Ethnic Studies

Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary, comparative concentration that examines the construction of race and ethnicity in social, cultural, historical, political, and economic contexts. Concentrators develop individual programs based on areas of focus in consultation with faculty advisors, drawing from courses in the humanities and social sciences. Typical areas of focus are social issues (such as inequality, education, or health), cultural production and the representation of racial groups, processes of racialization, the historical formation of transnational communities and of diaspora, and the history of particular ethnic or racial groups.

The Ethnic Studies concentration at Brown emphasizes the histories of diverse racial groups within and across the borders of the United States, including examining issues of diaspora, migration, social movements, and the political economies of social inequality and racial formation.  Concentrators strive for intellectual fluency in a range of critical approaches to race and ethnicity across disciplines, and demonstrate this fluency through the composition or creation of a significant piece of original research or creative work.

Brown University established an Ethnic Studies concentration in 1996, originally within the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA). In the Fall of 2013, as part of changes to the CSREA and to better support students, Ethnic Studies joined a long established Brown department, American Studies.  Many American Studies faculty members work in the areas of race and ethnicity and have held joint appointments in Ethnic and American Studies while American Studies PhD students have done some of the most exciting Ethnic Studies research on campus.  Faculty and students in Ethnic Studies and American Studies are eager to see how the two programs move forward together.

As an academic field, Ethnic Studies is rooted in the protests of the 1960s and 1970s, out which emerged the very first Latino/a Studies, Asian American Studies, African American Studies, and Native American studies programs.  Organized around straightforward political goals – the enrichment through diversification of the curriculum and the systematic, multi-disciplinary, and the often comparative study of racial and ethnic inequality – Ethnic Studies has become an important feature of major research universities.

Faculty, both core and affiliated, create and participate in groundbreaking Ethnic Studies scholarship. Areas of faculty research include borderlands history, Latina/o literary studies, and indigenous movements.  Students can focus in Native American, Asian American, or Latino Studies and choose a thematic interest including such current examples as: "social issues affecting racialized groups" (students have looked at health disparities or educational inequality); "the study of cultural production or cultural representations;" "the history of a particular racial or ethnic group;" and "the study of comparative processes of racialization."


ETHN 0500Introduction to American/Ethnic Studies1
Any two introductory courses in Latino/a, Africana, Asian-Amerian, or Native American Studies. The courses in the list below are exaples of these courses. Other courses may be approved by the Advisor.2
An Introduction to Africana Studies
A course from the AMST 1610 series, as approved by the concentration advisor
From Coyote to Casinos: Native North American Peoples and Cultures
Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the Modern World
Race, Culture, and Ethnic Politics
Ethnicity, Race, and Gender in the Americas
Courses taught by core Ethnic Studies faculty may be recognized in consultation with concentration advisor.
Any three courses in Ethnic Studies that address the student's focus area (as approved by the concentration advisor), for example: 3
The Border/La Frontera
Critical Mixed Race Studies in the Twenty-First Century
Introduction to Latino/a History
Ethnic Writing
Introduction to Latina/o Cultural Studies
Latina/o Literature
Native Americans and the Media
Theory Into Practice: Service Learning at a Dual Language Charter School
Race and Remembering
Hip Hop Music and Cultures
The Research Process: Qualitative and Ethnographic Methods
Race and Language in the United States
Race in the Americas
Ethnic Studies Practicum: Strategy, Tactics and Tools for Social Change
Immigrant Social Movements: Bridging Theory and Practice
Ethnic Los Angeles
Latino/a Communities Seminar
Native North Americans in the Media: Representations and Self Representations in Film
Chicana/o Fiction
Queer Latina/o Literature and Theory
Eating Cultures
Reading Race: Advanced Seminar in Critical Race Theory
Seminar on Latino Politics in the United States
Native American and European Contact in Early North America, ca. 1600-1750
Business, Culture, and Globalization: An Ethnographic Perspective
Indigenous Music of the Americas
Johnny, Are You Queer: Narratives of Race and Sexuality
Bad Boys and Bad Girls in Asian American Literature and Culture
Native Americans in the Media: Representation and Self-Representation on Film
Introduction to American Indian Studies
Native American Environmental Health Movements
Engendering Empire
(De)Colonizing Women: Writing the Third Space
Treaty Rights and Food Fights: Eating Local in Indian Country
Thawing the "Frozen Indian"; American Indian Museum Representation
The Latina/o Novel
Introduction to Native American Literature
The Hispanic Caribbean and its Diasporas
Latina Feminisms
Youth, Art, Engagement and Social Justice
Extravagant Texts: Reading the World Through Asian American Literature
Race, Class and Gender in Latino Communities
Any three courses drawn from a list of related courses (as approved by the concentration advisor). 3
A course from the ETHN 1900 series. 11
Alien Nation: US Immigration in Comparative Perspectives
Community, Language and Literacy: A Practicum
Contemporary Latino/a Education in the United States
Latino Communities Seminar
Senior Seminar in Ethnic Studies
Theory, Creativity, Activism
Race and Immigration in the Americas
What is Ethnic Studies?
Transpacific Asian American Studies
Students in the concentration should also take a WRIT course from within the concentration, from a list of cross-listed courses, or from a course approved by their advisor.
Students should also be sure to take a methods course.
Total Credits10

To be taken in the first semester of the student's final year.  The senior seminar is the capstone course and is required of all concentrators.


Candidates for honors must have at least a B+ average in the concentration and be approved by the Concentration Committee. Honors candidates will propose a thesis project to be completed by the end of their final semester. The development of a thesis project will begin during the sixth semester. Honors candidates will have two readers, at least one of whom must be Ethnic Studies core faculty.

Concentrators who choose not to request consideration for honors will be required to complete a major essay or project by the end of their final semester. The essay or project can be the result of major work completed in the senior seminar.

Students seeking information about the Ethnic Studies Program or in need of advising should contact  (401-863-7034).