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The Invention of the White Race Racial Oppression and Social Control by Theodore W. Allen
  

The Invention of the White Race Racial Oppression and Social Control

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Synopsis

The Invention of the White Race Racial Oppression and Social Control by Theodore W. Allen

When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no white people, nor, according to colonial records, would there be for another sixty years. In his seminal two-volume work, The Invention of the White Race, Allen details the creation of the white race by the ruling class as a method of social control, in response to labor unrest precipitated by Bacon's Rebellion. Distinguishing European Americans from African Americans within the laboring class, white privileges enforced the myth of the white race through the years and has been central to maintaining ruling-class domination over the entire working class. Since publication in the mid-nineties, Invention has become indispensible in debates on the origins of racial oppression in America. Volume One utilizes Irish history to show the relativity of race and racial oppression as a form of social control. Volume Two details the development of racial oppression and racial slavery in colonial Virginia and, more broadly, Anglo-America. A new introduction by Jeffrey B. Perry discusses Allen's contributions, critical reception and continuing importance.

Reviews

A monumental study of the birth of racism in the American South which makes truly new and convincing points about one of the most critical problems in US history ... a highly original and seminal work. - David Roediger A powerful and polemical study. - Times Literary Supplement In a masterful two-volume work, Theodore Allen transforms the reader's understanding of race and racial oppression from what mainstream history often portrays as an unfortunate sideshow in U.S. history to a central feature in the construction of U.S. (and indeed global) capitalism ... more than a look at history; it is a foundation for a path toward social justice. - Bill Fletcher Jr., coauthor of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path Toward Social Justice A must read for all social justice activists, teachers, and scholars. - Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie A trailblazing study, which has become required reading for students of Irish history, race theory, and U.S. labor-capital relations. - Noel Ignatiev, coeditor of Race Traitor, author of How the Irish Became White A real tour de force, a welcome return to empiricism in the subfield of race studies, and a timely reintroduction of class into the discourse on American exceptionalism. - Times Higher Education Supplement As magisterial and comprehensive as the day it was first published, Theodore Allen's The Invention of the White Race continues to set the intellectual, analytical and rhetorical standard when it comes to understanding the real roots of white supremacy, its intrinsic connection to the class system, and the way in which persons committed to justice and equity might move society to a different reality. - Tim Wise, author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son One of the most important books of U.S. history ever written. It illuminates the origins of the largest single obstacle to progressive change and working-class power in the U.S.: racism and white supremacy. - Joe Berry, author of Reclaiming the Ivory Tower As organizers of workers, we cannot effectively counter the depth of white racism in the U.S. if we don't understand its origin and mechanisms. Ted has figured something out that can guide our work - it's groundbreaking and it's eye-opening. - Gene Bruskin, U.S. Labor Against the War An intriguing book that will be cited in all future discussions about the origins of racism and slavery in America. - Labor Studies Journal A must read for educators, scholars and social change activists - now more than ever! Ted Allen's writings illuminate the centrality of how white supremacy continues to work in maintaining a powerless American working class. - Tami Gold, director of RFK in the Land of Apartheid and My Country Occupied in Slave Plantation Societies Few books are capable of carrying the profound weight of being deemed to be a classic - this is surely one. Indeed, if one has to read one book to provide a foundation for understanding the contemporary U.S. - read this one. - Gerald Horne, author of Negro Comrades of the Crown A richly researched and highly suggestive analysis ... Indispensable for readers interested in the disposition of power in Ireland, in the genesis of racial oppression in the U.S., or in the fluidity of 'race
and the historic vicissitudes of

'whiteness.'


- Choice The Invention of the White Race's contributions to the debates on notions of a 'white race
are unquestionable and its relevance not simply for scholars of American history but for those interested in notions of race and class in any historical and geographical setting is beyond doubt.

- Labour History Review Theodore W. Allen has enlisted me as a devoted reader. - Metro Times Literary Quarterly The most important book on the origin of racism in what was to become the United States - and more important now perhaps than when it was first released in the mid nineties. - Gregory Meyerson, coeditor of Cultural Logic This 'modern classic
presents an essential reconstruction of concepts necessary to any understanding of the Western heritage in the context of World history.

- Wilson J. Moses, author of The Golden Age of Black Nationalism Truly original, and worthy of renewed engagement. - Bruce Nelson, author of Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race The Invention of the White Race is an important work for its meticulously researched materials and its insights into colonial history. Its themes and perspectives should be made available to all scholars ... A classic without which no future American history will be written. - Audrey Smedley, author of Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview The most comprehensive and meticulously documented presentation of the historical, or as he calls it, 'sociogenic
theory of racial oppression.

- Freedom Road Magazine In Volume One of The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control, Theodore W. Allen painstakingly sets out the historical precedents, the comparative case studies, the means to dissect threadbare explanations of contemporary racism, and then provides us with nimble heuristic devices to disentangle the snarled derivatives of the white supremacy ideology we face today. But it is Volume Two (The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America) which so many of us working on civil rights in the South still carry in our mental knapsack into combat with the remaining diehard Confederistas who continue their sniping at people of color and insinuating their propaganda into the conservative legislative agenda. Volume Two in particular, with its penetrating narrative about the origins of white supremacy and slavery, much of it unfolding in Virginia, is of special inspiration to me and my civil rights comrades in the Old Dominion. It spells out hope and erases all doubt, even among former skeptics, that white supremacy is not an inherent condition, but a cruel contrivance created and nurtured by the powerful few to master the rest of us. And in Ted Allen's analysis dwells the heartening prospect that this invention, like all such fabrications, can be dismembered and its fragments thrown upon the waste heap of history. - Edward H. Peeples, Ph.D., Associate Professor Emeritus, Virginia Commonwealth University; Civil rights activist; author, Twentieth Century Scalawag: A White Southerner's Journey through Segregation to Human Rights Activism The profound insights in The Invention of the White Race are essential both to understand the origins and destructiveness of white supremacy and to provide the means to conduct struggle against it. Allen's study is mandatory reading for everyone concerned with justice, equality, and the liberation of all from the binds of white supremacy. - Mark Solomon, author of The Cry Was Unity [The Invention of the White Race] will change your life and outlook forever. You simply can't understand America and who we are without this book. - Carl Davidson, author of New Paths to Socialism If one wants to understand the current, often contradictory, system of racial oppression in the United States --- and its historical origins --- there is only one place to start: Theodore Allen's brilliant, illuminating, The Invention of the White Race. - Michael Goldfield, author of The Color of Politics: Race and the Mainsprings of American Politics Immigration historians should be particularly interested in Allen's analysis of how the Irish, victims of racial oppression at home, learned that they were 'white
once they crossed the Atlantic and became

... supporters of a system of racial oppression in the United States. - Journal of American Ethnic History Allen has produced a two-volume tour de force that situates the development of racism, white supremacy, and racial identities in context of the sixteenth and seventeenth century British conquest of Ireland, the Atlantic slave trade, the rise of chattel bond-servitude in the Caribbean and English-speaking North America, and the destruction of Native American societies. - Charles L. Lumpkins, author of American Pogrom: The East St. Louis Race Riot and Black Politics Anyone who wants to understand the peculiar state of working class organizing in the USA ... needs to study and learn from the insights provided by the work of ... Allen. - George N. Schmidt, editor of Substance News This outstanding, insightful original work with profound implications for the fractured working class protest tradition of the United States could not be more timely as working people throughout the world are shamelessly robbed and dispossessed by the financial manipulations of our Wall Street titans still wielding their poison bait of white skin privilege. - Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, author of Social Control in Slave Plantation Societies ... Essential reading for all students of race and power in America. This path-breaking research reframes and cuts across the disciplines of history, sociology and politics, shedding a dynamic new light on the important and often hidden phenomenon of race in America's cultural evolution. - Joseph Wilson, co-author Race and Labor Matters in the New U.S. Economy One of the great contributions of Allen's study is a complete debunking of the myth that race and skin color are the same thing ... - Jonathan Scott, author of Socialist Joy in the Writings of Langston Hughes The transition from being poor, dispossessed, Catholic and oppressed when in Ireland, to fully ordained members of the 'white race
when in America, with all the privileges, rights and immunities appertaining thereto, illustrates the sociological relativity of notions of race

... [and] confirms Allen's preference for a 'sociogenic
understanding of racial oppression rooted in sociological processes, rather than

'phylogenic'
or genetic interpretations.

- Ecumene (U. K.) Allen's use of the Irish example lends support to the argument that race is a social construction. A strength of Allen's book is his effort to view race apart from biology, to see racial categories as ever-changing social conventions and not as immutable classifications fixed in nature or the human psyche. - Virginia Magazine of History and Biography Allen is concerned here with ... a comparative analysis of racial oppression in Ireland and in the United States ... and the shift in identity among Irish immigrant Catholics, who moved from a group oppressed on racial grounds in Ireland to one defined as 'white
in the United States

... What pulls the entire discussion together is the notion of 'Social Control.
Allen argues that racial oppression (racial social control) is one of various mechanisms a ruling elite can utilize to protect its position in society

. - Contemporary Sociology Allen champions the superiority of socioeconomic over psychocultural approaches to the study of race and slavery ... [and] notes, only by 'understanding what was peculiar about the Peculiar Institution can one know what is exceptionable about 'American Exceptionalism. - Journal of American History Allen sees race as an invention - and he knows who invented it. Racial slavery was the creation of colonial power (or a ruling class, or the bourgeoisie), and what was done in North America was analogous to what was done in Ireland. So the struggle against capitalism and the struggle against race are part of the same campaign. - Tribune Allen's two volume masterpiece-The Invention of the White Race-is vital ammunition for those of us engaged in Revolutionary Change because his work helps to expose the current myth of a post-racial US society/world and reveal the underbelly of a dying capitalism's hyper-racial world of violence, terror and human and natural exploitation. - S. E. Anderson, author of The Black Holocaust for Beginners If you hope to understand the tangled history of race and class, The Invention of the White Race has to be on your reading list. - Will Shetterly, author of Dogland The notion of 'privilege
is ubiquitous amongst radicals today. But few of them understand its origins in Ted Allen

's conception of 'white privilege,'
and fewer still have read and wrestled with his masterwork The Invention of the White Race. Allen

's provocative thesis - that the 'white race'
was a category constructed to suppress class conflict

- asks deep and troubling questions about the foundation of the United States and the intersection of race and class, while openly challenging the Left's fundamental assumptions about social change in this country. - Spencer Sunshine, assistant editor of Monthly Review Allen's work adds a level of detail often overlooked. He incorporates 'white
people into the discussion, and not just as proponents and perpetrators of slavery. He shows how most

... whites perpetuated their own subordination by rejecting alliances with people of colour. - Kim Scipes, Logos


About the Author

THEODORE W. ALLEN was an independent scholar, coalminer, mailhandler, engineering draftsman, teacher and librarian.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th October 2012

Author

Theodore W. Allen

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    recommendations

Publisher

Verso Books

Format

Paperback
336 pages

Categories

Social & cultural history
Slavery & abolition of slavery
Ethnic studies
History of the Americas

ISBN

9781844677696

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