Color Line? Who drew it, and why? In answering these questions, our discussions will emphasize issues of economic, cultural, and geopolitical identity; settler colonialism; and conflicting approaches to empire and diversity. We will interrogate primary documents, landmark historical interpretation, and cutting-edge scholarship; and in so doing, engage and challenge influential modern concepts of human difference and their ongoing implications for international life.

Amanda Behm received her Ph.D. from Yale in 2012. Her research focuses on the modern British Empire and its complex trajectory in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a focus on intellectual and political history. She is currently revising a manuscript on historical thought as it crucially informed British imperial policymaking and determined the empire’s development and ultimate dissolution between 1880 and 1940. Amanda’s teaching and research more broadly address theories of empire and decolonization, modern international politics, and the global impact of Anglo-American relations.