Honors | Immigration & Ethnic Identity (COLL)
S104 | 15139 | Jeff Holdeman
This class meets with GLLC-S 104.
The United States has been called "the great American melting pot,"
and some foreign visitors contend that it has no discernible culture
or identity of its own. Is America a fondue of uniform taste and
consistency, or is it a stew of individually identifiable
ingredients which has a flavor all its own?
In this course we will explore ways in which one's culture and
identity (traditional and contemporary, from one's homeland and in
one's new environment) can manifest themselves in art, music, food,
clothing, language, social structure, religion, worldview, etc. We
will do this through posing a series of questions: What do people
arrive with beyond their physical baggage? What do they choose to
keep and discard from their native culture? How do they choose
to "perform" or display this to each other and to the outside?
Students will learn and discuss core concepts from a variety of
fields, things such as language maintenance and shift; boundary
construction and negotiation; material culture; generation gap;
regional variation; endogamy and exogamy; and acculturation,
assimilation, and transculturation. At the core will be the concept
of identity and the many forms it can take. Students will also
learn basic techniques of urban fieldwork in order to carry out
interviews and projects later in the semester. All of these will
come together in the process of trying to answer what it means to
be "ethnic" in America.
The course will consist of at-home readings, in-class discussions,
guest visits, films, and fieldtrips, and it will culminate in the
presentation of multimedia course projects based on an ethnic
community in a locale chosen by the student.
This is not a course on the history of immigration to the U.S. or on
immigration or immigrant policies, although we will quickly see how
these are inextricably linked to the main topics of the course, and
we will slowly come to realize how a greater, in-depth understanding
of the components of ethnic identity and the mechanics of its
negotiation can inform the discussion of immigration and immigrants
in the United States.