Whites and Caucasians

Perfidious Albinos

Underneath the SuitCollective Degradation: Slavery and the Construction of Race
Why White People Are Called ‘Caucasian?’
By Nell Irvin Painter, Yale University, 2003


On first thought, the theme of collective degradation  would seem to exclude white people, not only because white people are not now considered particularly degraded—at least, not as a race—and the themes of “slavery, resistance, and abolition” apply more intuitively to people of African rather than European descent. Even one of the classic texts in the history of whiteness, The Invention of the White Race, by Theodore W. Allen, associates slavery and race with black people. But as Allen realizes, the function of the general concept of race is to establish and maintain hierarchical boundaries in human taxonomy, even when the categories are not “black” and “white”; Allen, therefore, begins the first volume of his study with the case of the Irish.2

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