Instructor: Viranjini Munasinghe
The common perception of ethnicity is that it is a natural and an inevitable consequence of cultural difference. Asians overseas, in particular, have won repute as a people who cling tenaciously to their culture and refuse to assimilate into their host societies and cultures. But, who are the Asians? On what basis can we label Asians an ethnic group? Although there is a significant Asian presence in the Caribbean, the category Asian itself does not exist in the Caribbean. What does this say about the nature of categories that label and demarcate groups of people on the basis of alleged cultural and phenotypical characteristics? This course will examine the dynamics behind group identity, namely ethnicity, by comparing and contrasting the multicultural experience of Asian populations in the Caribbean and the United States. Ethnographic case studies will focus on the East Indian and Chinese experiences in the Caribbean and the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, and Indian experiences in the United States.