Image of a crowd of refugees on the move.

“Refugees from the bestiality of wars and despotisms and the savagery of famished and prospectless existence have knocked on other people’s doors since the beginnings of modern times. For people behind those doors, they were always—as they are now—strangers.”

—Zygmunt Bauman, Strangers at Our Door

Both celebrated and reviled, immigration in the U.S. has a complicated history, especially when examined through the lens of race/ethnicity. Often the source of what sociologists call a “moral panic,” immigration has produced cultural, economic, and political tension and conflict not only in the U.S. but throughout the world, particularly when those immigrating are “not like us.” Structured as part seminar and part research practicum, this course pursues a critical examination of immigration in the United States—both past and present—and its intimate connections with race and ethnic identity. While we will examine the impact of the larger social and historical contexts on the intersection of race and immigration, this course will move beyond the black-white binary and center the experiences of immigrants themselves as they struggle to gain a stable foothold in their new home country, maintain their cultural heritage while simultaneously assimilating to the larger society, and face a pre-existing racial order that plays a fundamental role in shaping their future opportunities.

Topics Covered:

  • Immigration as a Moral Panic
  • Strangers at Our Door—Human Flow, Migration Panic, & Floating Insecurity
  • Generations of Exclusion, Introducing the Survey of Mexican Americans
  • Creating a Survey Using Qualtrics
  • Reconstructing the Survey of Mexican Americans
  • Generations of Exclusion, Assimilation and Racialization
  • Conducting Interviews
  • Generations of Exclusion, Education, Economic Status, and Politics
  • Immigrant Nation! The Battle for the American Dream
  • Generations of Exclusion, Culture, Ethnic Identity, and Interethnic Relations
  • Field Trip: Mercado Central
  • Generations of Exclusion, A Historical-Structural Theory of Immigration & Assimilation
  • Social Class and Ethnic Myths
  • The Asian American Achievement Paradox, Structural vs. Cultural Perspectives on Asian-American Achievement
  • Field Trip: Hmong Cultural Center
  • The Asian American Achievement Paradox, The Model-Minority Stereotype of Asian Success
  • Immigrant Community Organizations
  • The Asian American Achievement Paradox—Culture, Success, and Assimilation
  • Field Trip: Somali Mall
  • Data Analysis Using Qualtrics and Presentation Preparation
  • The Class Character of Racial and Ethnic Conflict
  • Guest Speaker: The International Institute of Minnesota
  • Strangers at Our Door—Where Do We Go From Here?
  • Class Presentations