In this module, we will examine the social, political and economic encounters between the European settlers, American Indians, African-Americans and Latino migrant groups that have shaped the social and political development of the United States. The first term will primarily deal with social and political relations between European settlers/white Americans and Native American Indians. We begin with the early English colonisation of North America, proceeding with Westward expansion, and federal policies including moving Native Americans to reservations and removing children from their parents. We finish the term by looking at contemporary issues such as the industrialization of Native American landscapes, ill health and alcohol abuse on reservations, and the new and exciting social movements associated with Native American cultural revitalization.
Throughout the Spring term will focus on the relationships between Euro-Americans and Afro-descended peoples. It will examine how the European idea of race was a shaping constituent of the experience of white and black people from enslavement to the present. We will look at the contemporary and historical aspects of slavery including an examination of its resonance in American art and culture today. We then look at more recent histories of black-white race relations covering segregation, the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, racial justice and the ongoing debate over affirmative action. All along we will emphasize how the past and the present cannot be separated.