Teaching Race as an Integral Part of European History: A Roundtable

AHA Session 272
Western Society for French History 4
Sunday, January 7, 2018: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
Blue Room Prefunction (Omni Shoreham, East Lobby)
Lauren Stokes, Northwestern University
Panel Discussion
Tiffany N. Florvil, University of New Mexico
Panel Discussion
Lydia Lindsey, North Carolina Central University
Panel Discussion
Emily Marker, Rutgers University at Camden
Panel Discussion
Kennetta Hammond Perry, East Carolina University
Panel Discussion
Meredith Roman, State University of New York, College at Brockport
Panel Discussion
Carlton Wilson, North Carolina Central University

Session Abstract

While students at US institutions often enter college with a basic understanding of European history, that understanding often includes an implicit idea that European history is “white” and Christian. How are scholars bringing the new insights of Black European Studies, postcolonial studies, and migration studies into the European history classroom? Students are often surprised to learn about colonial and post-colonial migration to virtually all of the imperial metropoles in Western Europe, the complexities of official anti-racism in socialist states, or the existence of Afro-German and/or other Black European communities. Since many of these topics are not covered in standard textbooks, and many Europeanists are often not trained to teach these topics, introducing them in undergraduate classrooms can be hard work,both in seeking out new materials and in developing critical pedagogical strategies to facilitate difficult dialogues about race more broadly.

Yet these topics also represent great opportunities for student learning: they do not just offer a more holistic account of European history, but also give students an incredible opportunity to understand how racial categories and even the ideas of “race” and “racism” change over space and time. These can be emotional topics for students, who are sometimes skeptical or defensive, but they are just as often excited and energized by the opportunity to discuss these topics in a new and unfamiliar context. In fact, students in the US often find it easier to discuss questions about race and identity elsewhere in the world because it is more removed from their daily lives.

For this roundtable, we will discuss the opportunities and challenges of integrating histories of race, racialization, racism, and anti-racism in European history courses. We seek to engage the following questions: how have we brought these new insights into our classrooms? How have we integrated the burgeoning scholarship on Black Europe into diverse curricula? Are there particular learning objectives attached to teaching about Black Europe and if so, how do they vary across different types of institutions? These are just some of the questions that will illuminate a discussion that will include Tiffany Florvil (University of New Mexico), Meredith Roman (SUNY-Brockport), Emily Marker (Rutgers-Camden), Kennetta Hammond Perry (East Carolina University), and Lydia Lindsey and Carlton Wilson (North Carolina Central University)Each of these scholars engages the teaching of race from their research interests focused in different geographical areas including the former Soviet Union, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The panelists will share the strategies that they have used to introduce these topics into both survey courses on European or national history and more focused courses like “The Black Diaspora in Europe” or “Race and Anti-Racism in Modern Europe.” We hope that the roundtable will introduce historians of Europe to cutting edge research on race in Europe as well as race, pedagogy and inclusive teaching.

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