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You are here Postgraduate > MPhil in Race, Ethnicity, Conflict > Course Structure and Handbook > Theories of Race and Ethnicity

Theories of Race and Ethnicity

Module Code: SO7041

  • ECTS Credit : 10
  • Mandatory/ Optional : Mandatory
  • Module Coordinator : Dr David Landy
  • Module Length: 11 weeks ( Hilary Term)

Module Description:

There is nothing ‘natural’ about labelling and reading people according to racial categories, it is a socially constructed category of practice, albeit a vitally important one in contemporary society. Race, along with class and gender is one of the main ways through which people understand themselves and others, and also how contemporary social institutions read and treat people. But how do we make sense of ‘race’ and how is it used to make sense of the world?
By seeing race, not as a naturally given property of individuals and groups but rather as a historically contingent signifier and a language used to categorise self and others, this module aims to critically theorise and contextualise race and ethnicity, locating it within historically constructed social, political and economic relations, in particular within modern forms of state governmentality. The purpose of the module is to provide a theoretical underpinning into understanding race and ethnicity.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion, students are expected to be able to critically:

  • evaluate theoretical concepts in the field of race, ethnicity and racism.
  • explain and critically evaluate race and ethnicity as social and political constructions
  • recognise the cultural and discursive manifestations of racial categories
  • theorise the links between race and state
  • evaluate policies of multiculturalism, interculturalism and integration
  • discuss recent socio-political developments in relation to immigration, asylum, racism and citizenship in Ireland and abroad
  • apply theoretical models to debates on racism and genocide
  • conceptually link racialization, hybridity and diaspora
  • link theories of race and ethnicity with theories of ethno-national conflict
  • intersect race and racism with gender and class

Delivery and syllabus:

The module is delivered in 11 seminar slots consisting of a lecturing input, student participation and informal presentations. Students are expected to read before each session to facilitate discussion.

Main topics

The module will examine how theoretical understandings of race and ethnicity can help us understand the practical manifestations of these issues in Ireland and globally. Students will be introduced to a variety of texts, approaches and debates in the area of race and ethnicity, and are encouraged to discuss these concepts with reference to actual popular representations of ‘race’ and their own experiences. The main topics covered will be

  • Theorising race and identity
  • Race and the state
  • Race, gender and class
  • Media and cultural representations of race
  • Race and racism in Ireland
  • Modern forms of European racism – Islamophobia and anti-migrant racism
  • The global North and South – colonialism and development
  • How race is managed – multiculturalism and integration
  • Alternative ways of theorising the self and others – hybridity, cyborg theory and diaspora
  • Racism and anti-racism

Recommended Texts

There is no set text, but the following texts will prove useful (all available in the library):

  • Back, Les and John Solomos (eds.) 2000. Theories of Race and Racism. London: Routledge.
  • Kundnani, Arun. 2007. The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain. Pluto Press.
  • Hill Collins, Patricia and John Solomos (eds). 2010. The SAGE handbook of race and ethnic studies. Los Angeles; London: SAGE.
  • Lentin, Alana, and Gavan Titley. 2011. The Crises of Multiculturalism. London: Zed.
  • Lentin, Ronit and Robbie McVeigh. 2006. After Optimism? Ireland, Racism and Globalisation. Metro Eireann Publications
  • Loyal, Steven. 2011. Understanding Immigration in Ireland. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Course notes: Blackboard


The assessment for this module is in two parts. Prior to writing the final essay on a theoretical topic of your choice (in consultation with the lecturer), you will be asked to submit a 300 words abstract (due week 10 of the Hilary Term). At the end of week 10 of the Hilary Term you will submit an essay (max 3000 words). Submission dates to be arranged.