According to the most recent census conducted in China in 2010, of the 1.3 billion population of China, more than 110 million (8.49%) were ethnic minorities (shaoshu minzu). Most of the minority groups reside in autonomous regions and districts, which constitute 64% of China’s total acreage. This course introduces students to the multiethnic aspect of China’s past and present. We will ask the central question of “what is minzu” and address various topics such as the minority-group identification project; the definition of minzu (translated as “ethnic group,” “nationality,” or “race” by different scholars); the intersections between language, religion, tourism, diaspora and ethnicity; historical sino-centric views about “foreigners” and “barbarians” as well as the roles that “barbarians” have played in China’s long history. We will examine how social differences and hierarchy are constructed and discuss how power plays in the shaping of “ethnicity.” A multidisciplinary approach will be adopted for the course, taking in sources from anthropology, history, literature, ethnic studies, and cultural studies. Throughout the course, the pedagogical techniques of “intercultural dialogue” will be adopted to encourage students to discuss their own ethnic experiences and compare ethnic minority issues in China with similar issues in the United States. Students are also encouraged to come up with real-world solutions and strategies to deal with issues of racism, bias, and discrimination.
Format: seminar; The course will be offered remotely and adopt a learner-centered, quasi-tutorial format. Every week students will view recorded lectures and participate in an online discussion forum asynchronously. In addition, students will be placed into smaller groups and meet with the instructor once a week for synchronous discussions.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
class attendance, weekly quizzes, active participation in both the online discussion forum and in-class meetings, two short (5-page) response papers, and one final research paper (10-12 pages).
none, open to all students; no knowledge of Chinese language required
current and prospective majors in the Department of Asian Studies, then to first-years
books and reading packet
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
We explore the interactions between "power" and "ethnicity," "center" and "periphery" in the Chinese context and compare them with students' own experiences. Students are required to write one short response paper on their personal encounter with the concept of "race" or "ethnicity." For the final research paper, students are required to identify one problem among all the ethnic minority issues in the Chinese context and write a policy recommendation to make real-world changes.
ASAM Related Courses
GBST East Asian Studies Electives