The 27th Annual American Studies Forum
FORUM COURSE DESCRIPTION

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Courses

Faculty

Upcoming Forum


FEATURED TALK

The American Mosaic: The American People in an Age of Globalization

Norman R. Yetman

 

PHASE I

1. Introduction: The United States as a Multicultural Society

Norman R. Yetman

2. Globalization of American Society

Norman R. Yetman

3. Indigenous Peoples of the U.S.: the Mainland

Norman R. Yetman

4. Indigenous Peoples of the U.S.: Hawai'i

Ty P. Kawika Tengan

5. European Americans: From Many "Races" to One

Norman R. Yetman

6. African Americans and the Changing Significance of Race

Norman R. Yetman

7. Hispanic Americans" The "Latinization" of American Culture?

Norman R. Yetman

8. Asian Americans: From the "Yellow Peril" to a "Model Minority"?

Norman R. Yetman

9. Religion in Twentieth Century America: Piety, Politics, and Personal Identity

Norman R. Yetman

10. How Class is Lived in America

Norman R. Yetman

 

PHASE II

1. Globalization and Its Affects on the U.S.: Ten Years Later

Deane Neubauer

 

SUGGESTED READINGS

 
 
 

The American Mosaic: The American People in an Age of Globalizatin
by Norman R. Yetman

Since its very inception, the United States has been a society characterized by diversity—especially of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, region, and class. This year’s forum will revisit and assess many of the themes addressed in CAPE’s 1997 forum, “The American People in the Twentieth Century: The Changing Dynamics of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in American Life.” It will seek to understand contemporary American society and culture by focusing on the historical backgrounds and cultural and social characteristics of the wide range of ethnic, racial, and religious categories that collectively comprise the American people and especially on how these ethnic and religious categories have been related to and affected by the broad social, demographic, economic, political and cultural changes in American life in the past quarter century Above all, this forum will explore the ways in which the forces of globalization, especially in the past decade, have contributed to the increasingly diverse, multicultural society that the United States has become in the twenty-first century.

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PHASE I

1. Introduction: The United States as a Multicultural Society
by Norman R. Yetman

This session will provide an introduction to the forum theme by providing a statistical overview of American racial and ethnic categories, religious bodies, and the distribution of income and wealth during the past quarter century and by examining some of the most critical recent cultural, social, political, economic, and public policy changes in American life. It will focus especially on the impact of immigration during the past quarter century in transforming American life. Although the United States has from its inception been characterized as a “nation of immigrants,” the two largest and most ethnically diverse waves of immigration in American history took place at the beginning and at the end of the twentieth century, which can be divided into three distinct periods that roughly coincide with significant changes in American immigration policy. The first period—the era of massive immigration primarily from southern and eastern Europe—began in the late 1880s and ended with restrictionist legislation enacted in the 1920s that was explicitly racist in its assumptions. The second period—roughly from 1930 to 1970—was characterized by dramatically diminished numbers of immigrants and by the socioeconomic mobility of the 2nd and 3rd generation descendants of those who entered during the first period. Finally, since 1970 and continuing to the present day, patterns of immigration into the United States have been radically transformed in two respects: in the increased numbers of people entering, both legally and illegally, and in the global (especially Asian, Latin American, and Caribbean) origins of the immigrants. We will consider the causes, characteristics, and consequences of the most recent wave of immigration and the political controversies it has spawned; 2) attempt to situate the most recent immigrant wave of immigration to the United States within the overall context of increasing globalization, especially by broad structural, economic, political, and technological changes in the American presence in countries throughout the world; and 3) explore the ways in which the increasingly multicultural character of American society that has resulted from these changing immigration dynamics has affected and will continue to affect American political, economic, social, and cultural life in the twenty-first century. The issues considered in this session will be emphasized throughout most of the subsequent sessions.

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2. Globalization and American Society
by Norman R. Yetman

What is globalization and what has been its impact on American society and culture? All of us are aware, at least intuitively, that the world in which we live is dramatically changing (this conference could itself be seen as a case study of the broader processes of globalization: use of English as a common language, immediate access by jet plane, continuing contact thru e-mail, clothing manufactured in off-shore factories in Third World countries, access to immediate news and common cultural items through the internet, etc). In this session we will seek a broad definition of globalization and explore some of the ways in which American society and culture have been transformed by social, economic, political, and cultural forces far beyond its immediate local and national borders, particularly in the context of the post-9-11 security state.

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3. Indigenous Peoples of the U.S.: the Mainland
by Norman R. Yetman

One important dimension of globalization has been the recognition of their common interests by indigenous people throughout the world. Sessions 3 and 4 will focus on Indigenous Peoples of the United States. On the Mainland, American Indian Peoples are characterized by a great diversity of cultures, despite the popular perception of them as a single, distinct ethnic group, and most American Indians today identify themselves primarily by their tribal (national) affiliation (for example, as members of the Navojo, Havasupai, or Cherokee nations). However, in contrast to other American racial and ethnic minorities, American Indian Peoples share a unique legal and political status within the United States as a result of treaties—legal contracts—that they have entered into with the federal and state governments. As a result, although most of these treaties were signed in the 18th and 19th centuries, American Indian Peoples today “are due certain privileges, protections, and benefits of yielding some of their sovereignty to the United States.” Among these are commitments and obligations by the federal government to protect Indian lands and to provide social, medical, and educational services. In session 3 we will examine recent changes—reflected especially by the emergence of a discourse of sovereignty and assertions of rights as citizens of sovereign nations—that have enabled American Indian Peoples, despite strong pressures to assimilate into the mainstream of American society, to cling tenaciously to their cultures, lands, and legal rights and to experience a substantial increase in population growth in the past quarter century.

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4. Indigenous Peopls of the U.S.: Hawai'i
by Ty P. Kawika Tengan

Here we will focus on Hawai‘i, with its unique history that continues to undergird and inform economic divisions and political debate. Hawai‘i is today characterized by ethnic diversity and intermarriage so extensive that it has frequently been portrayed as a multicultural laboratory, a “rainbow,” “The Melting Pot of the Pacific.” Most important to the discussion of indigeneity in American life, approximately one-fifth of Hawai‘i residents claim a indigenous Hawaiian identity, and their continued presence and their legal claims upon the islands have manifested in a Hawaiian sovereignty movement now into its third decade. We will look at how this has shaped discourse not only over issues of ethnic identity in the islands, but also about ?the very nature of Hawaiian “Americanness.”

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5. European Americans: From Many "Races" to One
by Norman R. Yetman

The European diaspora since the 16th century has been the greatest in human history. Since 1600 more than 75 million Europeans have settled throughout the world, but the United States has been their principal destination. The earliest immigrants were drawn primarily from northern and western Europe. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, industrialization fueled a demand for labor that attracted millions of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. Native-born whites held deep-seated prejudices against these new immigrants, believing them to be innately—“racially”—inferior to previous immigrants and incapable of being assimilated into American society. Nevertheless, today their descendants have achieved occupational, economic, and educational parity with other whites, and ethnic differences among white ethnic groups are more symbolic than real. Ironically, this coalescing of the European-ancestry population has occurred at precisely the time that its proportion of the population has been declining—from nearly 90 percent of the population in 1950 to less than 70 percent today. In this session we will explore the social, economic, and political implications of these changes.

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6. African Americans and the Changing Significance of Race
by Norman R. Yetman

May 17, 2004 marked the 50th anniversary of the U. S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision, the most momentous judicial decision of the twentieth century and, arguably, the most important Court decision in American history. The Brown decision declared that racially segregated schools were “inherently unequal,” and therefore unconstitutional, thereby marking the end of the “separate but equal” legal doctrine the Court had established nearly 60 years earlier, which had provided the legal justification of the system of racial segregation and oppression that was widespread throughout the U.S. South throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

The Brown decision represented the midpoint in a century-long struggle for civil rights by African Americans, and the history and legacy of the political, social, cultural, and legal issues it involved stand as a metaphor for and microcosm of American society in the last century. The tensions, struggles, conflicts, and divisions the Brown case elicited themselves reflect broader issues of the very structure and nature of American federalism and the Constitutional separation of powers, as well the meaning and reality of one of the most celebrated and contested values—equality—in American life.

Although the specific issue with which Brown was concerned was education, the real issue was race. Although education continues to be one of the primary arenas in which issues of equity and equality that Brown raised are fought, the impact of the decision went far beyond the specific institution of education and had implications for race relations in every phase of American life. This session will examine the historical, cultural, sociological, and legal origins, impact, and consequences of the case, especially during the half-century since the Court’s 1954 decision, and will focus on the debates, controversies, and conflict over race in American life that has occurred in its wake and explore its implications for the future of American society and culture.

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7. Hispanic Americans: The "Latinization" of American Culture?
by Norman R. Yetman

Hispanic Americans constitute the largest and numerically the most rapidly growing ethnoracial categories in contemporary American society. In 1950 the Hispanic or Latino population stood at approximately 2.5 million (less than 2 % of the total population). By 1980 their numbers had reached 14.6 million (6.4% of the population), and in the next two decades the number of Latinos more than doubled, to more than 35.3 million (12.5%), surpassing the African American population for the first time in American history. 2004 estimates place their number at more than 40 million, or more than 14 percent. Finally, Recent census projections suggest that the Latino population will total nearly 90 million, or nearly one-fourth (22%) of the population, by 2050. This dramatic increase in the Hispanic population in the United States is the result of both higher Hispanic fertility rates and substantially increased rates of immigration from Latin America, especially from Mexico, and the presence of a growing Hispanic population has been a critical element of the growing post-9/11 clamor for immigration restriction, for the United States to “take control of our borders.”

However, to refer to Spanish speaking people as a single ethnic category is misleading. The terms Hispanic or Latino, which are of recent origin, obscure the great diversity of historical, cultural, and geographic backgrounds among them. Although Latinos are more likely than the rest of the U.S. population to be Spanish speaking, Catholic, and poor, they do not constitute a single ethnic category. The category of "Hispanics" includes representatives from more than twenty Latin American and Caribbean nations, as well as from Spain and Portugal. More than three fourths of Hispanic Americans are of Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban descent, but there are also substantial communities of people from the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and several other Caribbean, Central American, and South American nations. This session will explore the impact of the growing presence of Latinos, not only in the traditional states—Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico--bordering Mexico but throughout the entire country.

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8. Asian Americans: From the "Yellow Peril" to a "Model Minority"?
by Norman R. Yetman

In his recent autobiographical commentary, The Accidental Asian, Eric Liu argues that 40 years ago there may have been Orientals among the American people, but there were no Asian Americans. However, as a result of U.S. Census Bureau definitions that subsumed people from over 20 different nationalities under the rubric of Asian American, “In the eyes of the Feds, all Asians now looked alike.” Asian Americans, he contends, are therefore an "invented" race, representing a “panoply of interests.” Historically the number of people from Asia who have immigrated to the United States is relatively small compared to the millions of European and Latino immigrants. However, since 1965 changes in U.S. immigration laws (which for nearly half a century had excluded most Asians) have resulted in a rapidly growing Asian population. Paralleling this increase, the popular image of Asian Americans has undergone a metamorphosis, from a “Yellow Peril,” whose alien presence was perceived as a threat to American social, economic, and political institutions to a “Model Minority,” whose educational, occupational, and economic successes (Asian American households have higher incomes than all other American racial and ethnic categories—including whites) are celebrated by politicians and the media. In this session we will examine the diverse experiences of Asian Americans in the late-20th and early-21st centuries and explore explanations for the model minority thesis.

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9. Religion in Twentieth Century America: Piety, Politics, and Personal Identity
by Norman R. Yetman

Religion has always been a conspicuous feature of American life and a critical component of personal and group identity. From the earliest European settlements, American society society has been been perceived to be among the most religious countries in the Western world. In this session we will consider the changing dynamics of religion in the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries, focusing on the paradox of the pervasive religiosity amid increasing secularization, the continued existence of an extraordinary variety of religious organizations, and, especially, the growing political and cultural impact—especially on issues involving gender and sexuality (e.g. gay marriage and abortion) of conservative evangelical religious groups.

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10. How Class is Lived in America
by Norman R. Yetman

Describing American society in the early 1830, the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville began his classic book, Democracy in America, by saying, "Among the novel objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of condition among the people.” The perception of the United States as a society characterized by a "general equality of condition" among a broad middle class and by the relative absence of extreme poverty and extreme wealth has persisted to the present as an article of faith for both Americans and foreign observers alike. The ideal of "middle-class America" is invariably reflected in political campaignsBfor offices from President to city commissionerBas candidates consistently invoke appeals to the American middle class. For example, in his 1988 presidential campaign, George H.W. Bush, the father of the current President, asserted that attention to class "is for European democracies or something else--it isn't for the United States of America. We are not going to be divided by class." In this session we will examine whether the "general equality of condition" that Tocqueville described in 1830 and Bush asserted in 1988 can be found in the United States today.

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PHASE II

1. Globalization and Its Affects on the U.S.: Ten Years Later
by Deane Neubauer

Ten years ago when Dr. Norman Yetman presided as keynote speaker for the American Studies Forum, one of his presentations focused on globalization's various impacts on the U.S. In this, Dr. Yetman's tenth anniversary return to the Forum, we will examine how globalizaiton has further impacted the U.S. during this ten-year interval.

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SUGGESTED READINGS

1-2. Introduction and Overview:
U.S. Census Bureau. “Nation’s Population One-Third Minority.” U.S. Census Bureau News. May 10, 2006. http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/006808.html.

David Hollinger, “Postethnic America.” In Norman R. Yetman, ed. Majority and Minority: The Dynamics of Race and Ethnicity in American Life (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 6th edition, 1999);

Douglas S. Massey, “The New Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States.” In Yetman, Majority and Minority.

Correspondents of The New York Times and Joseph Lelyveld, How Race is Lived in America: Pulling Together, Pulling Apart. (New York: Times Books, 2001).

Herbert J. Gans, “Acculturation, Assimilation, and Mobility.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 30:1 (January 2007).

4. Indigenous Peoples: Native Americans:
Stella U. Ogunwole, “We the People: American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States.” Census 2000 Special Reports (February 2006). http://www.census.gov/prod/2006pubs/censr-28.pdf.

“Indigeneity at the Crossroads of American Studies.” Special joint issue of American Studies 46:3/4 (Fall/Winter 2005) and Indigenous Studies Today 1 (Fall 2005/Spring 2006). See especially the articles by Russell Thornton, “Native American Demographic and Tribal Survival into the Twenty-first Century”; Erich Steinman, “The Contemporary Revival and Diffusion of Indigenous Sovereignty Discourse”; and Jessica R. Cattelino, “Tribal Gaming and Indigenous Sovereignty, with Notes from Seminole Country.”

David E. Wilkins, American Indian Politics and the American Political System. (Boulder, CO: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002). Philip Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

5. Indigenous Peoples: Native Hawaiians:
J. Kehaulani Kaunanui, “The Multiplicity of Hawaiian Sovereignty Claims and the Struggle for Meaningful Autonomy.” Comparative American Studies 3:3, (2005) 283—289.

Sally Engle Merry, "Law and Identity in an American Colony." in Law and Empire in the Pacific, co-edited by Sally Engle Berry and Donald Brenneis. (Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press, 2004).

Tracie Ku’uipo Cummings Losch, “Hawaiian Issues.” The Contemporary Pacific 19:1 (2007).

Davianana Pomaika’i McGregor, Na Kua’aina: Living Hawaiian Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawai’I Press, 2007).

Jonathan Kamakawiwo’ole Osorio “’What Kine Hawaiian Are You?’ A Mo’olelo about Nationhood, Race, History, and the Contemporary Movement in Hawai’i.” The Contemporary Pacific 13:2 (2001).

Rona Tamiko Halualani, In the Name of Hawaiians: Native Identities and Cultural Politics. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002).

6-7. European Americans:
Roger Daniels, Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life (New York: Harper Perennial, 2nd ed., 2002).

Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).

Joe Feagin, Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations (Routledge, 2000).

Pamela Perry, Shades of White: White Kids and Racial Identities in High School. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002).

8-9. African Americans:
Jesse D. McKinnon and Claudette E. Bennett, “We the People: Blacks in the United States.” Census 2000 Special Reports (August 2005). http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/censr-25.pdf.

“The American Community—Blacks: 2004.” The American Community Survey Reports. (February 2007): http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/acs-04.pdf.

Norman R. Yetman, “’Black Monday’: Brown v. Board of Education and the Significance of Race in American Life.” In Hanna Waldinger, ed., Transitions: Race, Culture, and Change and the Dynamics of Change (Vienna: Lit Verlag GmbH & Co., 2006).

Richard Kluger, “Visible Man: Fifty Years After Brown.” Chapter 27 In Kluger, Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Edcucation and Black America’s Struggle for Equality (New York: Vintage Books, 2nd ed., 2006).

“On Race.” Special issue of Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Winter 2005).

Jennifer Lee and Frank D. Bean, “America’s Changing Color Lines: Immigration, Race/Ethnicity, and Multiracial Identification” Annual Review of Sociology. 30 (2004).

10. Latinos:
U.S. Census Bureau. “The American Community—Hispanics: 2004.” The American Community Survey Reports. (February 2007): http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/acs-03.pdf.

“Three Sisters”: a series of 3 New York Times articles on 3 sisters who migrate from Mexico to the United States: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/us/three_sisters.html.

Roberto Suro, Strangers Among Us: Latino Lives in a Changing America (New York: Vintage Books, 1999).

Marcelo M Suarez-Orozco and Mariela Paez, eds., Latinos: Remaking America (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2002).



11. Asian Americans:
U.S. Census Bureau. “The American Community—Asians, 2004.” The American Community Survey Reports. (February 2007). http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/acs-05.pdf.

Eric Liu, The Accidental Asian (New York: Vintage Books, 1999). Mia Tuan, Forever Foreigner or Honorary Whites? The Asian Ethnic Experience Today (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999).

Frank H. Wu, Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White (New York: Basic Books, 2002).

Numerous articles in the Journal of Asian American Studies.

12. Religion:
Catherine Albanese, American Religions and Religion. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2007). Diana Eck, A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001).

13. Social Inequality:

New York Times and Bill Keller, Class Matters. (New York: Times Books, 2005).

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