Fall 2012

Race and Racialization in the United States

Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-128


Benigno R. Sanchez-Eppler (Section 01)


In this course, we will investigate the cultural meanings and social consequences of the categories of race and ethnicity in the United States. We will explore the historical production of modern conceptions of racial and ethnic difference by investigating the role of these ideas in producing “scientific” knowledge, nation-building, and capitalist accumulation. We will track the changing “common sense” ideas about race and ethnicity over the past two centuries. The material in this course covers a variety of theoretical approaches to the study of race and ethnicity. The course begins with an examination of both classical and more contemporary sociological perspectives on race-ethnic stratification including assimilation, pluralism, class theory, and racial formation theory. Attention is given to the shifting boundaries of race and ethnicity, the construction of ethnic and racial identities, research on prejudice and racial attitudes, race and gender intersectionality, and the urban poverty-segregation debate. Inequality in education, work, and wealth are also covered, and the course ends with an overview of immigrants and the changing racial/ethnic landscape in the United States. Rather than focusing at length on any one racial or ethnic category, we will focus on analytical frameworks, such as biological determinism, historical materialism, and fantasy, to promote comparisons and connections between cases of racialization at different historical moments. We will also investigate how globalization has altered the dynamics of race and racism in American society. The interdisciplinary design of the seminar encourages critical thinking about the complex ways that race and ethnicity shape scientific knowledge, material realities, social interactions, and personal experiences.

This is a discussion-based course. Students will be expected to be active participants in the seminar. During the course of the semester we will use our discussions to cultivate reasoning skills as well as student capacities to present arguments in a compelling manner. In addition, students will write frequently and receive careful and extended responses to their writing. Students will also learn how to read and comprehend complex texts, respond to them in sophisticated ways, and engage in critical reasoning about historical and contemporary social problems in the United States with regard to the socially constructed concept of race and the process of racialization.

Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012