Race and Ethnic Studies
Director: Zahi Zalloua, French and Interdisciplinary Studies
Susanne Beechey, Politics
Shampa Biswas, Politics (on Sabbatical, Fall 2013)
Jennifer A. Devine, Anthropology
Helen Kim, Sociology
Nina Lerman, History
Bruce Magnusson, Politics, Chair, Division I
Gaurav Majumdar, English
Gilbert Mireles, Sociology (on Sabbatical, Fall 2013)
Suzanne Morrissey, Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies
Nicole Simek, French and Interdisciplinary Studies
The race and ethnic studies major takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of race and ethnicity — What do these categories of difference mean? How have they been defined, constructed, and applied in different socio-historic contexts? How do they intersect or overlap with other axes of difference (e.g., gender, class, nation, religion)? Exploring these questions with analytical tools and approaches developed in a range of academic disciplines, this major leads to a critical examination of many historical and contemporary social issues that arise from the institutionalization of race and ethnicity.
In all courses, the student’s work should focus on issues of race and ethnicity whenever that is possible. Courses completed in race and ethnic studies apply to the humanities, social sciences, cultural pluralism, or fine arts distribution areas.
In addition to the 36 credits required for the major, the student will complete three courses totaling at least 11 credits of college-level study in a language other than his or her first language. Courses used to satisfy requirements in other majors or minors cannot also be used to satisfy the race and ethnic studies major or minor.
The Race and Ethnic Studies major will complete two foundational courses, a concentration designed with the adviser and approved by the Race and Ethnic Studies Steering Committee, a senior seminar and thesis, and elective courses totaling 36 credits and chosen such that the overall coursework is drawn from a minimum of three departments. Three courses in addition to the senior seminar and thesis must be at the 300 or 400 level; at least two of these must be taken at Whitman. No more than 12 credits earned in off-campus programs and transfer credit, nor more than four credits in independent study, may be used to satisfy the race and ethnic studies major requirements.
Foundation courses: General Studies 245, plus one other course centered on racial and ethnic analysis (English 376; History 268; History 371; Politics 259; Sociology 267; World Literature 320).
Concentration: Three courses from at least two disciplines (typically nine to 12 credits) defining focus of study in a topic or region, providing context for the thesis. Two of the three courses must be taken at Whitman, and independent study classes are not permitted. The concentration must be submitted to the Race and Ethnic Studies Steering Committee by the end of the week following Thanksgiving break in the fall semester of the junior year. Examples of regional concentrations include: race and ethnicity in Latin America, ethnicity and race in Africa, U.S. race and ethnic studies, African American studies, or race and ethnicity in South Asia. Examples of thematic or topical concentrations include: ethnicity and identity; race and gender; literary representations of race and ethnicity; race and class; ethnicity and nation; race, ethnicity, and nature; religion and ethnicity. The proposal must include a title, a list of the three courses proposed, and an explanation of how the courses fit together and complement each other.
Electives: Usually three courses chosen to complement the concentration, such that, in combination with foundational and concentration coursework, the student has worked in three disciplines overall. It is recommended that the student explore more than one geographic area.
Capstone: A senior seminar (four credits) in the fall, in which students discuss common readings and case studies and begin thesis research, and completion of thesis (two credits) in the spring. The oral portion of the major exam will begin with a thesis defense and proceed to a broader synthesis of the student’s work in the major. Students will propose thesis topics to the Race and Ethnic Studies Steering Committee by midterm in the second semester of the junior year.
Language requirement (in addition to the 36 credits required for the major): The language requirement places value on the linguistic dimensions of difference and provides students with at least minimal direct exposure to this dimension. The student will complete three courses totaling at least 11 credits of college-level study in a language other than the student’s first language. No more than two languages are allowed within the 11 credits. These credits may be earned at Whitman College, through transfer credit from accredited U.S. institutions of higher learning, or from a Whitman-approved study abroad program.
The Race and Ethnic Studies minor: The student completing a minor in race and ethnic studies will take General Studies 245, one of the foundation courses (see list below), and three elective courses chosen from the list of eligible courses. Courses used to satisfy requirements in other majors or minors cannot also be used to satisfy the race and ethnic studies major or minor.
- “Foundation” courses: courses incorporating race and ethnicity as central, defining issues:
General Studies 245 Critical Voices
English 376 Colonial and Anti-Colonial Literature
History 268 History of American Immigration and Ethnic Minorities
History 371 African American History
Politics 259 Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion
Sociology 267 Race and Ethnic Group Relations
World Literature 320 Race, Trauma, Narrative
- Race and ethnic studies courses: a list from which majors will draw concentration and elective courses in consultation with adviser and approved by committee. For a thorough listing of courses used in the race and ethnic studies program, please consult the department web page at www.whitman.edu/race_and_ethnic_studies.
100 Special Topics in Race and Ethnic Studies
Courses under this category explore selected topics in Race and Ethnic Studies at the introductory level. Any current offerings follow.
100 ST: Introduction to Race and Ethnic Studies
4, x Devine
This course provides students an introductory overview of the concepts and debates animating the interdisciplinary study of race and ethnicity. Using ethnography, film, novels, and primary texts, students will examine the emergence of race and ethnicity as categories during key historical moments like colonialism in the Americas, slavery and the African Diaspora, and immigration to the U.S. Students will also explore the ways in which race and ethnicity take shape in relation to categories of gender and class. The course introduces theories in the field and explores their relevance for contemporary debates surrounding immigration reform, overpopulation, and multiculturalism among other topics. Distribution area: cultural pluralism.
100 ST: Introduction to Radical Political Thought
x, 4 Walker
Recent political events from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street have sparked a renewed interest in the power and perils of radical politics. This course will introduce students to radical political thought through four major areas: Marxism; anarchism; race politics; and feminist and queer political theory. In studying these areas of radical thought, we will consider questions such as the following: What is the relationship between radical politics, democracy, and the state? What is the role of violence in radical political thought and action? We will also examine sources of, and motivations for, radical politics including religious traditions, experiences of race and gender, and ideals of justice and equality. Finally, we will turn to contemporary political movements to consider how theory can help explain, and perhaps even motivate or hinder, such movements. May be elected Gender Studies 110 or Politics 101. Distribution area: cultural pluralism or social sciences.
100B ST: Race and Nature
x, 4 Devine
What is the social history behind nature and wilderness? What explains the social and physical differences between people around the world? How do cultural practices impact the physical environment, and how is the physical landscape shaped by society in return? What is the relationship between population, development, and the environment? In answering these questions, students will explore the mutually defining relationships between race, culture, and nature. This class argues that differences between societies and environments found around the world are not the product of isolation, but in contrast, reflect shared global histories of colonialism, slavery, migration, food production, urbanization, and nuclear proliferation. We will critically interrogate simplistic understandings of racial difference and environmental degradation that breed stereotypes, xenophobia, and racism. This course is open to all students. Distribution area: cultural pluralism.
301 Special Topics in Race and Ethnic Studies
The course explores selected topics in race and ethnic studies. Any current offerings follow.
301 ST: Race and Ethnicity in Latin America
4, x Devine
This course explores how different ideas about race and ethnicity have shaped Latin American politics and societies from colonial times to the present. Race and ethnicity take on special meanings in Latin America where they are central to ideas about the nation. Using a comparative approach, students will familiarize themselves with the diverse racial ideologies found across Latin America, their historical formation and evolution, and their political implications today. Topics include the Spanish conquest, African slavery, postcolonial nation building, mestizaje, multiculturalism, indigenous social movements, and Guatemala's 2013 genocide trial. May be elected Anthropology 347. Distribution area: cultural pluralism.
301A ST: Race, Space, and Power
x, 4 Devine
Race infuses space. The built environment reflects previous race relations, and space structures race relations in return. This class starts from the premise that space confers power, and that spatial relations either reproduce or challenge existing race relations and hierarchies. Students will engage with spatial theory and Race and Ethnic Studies concepts to explore how space and race relations define one another. We then apply this framework to discuss the racial dynamics of cartography, urban planning, globalization, high-tech warfare, international development, and environmental conservation, among other topics. This class is global in scope and includes case studies from Thailand, the West Bank, the US/Mexico border, New York, and the greater Walla Walla area. This class is designed for junior and seniors. Sophomores and freshman are welcome, space permitting. May be elected as Anthropology 347B. Distribution area: cultural pluralism.
301B ST: Toursim, Identity and Politics
x, 4 Devine
The global tourism industry is a powerful agent of socio-spatial change that is inherently political. Students will explore the role tourism plays in driving globalization, commodifying culture, regulating people and capital's mobility, and defining national identity. Drawing on ethnography, film, literature, and travel writing, students will explore concepts like subject formation, exploitation, commodification, and grassroots development as they unfold in tourism performances and representations. Building on this firm theoretical foundation, this course has a strong practical component. Students will conclude the course by examining a variety of existing alternatives to traditional tourism that aim to promote social justice in the United States and across the Global South. This class is designed for junior and seniors. Sophomores and freshman are welcome, space permitting. May be elected as Politics 201, and Film and Media Studies 366. Distribution area: cultural pluralism.
490 Senior Seminar
4, x Simek
Taught by a race and ethnic studies faculty member with guest participation by others, this seminar is intended to engage senior majors in case studies focused on race and ethnicity. Readings, discussion, and papers, including a proposal for the thesis. Required of and limited to senior race and ethnic studies majors. (Fall degree candidates should plan to take this seminar at the latest possible opportunity.) Open to senior race and ethnic studies majors.
2, 2 Staff
Completion of a thesis based on the previous semester’s plan. Prerequisite: Race and Ethnic Studies 490.
498 Honors Thesis
2, 2 Staff
Completion of an honors thesis. Required of and limited to senior honors candidates in race and ethnic studies. Prerequisites: Race and Ethnic Studies 490 and admission to honors candidacy.