American Society: Ethnic Encounters in the Making of the USA

The details
Sociology and Criminology
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
07 October 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA LL36 Social Anthropology,
BA LL3P Social Anthropology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL6P Social Anthropology (Including Placement Year),
BA LL37 Social Anthropology with Human Rights,
BA LL38 Social Anthropology with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL39 Social Anthropology with Human Rights (Including Placement Year)

Module description

In this module we will examine the social, cultural and political encounters between the European settlers, American Indians, African-Americans and Latino/a migrant groups that have shaped the United States as a society. It deals principally with the use of race and racialisation as a central organising principle of society.

Module aims

The Autumn term will deal with relations between European settlers/white Americans and Native American Indians. This will begin with an overview of Native American society today. We then rewind through history starting with the English colonisation of North America, proceeding with Westward expansion, and examining how colonisation unfolded in the Great Plains and California. We will also consider how US government policies became a major determinant of the fate of American Indians. We finish the term by looking at contemporary issues such as the use of Native American lands for extractive industry, environmental issues, alcoholism on reservations, and contemporary Native American cultural revitalization.

The Spring term will start by looking at slavery, and its contemporary relevance and legacies. We then proceed chronologically looking at 20th century racial segregation, the Great Society programmes of the 1960s, the Black Power movement, racialised criminal justice and affirmative action. The second part of the term will examine the history and politics of the Latino presence in the United States. This will consist of four linked lectures and discussions principally on US immigration policy and more specifically on the US-Mexico border, border crossing, immigration policies, immigrant labour, and the racialisation of Mexican Americans.

Module learning outcomes

To further understand the role of race and racial encounters in United States society and history.

Module information

Compulsory module for some third year students
Available as full option
Available as a half option (SC361-3-AU Autumn, SC361-3-SP Spring).
Available as an Outside Option
Available third year students

Learning and teaching methods

No information available.


  • (no date) Inside an Apache Rite of Passage Into Womanhood - YouTube.
  • Luke Willis Thompson | Tate,
  • Colin Samson. (December 8, 2016 10.39am GMT) 'Civil liberties of indigenous people have long been suppressed at Standing Rock', in The Conversation.
  • Perdue, Theda. (1989) 'Cherokee Women and the Trail of Tears', in Journal of Women's History. vol. 1 (1) , pp.14-30
  • Du Bois, W. E. B.; Edwards, Brent Hayes. (2007) The souls of Black folk, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Race and the Crisis of Justice | Miller Center,
  • Moynihan, Daniel Patrick. (2013) 'The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.', in AEI Paper & Studies.
  • Du Bois, W. E. B.; Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks. (2007) Darkwater: voices from within the veil, New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Fisch, Audrey A. (2007) The Cambridge companion to the African American slave narrative, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • (no date) Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short History | NPR - YouTube.
  • (no date) The Blue Tattoo, kidnapped by Indians, living in captivity - YouTube.
  • Hormel, Leontina M.; Norgaard, Kari M. (2009-05) 'Bring the Salmon Home! Karuk Challenges to Capitalist Incorporation', in Critical Sociology. vol. 35 (3) , pp.343-366
  • Manley A. Begay. (2000) 'The Politics of Repression', in Spirit wars: Native North American religions in the age of nation building, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press., pp.128-160
  • (no date) Vantage Point - "Take a Picture with a Real Indian" (James Luna performance) - YouTube.
  • Vine Deloria. (1988) 'The Disastrous Policy of Termination', in Custer died for your sins: an Indian manifesto, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press., pp.31-41
  • Kara Walker's Fons Americanus – Look Closer | Tate,
  • Taiaiake AlfredJeff Corntassel. (2005) 'POLITICS OF IDENTITY - IX: Being Indigenous: Resurgences against Contemporary Colonialism', in POLITICS OF IDENTITY - IX: Being Indigenous: Resurgences against Contemporary Colonialism. vol. 40 (4) , pp.597-614
  • Wilson, James. (1998) The Earth shall weep: a history of Native America, London: Picador.
  • (no date) Slavery and Justice at Brown University | BPR Media Opdocs - YouTube.
  • McMurry, Linda O. (2000-12-14) 'Antilynching Lectures “The disturbing element which kept the waters troubled”', in To Keep the Waters Troubled: Oxford University Press., pp.169-187
  • (no date) Public Policy and Blaming Poor Black Communities For Their Own Poverty - YouTube.
  • The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic,
  • Maureen Trudelle Schwarz. (2001) 'Problem Drinking, Social Death, and Harmony', in Navajo lifeways: contemporary issues, ancient knowledge, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press., pp.152-180
  • Gordon M. Sayre. (1999) 'Abridging between Two Worlds: John Tanner as American Indian Autobiographer', in American Literary History. vol. 11 (3) , pp.480-499
  • (no date) Whitney Plantation museum confronts painful history of slavery - YouTube.
  • (no date) The Trail of Tears: They Knew It Was Wrong - YouTube.
  • (no date) "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" by Harriet Jacobs - YouTube.
  • Wells-Barnett, Ida B. (2017) Southern horrors: lynch law in all its phases, [Place of publication not identified]: [CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform].
  • Wakefield, Sarah F. (2002) Six weeks in the Sioux tepees: a narrative of Indian captivity, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
  • Adams, David Wallace. (c1995) Education for extinction: American Indians and the boarding school experience, 1875-1928, Lawrence, Kan: University Press of Kansas.
  • “Get the Hell Off”: The Indigenous Fight to Stop a Uranium Mine in the Black Hills – Mother Jones,
  • (no date) Return of the American Bison - YouTube.
  • Being Double: W.E.B. DuBois and Black Double Identity ~ HistoryDojo,
  • The Traumatic Legacy of Indian Boarding Schools - The Atlantic,
  • Hinton, E. (2015-06-01) '"A War within Our Own Boundaries": Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the Rise of the Carceral State', in Journal of American History. vol. 102 (1) , pp.100-112
  • David Orentlicher. (August 14, 2018 11.32am BST) 'What Harvard can learn from Texas: A solution to the controversy over affirmative action', in The Conversation.
  • How Alcohol Came to the American Indian | PBS,
  • (no date) Lester Maddox and Jim Brown Get Into Heated Debate on Segregation | The Dick Cavett Show - YouTube.
  • Zadie Smith Fintan O’Toole Nicholas Lemann Cintra Wilson Michael Gorra Sean Wilentz Eduardo Halfon Krithika Varagur Diane Ravitch Caryl Phillips. (2020) 'What Do We Want History to Do to Us?', in The New York Review of Books. (February 27, 2020)
  • Felicia J. Wong. (2017) 'The Racial Rules of Criminal Justice', in The hidden rules of race: barriers to an inclusive economy, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press., pp.108-126
  • 'Kill Every Buffalo You Can! Every Buffalo Dead Is an Indian Gone' - The Atlantic,
  • Berrey, Ellen. (©2015) The enigma of diversity: the language of race and the limits of racial justice, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • (no date) What we get wrong about affirmative action - YouTube.
  • Fontaine, Theodore. (2014) Colonial genocide in indigenous North America, Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Rothstein, Richard. (2017) The color of law: a forgotten history of how our government segregated America, New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation.
  • (no date) Racial segregation in American schools. Return to the 1960s - YouTube.
  • Ida B. Wells Documentary - Ben Hooks Institute - The University of Memphis,
  • Schermerhorn, Calvin. (©2018) Unrequited toil: a history of United States slavery, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Douglass, Frederick; Andrews, William L. (1996) The Oxford Frederick Douglass reader, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • (no date) Stephen Hayes - Cash Crop - YouTube.
  • (2019) Standing with Standing Rock: voices from the #NoDAPL movement, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Bowden, Henry Warner. (1981) American Indians and Christian missions: studies in cultural conflict, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. vol. Chicago history of American religion
  • Carlos Gigoux. (2017) 'Colonization', in Indigenous peoples and colonialism: global perspectives, Cambridge: Polity Press., pp.38-74

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Critical Reflection 1  06/11/2020  16.6% 
Coursework   Critical Reflection 2  27/11/2020  16.6% 
Coursework   Critical Reflection 3  18/12/2020  16.7% 
Coursework   Critical Reflection 4  10/02/2021  16.7% 
Coursework   Critical Reflection 5  05/03/2021  16.7% 
Coursework   Critical Reflection 6  26/03/2021  16.7% 
Exam  Main exam: 24hr during Summer (Main Period) 

Additional coursework information

2 essays (Essay 1 is 3,000 words and Essay 2 is 2,500 words 20% each), 1 Reading Week assignment (10%) 1 exam (50%) Please note that assessment information is currently showing for 2018-19 and will be updated in August 2019

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Andrew Canessa, email:
Prof Colin Samson, email:
Professor Colin Samson
Jane Harper, Student Administrator, Telephone: 01206 873052 E-mail:



External examiner

Dr Aneira Edmunds
School of Law, Politics & Sociology
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 1306 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
1306 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Sociology and Criminology

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