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Politicized "Ethnicity": Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to the Study of Identity Politics

PLSC 2235

What is ethnicity? Are ethnic identities more likely to influence political outcomes than other types of identity (e.g., gender, profession, class), and if so, why? This course introduces competing concepts of ethnic identity. We analyze what is useful or problematic about each approach, and use these insights to think critically about specific cases. Specifically, we engage readings, podcasts, videos and documentary footage from political science, sociology, evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, and legal studies. Why take this course? Gaining insight into “ethnic” identity and its relation to politics has implications for everything from self-understanding and daily social life, to political campaigns, activist tactics, and episodes of political violence. The course is conceptual and comparative and does not focus primarily on the United States. Yet, the critical thinking, reading and writing skills that you hone in the course, in addition to your knowledge of world events and other cases, will enable you to make better sense of identity politics in the U.S., as well as instances of political conflict throughout world history. The course satisfies the departmental sub-field requirement for majors in comparative/international politics. Recommended before taking this course: one introductory level course in political science.