Geographies of U.S. Empire: Immigration, Race, and Citizenship (SCT2137.01)

Emily Mitchell-Eaton

This course examines the complex historical and contemporary formations that constitute U.S. empire, through a particular attention to immigration, race, and citizenship. Its aim is to provide students with a critical view of how immigration law has formed part of U.S. national and imperial projects. Using an geographically informed interdisciplinary approach, we will explore key shifts in immigration policy. After laying out a historical and conceptual groundwork for an understanding of U.S. empire, we will look at legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Insular Cases, which set race-based exclusions to citizenship for new immigrants and U.S. territorial populations. We will also explore the connections between U.S. militarism, imperial expansion, and citizenship restrictions, with an eye to World War II and the Vietnam War. We will then turn our attention to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, as well as more recent legislative efforts to restrict immigration. Emphasis is placed on the profound significance of race, gender, and colonial status in immigration law: Which groups are deemed ‘too foreign’ to become American? Which are deemed ‘assimilable’? What do such inclusions and exclusions have to do with the maintenance of U.S. borders and U.S. empire? Finally, we will look at the complicated relationship between the law and social justice. Immigration laws have always been challenged, contested, and negotiated by community activists. To understand their impact, we will study social movements whose organizing has generated new definitions of belonging in the U.S. and beyond.

Prerequisites: None.
Credits: 4
M 4:10pm - 6:00pm; Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Maximum Enrollment: 20
This course is categorized as All courses, Four Credit, Updates, 2000, SCT, Monday and/or Thursday Afternoons, Emily Mitchell-Eaton.