Connections 20094. Race, Power and Representation
Race and Ethnicity (SOC 230) examines the historical and contemporary construction of race and ethnicity in the context of institutional and organizational settings. Through the educational system, economy, politics, law, penal system, and media, we explore the ways that race and ethnicity are constituted through social structure and daily interaction. In Race and Racism In US Cinema (ENG 257), students explore those processes of construction and representation in one specific site, film. Through the long and complex history of representations of racial difference, students develop an understanding of the processes through which race is imagined (and also erased).
Both courses highlight the process of racial formation, how social, economic, political, and organizational contexts shape the collective images of racial categories that are used to order the world. This perspective highlights the social construction of race and pays particular attention to the unequal access racial groups have within contemporary social institutions. In the Sociology course, for example, students explore the educational system to understand how and why Black and Latino/a students are often disciplined more harshly and tracked less favorably even by well-meaning teachers. In Race and Racism in US Cinema, students explore questions around representation, power, and control, developing an understanding of film as the result of complex and unequal processes of production. In both cases, we explore how racism can be perpetuated by systemic arrangements even when racist intent is absent.