Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


This subject looks at the evolution of concepts about ethnic and national identity over time, in both social science and everyday life. We explore the history of notions about what constitutes a "nation," in the sense of a "people," looking at what the term meant prior to the European nation-state and imperial projects of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and at what it means in the present era of multiculturalism, post modernity, globalization, and transnational trends such as migration. We examine how both ethnic and nation-state nationalism create narratives about the past that are intended to address present-day problems. We also look at the related concepts of race, religion, gender, and culture, examining how each one entails the others. We also study how ethnic and national identity in the West are seen in terms of shared biological legacies, shared histories, and shared cultural content, conceived in terms of 1) shared patterns of behavior—music, dress, food styles, embodied habits (e.g., posture), etc., and 2) inner qualities such as character, personality, or talent. Language ideologies are also briefly discussed, with an emphasis on how linguistic features (lexicon, phonology) serve non-linguistic purposes, for instance, signaling ethnic or national identity.

Criteria for HASS CI Subjects

Communication intensive subjects in the humanities, arts, and social sciences should require at least 20 pages of writing divided among 3–5 assignments. Of these 3–5 assignments, at least one should be revised and resubmitted. HASS CI subjects should further offer students substantial opportunity for oral expression, through presentations, student-led discussion, or class participation. In order to guarantee sufficient attention to student writing and substantial opportunity for oral expression, the maximum number of students per section in a HASS CI subject is 18, except in the case of a subject taught without sections (where the faculty member in charge is the only instructor). In that case, enrollments can rise to 25, if a writing fellow is attached to the subject.



Students are expected to keep up with all assigned readings (approximately 150 pp. a week for the books; 100 pp. a week for articles).


Students must attend class and participate. Students who miss more than 3 classes will lose credit. Five videos/DVDs will be shown. The first class hour will be lecture, followed by 1/2 hour discussion.

Weekly Reader Responses

These consist of a few sentences describing your reaction to one of the readings for that class session. Do not provide an analysis or summary; give us your response to it. These should take no more than 10 minutes to write. While these are not graded, they are required.


You will write three papers, 7 or more pages (roughly 2000 words) each. You must rewrite the first two papers in light of the comments you receive. The revised draft is the version that will be graded. Rewriting the third paper is optional, but highly recommended.

Students will present their third paper in class.


Weekly reader responses and in-class participation 10%
Papers (3) 30% each (total 90%)


Plagiarism comes in two forms. The first involves using the words of a source, exactly or in very close paraphrase, without quotation marks. If you use the phrases from the original, you must use quotation marks. If you paraphrase, you must indicate the source, including page number(s). The second form involves taking ideas from a source without indicating the source. Although sanctions for plagiarism depend on its severity, failing the subject is a distinct possibility (I have failed students in the past).


1 Introduction to the Study of Ethnic and National Identity: The Stakes, and Why the Stakes Are So High  
2 Ethnic Identity I  
3 Ethnic Identity II  
4 Ethnic Identity III: The Hui  
5 Nation and Nationalism I Video: The Master Race
6 Nation and Nationalism II  
7 Ethnicity, state, Nation  
8 State, Nation, Culture  
9 Culture: Definitions First draft of first paper due
10 Ethnic Conflict I Video: Gacaca
11 Ethnic Conflict II First paper returned with comments
12 Race I  
13 Race II Revision of first paper due
14 Race III Video: Stolen Generations: Genocide and the Aborigines
15 Ethnic Identity, Nationalism and Gender First draft of second paper due
16 Ethnic Identity, State, and Sexuality  
17 Religion, Ethnicity, the Nation Second paper handed back with comments
18 Language and Culture, Ethnicity, Race  
19 Culture Recovery Video: White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men Final draft of second paper due
20 Culture: Appropriations, Heritage, "Selling Culture" First draft of third paper due (optional)
21 Human Rights, Collective Rights  
22 New Social Movements Optional first draft of third paper handed back with comments
23 Transnationalism, Globalization and Culture  
24 The State: Hegemony and Push-back Third paper due
25 Summing Up Video: Without Due Process: Japanese Americans and World War II
26 Student Reports Student presentations
27 Student Reports (cont.) Student presentations (cont.)