Ethnocentrism course proposal

Thu, 2 Dec 1993 13:31:47 CST

Here is the course outline for which I recently requested references.

a course proposal

This course proposal was developed as the result of discussion with faculty
members from several colleges, departments, and programs at the University of
Illinois at Chicago. It is designed for undergraduates at the 100 or 200
level. It will take some experimentation to decide which level is most
appropriate. More urgent is the readings to be assigned for the course. I
plan for five books and a series of articles, pulled together about bound as
a packet for the course. What the final packet should look like will also be
a matter of experimentation. I would like to include both academic and non-
academic writings, say, articles from the Atlantic, Harpers, etc.. I've
marked items in the outline where I'm in particular need to references with a
*. I'd appreciate any suggestions for references and any critiques you have
of the outline.

Week 1. The Meaning of Ethnocentrism
(a) Ethnocentrism defined: what is a fid?
(b) Culture: the organization of meaning and its constraints on personal
perceptions of the environment
(c) Perceiving differences: how do differences make a difference?

Week 2. Ethnicity and Personhood I
(a) Cultural variability in what it means to be a person
(b) The historical development of the concept of the "individual" and its
implications for ideas about biology and behavior
(c) Mendelian ontogeny structuring people's concepts of persons, catego-
ries of persons, and groups of persons--the problem of race

Week 3: What do we actually know about genetics and behavior?
(a) The gene as a unit of information storeage, RNA and information trans-
(b) Genetic information as chemical triggers and switches regulating cell
(c) From gene to somatic traits--chemical pathways and environmental regu-

Week 4: Race and Intelligence
(a) What would consitute the minimal evidence necessary to prove a causal
connection between genes and intelligence?
(b) What evidence do we actually have?
(c) What is a correlation? What is a cause? What is the relationship
between them? The difference between a statistic and a test of a
(d) What does environment mean? Birth order and I.Q. scores.

Week 5. Ethnicity and Personhood II
(a) Sociocentric personhood: the person defined by the relationship, its
implications for acting and interpreting the actions of others; its
implications for biology and behavior
(b) Lamarckian ontogeny structuring people's concepts of persons, social
categories, and social groups
(c) Mendelian and Lamarckian structures of identity compared--ethnic
identities, their meanings, diacritical markers. Why do we get racial
theories in one and not the other?

Week 6. Maintaining, manipulating, and dissolving ethnic boundaries
(a) Promoting ethnic identities and maintaining ethnic identities: case
studies from Africa and the Pacific*
(b) Suppressing ethnic identities: assimilation, nationalization, and
(c) politicizing ethnicity: anti-semitism as a political tool of 19th and
20th century Europe; aboriginal identities in political struggles

Week 7: Beyond Ethnocentrism
(a) the nature of cultural difference
(b) cultural relativity as a discovery procedure
(c) the inductive method--its logic and its applications in investigating
cultural difference comparatively; the reflexivity of the procedure **
[specific cases would help here]

Week 8: Ethnic Stereotypes
(a) Mendelian versus Lamarckian stereotypes
(b) the ethnographic value of ethnic stereotypes *
(c) ethnic humor--insiders' versus outsiders' views*


Week 9: Economic development programs
(a) Successes and disasters in village planning programs *
(b) Economic expansion, economic development, and dependency--a Microne-
sian case ** [other cases would help]
(c) trickle down vs grass roots programs **
(d) managing ethnic differences inside and outside the U. S. *

Week 10: Health care planning
(a) anatomy of a leprosy epidemic and the politics of ethnocentrism
(b) the eradication of disease and its systemic implications
(c) population growth control * [case material, please]
(d) perceptions of health care personnel in "misuse" of emergency rooms--
ethnicity versus poverty ** [articles other than statistical ones]

Week 11: Family organization and public policy
(a) The Moynihan report and the matrifocal myth--when a household isn't a
(b) deciding when families stay together *
(c) Family planning and who has access to it *

Week 12: International relations and emerging nations
(a) Who are they really? Vietnam, Nicaragua, Iran, etc.--ideology vs eth-
nography *
(b) Who are we really? Emerging nations and inventing tradition *

Week 13: The struggle for identity
(a) Nativism of colonialized peoples **
(b) Closet ethnics in the melting pot *
(c) Why racism, sexism, and agism are all examples of ethnocentrism and
why the struggle for identity of each category of person involves sim-
ilar strategies--biologizing differences

Week 14: Ethnicizing economic and political conflict
(a) Japan bashing *
(b) the re-emergence of "nationalism" in Eastern Europe *
(c) the new European community and immigration of ethnic minorities *

Week 15: Multi-ethnic communities in rapidly changing world
(a) the advantages and dangers of heterogeneity *
(b) coping strategies in an ever more volatile world *
(c) The emergence of Indigenous Knowledge *