17.504 Ethnic Politics I

Fall 2003

Children in the Nawabad refugee camp in Afghanistan.

Children in the Nawabad refugee camp in Afghanistan sit on a piece of abandoned military hardware. (Photograph by Martin Adler/Panos Pictures. Courtesy of National Institutes of Health.)

Course Highlights

This course features an extensive reading list.

Course Description

This course is designed to provide students with a broad overview of the major theories on the relationship between ethnicity and politics. The course is divided into three sections. The first covers general theory and discusses the social construction of ethnicity as well as the limits of construction. The second section discusses ethnicity as a dependent variable. This section studies the forces that shape the development of ethnic identities and their motivating power. The third section addresses ethnicity as an independent variable. In other words, it focuses on how ethnicity operates to affect important political and economic outcomes.

This course is the first semester of a year-long sequence on ethnic politics. However, each semester is self-contained and students may take the course in either or both semesters. Ethnic Politics I aims for breadth over depth. It covers many works in the “canon” of texts on ethnic politics as well as addressing many major topics (modernization, entrepreneurship, prejudice, ethnic party formation, etc.) in one week sessions. Ethnic Politics II covers some of these topics in greater depth and also requires a major research paper.

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Prof. Roger Petersen

Course Meeting Times

One session / week
2 hours / session