CSER UN1040 Sec 001

*Major Requirement
Prof. Mae Ngai—MW 4:10am-5:25pm | TBA
This course provides an introduction to central approaches and concepts animating the investigation of race and ethnicity. We will not treat either of these categories of difference as a given, nor as separable from other axes of social difference. Rather, we will apply an interdisciplinary and intersectional framework to illuminate how these concepts have come to emerge and cohere within a number of familiar and less familiar socio-cultural and historical contexts. We will consider how racial and ethnic differentiation as fraught but powerful processes have bolstered global labor regimes and imperial expansion projects; parsed, managed, and regulated populations; governed sexed and gendered logics of subject and social formation; and finally, opened and constrained axes of self-understanding, political organization, and social belonging. Special attention will be given to broadening students' understanding of racial and ethnic differentiation beyond examinations of identity. Taken together, theoretical and empirical readings, discussions, and outside film screenings will prepare students for further coursework in race and ethnic studies, as well as fields such as literary studies, women’s studies, history, sociology, and anthropology.


CSER UN3913 SEC 001

Negron-Muntaner, Frances – T – 2:10pm-4:00pm – Location: 420 Hamilton Hall
The goal of this course is to familiarize students with visual production, particularly video production, as a mode of inquiry to explore questions related to race, ethnicity, indigeneity, and other forms of social hierarchy and difference. The class will include readings in visual production as a mode of inquiry and on the basic craft of video production in various genres (fiction, documentary, and experimental). As part of the course, students will produce a video short and complete it by semester's end.


CSER UN3934 SEC 001


Alex La Rotta – M 10:10am-12pm – 420 Hamilton hall

This course is designed to get students to think more deeply about the ethno-racial roots—and routes—of rock and roll music as a national, historical phenomenon. In this class, we’ll conceive rock and roll broadly to include peripheral genres which are related to or derived from its origins, including rhythm and blues, jazz, soul, funk, boogaloo, salsa, disco, and hip-hop, to thread together and discuss the relationships between music, identity, and race in the United States. Latinxs and African Americans have played significant, if underrecognized, roles in shaping American popular music; the cultural connections and musical interactivity between these communities are lesser understood in popular narratives of postwar American music. To this end, this course will uncover a broad social, racial, national, and transnational history of rock and roll to understand how musicians of color innovated long-standing musical traditions in their communities; maintained cultural and political links within the diaspora; and navigated regional racial schemas in the United States and Latin America.


CSER GU3935 SEC 001


Prof. Claudio Lomnitz --  T  10:10pm-12 pm  -- 420 Hamilton Hall

Beginning in the 1980s, border crossing became an academic rage in the humanities and the social sciences.  This was a consequence of globalization, a historical process that reconfigured the boundaries between economy, society and culture, and it was also a primary theme of post-modernist aesthetics, which celebrated playful borrowing of multiple and diverse historical references. Within that frame, interest in the US-Mexican border shifted dramatically.  Since that border is the longest and most intensively crossed boundary between a rich and a poor country, it became a paradigmatic point of reference.  Places like Tijuana or El Paso, with their rather seedy reputation, had until then been of interest principally to local residents, but they now became exemplars of post-modern “hybridity,” and were meant to inspire the kind of transnational scholarship that is required in today’s world.  Indeed, the border itself became a metaphor, a movable imaginary boundary that marks ethnic and racial distinction in American and Mexican cities. Since the mid 1990s, however, the excitement around the possibilities of hybridity has diminished, and the border has become a site of fear and apprehension.  The construction of a border wall or fence is a material monument to these fears, that are diffuse in nature, and range from concerns around migrant labor, to drugs, political infiltration, and racial anxieties.  Violence on the border intensified steeply in the 1990s, and Mexico’s drug war (beginning 2006) sharply intensified images of danger and of the border itself as a site of danger.



CSER UN1011 SEC 001


Magpantay, Glenn – T  12:10pm -2pm – Location: TBD

This interdisciplinary course will examine major themes within the field of Asian American Studies. Through critical analysis of historical, scholarly, literary, and visual media, we will look at the intersecting histories and the social, economic and political contexts that have shaped and continue to shape the multifaceted understandings and experiences of Asian Americans in the U.S as well as Asian diasporic communities across the Americas. We will focus on the waves and patterns of Asian migration to the US beginning in the 19th century so as to address major themes and key contemporary issues such as the history of Asian exclusion and marginalization in the U.S.; multi-ethnic Asian American identity formation and racialization; affirmative action and production of the “model minority” myth; constructions of gender and sexuality; Islamophobia; activism and social movements and; multiracial solidarities and radical politics.



CSER UN3701 Sec 001


Morales, Edward – T 4:10pm–6:00pm Location: TBA

The course will investigate the possibility that hybrid constructions of identity among Latinos in the U.S. are the principal driving force behind the cultural production of Latinos in literature and film. There will be readings on the linguistic implications of “Spanglish” and the construction of Latino racial identity, followed by examples of literature, film, music, and other cultural production that provide evidence for bilingual/bicultural identity as a form of adaptation to the U.S. Examples will be drawn from different Latino ethnicities from the Caribbean, Mexico, and the rest of Latin America.


CSER UN3940 Sec 001


OuYang, Elizabeth – R 10:10am-12:00pm – Location: TBA

This course will examine how the American legal system decided constitutional challenges affecting the empowerment of African, Latino, and Asian American communities from the 19th century to the present. Focus will be on the role that race, citizenship, capitalism/labor, property, and ownership played in the court decision in the context of the historical, social, and political conditions existing at the time. Topics include the denial of citizenship and naturalization to slaves and immigrants, government-sanctioned segregation, the struggle for reparations for descendants of slavery, and Japanese Americans during World War II.



CSER UN3942 SEC 001


Fennell, Catherine – W 2:10pm-4:00pm – Location: TBD

In this class we will approach race and racism from a variety of disciplinary and intellectual perspectives, including:  critical race theory/philosophy, anthropology, history and history of science and medicine. We will focus on the development and deployment of the race concept since the mid-19th century. Students will come to understand the many ways in which race has been conceptualized, substantiated, classified, managed and observed in the (social) sciences, medicine, and public health. We will also explore the practices and effects of race (and race-making) in familiar and less familiar social and political worlds. More specifically, we will address a series of questions, both historical and contemporary.  How does the concept of race shift over time?  With what consequences?  What is the relationship between philological commitment to “a family of languages” and the development of a modern, biological concept of race?   How has the relationship between "race" and "culture" been articulated in the history of anthropology in particular, and in racial theory more broadly? Can there be a concept of race without phenotype—a solely genotypic racial grouping?



CSER UN3970 Sec 001

Handal, Nathalie – M 2:10pm-4:00pm – Location: TBA

This course explores contemporary Arab American and the Arab Diaspora culture and history through literature and film produced by writers and filmmakers of these communities. As a starting historical point, the course explores the idea of Arabness, and examines the Arab migration globally, in particular to the U.S., focusing on three periods: 1875-1945, 1945-early 1960s, and late 1960s-present. By reading and viewing the most exciting and best-known literary works and films produced by these writers and filmmakers, students will attain an awareness of the richness and complexity of these societies. Additionally, students will read historical and critical works to help them have a deeper understanding of theses creative works. Discussions revolve around styles and aesthetics as well as identity and cultural politics. Some of the writers the class will cover include, Wajdi Mouawad, Diana Abu Jaber, Amin Maalouf, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Anthony Shadid, Hisham Matar, and Adhaf Soueif.





Darius Echeverria   – Location: 420 Hamilton Hall

The Senior Paper Colloquium will focus primarily on developing students' ideas for their research projects and discussing their written work. The course is designed to develop and hone the skills necessary to complete the senior paper. Students will receive guidance in researching for and writing an advanced academic paper. Conducted as a seminar, the colloquium provides the students a forum in which to discuss their work with each other. The CSER preceptor, who facilitates the colloquium, will also provide students with additional academic support; supplementary to the advice they receive from their individual faculty sponsors. While most of the course will be devoted to the students' work, during the first weeks of the term, students will read and discuss several ethnic studies-oriented texts to gain insight into the kinds of research projects done in the field.



CSER GU4340 Sec 001


Sayantani, Dasgupta – W 10:10am-12pm – Location: 420 Hamilton Hall
This course begins with the premise that racial justice is the bioethical imperative of our time. It will explore the space of science fiction as a methodology of imagining such just futures, embracing the work of Asian- and Afroturism, Cosmos Latinos and Indigenous Imaginaries. We will explore issues including Biocolonialism, Alien/nation, Transnational Labor and Reproduction, the Borderlands and Other Diasporic Spaces. This course will be seminar-style and will make central learner participation and presentation. The seminar will be inter-disciplinary, drawing from science and speculative fictions, cultural studies, gender studies, narrative medicine, disability studies, and bioethics. Ultimately, the course aims to connect the work of science and speculative fiction with on the ground action and organizing.



CSER GU4350 Sec 001


Gamalinda, Eric – R 4:10pm-6:00pm – Location: TBA

Russian filmmaker Andre Tarkovsky said that “the artist has no right to an idea in which he is not socially committed.” Argentine filmmaker Fernando Solanas and Spanish-born Octavio Getino postulated an alternative cinema that would spur spectators to political action. In this course we will ask the question: How do authoritarian governments influence the arts, and how do artists respond? We will study how socially committed filmmakers have subverted and redefined cinema aesthetics to challenge authoritarianism and repression. In addition, we will look at how some filmmakers respond to institutional oppression, such as poverty and corruption, even within so-called “free” societies. The focus is on contemporary filmmakers but will also include earlier classics of world cinema to provide historical perspective.


CSER GU4484 SEC 001


Stamatopoulou, Elsa – T 4:10pm-6pm – Location: 420 Hamilton Hall

Cultural rights are included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other human rights instruments. While academic teachings in the human rights field have been focusing on civil and political rights and, increasingly, on economic and social rights, and while cultural studies have been thriving, this has not been the case for cultural human rights. The purpose of the seminar is to fill this gap.


CSER UN3924 Sec 001


Rockefeller, Stuart – T 10:10am-12:00pm – Location: TBA

The class will survey the status of groups with compromised citizenship status internationally, including indigenous Bolivians, Indian immigrants to Dubai, and Arabs in France. Then we will look at several different kinds of subcitizenship in the United States, focusing on African Americans, Native Americans, “white trash,” and Chicanos. In the course of the term we will shift between looking at the administrative practices that render people subcitizens, experiences of marginalization, and how contestations such as the DREAM Act movement, the idea of “cultural citizenship” and newly powerful indigenous movements in South America are removing control of citizenship from states, and transforming citizenship for everyone.




Sandler, Matthew – M 4:10pm - 6:00pm – Location: 420 Hamilton Hall

Conceived in the 1920’s and 1930’s, American Studies sought to make a synoptic account of the “national character.” Since the 1960’s, the field has turned towards a focus on various forms of inequality as the dark side of American exceptionalism. This course surveys the development of the field’s current preoccupations, covering a range of periods, regions, groups, and cultural practices that present productive problems for generalizations about U.S. identity. We begin with the first academic movement in American Studies, the myth and symbol school—and think through its growth in the context of post-WWII funding for higher education. We then move on to a series of debates centered at intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. We’ll close by examining the historical background of protest movements built around the identitarian concerns about rape culture and mass incarceration.

CSER Student Guide

CSER Student Guide_2019-20__1112_cover.j

CSER continues to be Columbia's main interdisciplinary space for the study of ethnicity and race and their implications for thinking about culture, power, hierarchy, social identities, and political communities. The Center also offers a wide range of public programming, including Artist at the Center, Indigenous Forum, and Latino Public Speaker Series and the Transnational Asian/American Speaker Series. CSER's most recent spaces include the Media and Idea Lab and Gallery at the Center, a space dedicated to curating artistic and thematic exhibits around the Center’s key areas of interest.

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Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race

420 Hamilton Hall, MC 2880

1130 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY 10027

Tel 212-854-0507

Fax 212-854-0500