What We Are Reading Today: Race Is About Politics Jean-Frederic Schaub

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Updated 21 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Race Is About Politics Jean-Frederic Schaub

  • Schaub argues that to understand racism we must look at historical episodes of collective discrimination

Racial divisions have returned to the forefront of politics in the US and European societies, making it more important than ever to understand race and racism. 

But do we? In this original and provocative book, acclaimed historian Jean-Frédéric Schaub shows that we don’t— and that we need to rethink the widespread assumption that racism is essentially a modern form of discrimination based on skin color and other visible differences.

On the contrary, Schaub argues that to understand racism we must look at historical episodes of collective discrimination. Built around notions of identity and otherness, race is above all a political tool that must be understood in the context of its historical origins.

Although scholars agree that races don’t exist, they disagree about when these ideologies emerged. Drawing on historical research from the early modern period to today, Schaub makes the case that the key turning point in the political history of race in the West occurred not with the Atlantic slave trade and American slavery, as many historians have argued, but much earlier, in 15th-century Spain and Portugal, with the racialization of Christians of Jewish and Muslim origin.


What We Are Reading Today: The Cat: A Natural and Cultural History by Sarah Brown

Updated 27 March 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Cat: A Natural and Cultural History by Sarah Brown

Of all the domesticated species, cats have enjoyed the most complex relationship with people — one that still leads to arguments about whether you can truly call the cat asleep by your fire “tame.” 

The Cat is a comprehensive, richly illustrated exploration of the natural and cultural history of this much-loved pet. 

Chapters on Evolution & Development, Anatomy & Biology, Society & Behavior, and Cats & Humans take different angles on matters feline, offering rich information and insights about kitten development, the hierarchy of cats, how cats think, communication between cats and people, historic and extinct breeds, the challenges facing cats today and how we can help, and much, much more. 

The book also features a visually stunning photographic directory of more than forty popular breeds, with essential information about each. Filled with surprising facts, The Cat will enchant anyone with an interest in, or a love for, these animals.