Chronology of Racism

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Tue Jul 25 18:27:55 MDT 1995

    On Leo Casey's query. (

    (1) The dates are right; many similar contrasts are offered in Coontz and
Fields. Coontz's work is based more on secondary sources (she works at a
university which doesn't offer much in the way of research resources), but they
are probably dependable and her work is exhaustively footnoted. The sources she
gives sound of great interest, though I haven't myself followed up on any yet.

    (2) Fields's article is simply crucial on this. (New Left Review 181). The
topic can't be usefully argued out within the constraints of internet
chit-chat, but anyone interested should, at a minimum, read Fields.

    (3) Coontz's description of the gradual changes in class and family
structure over 3 centuries of U.S. history (roughly 1620-1900) is fascinating.
Some of her points may well be debatable, but the debate couldn't go on in
abstraction from the empirical material she marshalls. Someone else on this
list has mentioned other (and I presumed more extensive) works by Barbara
Fields but I have only read her NLR article.

    (4) I can't remember the writer's name right now (I think it is Thomas
Lacquer) nor the exact title of the book (I think it is *Making Sex*), but his
book published 4 or 5 years ago (I only know about it so far from a review,
which I have misplaced) argued (in a way that parallels the arguments of Fields
and Coontz) that from Plato to the end of the 18th c. male domination was based
on a hierarchical concept of the universe which saw humans as a single gender,
woman being a less developed male. At the end of the 18th century hierarchy
gives way to capitalist "equality" (the equality of abstract individuals and
the market) and the male supremacy is no longer justified by universal
heirarchy but a "scientific" view of female inferiority.

    (5) "Patriarchy" is probably not the best term for all pre-capitalist
formations, but probably ought to be at least part of a full descriptions of
all pre-capitalist class societies.

    But read Coontz, Social Origins of Private Life, Verso 1988) and Fields
(Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States of America). Then argue.
        Carrol Cox
        Illinois State Univ.

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