MA Political Science - European Politics & Policy Pathway (Standard Route)

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Race and Capitalism

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI71161
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course explores the political economy of displacement on international, national, and urban scales. In so doing, the course seeks to expand common-sense conceptions of migration governance to include the study of displacement within interrelated issues in political economy. Students will be introduced to a theoretical tool kit which they will later apply to weekly topics in the course.



The notion of racial capitalism has enjoyed a renewed interest among political and critical theorists in the last decade. Faced with the joint crises of capitalism and liberal democracy, which have been accompanied by racist hostility against migrants, refugees, and non-white minorities, this framework seems particularly well suited to tackle the connection between capital accumulation and racist violence. Racial capitalism takes as its starting point the insistence that the movement, settlement, and hierarchical arrangements of people along racial lines is inseparable from regimes of capital accumulation. It rejects the treatments of race as external to a purely economic project and counters the idea that racism is an externality, cultural overflow, or aberration from the so-called “real workings” of capitalism. With a first part dedicated to theoretical debates and a second part covering issues such as slavery, crime and policing, indigeneity, and the politics of mass incarceration, the course will offer students a multi-faceted insight into the entanglements of race and capitalism. In taking this course, students will:

1. Explore the politics of race and capitalism in the global North and global South.
2. Understand empirical topics like housing, migration, labour, and incarceration through various theoretical approaches in political economy
3. Develop research and analytical skills


Teaching and learning methods

This course will take place in week two-hour seminars over 10 weeks. Each seminar will focus on one topic. The course convener will provide a short overview of the material and open up the discussion to a key question or learning objective. Students will then discuss the material and debate the various issues in a managed discussion by the instructor. The seminar will also include one group activity/group break-out so students can work on their interpersonal skills and aid each other in the grasping of certain concepts.



Knowledge and understanding

Explain and analyse various conceptions of political economy
Understand how theories relate to, and offer explanations of, various empirical topics
Understand the importance of race, class and gender to political economy analysis



Intellectual skills

Interrogate key texts and concepts

Construct, critique, and defend arguments

Understand the scholarly and political lineage of various theories

Interpret the political meanings and significance of theories



Practical skills

Independent research to support essay writing
Oral communication and presentation skills
Critical reading and writing skill development

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Critical reflection in terms of reading and writing
Independent and teamwork development

Close-reading and analytical reasoning  


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written assignment (inc essay) 90%

Research Essay submitted at the end of the course

2600 words


Critical Book Review

1000 words

20 percent



10 percent


Recommended reading

  • Virdee, Satnam (2019), “Racialized Capitalism: An Account of Its Contested Origins and Consolidation.” The Sociological Review 67(1): 3-27.
  • Dawson, Michael C. (2016). "Hidden in Plain Sight: A Note on Legitimation Crises and the Racial Order." Critical Historical Studies 3(1): 143-61.
  • Bhattacharyya, Gargi (2018) Rethinking Racial Capitalism: Questions of Reproduction and Survival, London: Rowman & Littlefield International
  • Fields, Barbara and Karen Fields (2012) – Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life, London: Verso
  • Melamed, Jodi (2015), "Racial Capitalism." Critical Ethnic Studies 1, no. 1 (2015):76-85.
  • Omi, Michael and Howard Winant (1994). Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. London: Routledge
  • Harris, Cheryl (1993), “Whiteness as Property”, Harvard Law Review 106(08): 1707-1745
  • Hartman, Saidiya V., (1997) Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Coulthard, Glen S., (2014), Red Skin, White Masks. Rejecting the Colonial Politics of
    Recognition, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
  • Shilliam, Robbie (2018) – Race and the Undeserving Poor: From Abolition to Brexit, Newcastle: Agenda Publishing
  • Boggs, James. (2009) [1963], The American Revolution. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  • Alexander, Michelle., (2011) "The New Jim Crow," Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 9, no. 1: 7-26
  • Hall, S., (1978) Policing the Crisis, London: MacMillan
  • Gilmore, R. W., (1998/1999). “Globalization and US Prison Growth: From Military Keynesianism to Post-Keynesian Militarism.” Race & Class 40 (2/3): 171-188. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Peer Illner Unit coordinator

Return to course details