Fall 2004
Professors Lara Putnam and Bruce L. Venarde


Lara Putnam (lep12@pitt.edu, 648-7456), office hours M 12:30-2 and by appointment
Bruce L. Venarde (bvenarde@pitt.edu, 624-8437), office hours TH 11:15-1 and by appointment

Course description

How are systems of human inequality structured by claims about individual bodies and collective character?  This seminar explores the social construction of race, ethnicity, and gender in international and historical perspective.  Each of these three kinds of hierarchical difference joins together a set of ideas about natural and cultural essences that serve to define and justify social boundaries.  But how universal are they?  And how parallel are they?  Do race, ethnicity, and gender exist in all human societies?  Have they interacted similarly across time and space?  Or are there historical specificities we must recognize in order to avoid anachronistic or culture-bound use of these analytic constructs?

This seminar begins by surveying the evolving theorization of race, ethnicity, and gender among anthropologists, historians, and other scholars over the past three decades.  It then goes on to examine a series of in-depth case studies drawn from settings as diverse as early modern China, gold rush California, and twentieth-century Peru.  The authors approach the making of race, ethnicity, and gender as grounded social processes that cannot be understood in isolation.  These studies, then, locate the practices that create and recreate race, ethnicity, and gender in the context of other historical dynamics that include colonial expansion, urbanization, changing labor systems, and struggles over the boundaries of citizenship in nation-states. 



As with any graduate seminar, active participation in class discussions is essential.  Do not enroll for this course if you will be unable to master the weekly readings and come prepared to discuss them in detail. 


* Eight (8) 1-2 page (300-600 word) papers due no later than noon Monday before the weekly meeting.  These will be critical commentaries on the common reading and will serve to organize discussion and debate. Papers might take the form of a summary analysis, focus on a specific aspect of a given book's subject matter, or discuss nitty-gritty matters (e.g. source use, organization, style).  The only strict guidelines are that the papers demonstrate serious thought about the work at hand and be written in lucid and mature scholarly prose.  You must write a paper for September 13th and write all eight short papers by November 22nd.

*Final paper of 6-8 pages (1,800-2,500 words), due by noon on Monday, December 13th.  Topic: In what ways have scholarly debates over the making of race, ethnicity, and gender been parallel or linked?  In what have they differed or diverged?  How have scholars utilized these concepts in researching historical processes?  And where should we go from here?

Approximate final grade weighting: 50% discussion participation, 50% writing.  Except in cases of documented personal emergency, the instructors will not give incompletes for this seminar. 

Schedule of readings

September 13th: Theories 

Sherry B. Ortner, “Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?” in Making Gender: The Politics and Erotics of Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996), 21-42 (originally published in Feminist Studies vol. 1, no. 2 [1972]: 5-31) plus 1996 remarks in Making Gender, 215-16

John L. Comaroff, “Of Totemism and Ethnicity: Consciousness, Practice, and the Signs of Inequality,” in John and Jean Comaroff, Ethnography and the Historical Imagination (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992), 49-67 (originally published in Ethnos 52 (1987): 301-23)

Barbara J. Fields, “Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States of America,” New Left Review 181 (1990): 95-118

Nancy A. Hewitt, “Compounding Differences,” Feminist Studies 18, no. 2 (1992): 313-326

Verena Stolcke, “Is Sex to Gender as Race is to Ethnicity?,” in Gendered Anthropology, ed. Teresa del Valle (London: Routledge, 1993), 17-37

Katherine Verdery, “Ethnicity, Nationalism, and State-Making: Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: Past and Future,” in The Anthropology of Ethnicity: Beyond “Ethnic Groups and Boundaries,” ed. H. Vermeulen and C. Govers (Amsterdam: Spinhaus, 1994), 33-58

Sherry B. Ortner, “So, Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?” in Making Gender: 173-180, notes 234-235.

Viranjini Munasinghe, “Culture Creators and Culture Bearers: The Interface Between Race and Ethnicity in Trinidad,” Transforming Anthropology 6, nos. 1-2 (1997): 72-86

Nancy Leys Stepan, “Race, Gender, Science and Citizenship,” Gender and History 10, no. 1 (1998): 26-52

Rogers Brubaker and Frederick J. Cooper, “Beyond Identity,” Theory and Society 29 (2000): 1-47

Barbara J. Fields, “Of Rogues and Geldings,” American Historical Review vol. 108, no. 5 (2003): 1397-1405

September 20th

James Brooks, Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002).

September 27th

Laura Hostetler, Qing Colonial Enterprise: Ethnography and Cartography in Early Modern China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001)

James Millward, “A Uyghur Muslim in Qianlong’s Court: The Meaning of the Fragrant Concubine,” Journal of Asian Studies 53, no. 2 (1994): 427-58

October 4th

Kathleen Wilson, The Island Race: Englishness, Empire and Gender in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Routledge, 2003)

October 11th

Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge; Harvard University Press, 1998)

October 18th

Susan Lee Johnson, Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000)

October 25th

Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002)

November 1st

Eileen J. Suárez Findlay, Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870-1920 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999)

November 8th

Glenda E. Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996)

November 15th

George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 (New York; Basic Books, 1994)

November 22nd

Marisol de la Cadena, Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in Peru (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000)

Dru Gladney, “Representing Nationality in China: Refiguring Majority/Minority Identities,” Journal of Asian Studies 53, no. 1 (1994): 92-123

November 29th

Ruth Roach Pierson and Nupur Chaudhuri, eds., Nation, Empire, Colony: Historicizing Gender and Race (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998)

December 6th

Pierre Bourdieu, Masculine Domination (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001)


***Final paper due at noon on Monday, December 13th***