W. E. B. DuBois wrote in 1903 that `the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the colour line - the relation of the darker to the lighter races in Asia and Africa, in America and in the islands of the sea'. As the century draws to its close, this remains true; if anything thesalience of race and racism in all its manifestations has grown in the recent past. The last few years have witnessed a growth in academic interest in racism, and in related issues such as nationalism and ethnicity, as well as an increasing general awareness of various kinds of racial conflict andviolence in a range of countries and regions across the globe. This Reader provides a critical overview of the historical development and contemporary forms of racist ideas and institutions. It brings together material from different theoretical perspectives in an attempt to make sense of the way inwhich racism has exerted such a powerful influence on the history of humanity.