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Are antisemitism and white supremacy manifestations of a general phenomenon? Why didn't racism appear in Europe before the fourteenth century, and why did it flourish as never before in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Why did the twentieth century see institutionalized racism in its most extreme forms? Why are egalitarian societies particularly susceptible to virulent racism? What do apartheid South Africa, Nazi Germany, and the American South under Jim Crow have in common? How did the Holocaust advance civil rights in the United States?

With a rare blend of learning, economy, and cutting insight, George Fredrickson surveys the history of Western racism from its emergence in the late Middle Ages to the present. Beginning with the medieval antisemitism that put Jews beyond the pale of humanity, he traces the spread of racist thinking in the wake of European expansionism and the beginnings of the African slave trade. And he examines how the Enlightenment and nineteenth-century romantic nationalism created a new intellectual context for debates over slavery and Jewish emancipation.


Fredrickson then makes the first sustained comparison between the color-coded racism of nineteenth-century America and the antisemitic racism that appeared in Germany around the same time. He finds similarity enough to justify the common label but also major differences in the nature and functions of the stereotypes invoked. The book concludes with a provocative account of the rise and decline of the twentieth century's overtly racist regimes--the Jim Crow South, Nazi Germany, and apartheid South Africa--in the context of world historical developments.


This illuminating work is the first to treat racism across such a sweep of history and geography. It is distinguished not only by its original comparison of modern racism's two most significant varieties--white supremacy and antisemitism--but also by its eminent readability.

When George M. Fredrickson published White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History, he met universal acclaim. David Brion Davis, writing in The New York Times Book Review, called it "one of the most brilliant and successful studies in comparative history ever written." The book was honored with the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize, the Merle Curti Award, and a jury nomination for the Pulitzer Prize. Now comes the sequel to that acclaimed work. In Black Liberation, George Fredrickson offers a fascinating account of how blacks in the United States and South Africa came to grips with the challenge of white supremacy. He reveals a rich history--not merely of parallel developments, but of an intricate, transatlantic web of influences and cross-fertilization. He begins with early moments of hope in both countries--Reconstruction in the United States, and the liberal colonialism of British Cape Colony--when the promise of suffrage led educated black elites to fight for color-blind equality. A rising tide of racism and discrimination at the turn of the century, however, blunted their hopes and encouraged nationalist movements in both countries. Fredrickson teases out the connections between movements and nations, examining the transatlantic appeal of black religious nationalism (known as Ethiopianism), and the pan-Africanism of Du Bois and Garvey. He brings to vivid life the decades of struggle, organizing, and debate, as blacks in the United States looked to Africa for identity and South Africans looked to America for new ideas and hope. The book traces the rise of Communist influence in black movements in the two nations in the 1920s and '30s, and the adoption of Gandhian nonviolent protest after World War II. The story of India's struggle, however, was not to be repeated in either America or South Africa: in one nation, nonviolence revealed its limitations, encouraging splits in the civil rights movement; in the other, it failed, fostering an armed struggle against white supremacy. Fredrickson brings the story up through the present, exploring the divergence between African-American identity politics and the nonracialism that has triumphed in South Africa. In a career spanning thirty years, George Fredrickson has won recognition as the leading scholar of the struggle over racial domination in the United States and South Africa. In Black Liberation, he provides the essential companion volume to his award-winning White Supremacy, telling the story of how blacks fought back on both sides of the Atlantic.
Immigration is one of the driving forces behind social change in the United States, continually reshaping the way Americans think about race and ethnicity. How have various racial and ethnic groups—including immigrants from around the globe, indigenous racial minorities, and African Americans—related to each other both historically and today? How have these groups been formed and transformed in the context of the continuous influx of new arrivals to this country? In Not Just Black and White, editors Nancy Foner and George M. Fredrickson bring together a distinguished group of social scientists and historians to consider the relationship between immigration and the ways in which concepts of race and ethnicity have evolved in the United States from the end of the nineteenth century to the present. Not Just Black and White opens with an examination of historical and theoretical perspectives on race and ethnicity. The late John Higham, in the last scholarly contribution of his distinguished career, defines ethnicity broadly as a sense of community based on shared historical memories, using this concept to shed new light on the main contours of American history. The volume also considers the shifting role of state policy with regard to the construction of race and ethnicity. Former U.S. census director Kenneth Prewitt provides a definitive account of how racial and ethnic classifications in the census developed over time and how they operate today. Other contributors address the concept of panethnicity in relation to whites, Latinos, and Asian Americans, and explore socioeconomic trends that have affected, and continue to affect, the development of ethno-racial identities and relations. Joel Perlmann and Mary Waters offer a revealing comparison of patterns of intermarriage among ethnic groups in the early twentieth century and those today. The book concludes with a look at the nature of intergroup relations, both past and present, with special emphasis on how America's principal non-immigrant minority—African Americans—fits into this mosaic. With its attention to contemporary and historical scholarship, Not Just Black and White provides a wealth of new insights about immigration, race, and ethnicity that are fundamental to our understanding of how American society has developed thus far, and what it may look like in the future.
In this collection of essays, an eminent American historian of race relations discusses issues central to our understanding of the history of racism, the role of racism, and the possibilites for justice in contemporary society. George M. Fredrickson provides an eloquent and vigorous examination of race relations in the United States and South Africa and at the same time illuminates the emerging field of comparative history—history that is explicitly cross-cultural in its comparisons of nations, eras, or social structures. Taken together, these thought-provoking, accessible essays—several never before published—bring new precision and depth to our understanding of racism and justice, both historically and for society today.

The first group of essays in The Comparative Imagination summarizes and evaluates the cross-national comparative history written in the past fifty years. These essays pay particular attention to comparative work on slavery and race relations, frontiers, nation-building and the growth of modern welfare states, and class and gender relations. The second group of essays represents some of Fredrickson's own explorations into the cross-cultural study of race and racism. Included are new essays covering such topics as the theoretical and cross-cultural meaning of racism, the problem of race in liberal thought, and the complex relationship between racism and state-based nationalism. The third group contains Fredrickson's recent work on anti-racist and black liberation movements in the United States and South Africa, especially in the period since World War II.

In addition, Fredrickson's provocative introduction breaks significant new intellectual ground, outlining a justification for the methods of comparative history in light of such contemporary intellectual trends as the revival of narrative history and the predominance of postmodern thought.
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