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Level 7

7AAH2012 European Expansion: Ethnic Prejudices & Civil Rights (1500-1850)

Credit value: 20
Module convenor/tutor 2019/20: Professor Francisco Bethencourt
Teaching pattern:
10 x 2-hour weekly seminars
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
 1 x 4,000-word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

The purpose of this course is to study the process of European expansion and its impact on the definition of ethnic prejudices, hierarchies of peoples and race relations. We will study the European reflection on different peoples of the world resulting from the Oceanic exploration, as well as the practice of colonial societies established in America, Asia and Africa. The tension between ethnic prejudices and civil rights will be at the core of this programme. We will include the debates on the freedom of American Indians and African slavery, on the abolition of slave trade and slavery, as well as on the recognition of citizenship to Native Americans and African freedmen. Pertinent sources will be analysed in each session.

Provisional Teaching Plan

Citizenship and civil rights
Historical concepts; ethnic and racial issues; assessment of the available bibliography on the subject.

Religious conflicts
Muslims and Jews in Europe; violent conversion in Iberia; integration and segregation; the impact on civil rights; the notion of “purity of blood”; the persecution of the converted Jews in the Spanish and Portuguese empires; the status of Jews and Christian in Islam

Native Americans
The debate on Native Americans rights; the outcome in British and Spanish colonies; the “republic of Indians”; segregation, discrimination and integration

Perceptions of Asian peoples
The first period of expansion and ethnic configuration of the European enclaves; Dutch and British conquest and the rights of native people; the importance of Aryanism in the nineteenth century

Slave trade and African slaves
The status of slaves in Africa and America; the realities of colonial societies (Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, British and French); the marginal impact of religious conversion; forms of manumission and the status of freedmen

Typologies of Humankind
The metaphor of the continents; hierarchies of races and differentiation of ethnicities; European hierarchies of the peoples of the world.

The ambiguities of the campaigns for the abolition of slave trade and slavery; the impact on the perception of peoples of the world

The theory of races
The human beings placed in the natural world; the classification of species and the classification of human races; the pseudo-biological definition of races; the consequences of this theory

The constitutional debate
The United States, France, Spain, Portugal and the new Latin American countries: racism and the definition of citizenship

Universal Values and differentiation of humankind
Models of inter-ethnic or multi-ethnic integration

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