Spring 2024

Racial Capitalism: Racism, Exploitation and Exclusion in U.S. Economic History

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-233  |  History, as HIST-233


Elizabeth Herbin-Triant (Section 01)
Jessica Wolpaw Reyes (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST-233 [US/TR/TS] and BLST-233 [US].) This course explores racial capitalism through the lenses of history and economics.  Racial capitalism understands racism, slavery, segregation, and imperialism as key to how the economic system of capitalism enables the creation of profit for some via the racialized exploitation of others.  After reading foundational texts in the beginning of the semester, we will turn to look at the economic benefits of whiteness, consider how slavery devalued Black lives and labor, and investigate a series of case studies illuminating racist capitalist logics in areas such as real estate, school funding, and mass incarceration.  The semester will end with a consideration of the historical case for and the economics of reparations.  This seminar course will usually be co-taught by faculty in economics and history.  Students will focus on close reading of texts and engage in class discussion.  There will be both low-stakes and high-stakes writing assignments, including in-class writing, reflection posts, and research papers. No prior coursework in economics is required. Course meets twice weekly.

Spring semester. Limited to 20 students. Professors Herbin-Triant and Reyes.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference will be given to BLST, HIST, and ECON majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close analysis of historical evidence, which may include written documents, images, music, films, or statistics from the historical period under study. Exploration of scholarly, methodological, and theoretical debates about historical topics. Extensive reading, varying forms of written work, and intensive in-class discussions.

BLST 233 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 11:30 AM - 12:50 PM CONV 209
Th 11:30 AM - 12:50 PM CONV 209


Other years: Offered in Fall 2013