Given the disparities between the lifespans of whites, African Americans, Native Americans and other groups, it might seem to be sensible to gear medicine along racial lines. But sociologist Leslie Hinkson argues that it represents a dangerous turn in science and healthcare. She discusses race, biology, and debt. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Nadine Ehlers and Leslie … Continued

What role did slavery play in the story of U.S. capitalism? Does the fact that slavery wasn’t rooted in wage labor mean that it wasn’t a form of capitalist practice? Caitlin Rosenthal offers a definition of capitalism and shares her understanding of how commodification, and the power to impose it, operated under slavery. Caitlin Rosenthal, … Continued

Against the Grain

Game-Changing Fiction

In his book Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America, Jay Parini describes and analyzes three iconic works of fiction. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Parini writes, almost single-handedly created a mass audience for the antislavery movement. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn interrogated race in fundamental ways and introduced a distinctive vision of freedom. And On the Road … Continued

Clarence Thomas is Donald Trump’s favorite Supreme Court justice, which might confirm the liberal view that Thomas is simply a toady of the right.  But scholar Corey Robin argues that Thomas is a complex thinker and skilled rhetorician, whose ideas originate in black nationalism.  Robin reflects on how Thomas’ pessimism about the intractability of racism … Continued

Against the Grain

Remembering Immanuel Wallerstein

Immanuel Wallerstein (1930-2019) was a radical sociologist and economic historian who pioneered world-systems analysis. Although he analyzed what he called the capitalist world-economy over its centuries-long development, he remained a staunch, and globally influential, critic of capitalism. Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction Duke University Press, 2004 Immanuel Wallerstein, The Essential Wallerstein The New Press, … Continued