Noel Ignatiev

Noel Ignatiev bigraphy, stories - American historian

Noel Ignatiev : biography

1940 –

Noel Ignatiev (born 1940) is an American history professor at the Massachusetts College of Art. He is best known for his work on race and social class, and for his call to "abolish" the white race, which he defines as "white privilege and race identity". Ignatiev is the co-founder and co-editor of the journal Race Traitor and the New Abolitionist Society. He also has written a book on antebellum northern xenophobia against Irish immigrants, How the Irish Became White. His publisher bills him as "one of America’s leading and most controversial historians".


Harvard tutorship

From 1986 until 1992, Ignatiev served as a tutor (academic advisor) for Dunster House at Harvard University. In early 1992, Ignatiev objected to the University’s purchase of a toaster oven for the Dunster House dining hall that would be designated for kosher use only. He insisted that cooking utensils with restricted use should be paid for by private funds. In a letter to the Harvard student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, Ignatiev wrote that "I regard anti-Semitism, like all forms of religious, ethnic and racial bigotry, as a crime against humanity and whoever calls me an anti-Semite will face a libel suit."

Dunster House subsequently declined to renew Ignatiev’s contract, saying that his conduct during the dispute was "unbecoming of a Harvard tutor". Dunster co-master Hetty Liem said it was the job of a tutor "to foster a sense of community and tolerance and to serve as a role model for the students", and that Ignatiev had not done so.

Encyclopedia of Race and Racism

In 2008, the American Jewish Committee objected to an encyclopedia article on Zionism that Ignatiev wrote for The Encyclopedia of Race and Racism., 10/12/2008, Jewish Telegraphic Agency In the article, Ignatiev described Israel as a "racial state, where rights are assigned on the basis of ascribed descent or the approval of the superior race" and likened it to Nazi Germany and the Southern United States before the civil rights movement."Zionism", Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, Macmillan Press, 2007, pp 240–244.

The American Jewish Committee cited numerous "factual and historical inaccuracies" in Ignatiev’s article. The American Jewish Committee also questioned why the encyclopedia included an entry about Zionism, stating that it was the only nationalist movement with an article in the encyclopedia. Gideon Shimoni, Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, criticized the article as a "litany of errors and distortions of fact."Gideon Shimoni, , December 1, 2008.

Subsequently the Encyclopedia’s publisher, Gale, announced the appointment of an independent committee to investigate "the factual accuracy, scholarly basis, coverage, scope, and balance of every article." In addition, Gale published a 10-part composite article, “Nationalism and Ethnicity”, with a new article on Zionism and evaluations of cultural nationalism in across the globe. The composite article was free of charge to all customers. In response to the findings of the independent committee, Gale has eliminated Ignatiev’s article from the encyclopedia.


  • "’The American Blindspot’: Reconstruction According to Eric Foner and W. E. B. Du Bois", Labour/Le Travail, 31 (1993): 243–51.
  • "The Revolution as an African-American Exuberance", Eighteenth-Century Studies 27, no. 4 (Summer 1994): 605–13.
  • How the Irish Became White (1995) ISBN 0-415-91384-5
  • Race Traitor (anthology of articles from the journal by the same name edited with John Garvey) (1996) ISBN 0-415-91392-6
  • "," Race Traitor (May 2004).


Views of race

Ignatiev is part of a group of social scientists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries who view race distinctions and race itself as a social construct, not a scientific reality (however, the idea of "race" in the sense that Ignatiev wishes to challenge developed in the 17th century and has been disputed and rejected by scientists and scholars for much of the 20th Century.Smedley, Audrey (2007-March-14-17). "". presented at the conference "Race, Human Variation and Disease: Consensus and Frontiers" sponsored by the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Sober, Elliott (2000). Philosophy of biology (2nd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. ISBN 978-0813391267.Arnesen, Eric (2001). " International Labor and Working-Class History No. 60, Fall 2001, pp. 3–32)