What is U.S. imperialism? How are the social relations of racial capitalism important to U.S. imperialism? How have anti-imperial, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist struggles taken shape within, against, and beyond the U.S. nation-state, and how have these struggles shaped the U.S. nation-state itself? Finally, what kind of anti-imperial activist hermeneutics does American Studies offer and how can they be strengthened to reckon with the specific conditions of the U.S. imperial present? Anchored in these questions, this course seeks to introduce students to the history of U.S. imperialism. It does so beyond the traditional understanding of empire as a one-way agglomerating imposition of power in distant areas, and instead accounts for the co-constitution of reigning state-capitalist orders and global processes of spatial and social differentiation. Following such an approach to the history of U.S. imperialism, this course is organized around four time periods: 1770s to 1890s; 1890s to 1930s; 1930s to 1980s; and 1980s to the present. Across each period, we will attend to processes of U.S. imperial expansion, capital accumulation, and racial domination, and resistance to these processes. We will do so using secondary sources and a wide range of primary sources, including published fiction, legal documents, newspaper articles, speeches, films, and photos. By the end of this course, students should be able to detail a genealogy of the U.S. imperial present that accounts for: the significance of imperial and inter-imperial relations in the formation of U.S. national culture, institutions, and public areas such as law and public policy; how U.S. territorial colonialization has underpinned the development of U.S. imperial infrastructure, the imperial state form, and imperial culture; and how U.S. territorial and extraterritorial sovereignty exist in perpetual reaction to the primary claims of Indigenous peoples and other threats to reigning state-capitalist orders.
The Class: Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: Evaluation will be based on the following assessments: Class Participation: 25%; Weekly Response (350-500 words): 25%; Essay 1--First submission (5 pgs.): 10%; Essay 1--Revision (5 pgs.): 10%; Essay 2 (5 pgs.): 15%; Essay 3 (5 pgs.): 15%
Enrollment Preferences: American Studies majors, students specializing in Native American and Indigenous Studies, Africana majors, History majors,
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
WS Notes: Emphasis on writing process and revision: Three thesis papers at 5 pages each (each receiving critical feedback from professor and peers); one keyword glossary where students develop rigorous definitions of course key terms; one roundtable discussion based on the final paper.
DPE Notes: Throughout, the course addresses the issues of difference, power, and equity amongst groups and the nature of the theoretical tools or perspectives used to understand these issues. It does so familiarizing students with "racial capitalism" as both a way of understanding the historical relationship between race and capitalism, and as an activist hermeneutic to respond to the conditions that American Studies and other fields must reckon with in the present.
Attributes: AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
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- AMST 330 - (Anti-)Imperialism