Spring 2022 - HIST 455W D100

Race in the Americas (4)

Class Number: 4644

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 10 – Apr 11, 2022: Fri, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • 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.


Race is a powerful idea that has used superficial physical differences between people to craft deep social and political divisions. This course will examine how diverse people in the Americas understood race, and how ideas about race informed practices relating to land and labour that shaped the Americas. Our weekly seminars and readings will consider how concepts of race underpinned European colonization of the Americas, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the anti-Black and anti-Indigenous legacies of both processes. We will also examine how racial thinking served to constrain access to economic opportunities for people of colour as ideas about what it meant to be white shifted through nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


  • Imperialism, Indigeneity, and terra nullius
  • Racializing labour in the trans-Atlantic slave trade
  • Creating white settler societies in the Americas
  • Race, reservations, and relocation
  • Scientific racism and eugenics
  • Policing and government policies
  • Constructing the “healthy” immigrant
  • Segregation and disenfranchisement
  • Redlining, renewal, and racialized urban spaces
  • Navigating mixed-race identities
  • Race, development, and the global south
  • Settler self-Indigenization and the legacies of colonialism


  • Writing portfolio 30%
  • Exhibit, podcast, or film review 10%
  • Seminar participation 20%
  • Final research project (Proposal with annotated bibliography: 10% and Final draft: 30%) 40%



Journal articles on Canvas for readings. 

A recommended writing guide will be made available. This will also be on course reserve at the library. 

They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html 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. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.