Summer 2019 - HIST 455W D100

Race in the Americas (4)

Class Number: 5029

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 5017, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Jennifer Spear
    1 778 782-8435
    Office: AQ 6018
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history.



An examination of the role of racial thinking in the history of the Americas, from the era of the Conquest to the present day. Topics may include African and Indigenous slavery, the development of scientific racism in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the persistence of racism in the present day. Students with credit for HIST 455 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


Understanding race in the age of Trump

"Physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them." – American Anthropological Association, Statement on Race (1998)

Race, as we know it, is a historical construction that first emerged during the early modern era as Europeans were increasingly involved in trans-Atlantic ventures that depended on the exploitation of African and Indigenous peoples. As Europeans throughout the Americas hungered for Indigenous lands and African labor, they transformed their ethnocentric notions of cultural difference into ideas of immutable, inheritable, racial difference in ways that dramatically shaped the development of European colonies in the Americas and the nation states that would emerge from those colonies. This course will focus on one of those nation states, the United States, focusing on the establishment and long lasting legacies of racism, nativism, and white supremacy that continue to resound in the political, social, and cultural worlds of the present-day United States.


The assignments are geared towards helping you improve your skills in identifying and evaluating evidence and arguments in historical writing; interpreting primary documents; and writing argument-driven, evidence-based papers.


  • Participation 15%
  • Weekly in-class primary source analyses 15%
  • Response to Between the World and Me 20%
  • Term Paper (including proposal, draft, participation in peer review, and revised version) 50%



Anderson, Carol. White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. Bloomsbury USA, 2017.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. Spiegel & Grau, 2015.  

Kruse, Kevin Michael. White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism. Princeton University Press, 2005.  

Maynard, Robyn. Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present. Fernwood Publishing, 2017.  

Roediger, David R. How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon. Verso, 2008.  

TallBear, Kimberly. Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science. University of Minnesota Press, 2013.  

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.