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Stanford University course to study ‘abolishing whiteness’

Anthropology course will explore ‘coming to terms with white identity’

Stanford University is slated to offer a class this fall called “White Identity Politics,” during which students will “survey the field of whiteness studies” and discuss the “possibilities of … abolishing whiteness,” according to the course description.

Citing pundits who say “the 2016 Presidential election marks the rise of white identity politics in the United States,” the upper-level anthropology seminar will draw “from the field of whiteness studies and from contemporary writings that push whiteness studies in new directions.”

Questions to be posed throughout the semester include: “Does white identity politics exist?” and “How is a concept like white identity to be understood in relation to white nationalism, white supremacy, white privilege, and whiteness?”

“Students will consider the perils and possibilities of different political practices,” according to the course description, “including abolishing whiteness or coming to terms with white identity.”

The course will be taught by instructor John Patrick Moran. Reached by e-mail, Moran declined to comment, instead directing The College Fix to Stanford communication’s office.

Ernest Miranda, a spokesman for Stanford, told The Fix via e-mail that “‘abolishing whiteness’ is a concept put forward in the 1990s by a number of white historians. Their belief was that if other white people would, like them, stop identifying politically as white, it would help end inequalities.”

Miranda added that “abolishing whiteness” is “among the past and current concepts that will be considered” in the “White Identity Politics” course. The Fix requested a copy of the syllabus, but Miranda declined, saying “we do not share our course materials.”

Reached by e-mail, Stanford Professor Tomás Jiménez, who told The Fix that he sponsored a student-led class at Stanford on whiteness last semester, said via e-mail that whiteness is “the set of behaviors and outlooks associated with the racial category, white.”

“Just about any social category and subcategory has a ‘…ness’ to it. So, liberals and conservatives; men and women; Wisconsinites and New Yorkers are all social categories, and adding ‘ness’ to any of them is shorthand for the behaviors and outlooks associated with that category,” said Jiménez, an associate professor of sociology and comparative studies in race and ethnicity.

MORE: Professor teaches students about ‘the problem that is whiteness’

MORE: Public university trains white students on their ‘white privilege’

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About the Author
Matthew Stein is a political science and economics major at Swarthmore College. He is a board member on the Swarthmore Conservative Society and Swarthmore Students for Israel.

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