Thursday, February 06, 2014

Graduate Course Syllabus

History of Ethnicity and Race
HIST 604
Semester Spring 2014
Department of History
University of Ghana
J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.

Meeting Time: TBA

Course Description: This a graduate level course examining the concepts and practices related to ethnicity and race in an historical context. In particular the course will focus on ethnic and racial formation, the history of racism and ethnic and racial discrimination, and the role of the state in such categorization and persecution. A special emphasis will be placed on examining the most extreme forms of ethnic and racial persecution such as apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. The first part of the class will focus more on theoretical works dealing with ethnicity and race while the second half will deal more with specific case studies. Among those case studies that will receive significant attention are the Soviet Union, ethnic Germans and Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, Chinese in South East Asia, Palestine, and South Africa during apartheid.

Requirements: This course is a discussion orientated seminar. That means that most of the talking in class should be done by the students and not the lecturer. In order to best prepare for such discussions it is imperative that students thoroughly read the assigned material prior to coming to class. It is also necessary for them to have thought through the issues and questions brought up in the reading.  The grade for the class will be based on a 3,000 to 4,000 word bibliographic essay discussing the historiography of a particular ethnic or racial conflict and a final exam. The essay will count for 30% of the total grade and the comprehensive final exam will count for 70%.


The instructor will provide the students with electronic copies of all of the readings.

Grading: The grade will consist of one 3,000-4,000 historiographical essay and a final exam worth 30% and 70% respectively.

Class Schedule:

Week one: Introduction and Review of Syllabus

Week two: Ethnicity

Read: John Hutchinson and Anthony Smith, eds., Oxford Readers: Ethnicity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

Week three: Ethnicity and Nationalism

Read: Walker Connor, Ethnonationalism: The Quest for Understanding (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).

Week four: Race

Read:  Kennan Malik, The Meaning of Race: Race, History and Culture in Western Society (Houndsmills, UK: Palgrave, 1996).

Week five: Race, Ethnicity, and Class

Read: John Rex, Race and Ethnicity (Buckingham UK: Open University Press, 1986) and Etienne Balibar, “Is there a ‘Neo-Racism?’” in Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities (London: Verso, 1991), pp. 17-28.

Week six: The Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity

Read: George Fredrickson, The Comparative Imagination: On the History of Racism, Nationalism and Social Movements (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997) and Peter Blitstein, “Cultural Diversity and the Interwar Conjuncture: Soviet Nationality Policy in its Comparative Context,” Slavic Review, vol. 65, no. 2, (summer 2006), pp. 273-293.

Week seven: Diasporas

Read: Daniel Chirot and Anthony Reid, eds., Essential Outsiders: Chinese and Jews in the Modern Transformation of Southeast Asia and Central Europe (London: University of Washington Press, 1997) and James Clifford, “Diasporas,” Cultural Anthropology, vol. 9, no. 3, (August 1994), pp. 302-338.

Week eight: Ethnic Construction in the USSR

Read: Terry Martin, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (London: Cornell University Press, 2001).

Week nine: Ethnic Cleansing

Read: Norman Naimark, Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth Century Europe (London: Harvard University Press, 2001) and Steffan Prausser and Arfon Rees, eds., The Expulsion of the ‘German’ Communities from Eastern Europe at the End of the Second World War (San Domenico, Italy: European University Institute, 2004).

Week ten: Genocide

Read: Robert Gellately and Ben Kiernan, eds., The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective (Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003) and Tilman Dedering, “The German-Herero War of 1904: Revisionism of Genocide or Imaginary Historiography?,” Journal of Southern African Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, March 1993, pp. 80-88.

Week eleven: Race in Palestine and South Africa

Read: Tilley et. al, Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid: A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law (Cape Town: HSRC, 2009) and Oren Yiftachel, “’Ethnocracy’ and its Discontents: Minorities, Protests, and the Israeli Polity,” Critical Inquiry, vol. 26, no. 4 (summer 2000), pp. 725-756.

Week twelve: Ethnicity in the USSR after Stalin

Read: Rasma Karklins, Ethnic Relations in the USSR: The Perspective from Below (London: Allen & Unwin, 1986) and Chapters 1-2 in Valery Tishkov, The Mind Aflame:  Ethnicity, Nationalism, & Conflict in and after the Soviet Union (London: Sage Publications, 1997), pp. 1-43.

Week thirteen: Race in the USSR

Read: Eric Weitz, “Racial Politics without the Concept of Race: Reevaluating Soviet Ethnic and National Purges,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (spring 2002), pp. 1-29; Francine Hirsch, “Race without the Practice of Racial Politics,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (spring 2002), pp. 30-43; Amir Weiner, “Nothing but Certainty,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (spring 2002), pp. 44-53; Alaina Lemon, “Without a ‘Concept’? Race as Discursive Practice,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (spring 2001), pp. 54-61; Eric Weitz, “On Certainties and Ambivalences: Reply to my Critics,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (spring 2002); pp. 62-65;  J. Otto Pohl, “Soviet Apartheid: Stalin’s Ethnic Deportations , Special Settlement Restrictions, and the Labor Army: The Case of the Ethnic Germans in the USSR,” Human Rights Review, vol. 13, no. 2 (June 2012), pp. 205-224.

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