Book Reviews -- the Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control (Volume 1) by Theodore W. Allen

By Sandlund, Vivien | The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, April 1995 | Go to article overview

Book Reviews -- the Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control (Volume 1) by Theodore W. Allen


Sandlund, Vivien, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


The Invention of the White Race. Volume 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control. By THEODORE W. ALLEN. The Haymarket Series. MIKE DAVIS and MICHAEL SPRINKLER, Series Editors. London and New York: Verso, 1994. ix, 310 pp. $59.95 cloth; $19.95 paper.

SCHOLARS of American and European history have long debated the origins of racial oppression, as well as the reasons for the widespread persistence of racism more than a century after the collapse of slavery. In this first of a two-volume study, independent scholar Theodore W. Allen joins those debates. He criticizes historians Winthrop D. Jordan and Carl N. Degler, who, he says, have viewed racism as an old and enduring product of natural human prejudice. Such a view, he charges, permits racism to continue while letting the perpetrators of oppression off the hook.

Allen sees racism as a system of oppression deliberately created to benefit one social class at the expense of others. He argues that racial oppression was and is a strategy by societies' ruling elites to promote their own economic gain and, more importantly, to impose and maintain social control. Allen asserts that ruling elites in the western world have secured the allegiance of their own working classes by defining other groups as subordinate races and encouraging their oppression. The ruling classes have thus used racial oppression to preserve their own hegemony.

Allen's thesis is not entirely new, as he readily concedes. He acknowledges the work of historians Eric Williams, Oscar and Mary Handlin, and Edmund Morgan, all of whom he credits with developing a socioeconomic explanation for racial oppression. But Allen attempts to provide a more sophisticated account than his predecessors of how ruling elites in various settings have imposed racism to maintain social control.

An intriguing aspect of Allen's argument is his assertion that an oppressed race need not be distinguished by skin color or by any physical characteristic. To illustrate this point, and to show how ruling elites apply racism, the author presents an analysis of what he calls the British ruling class's racial oppression of the Irish. He observes that, while few people today would label the Irish a race, the oppression that they endured had many features in common with the oppression of other groups now perceived as racial minorities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Book Reviews -- the Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control (Volume 1) by Theodore W. Allen
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.