Politics and Social Change Workshop
Zine Magubane, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Boston College.
Peggy Levitt, Associate. Chair; Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Wellesley College.
Jocelyn Viterna, Faculty Associate. Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Harvard University.
Paul Chang, Faculty Associate. Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Harvard University.
Standard American disciplinary history holds that the ‘founding fathers’, inspired by ‘great men theorizing European modernity’, created a sister discipline in Europe’s image. This article proposes an alternative history, which locates the founding of American sociology in the writings of ‘pro-slavery imperialists’ Henry Hughes and George Fitzhugh. A methodologically nationalistic sociology of ‘race relations’, which isolates the study of race from issues of ‘general’ sociological concern, has substituted for sustained engagement with sociology’s colonialist and imperialist past. Racism has been made an anachronistic survivor in tradition, rather than a constitutive part of modernity. Rehabilitating this lost history is therefore vital for creating a new, global historical sociology, as is questioning the conceptual matrix that isolates the study of race and racism from issues of general sociological concern.