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The Rise And Fall Of The Caucasian Race

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Overview

The term “Caucasian” is a curious invention of the modern age. Originating in 1795, the word identifies both the peoples of the Caucasus Mountains region as well as those thought to be “Caucasian”. Bruce Baum explores the history of the term and the category of the “Caucasian race” more broadly in the light of the changing politics of racial theory and notions of racial identity. With a comprehensive sweep that encompasses the understanding of "race" even before the use of the term “Caucasian,” Baum traces the major trends in scientific and intellectual understandings of “race” from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Baum’s conclusions make an unprecedented attempt to separate modern science and politics from a long history of racial classification. He offers significant insights into our understanding of race and how the “Caucasian race” has been authoritatively invented, embraced, displaced, and recovered throughout our history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In racial discourse, the term ‘Caucasian’ has always had a scientific aura and a prestige elevated above that of the simpler colloquial 'white.' Bruce Baum's fascinating and extensively researched genealogy of the concept and its subsequent career provides an eye-opening history of the utter bogusness of these pretensions. As such, the book is not merely an invaluable addition to the recent ‘whiteness’ literature and a documentation of the myriad shifting possibilities of racialization, but a salutary reminder of the political economy that always underlies the category ‘race.’”
-Charles W. Mills,author of The Racial Contract

“Clearly and stylishly written and argued. . . well-supported by wide-ranging research and striking knowledge. . . . The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race ranges across centuries and continents and moves from intellectual to political and social history gracefully.”
-David Roediger,author of The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class

“Add[s] a needed dimension to the study of race in political science that I hope scholars beyond the field of theory will take to heart.”
-Perspectives on Politics

,

“An indispensable book. The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race takes the study of whiteness to a new level both historically and theoretically. No previous study of the familiar racial category-‘white’-has attained such global breadth and analytical depth. It remedies a significant gap in the social scientific study of race, providing an intellectual history of whiteness that is both erudite and accessible.”
-Howard Winant,author of The New Politics of Race: Globalism, Difference, Justice

“In charting the course of the 'Caucasian race' from a despised, barely European peoples to a scientific classification for white identity, Bruce Baum illuminates the socially constructed nature of race and the role of science in shaping it. His analysis of the changing fortunes of this curious concept demonstrates that even scientific inquiry is deeply influenced by the social and political assumptions of its time. By showing that the Caucasian race is a product of power rather than a racial group descended from the Caucasus region, The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race makes an important contribution to the study of race and whiteness.”
-Joel Olson,author of The Abolition of White Democracy

Howard Winant
"An indispensable book. The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race takes the study of whiteness to a new level both historically and theoretically. No previous study of the familiar racial category-'white'-has attained such global breadth and analytical depth. It remedies a significant gap in the social scientific study of race, providing an intellectual history of whiteness that is both erudite and accessible."
author of The New Politics of Race: Globalism, Difference, Justice
David Roediger
"Clearly and stylishly written and argued. . . well-supported by wide-ranging research and striking knowledge. . . . The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race ranges across centuries and continents and moves from intellectual to political and social history gracefully."
author of The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class
Charles W. Mills
"In racial discourse, the term 'Caucasian' has always had a scientific aura and a prestige elevated above that of the simpler colloquial 'white.' Bruce Baum's fascinating and extensively researched genealogy of the concept and its subsequent career provides an eye-opening history of the utter bogusness of these pretensions. As such, the book is not merely an invaluable addition to the recent 'whiteness' literature and a documentation of the myriad shifting possibilities of racialization, but a salutary reminder of the political economy that always underlies the category 'race.'"
author of The Racial Contract
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814798928
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 2/27/2006
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 0.94 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Baum is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Rereading Power and Freedom in J. S. Mill.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : "Caucasians" and the political history of racial identities 1
1 Before the "Caucasian race" : antecedents of European racialism, ca. 1000-1684 22
2 Enlightenment science and the invention of the "Caucasian race," 1684-1795 58
3 Passage into "our ordinary forms of expression" : the "Caucasian race," ca. 1795-1850 95
4 Racialized nationalism and the partial eclipse of the "Caucasian race," ca. 1840-1935 118
5 The color line and the "Caucasian race" revival, 1935-51 162
6 Not-so-benign racialism : the "Caucasian race" after decolonization, 1952-2005 192
7 "Where Caucasian means black" : "race," nation, and the Chechen wars 219
Conclusion : deconstructing "Caucasia," dismantling racism 234
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