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The American understanding of race has changed over time, but in different ways race has been a crucial line of division in American society since the seventeenth century.The subject begins and ends in the present, but circles back to survey the history of race in America over centuries. The history of African Americans from slavery through the eras of legal segregation, the civil rights era and beyond, forms a central strand in the subject, both because of its own importance and because the black experience has at many times affected how other racial minorities have been understood and treated in US history. We will also study Native American history, from the treaty-making frontier to the era of assimilation and beyond, examine the long history of US relations with Hispanic people within and without the nation and survery Asian American history. The history of whiteness in the US, including the history of the procession of immigrant groups seeking assimilation into the category of white Americans, will also be a theme. The subject concludes with reflections on the way that in the contemporary US, the increasing Hispanic and Asian-American populations were rendering the bipolar, black/white understanding of race in America increasingly obsolete, just as the first black president was elected.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject should be able to:
- have an enhanced understanding of African American, Native American, Asian American and Hispanic history and of the issues they has raise about race in US national life;
- have demonstrated an ability to undertake guided independent research on a topic in the history of race in US history;
- have an enhanced understanding of the major interpretive debates about the history of race in America;
- have an enhanced understanding of the extent of change and continuity over the long history of race in America; and
- have demonstrated an ability to communicate historical arguments in writing and orally.
Last updated: 19 November 2019