CSER Undergraduate Course Offerings – Spring 2023


Shanya Cordis — Tues 2:10pm-4:00pm

This course is designed to examine the foundational pillars of modernity in the originating site of the Caribbean: indigenous extinction and the logics of the plantation. Engaging core theorists that conceptualize the notion of the Human/Man, we trace the ongoing legacies of conquest, slavery, and indentureship and the bodily and territorial practices of dispossession in its wake. From a Caribbean feminist perspective, we engage the notion of sovereignty, state formation and statecraft, the politics of recognition, indigeneity, and antiblackness.


Shanya Cordis — Thur 2:10pm-4:00pm

This course is designed to examine the politics and conditions of indigeneity in the South, specifically Latin America and the Caribbean. We begin with conquest and indigenous erasure in the Caribbean, tracing initial stances to the indigenous Other that inform nationalist ideologies of mestizaje, state-indigenous relations, including the politics of recognition. Engaging core theorists across diverse contexts, we trace the ongoing legacies of dispossession and its shaping forces on indigenous political subjectivities, while also tending to the collective and everyday forms of indigenous resistance, reclamation, and resurgence.

UN1010 Intro to Comp Ethnic Studies

Shana Redmond — Tues/Thur 1:10pm-2:25pm

Hannah E Bruno — Thur 4:00-5:00pm, Fri 12:00pm-1:00pm – SECTIONS ONLY FOR STUDENTS TAKING UN1010 Professor Redmond

Introduction to the field of comparative ethnic studies.


UN1512 The Battle for North America: An Indigen

Michael Witgen — Tues/Thur 1:10pm-2:25pm

This course will explore the struggle to control the continent of North America from an Indigenous perspective. After a century of European colonization Native peoples east of the Mississippi River Valley formed a political confederation aimed at preserving Native sovereignty. This Native confederacy emerged as a dominant force during the Seven Years War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812. At times Native political interests aligned with the French and British Empires, but remained in opposition to the expansion of Anglo-American colonial settlements into Indian country. This course is designed to engage literature and epistemology surrounding these New World conflicts as a means of the colonial and post-colonial past in North America.  We will explore the emergence of intersecting indigenous and European national identities tied to the social construction of space and race. In this course I will ask you to re-think American history by situating North America as a Native space, a place that was occupied and controlled by indigenous peoples.  You will be asked to imagine a North America that was indigenous and adaptive, and not necessarily destined to be absorbed by European settler colonies.  Accordingly, this course we will explore the intersections of European colonial settlement and Euro-American national expansion, alongside of the emergence of indigenous social formations that dominated the western interior until the middle of the 19th century.  This course is intended to be a broad history of Indigenous North America during a tumultuous period, but close attention will be given to use and analysis of primary source evidence.  Similarly, we will explore the necessity of using multiple genres of textual evidence – archival documents, oral history, material artifacts, etc., — when studying indigenous history.


UN3501 Indians and Empires in North America

Michael Witgen — Wed 10:10am-12:00pm

In this course you will be asked to re-think American history.   That is, we will approach the history of America as a continental history.  This will require that we think of North America as a New World space, a place that was inhabited and occupied by indigenous peoples, and then remade by the arrival and settlement of Europeans.  You will be asked to imagine a North America that was indigenous and adaptive, as well as colonial and Euro-American.  This approach to the study of North American history is designed to challenge the epistemology and literature of the history of colonization and American expansion, which displaces Native peoples from the central narrative of American history by placing them at the physical margins of colonial and national development.  Instead we will explore the intersection and integration of indigenous and Euro-American national identity and national space in North America and trace their co-evolution from first contact through the early nineteenth century.


UN3517 The Historical Imagination in Caribbean

Natasha J Lightfoot — Tues 2:10pm-4:00pm

Caribbean literature offers complicated and vivid portrayals of the Caribbean’s past, and grapples with difficult histories lived by its people that compromised colonial archives can only partially capture. Literary works far exceed the limited narratives of Caribbean history by imagining entire worlds that official documents could never contain, rich selves, cultures and communities built by many generations of Caribbean people. This course is aimed at bringing forth a broader understanding of Caribbean history by examining a body of creative works by feminist and womanist writers that continuously remain attuned to the complexities of the past, which are either underrepresented or absent in the record. Chosen literary texts will also be paired with historical works that will illuminate and contextualize the multiple themes with which these Caribbean authors frequently engage, including slavery, and colonialism, racism and colorism, migration and immigration, gender and sexuality, poverty and globalization. From these pairings, students will explore both the divergences and alignments in how writers and historians approach the work of retelling the past, and will acquire reading and writing skills that will foster thoughtful critical analysis of the ever-changing contours of the Caribbean’s history.



Edward Morales — Tues 2:10pm-4:00pm

The course will investigate the impact of racial identity among Latinx in the U.S. on cultural production of Latinos in literature, media, politics and film. The seminar will consider the impact of bilingualism, shifting racial identification, and the viability of monolithic terms like Latinx. We will see how the construction of Latinx racial identity affects acculturation in the U.S., with particular attention to hybrid identities and the centering of black and indigenous cultures. Examples will be drawn from different Latinx ethnicities from the Caribbean, Mexico and the rest of Latin America.



Frances Negron-Muntaner — W 4:10pm-6:00pm

The goal of this course is to familiarize students with visual production, particularly video production, as a mode of inquiry to explore questions related to race, ethnicity, indigeneity, and other forms of social hierarchy and difference. The class will include readings in visual production as a mode of inquiry and on the basic craft of video production in various genres (fiction, documentary, and experimental). As part of the course, students will produce a video short and complete it by semester’s end.



Czarina F Thelen — Wed 10:10am-12:00pm

Emma Crane — Thur 4:10pm-6:00pm

*Prerequisites: Open to CSER majors/concentrators only. Others may be allowed to register with the instructors permission.* This course explores the centrality of colonialism in the making of the modern world, emphasizing cross-cultural and social contact, exchange, and relations of power; dynamics of conquest and resistance; and discourses of civilization, empire, freedom, nationalism, and human rights, from 1500 to 2000. Topics include pre-modern empires; European exploration, contact, and conquest in the new world; Atlantic-world slavery and emancipation; and European and Japanese colonialism in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The course ends with a section on decolonization and post-colonialism in the period after World War II. Intensive reading and discussion of primary documents.



Elizabeth OuYang — Thur 10:10am-12:00pm

This course will examine how the American legal system decided constitutional challenges affecting the empowerment of African, Latino, and Asian American communities from the 19th century to the present. Focus will be on the role that race, citizenship, capitalism/labor, property, and ownership played in the court decision in the context of the historical, social, and political conditions existing at the time. Topics include the denial of citizenship and naturalization to slaves and immigrants, government sanctioned segregation, the struggle for reparations for descendants of slavery, and Japanese Americans during World War II.



Bahia Munem — Tues 10:10am-12:00pm

In this class we will approach race and racism from a variety of disciplinary and intellectual perspectives, including: critical race theory/philosophy, anthropology, history and history of science and medicine. We will focus on the development and deployment of the race concept since the mid-19th century. Students will come to understand the many ways in which race has been conceptualized, substantiated, classified, managed and observed in the (social) sciences, medicine, and public health. We will also explore the practices and effects of race (and race-making) in familiar and less familiar social and political worlds. In addition to the courses intellectual content, students will gain critical practice in the seminar format — that is, a collegial, discussion-driven exchange of ideas.



Darius V Echeverria — Wed 12:10pm-2:00pm

The Senior Paper Colloquium will focus primarily on developing students ideas for their research projects and discussing their written work. The course is designed to develop and hone the skills necessary to complete the senior paper. Students will receive guidance in researching for and writing an advanced academic paper. Conducted as a seminar, the colloquium provides the students a forum in which to discuss their work with each other. The CSER preceptor, who facilitates the colloquium, will also provide students with additional academic support, supplementary to the advice they receive from their individual faculty sponsors. While most of the course will be devoted to the students work, during the first weeks of the term, students will read and discuss several ethnic studies-oriented texts to gain insight into the kinds of research projects done in the field.



Eric Gamalinda — Thur 4:10pm-6:00pm

Russian filmmaker Andre Tarkovsky said that “the artist has no right to an idea in which he is not socially committed.” Argentine filmmaker Fernando Solanas and Spanish-born Octavio Getino postulated an alternative cinema that would spur spectators to political action. In this course we will ask the question: How do authoritarian governments influence the arts, and how do artists respond? We will study how socially committed filmmakers have subverted and redefined cinema aesthetics to challenge authoritarianism and repression. In addition, we will look at how some filmmakers respond to institutional oppression, such as poverty and corruption, even within so-called “free” societies. The focus is on contemporary filmmakers but will also include earlier classics of world cinema to provide historical perspective. The course will discuss these topics, among others: What is authoritarianism, what is totalitarianism, and what are the tools of repression within authoritarian/totalitarian societies? What is Third Cinema, and how does it represent and challenge authoritarianism? How does film navigate the opposition of censorship, propaganda and truth? How do filmmakers respond to repressive laws concerning gender and sexual orientation? How do they deal with violence and trauma? How are memories of repressive regimes reflected in the psyche of modern cinema? And finally, what do we learn about authority, artistic vision, and about ourselves when we watch these films?


GU4482 section 001


Elsa Stamatopoulou — Mon/Wed 4:10pm-5:25pm

Indigenous Peoples, numbering more that 370 million in some 90 countries and about 5000 groups and representing a great part of the world’s human diversity and cultural heritage, continue to raise major controversies and to face threats to their physical and cultural existence. The main task of this course is to explore the complex historic circumstances and political actions that gave rise to the international Indigenous movement through the human rights agenda and thus also produced a global Indigenous identity on all continents, two intertwined and deeply significant phenomena over the past fifty years. We will analyze the achievements, challenges and potential of the dynamic interface between the Indigenous Peoples’ movement-one of the strongest social movements of our times- and the international community, especially the United Nations system. Centered on the themes laid out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), the course will examine how Indigenous Peoples have been contesting and reshaping norms, institutions and global debates in the past 50 years, re-shaping and gradually decolonizing international institutions and how they have contributed to some of the most important contemporary debates, including human rights, development, law, and specifically the concepts of self-determination, governance, group rights, inter-culturality and pluriculturality, gender, land, territories and natural resources, cultural rights, intellectual property, health, education, the environment and climate justice. The syllabus will draw on a variety of academic literature, case studies and documentation of Indigenous organizations, the UN and other intergovernmental organizations as well as States from different parts of the world. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with Indigenous leaders and representatives of international organizations and States and will be encouraged to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Select short films will be shown and discussed in class.


CSER continues to be Columbia's main interdisciplinary space for the study of ethnicity and race and their implications for thinking about culture, power, hierarchy, social identities, and political communities. The Center also offers a wide range of public programming, including Artist at the Center, Indigenous Forum, and Latino Public Speaker Series and the Transnational Asian/American Speaker Series. CSER's most recent spaces include the Media and Idea Lab and Gallery at the Center, a space dedicated to curating artistic and thematic exhibits around the Center’s key areas of interest.
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