Race and Order in the New Republic
152AC | D | CCN: 15459
Instructor: Bruno Anaya Ortiz
T/W/TH 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM, Dwinelle 242 ///
This course seeks to study not race itself, but the conditions of possibility of thinking race in America. Our guiding inquiry is to determine the relation between the political theoretical order in the founding and early expansion of the state in America – order in the new republic – and the centrally important role that race has played in America to our days – the racial order. What role does order and the will to give order play in coupling race and republic in America? Paying special attention to the ways that the US racial order is imbricated in its colonial history on the western hemisphere, we also problematize the notion of America itself: A country or a continent? One continent or two? Can the emergence of a series of discourses and institutional arrangements that make race in the region such a preeminent index of individual identity, governance, and politics be traced to the early origins of republican government, both in the US and in Spanish America? How does the westward expansion brought about under Manifest Destiny in the nineteenth century relate to the production of racial categories beyond “black” and “white”? In short, is there a foundational link between the establishment and expansion of sovereignty in America, on the one hand, and its racial order(s), on the other? The course will survey the parallel histories of British and Spanish colonialism on the American continent. Reading political, theological, and legal texts from both sides of the Anglo- Hispanic divide, we will ask what relation there exists between each of these colonial projects and the racial orders that take hold in each of them. To give one example, Spanish, Catholic, religious practice in the New World was oriented at the salvation of the Indian. In fact, evangelization sanctioned by the Pope was the preeminent justification for colonial occupation in the Spanish realm. On the other hand, many of the first English settlements on the continent were guided by a religious zeal principally preoccupied with the salvation of the self. Correlatively, British imperial discourse relied on the doctrine of res nullius – the idea that America was an open space free for the taking – as a justification for their New World possessions. Can the differences in the racial imaginaries of the two New World societies be traced back, at least in part, to these two different imbrications of religious and political thought in the first colonial encounters? We will end the class by looking at one final turn in the continent’s colonial history. During the nineteenth century, as ties with European metropolises are severed, the two distinct colonial orders encounter one another through the US’s westward expansion. As the US integrates within its territory lands once under Spanish dominion, it also inherits a post-colonial Spanish population, which it begins to subject to its own racial order, but which it cannot easily subsume under its traditional categories. Perhaps the colonial archive can help us better understand our contemporary racial order.