Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Look Inside Race, Empire, and the Idea of Human Development

Race, Empire, and the Idea of Human Development

  • Date Published: July 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521519717


Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

Please email to enquire about an inspection copy of this book

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • In an exciting study of ideas accompanying the rise of the West, Thomas McCarthy analyzes the ideologies of race and empire that were integral to European-American expansion. He highlights the central role that conceptions of human development (civilization, progress, modernization, and the like) played in answering challenges to legitimacy through a hierarchical ordering of difference. Focusing on Kant and natural history in the eighteenth century, Mill and social Darwinism in the nineteenth, and theories of development and modernization in the twentieth, he proposes a critical theory of development which can counter contemporary neoracism and neoimperialism, and can accommodate the multiple modernities now taking shape. Offering an unusual perspective on the past and present of our globalizing world, this book will appeal to scholars and advanced students of philosophy, political theory, the history of ideas, racial and ethnic studies, social theory, and cultural studies.

    • A discussion of the relationship between race, empire, and development in the rise of the West
    • Offers a historical perspective on the development of ideologies of race, giving a background to contemporary problems
    • Argues that our ideas of human development need to be questioned in order to allow us to deal with modernity
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'With a first systematic account of racisms and penetrating criticisms of developmental schemes, this brilliant and beautifully written book is a milestone in the Frankfurt tradition of critical social theory. It provides at the same time a pathbreaking analysis of what should be saved, 'after progress', from developmental thought.' Jürgen Habermas

    'Global development in an interdependent world is one of the leading ideas of our times. But neoliberal globalizers on the one hand and neconservative interventionists on the other obscure how such developmental visions can foster ideologies of neoracism and neo-colonialism. In this comprehensive work, which ranges from Enlightenment race theories to Kant's philosophy of history, from social Darwinism to the politics of memory, Thomas McCarthy outlines a critical theory of global development which is universalist as well as multiculturalist; critical of Eurocentrism but supporting the binding legacy of practical reason as developed since the Enlightenment. A must reading for all those who want to see critical social theory at work in our times.' Seyla Benhabib, Yale University

    'Thomas McCarthy has written a splendid book, an immediately indispensable contribution to ongoing discussions of political philosophical method, racial injustice, liberal imperialism, and globalization. Empirically rich and richly insightful, it is a masterly exemplar of critical history with a practical intent and will be enthusiastically welcomed by all who would understand how racism and the rationalization of empire have shaped the modern world.' Robert Gooding-Williams, The University of Chicago

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521519717
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I:
    1. Political philosophy and racial injustice: a preliminary note on methodology
    2. Kant on race and development
    3. Social Darwinism and white supremacy
    4. Coming to terms with the past: on the politics of the memory of slavery
    Part II:
    5. What may we hope? Reflections on the idea of universal history in the wake of Kant
    6. Liberal imperialism and the dilemma of development
    7. From modernism to messianism: reflections on the state of 'development'
    Conclusion: the presence of the past.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • African American Political Thought from 1619 to 1900
    • Modernity, Empire, Race
    • Philosophy of Race
  • Author

    Thomas McCarthy, Yale University, Connecticut
    Thomas McCarthy is William H. Orrick Visiting Professor at Yale University and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Northwestern University.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.