The Origins of Racial Categories (ONLINE)

The Origins of Racial Categories (ONLINE)
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | 5:30pm - 6:30pm


Race is a biological fiction, but a social fact. The notion of biological "race" is a relatively recent historical development that emerged in the supposed era of Enlightenment which coincided with the transatlantic slave trade. Though often considered to be immutable, racial categories are socially constructed and shift over time. The perception of "race" is not an innocent abstraction since the categories function somewhat like tickets which permit or inhibit access to political and material resources and confer social status. Finally, racial categories are defined and enforced, sometimes violently, by powerful institutions. 

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Jalane Schmidt is an associate professor in the University of Virginia’s Department of Religious Studies, teaching courses that consider the effects of colonization and the slave trade upon religious practice in the Americas. An organizer with the Charlottesville chapter of Black Lives Matter, Dr. Schmidt has appeared in numerous national and international news outlets, and frequently speaks to audiences about whiteness, white supremacy, policing, and affordable housing.

Open to all.