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From the Crusades to the Twentieth Century
Francisco Bethencourt

Paperback | 2015 | $29.95 | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691169750
464 pp. | 7 x 10 | 71 halftones. 18 maps.
Hardcover | 2014 | $45.00 | £37.95 | ISBN: 9780691155265
464 pp. | 8 x 10 | 73 halftones. 18 maps.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400848416 |
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Racisms is the first comprehensive history of racism, from the Crusades to the twentieth century. Demonstrating that there is not one continuous tradition of racism, Francisco Bethencourt shows that racism preceded any theories of race and must be viewed within the prism and context of social hierarchies and local conditions. In this richly illustrated book, Bethencourt argues that in its various aspects, all racism has been triggered by political projects monopolizing specific economic and social resources.

Racisms focuses on the Western world, but opens comparative views on ethnic discrimination and segregation in Asia and Africa. Bethencourt looks at different forms of racism, and explores instances of enslavement, forced migration, and ethnic cleansing, while analyzing how practices of discrimination and segregation were defended.

This is a major interdisciplinary work that moves away from ideas of linear or innate racism and recasts our understanding of interethnic relations.

Francisco Bethencourt is the Charles Boxer Professor of History at King's College London, and the author of The Inquisition: A Global History, 1478–1834.


"[A]nalytically sophisticated. . . . Bethencourt tacks deftly between cultural and social history. His binocular vision marks Racisms out from most previous studies."--David Armitage, Times Literary Supplement

"Bethencourt, professor of history at King's College London, examines how expansion abroad shaped European systems of ethnic prejudice in a tour de force spanning the Americas, West Africa, India, and other colonial environs."--Publishers Weekly

"[W]ell worth reading."--Christie Davies, Standpoint

"Francisco Bethencourt's Racisms could not be more timely . . . Bethencourt's incisive analysis ought to be compulsory reading in the think tanks, chanceries and ministries of the developed world."--Maria Misra, Prospect

"To understand what fuelled such racist ideologies and practices, I can think of no better book than Francisco Bethencourt's Racisms. It is an ambitious, bold project. . . . Bethencourt addresses the 'scientific' turn in racial classification systems. There is a vast literature on the ideas of influential men such as . . . Charles Darwin and many others. However, Bethencourt's summary is the clearest and most sophisticated to date. . . . [An] impressive book."--Joanna Bourke, New Statesman

"[A]mbitious and wide-ranging. . . . Racisms['s] cataloguing of successive centuries of poisonous bigotry, of tangled, self-serving myth and murderous victimisation, creates a powerful cumulative effect. To chart some of my own emotions while reading it: anger; pain, disgust and sorrow. This is an unlovely history. But a necessary one that appears, sadly for the wrong reasons, at the right time."--Ekow Eshun, Independent

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