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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

"Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race Presents a Full-Scale Challenge to 'The Great White Assumption'”






Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race is one of the twentieth-century’s major contributions to historical understanding. This extraordinary two-volume work, first published in 1994 and 1997, presents a full-scale challenge to what Allen refers to as “The Great White Assumption” -- the unquestioning acceptance of the “white race” and “white” identity as skin color-based and natural attributes rather than as social and political constructions. It’s thesis on the origin and nature of the so-called “white race” contains the root of a new and radical approach to United States history, one that challenges dominant narratives taught in schools, colleges, universities, and through the media. With its “equalitarian motif” and emphasis on the “class struggle” dimension of history it speaks to people desiring and struggling for change world-wide and its influence can be expected to continue to grow in the twenty-first century.

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“Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race is one of the twentieth-century’s major contributions to historical understanding."

“Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race is one of the twentieth-century’s major contributions to historical understanding. This extraordinarily important two-volume work, first published in 1994 and 1997, and considered a “classic” by 2003, presents a full-scale challenge to what Allen refers to as “The Great White Assumption” -- the unquestioning acceptance of the “white race” and “white” identity as skin color-based and natural attributes rather than as social and political constructions. It’s thesis on the origin and nature of the so-called “white race” contains the root of a new and radical approach to United States history, one that challenges dominant narratives taught in schools, colleges, universities, and the media. With its equalitarian motif and emphasis on the class struggle dimension of history it contributes mightily to our understanding of American, African American, and Labor History and it speaks to people desiring and struggling for change worldwide. Its influence can be expected to continue to grow in the twenty-first century.”

From New “Introduction” to Theodore W. Allen, The Invention of the White Race, Vol. 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control (1994; Verso Books: New Expanded Edition, November 2012).

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