General information

Course type AMUPIE
Module title Whiteness. Race and the shifting codes of social privilege
Language English
Module lecturer prof. UAM dr hab. Monika Bobako
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position prof. UAM
Faculty Faculty of Psychology and Cognitive Science
Semester 2022/2023 (winter)
Duration 30
USOS code .


Tuesday, 1.30-3.00 pm

Room 046, Collegium Heliodori, Grunwaldzka 6

Module aim (aims)

The aim of the course is to examine the concept of whiteness and its role in different historical, social and cultural contexts. The course will draw on theoretical frameworks elaborated in "whiteness studies" and will present the origins and development of this research field as well as its links to a wider spectrum of ethnicity, race, class and nationalism studies. Referring to the works of sociologists, historians, anthropologists, literary theorists and philosophers we will show how whiteness has organized and defined different systems of social privilege. We will point to the ways in which these systems are perpetuated by cultural patterns of valorisation present in Western and non-Western societies. We will also discuss the issue of whiteness in connection with the following topics: the genesis of an idea of white race and white supremacy, culturally constructed perceptions of the body and ideals of beauty, whiteness and class, whiteness and gender, whiteness and colorism. During the classes we will make use of scholarly works as well as popular representations and problematizations of whiteness that can be found in literature, visual arts, film or advertising.

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)


Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: White privilege and the persistence of racism

Week 3: Phenomenology of whiteness

Week 4: The invention of the white race

Week 5: Trajectories of modern racism

Week 6: Examining whiteness: black perspective

Week 7: Examining whiteness: white perspective

Week 8: Colorism I: race classifications under apartheid (South Africa)

Week 9: Colorism II: skin color stratification in the USA

Week 10: Colorism III: “skin toning” in Africa

Week 11: Shifting boundaries of whiteness I: Jews

Week 12: Shifting boundaries of whiteness II: Arabs

Week 13: Shifting boundaries of whiteness III: the Irish and Poles in the USA

Week 14: Peripheral whiteness: Eastern Europe

Week 15: Conclusion: whiteness beyond racism?

Reading list