This seminar offers a broad introduction to the historical intersections of religion, race, and migration. The course studies a range of “traveling” narratives; travelogues, historical fiction, anthropology, film and memoir; to consider how migration across the boundaries of homelands and the borders of nation-states has set historical concepts of race and religion in continued, and often vexed, dialogue. The seminar will explore the meanings of race and religion as mobile and evolving categories of analysis that have developed alongside the migrations and resettlements of enslaved, displaced and emigrant/immigrant communities. Across its three units, the course aims to think comparatively about historical context and racialized experience; from the rise of the trans-Atlantic slave trade through contemporary discourse on illegal immigration. The seminar’s reading, listening and viewing assignments travel within and across the borders of the U.S., but class discussion will remain attuned to the course assignments’ emphasis on matters that are both broader and more intimate than the bounds of the U.S. nation.
Course assignments include a screening of Avatar and readings from Olaudah Equiano, Toni Morrison, Zitkala-Sa, N. Scott Momaday and Edwidge Danticat.