Spring 2023

Blackness in Asia: Race and Relation between Afropessimism and Settler Colonialism

Listed in: Colloquia, as COLQ-326


Sony Coranez Bolton (Section 01)


This research tutorial will explore a diverse archive of historical and contemporary texts that treat as a point of departure the ways that the idea of Blackness has been treated in Asia. The course’s framework, which will have an emphasis on the Philippines, will also significantly explore the theoretical intersections of Indigenous thought, Asian American studies, Black studies, and Latinx/American studies. The class will begin with a reading of famed Filipino American journalist Alex Tizon’s confessional essay “My Family’s Slave” published in The Atlantic in 2017 in which he admits to his role in the labor exploitation of a family servant. His family had a live-in servant who resided with them for decades without the ability to return home. Critique of this essay surfaced local histories of debt bondage in the Philippines as well as the histories of the transatlantic slave trade pointing to slippages and overlaps between Asian American and Black American experiences of race, labor, and family. Class meetings will be dedicated to discussion of assigned theoretical readings and primary source materials in Philippine history, Asian American studies, Afropessimist philosophy, and Indigenous studies grounding our analysis and, it is my hope, mutual commitment to shared discovery of historical models that could aid us in thinking about the deep connection across deep differences in global race relations. The goal for course discussions will be to advance global, expansive thinking and collegial collaboration. Students will be encouraged to chart their own unique pathways of intellectual discovery through course materials (in consultation with the professor) and will be supported in the construction of their own individualized or group-based research projects depending on preference.

This course is part of a model of tutorials at Amherst designed to enable students to engage in substantive research with faculty in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

This course is open to all students, with a preference for sophomores and juniors who are interested in academic research; students who have already completed a research methods course in a social science or humanities discipline; students with a knowledge of other languages especially Spanish, German, or Tagalog. A reading knowledge of Spanish is highly recommended. This course will be limited to six participants. Students will be asked to fill out a brief application elaborating research interests and skills. The professor may request to interview students prior to enrollment approval. Enrollment by instructor consent only. Course discussions will likely be held in English with the possibility of their being held in Spanish depending on language skills.

Open to sophomores and juniors. Limited to 6 students. Spring Semester. Professor Bolton.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference for sophomores and juniors with significant research experience such as a research methods course in the humanities or social sciences and/or experience as a Research Intern for a professor in the humanities or social sciences

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Readings in languages other than English, readings, independent research, oral presentations, seminar discussions.

COLQ 326 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 1:00 PM - 3:45 PM SCCE A013


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023