752 Anthropology of 'Race', Gender and Sexuality

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

This module explores the construction and lived realities of race in its intersection with gender, and its rootedness in colonialism and empire, both historically and in the present. It critically situates anthropological knowledge as central to both the perpetuation and the critical analysis and political critique of 'race' as a category of difference with social, political, and economic effects. Exploring the fluid, socially constructed, and powerfully effective nature of both gender and 'race', the module examines the ways they intertwine in theory and in lived experience across diverse societies and political discourses. At the same time, we explore how the categories of race and gender have been the object of scientific discourses and technologies of control. Also exploring social theory and other scholarship beyond anthropology, the course examines the diverse and interconnected understandings, experiences, and effects of 'race' and gender as systems of meaning-making and power across spaces, places and historical times. A core aim of the course will be to analyse whiteness as a system of power and knowledge that intersects gendered ideologies and privileges, and sustains white supremacy in anthropological theory and in cultural-political systems.

We will also look at the emerging body politics of political cultures, struggles, and solidarities that have congealed through and beyond static binary constructions of gender and biological notions of 'race', including those efforts to address the politics of knowledge production within the discipline that unsettle the white premises of anthropology's history and sometime present.


Guided option for students on:

  • MA Migration & Diaspora Studies
  • MA Migration & Diaspora Studies + Intensive Language
  • MA Medical Anthropology and Mental Health
  • MRes Social Anthropology
  • MRes Social Anthropology + Intensive Language

This module is also a School-wide Open Option. No prerequisites.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the parameters of analysis and stakes involved in anthropology's historical and contemporary treatment of 'race', gender and whiteness
  • Apply the concepts and methods of intersectional analysis
  • Use anthropological and social theory to analyze the history and present of gender and 'race'
  • Apply increased analytical and research skills to contemporary and historical topics related to 'race' and gender
  • Critically read ethnographies of racialized and gendered experiences

Suggested reading

Representative readings:

  • Berry, Maya, Claudia Chávez Argüelles, Shanya Cordis, Sarah Ihmoud, and Elizabeth Velásquez Estrada. (2017). “Toward a Fugitive Anthropology: Gender, Race, and Violence in the Field”. Cultural Anthropology 32 (4):537-65.
  • Bosworth, M., & Flavin, J. (2007). Race, gender, and punishment: From colonialism to the war on terror. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.
  • Edmonds, A. (2011) Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex, and Plastic Surgery in Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press
  • Braun, L. (2014) Breathing Race into the Machine: The Surprising Career of the Spirometer from Plantation to Genetics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Heyes, C.J. and Jones, M. (2009) Cosmetic Surgery: A Feminist Primer. London: Ashgate.
  • Hill, Collins, P., (2004) Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism, Routledge, 2004.
  • Miller-Young, Mireille (2014) A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Mills, C. (2007) White Ignorance, in Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana (eds), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. Albany, NY: SUNY Press ,pp. 13–38.
  • Mire, A. (2019). Wellness in Whiteness. Taylor & Francis
  • Pierre, J., (2013) The predicament of blackness: Postcolonial Ghana and the politics of race. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.
  • Rosa, J., & Bonilla, Y. (2017). Deprovincializing Trump, decolonizing diversity, and unsettling anthropology. American Ethnologist, 44, 201–208.
  • Roy, D. (2018). Molecular feminisms: Biology, becomings, and life in the lab. Seattle: University of Washington Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules