Course Details

971: Machineries of Death

February 1, 2, 4, 5
9:45 AM - 11:15 AM

Kids in cages at borders, collars, brands and branding, body scarification, clothing fetishes—pink triangles, stockades, slaughterhouses: These symbols and systems seem disparate, but they intertwine for an important discussion about rights and persons. This Short explores  the origins of the Western colonial slave and the social structures evolved by which stigmatized persons (Jews, Africans, Muslims, others) became commodities—social, legal, and financial. Additionally, the class looks at the technologies of colonization of animals, which became the instruments for capturing, and domesticating, persons of color in New World slave factories—and which, later, were imported by Nazi regime into their 20th genocidal stockyards of death. The final meeting questions the "late emergence" of White Nationalism in the US. Beginning as early as Virginia racial laws in the 1700s, the formation of the White Race as a social category replaced "English" as a political marker to isolate Negro bond-slaves. The final session concludes with immigration in the US and its checkered history.

Class Format: Lecture and Discussion

Hours of Reading: No reading

Study Group Leader(s):

Edward Ingebretsen
Ed Ingebretsen is a Professor of English and Culture at Georgetown University. His PhD is from Duke. He writes on American culture, politics, sex, and gender. He is currently a District Leader for the Humane Society of the United States, and teaches Animal Studies at Georgetown University.