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Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



US sociology has historically denied slavery and colonialism as demanding of sociological study. The roots of this can be examined at the turn of the twentieth century in the early years of the institutionalization of the discipline in American universities. The inattention stems from a white supremacist racial ontology that underpins US sociology in general (embedded in the category of modernity and the category of sociology itself). There are traces or identifiable ‘moments of silencing’ during the first ten years of the American Journal of Sociology (AJS), the discipline’s first professional journal in the US, in which early (white) sociologists hide the colonial and slavery-dependent material roots of modernity behind a “positivistic” philosophy of social science and a mix of the biologically and culturally inflected ideologies of scientific racism. The persistence of the notion of modernity as given and the unconscious positivist epistemology of mainstream US sociology causes it to stall in face of the paralyzing contradiction between a stated interest in addressing inequality and a simultaneous refusal to examine the issues of power and inequality in the conditions of its own founding.


First Advisor

Moon-Kie Jung

Second Advisor

Mark C. Pachucki

Third Advisor

Kiran Asher