Department of Ethnic Studies - College of Letters and Science - University of California, Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2017

ETHSTD 144AC | CCN: 15063

Racism and the U.S. Law: Historical Treatment of Peoples of Color

john a. powell,

4 Units


This course will examine major global trends relating to identity and identity formation, demographic change and movement of peoples and the reactionary responses along dimensions of race, ethnicity, religion, and other social cleavages. As such, this course will examine the rhetoric and mechanics of “Othering,” processes that engender group-based marginality and inequality across any of the full range of human differences.  While examining many of the expressions of “othering” and group-based marginality, we will investigate how race in the United States serves as a master category for framing issues of equality and inclusion around dimensions of difference, and how race in the United States represents these modes of discourse.   There is growing evidence that even white Americans are starting to experience anxiety about belonging from fear of the growing diversity. This course will also investigate the other side of othering, “belonging.” The primary good a society extends or withholds from its members is belonging.  A number of disciplines, including law, social psychology, philosophy, religion, and others, have begun to explore the importance of belonging as well, and we will examine interventions that might expand the “circle of human concern” so that no one is left out.  The processes of othering and identity making are marked by the important role of organized power in the form of community and political groups, corporations and media and, perhaps most importantly, government.  We expect this tension to heighten in the wake of the 2016 national election.