American Identities

Race, Ethnicity, and Global Networks in the 20th Century

Philip Bracher (M.A.)/ Dr. Martin Klimke 
English Department / History Department

Time/Location: Thursdays, 4.15 – 5.45 pm, Anglistisches Seminar, R 115
Registration: Friday, April 13, 2007, 9:00 am, Heuscheuer I / Anglistisches Seminar
Start: April 19, 2007
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 2-4 pm (Bracher, AS), Wednesdays, 5-7 pm (Klimke, HCA)


In his most recent book Who are We? (2004), Samuel Huntington has identified the migratory movement from Latin America to the United States as the “most serious challenge to America’s traditional identity”. Huntington confesses a deep unease about the current status quo: “Continuation of this large immigration (without improved assimilation) could divide the United States into a country of two languages and two cultures.”

Huntington’s position exemplifies a shift from the paradigms of diasporic identities and multicultural desires towards a “clash of civilizations” in immigration politics. It also illustrates that issues of migration have been at the core of the American understanding of “Self” and “Other.”

This course will trace the cultural and historical impact of immigration to the United States from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. The focus will be on issues of assimilation, pluralism, and transnationalism. It will attempt to posit a transnational paradigm against views in which cultures oppose each other as monolithic units.

For this purpose, we will analyze the immigrant literature and the history of immigration to the U.S. from the vantage point of various ethnic experiences (Asian-, Hispanic-, and African-American) in the 20th century, including a variety of movies and representations from popular culture illustrating these themes.
LITERATURE: A reader will be made available a week before the semester begins.