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·         College Name

·         Department Name

Dr. Ricky K. Green

Ethnic Studies 100: Ethnic America

Summer 2011                                                                       Office: Amador 562A x83359

Lecture TWR 8:00-10:20                                                     Office Hours: TWR 10:30-11:50

Anador 262                                                                         


An introduction to the ethnic group experience in the United States through an interdisciplinary understanding of ethnic history, politics, and group development.  During the semester students will focus on the experiences of African Americans, Asian-Americans, Chicanos/Mexican-Americans, and Native Americans.  We will examine themes common and distinct to ethnic groups and will attempt to reconstruct the various contributions of ethnic groups to institutional life in the United States. 


Course Objectives

To develop a sophisticated understanding of American society and the roles that non-European groups play in shaping this society.

To develop an appreciation for interdisciplinary pursuits of knowledge.

To develop an understanding of the concept of ethnicity.

To develop a sophisticated understanding of the several factors, e.g., historical, institutional, cultural, economic, and etc., which shape the social realities of major non-European groups in the U.S.

To encourage students to become intellectually involved in problem solving.

To develop writing skills to the level where students can express their comprehension of the subject in a clear, intelligent and coherent fashion.


Assignments and Grading

   First Paper 30 percent (6-7 pages): June 21st   

   Final Paper 35 percent (7-8 pages): July  7th

   Observation Journal 25 percent: (two entries per week)

   Class attendance/participation 10 percent: daily


Required Texts:

Ethnicity and Race, Stephen Cornell

Selected Readings in CSUS Electronic Database (JSTOR) and Reserve Book Room


Weeks                                               Assignment

                                                                                              Section One: Understanding

                                                                                              Ethnic Identity

1-2      Ethnicity and Race, chapter 1-5


3-4      *Horowitz, “Dimensions of Ethnic Conflict”             Section Two: Ethnic Conflict

Ethnicity and Race, chapts. 6-8

          *”Cultural Politics of the White Ethnic Class”

          *”Liberal Retreat from Race during the Post Civil Rights Era”

“Ethnic Pluralism and Civic Responsibility” (JSTOR)


5-6      *West, “Beyond Eurocentrism                                 Section Three: Ethnic

Couto, “Narrative, Free Space and Political                        Pluralism

Leadership in Social Movements” (JSTOR)


            *Cho, “Overcoming Our Legacy”

            *”Gendered Citizenship”

            *”Ice Cube Culture”

            *Chrenshaw, “Whose Story is it Anyway”


*In Reserve reading room.

(JSTOR) university electronic database

Writing Assignments—This is an advanced study course. As a result students are expected to articulate their understanding of the course material through writing. Evaluations for the course consist of four 5-6 page essays spread throughout the semester. There will be no midterm or final in class exams.


Notes update June 3, 2011

        Major Concepts

   Race—major symbol and mode of human differentiation, usually denoting physical differences such as color of skin, texture of hair, shape of eyes, nose, etc. Considered by most scholars to be a social construction.

   Culture—a people’s way of life. Not considered to be a social construction in itself since the need for culture in any group precedes the development of social constructions. However social constructions may become essential components of any particular culture.

   Ethnic group—subpopulation of individuals in a society who reveal a unique history as well as distinctive behavioral, organizational, and cultural characteristics (synthesis of race and culture).

   Social construct—concept that does not necessarily exist by nature but for the convenience of human society (political).  

   Racial hierarchy—society ordered along the lines of race (caste system, racial stratification).

   Policy-a program of actions adopted by a person, group, or government, or the set of principles on which they are based (public policy)

Ethnic Theories


     Most important aspect of ethnicity is culture (culture is understood as rational which means that it develops, adapts; is dynamic)

     If culture is rational and dynamic it can be socially constructed (one can swap out a group’s culture with that of another)

   Weakness of assimilation as a theory?


   Primordialism (things that an individual was born into)

     Physical body, A person’s name, History and group origins, Nationality, Language, Culture, Geography


    Weakness of primordialism as a theory?



     Plays down the relativism of culture for the relativism of politics

     Ethnicity as primarily a political phenomenon

     Ethnic groups as interest groups

           Temporary membership based upon power relationships

           Tool of individual competition

           Ethnic identity is fluid and dynamic (not fixed)


   Circumstantialism argues that there is no real basis for group identity besides individual interest


Constructionist Theory (chapter 4)

   Both self ascription and ascription by others are critical factors in making ethnic identity and ethnic groups

     Ethnicity is fluid, dynamic (but unlike circumstantialism, constructionism is determined by events and activism)

     We are here reunited with our old terms of social construction (Events) and culture (Activism)


   Comprehensiveness of ethnic identity

     How much ethnicity effects the organization of life

     Cultural connections


   Assimilation (what your author refers to as assimilation is really more complex a relationship between self ascription and ascription by others or the pull between social construction and cultural development)




Students will need an e-mail account and computer access to the Web. All Sacramento State students enrolled in one or more units can create a SacLink account for e-mail. Although a home computer with Internet access running Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Netscape Navigator would be beneficial, students can access the Internet from one of the campus student labs. Check out System Check and Computer Hardware Recommendations for more information about equipment.

Last updated: 11/11/2005