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Slavery, Race, Capitalism

Historians’ recent investigations of the centrality of racialized chattel slavery to the origins of capitalism — along with activists’ efforts to expose the ongoing legacy of New World slavery — inspire a broad reconsideration of the connections between capitalism, race, and coerced labor across time and around the world. This course ranges across different disciplines and regions to survey how race and capitalism have been — and continue to be — conjoined both theoretically and empirically. This is a collaborative course offering from the Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies, co-designed and co-taught by Julia Ott, Mia White, Alana Lentin, Kris Manjapra, Fred Cooper, Janet Roitman, Darrick Hamilton, Terry Williams, Nathan Connolly, Shirley Thompson, Ujju Aggarwal, Natasha Iskander, and Nicholas Fiori. View Syllabus

Understanding Neoliberalism Is Key to Building a Global Struggle for Economic Justice

By Benji Hart

When Cornel West called out Ta-Nehisi Coates for representing the “neoliberal wing” of the black freedom struggle “that sounds militant about white supremacy but renders black fightback invisible” in The Guardian at the end of 2017, his essay received a fair amount of backlash. While some called his actions divisive, still others claimed the crux of his argument—that Coates “narrow racial tribalism and myopic political neoliberalism has no place for keeping track of Wall street greed, US imperial crimes or black elite indifference to poverty” —was flat-out wrong. West claims that Coates benefited from “a black neoliberal president” whose black respectability “‘opened a market’ for a new wave of black pundits, intellectuals, writers and journalists.”

Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation

By Shreena Gandhi and Lillie Wolff

To the so many white people who practice yoga, please don’t stop, but please do take a moment to look outside of yourself and understand how the history of yoga practice in the United States is intimately linked to some of the larger forces of white supremacy.

The origins of yoga can be traced back to South Asia, a space colonized by the British and Portuguese. The reasons why yoga became popular, and why various Indian yogis started travelling to England and the United States to “sell” yoga, is also tied up with colonialism. Yoga was often used as a tool to show the British that Indians were not backwards or primitive, but that their religion was scientific, healthy, and rational. This was a position they were coerced into, and unfortunately reified colonial forms of knowledge – that knowledge must be proven or scientific to be worth anything.