Communication and Culture | Ethnicity, Class, and the Model U.S. Citizen
C346 | 26960 | Gershon, I.


TuTh, 9:30 AM-10:45 AM, C2 100

Instructor: Ilana Gershon 	
E-Mail: igershon@indiana.edu
Office: 800 E. 3rd St.  room 215
Phone: 856-3728

This course asks two central questions: What kind of differences are
multicultural nation-states trying to govern, and what are the
paradoxes involved in governing these differences?  We will be
looking at the United States as a case study to answer these
questions. In this course, we examine how differences are
represented in the United States, and what implications this has for
being a U.S. citizen.

Why the focus on the model U.S. citizen? In recent years we have
heard a great deal about difference and diversity. But in these
discussions and debates, the one thing that people will tend not to
talk about is -- where are these categories of diversity coming
from?  How in particular do current ethnic categories emerge? They
were never written in stone.  Categories of identity develop, shift,
and reform over the decades. How does that happen?

Ethnicity and class are social facts: governing constructs that take
on a concreteness that lets them become the foundations of our
social life. These constructs, these social facts, form the basis of
our lived reality. In the case of ethnicity and class, these social
facts put certain groups of people at a serious disadvantage. They
take on the force of law and science when they are instantiated by
people in positions of authority and accepted as such by the rest of
us. Ethnicity and class figure very importantly into the history of
U.S. cultures.

They are central to American culture, whether Americans want to
admit it or not (and many do not). As we will see throughout this
course, ethnicity and class have worked in ways that keep people who
live on the political downside of U.S. culture from being taken
seriously.

In this course we are going to pay close attention to the
assumptions lying behind public accounts of ethnicity and class in
immigration law, the census, congressional hearings, and so on. It
is important for you to see how the culture you live in is made.
Some of you will go on to study law or social work, so it is even
more important that you think about these issues carefully and
critically.