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Lecture 3: Modernity and Discourses

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Vanina Sztainbok

SOCB53 – Lecture 3 (Jan. 22) Henry and Tator: Racism is not only something done by racists, it is a sociocultural system that achieves specific objectives Peggy McIntosh: white people benefit from racism/racial hierarchy even if they are not racist Modernity, the Enlightenment and Race  The idea of modernity depends upon an inferiorized “other” o Nation states, the decline of monarchy, rise of democracy. o Associated with certain ways of thinking, and the idea that it brings its own ideas of what it means to be human. Idea that knowledge is objective, and can be challenged. o Associated with categorizing things into two groups  Sciences, philosophy and social sciences all implicated in construction of the racialized “other”  Terms such as the “primitive”, the “orient”, “third world”, and “Underclass” are implicitly racial  The Enlightenment: o When social thinkers became focused on defining man and can see this exemplified through Descartes (I think therefore I am = the mind makes us human). o “It is a basic implication of Locke‟s account that anyone behaving irrationally is to that degree a brute and should be treated as an animal or machine. Hence, rationality is a mark of human subjectivity and so a condition of the necessity to be extended full moral treatment. Rational capacity sets the limit upon the natural equality of all those beings ordinarily taken to be human” – David Theo Goldberg  the idea of being rational depends on having an irrational other.  Not everyone is included in the category of rational o John Locke : Humanity = rationality o Radhika Mohanran‟s critique  Mind/body dualism  Body doesn‟t define the person, the mind does.  Privilege of mind over the body  Racialized bodies marked, seen as governed by the body  The bodies of the poor, and savages are not seen as being rational. And are said to be governed by the body.  Whiteness unmarked  Universal, rational subject is in fact the unmarked body (white) o Binary thinking associated with enlightenment  Mind/body  Civilization/primitive  Whites = civilized, governed by the mind  Racial minorities = primitive, governed by the body  Respectable/degenerate  Moral/immoral o Maps onto racial binaries:  Saying that some people weren‟t as far along on the “scale” of the binary, which lead to a justification for classifying them lower  White/black (native)
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