UNA Professor Offers History of Race Class at Florence Library

By  | February 7, 2019 | Filed under: News

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FLORENCE-Dr. Tom Osborne, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Alabama, brings one of his college courses, the History of Race, to the community through a free series at Florence-Lauderdale Public Library.

This series of classes is about the history of an idea: the idea of Race. The concept of race is one
of the most consequential ideas for millions of people all over the world in the last several
centuries. Yet it has almost never been presented as what it manifestly is: an idea with a history.
To say that it has a history is to say that it has changed; it has not always and everywhere been
the same. To most of us it seems a self-evident feature of humanity. But it has changed over
time. There was a time before the idea of race existed. There was a later time when it was
thought to determine all of history. At times Race was all. At other times Race was nothing.
Developments in the sciences and politics have had profound effects on the idea of race, yet
because it is a shape-shifter of an idea, Race has proven amazingly adaptable and has survived
through scientific and cultural revolutions from the Enlightenment to Darwinism to Mendelian
genetics to DNA and from the establishment of European colonies to the world of today.
This is not a course in race relations, prejudice, or slavery and segregation, and it is not limited to
the history of race in the United States. It is a broadly conceived history of one of the most
significant and influential ideas of our civilization, a “body idea” which affects us all because it
labels and groups us all in ways that define our identity. Race is a powerful idea. But is it even

The class will be on Mondays from 5:30-6:45 pm from March 11 through May 13. The course
will cover the following topics:

March 11 – The Surprising Origins of the Idea of Race
March 18 – Encountering the Other: Expansion and Conquest
March 25 – Typology: Natural History and Race
April 1 – Enlightenment: Racializing History and Anthropology
April 8 – Race is All: Gobineau to Grant
April 15 – Darwinism, Genetics, and Eugenics
April 22 – The Boasian Shift in Anthropology
April 29 – The Death of Typology: the Modern Synthesis to DNA
May 6 – The Alchemy of Race
May 13 – The Zombie Walks: Culture, Race, and Identity

No registration is necessary for the classes, and everyone in the community is welcome.
Florence-Lauderdale Public Library is located at 350 N Wood Ave in downtown Florence.


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