DOING AND UNDOING RACE

Fall 2000 Anna Meigs

Carnegie 4c

"Race is not so much a category as a practice...."

D. Marvin Jones

"The whiteness of whiteness is the blindness of willful innocence"

Jane Lazarre

It is a truism that race is one of the central organizing principles of American society and culture. Less obvious is the notion that race structures each of our identities and experiences of the world. Yet there is no such thing as race--- at least not in the biological sense in which it was, and to a large extent still is, understood.

In this course we will seek to raise our race consciousness, that is gain increased awareness of and insight into how this idea of race, which points to no material reality, has structured our world.

The first two sections of the course explore the connections between anthropology, colonialism, and race. Race as a concept developed within the context of and in response to the economic and intellectual necessities of European colonial expansion. Anthropology came of age in the latter part of the colonial period, in fact at the peak of the European empires. We will explore:

* the intense involvement of late 19th and early 20th century anthropology in "scientific racism" and thus the centrality of notions of race to the discipline

* the connections between race, colonialism, and anthropology

* ethnographies as racial/colonial texts

* ethnographic films as racial/colonial texts

Sections III and IV explore :

* how race is used to gain and maintain identity

* how racial stereotypes (of European, Asian, and African Americans) and raced "gazes" permeate popular culture and public consciousness

* some effects of racial consciousness (one’s own and others) on behavior

The last section of the course explores race in relation to wealth, property, and class, in particular the notion that race constructs and, to a lesser degree, is constructed by economic access. We will spend a considerable amount of time on the notion that whiteness is a form of property.

The course works to expose two dominant American paradigms for understanding the relationships between race and poverty, race and wealth. In one the focus is on individuals and the degree of access to the system, in other words, on equalities and inequalities in the distribution of rewards to individuals. In the other the focus is on groups and the ways in which groups are placed within hierarchies of power or, to put it differently, the ways in which groups are dominated and oppressed. While the first approach is rooted in ideas about individuals and their sameness, the second centers around groups and their differences..

Academic honesty

All students must follow the college’s policies in regard to academic honesty. If you are not familiar with them, you should familiarize yourself. If you have any questions please come and talk to me. If I suspect academic dishonesty, I will report this to you and to the Dean of Academic Programs. Any paper or assignment which has been produced in an academically dishonest manner will receive a failing grade, and may result in an NC for the course as a whole. There are a variety of different types of academic dishonesty. One of particular relevance to this course is the fabrication of personal experiences to serve as the basis of discussion in the Race Discourse Analyzes.

Class discussion

Part of your grade is based on your classroom performance. I expect that you contribute in an informed way, that is that you come to class prepared. It is also important that you be cognizant of the discussion needs of the class as a whole. For some this may mean remembering to share verbal space and, thus, to keep quieter than is personally comfortable. For others, this may mean remembering that the richness of our conversation depends on contributions from all of us. For these people, the chall enge may be to speak more than is personally comfortable. I ask each of you to assess frequently how well verbal space is being shared in our class and, also, what you can do to contribute to an effective sharing of that space.

Late policy

You may turn one paper in the next class day. Lateness after that will cause reduction by 1 point (A to A-) for each day.

Required reading.

Harlon Dalton Racial Healing

Shelby Steele The Content of our Characters

Derrick Bell Faces in the Bottom of the Well

Jane Lazarre Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

Iris Marion Young Justice and the Politics of Difference

In addition there are a number of required articles which are available through electronic reserve in the library.

Required Work

Three papers. All papers must demonstrate careful reading and processing of the relevant texts and these texts must be cited according to some standard convention. (45% of final grade)

Three race discourse analyzes (10%)

Three life history assignments (30%)

Oral presentation (5%)

Class participation (10%)

Race discourse analyzes

One page (maximum) analysis of the racial discourse embedded in an event, a setting, a behavior, a feeling, a phrase of a newspaper article, a piece of a film, etc. which you have personally witnessed, read, etc. The intention here is to cultivate your ability to see race - to raise your race consciousness.

Each analysis should include:

* description of the event, setting, behavior, etc.

* naming of the discourse/s

* discussion and analysis of the operation of the politics of the discourse/s in this specific context.

* some cited connection with at least one of our readings

It would be a violation of Macalester’s code of academic honesty to fabricate material.

Oral presentation

You will be asked to do one five to ten minute presentation of one of the following: a race discourse analysis, life history assignment, or paper.

Section I: Physical Anthropology and Race

9/7 Introduction

9/12 Begley "Three is not enough," Fish "Why psychologists should learn some anthropology,"

Marks "Black, White, Other" in Sussman (ed.) The Biological Basis of Human Behavior

Stephen Jay Gould The Mismeasure of Man c. 3.

9/14 Douglas Preston "The Lost Man" The New Yorker June 16, 1997.

Alan Goodman "Racializing Kennewick Man" Anthro Newsletter Oct. 1997

Begley and Murr "The First Americans" Newsweek Apr. 26, 1999

9/19 Janine Young Kim "Are Asians Black?" 108 Yale L.J. 2385 (1999)

Karen Sacks "How Jews Became White Folks"

Iijima "The politics of we-construction" pp. 47-68 (optional)

9/21 Overbey "AAA tells Fed to Eliminate ‘race’" Anthro Newsletter Oct. 1997

john powell "The color blind multiracial dilemma" University of San Francisco Law Review 31, summer 1997.

Race discourse analysis one is due on a discourse of race as biologically real. Connect with at least one of the readings and cite according to some accepted convention. See directions at start of syllabus for "Race Discourse Analyzes."

 

9/26 Iris Marion Young Justice and the Politics of Difference, c. 1 &2

9/28 Shelby Steele The Content of our Characters, c. 1,2,5,7,8,& epilogue

10/3 Paper 1 due: Contrast the approach of Young and Steele. 2-3 pages

Library visit with Beth Hilleman

Section II: Colonialism, Anthropology, Representation, and Race

110/5 Chinua Achebe "An image of Africa"

Dinesh D'Souza "Ignoble Savages" c. 12 in Delgado and Stefancic (eds.) Critical White Studies.

Christine Ward Gailey "Politics, Colonialism, and the Mutable Color of Southern Pacific Peoples," in Reynolds and Lieberman (eds.) Race and Other Misadventures (1996).

10/10 Gary Okihiro excerpt from Margins and Mainstreams (c. 1)

Young Justice and the Politics of Difference c. 4

Race discourse analysis #2 due

Section III: Self and Race

10/12 Young Justice and the Politics of Difference c. 5

W.E.B. Du Bois "The Souls of White Folk" in W.E.B. Du Bois: Writings.

10/17 Lazarre Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness, first half

Life history exercise

10/19 Finish Lazarre

Life history exercise

10/24 Life history assignment #1 due

Section IV: Stereotypes, Film and Race

10/31 Gary Okihiro c. 5 from  Margins and Mainstreams

Helen Zia c. 5 from Asian American Dreams

Stam and Spence "Colonialism, racism, and representation" Screen 24 (2) 1983.

Class clips from Civilization, King Kong, Witness, The Color Purple, Battle of Algiers, Dry White Season, Cannibal Tours, Falling Down, Rising Sun

11/2 Helen Zia Asian American Dreams c. 3

View Who Killed Vincent Chin? (On reserve HLC)

11/7 Paper two due. Discuss issues of racial representation in one or two clips from a film. Attach a video copy of the clip/s. 4 pages

11/9 Young c. 6 and 7

11/14 Life history assignment 2 due (tentative topic: a moment in a tv show, film, or book that affected your racial consciousness).

 

Section V: Race, Wealth, Property, and Class

11/16 Read Oliver and Shapiro Black Wealth/White Wealth, c. 6 and 7

11/21 Cheryl Harris "Whiteness as Property," Harvard Law Review 106

11/28 Reread Harris "Whiteness as property"

Race discourse analysis 3 due

11/30 Nancy Abelmann and John Lie c. 6 of Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots

Michael Omi and Howard Winant "The Lost Angeles ‘Race Riot’ and Contemporary U.S. Politics" in Gooding-Williams(ed.) Reading Rodney King (optional)

Melvin Oliver, James Johnson, and Walter Farrell "Anatomy of a Rebellion" in Gooding-Williams (ed.) Reading Rodney King

View Sa-i-gu (On reserve in HLC)

12/5 Life history assignment 3 due

12/7 Bell Faces at the Bottom of the Well c. 1-5

View Eyes on the Prize series one part 4 (on reserve HLC)

12/712 Bell c. 5-9, epilogue

12/14 Patterson The Ordeal of Integration C. 1 (electronic reserve) & 3 (class handout)

 

Final paper due on the day on which you would otherwise have an exam. Tentative topic. Seven page paper in which you compare and contrast the ways in which Steele, Young, and Patterson would analyze either one of your race discourse analyzes, the New York Times article on slaughterhouses, or some aspect of your life history.