Spring 2016


Immigration in an Era of Globalization

Profs. Richard Alba & Nancy Foner ralba@gc.cuny.edu; nfoner@huner.cuny.edu, Thursdays, 2-4pm, 3 credits

This course will provide an overview of the literature on contemporary immigration.  The focus will be on the U.S., but the larger context of South-North immigration will be brought into view.  Attention will be divided between theories and empirical research, as the course considers accounts of who immigrates and why and how immigrants insert themselves into the receiving society and its economy.  The final part of the course will consider the impact of immigration on, among other things, future ethno-racial divisions and intermarriage and family relations.

Immigrant Communities

Professor Angie Y. Chung aychung@albany.edu, Tuesdays, 11:45 – 1:45pm, 3 credits

The course will cover the evolution, structure, and dynamics of immigrant communities in the United States with particular attention to the ethnic economy and community politics of contemporary Asian and Latino enclaves. We will cover a wide range of ethnic communities from socially isolated, self-sufficient ethnic enclaves to transnationally-embedded global economies to multiracial suburbs on the metropolitan outskirts. Among other things, we will discuss different scholarly perspectives on what constitutes an ethnic enclave, why some thrive while others decline, how they may empower and exploit, how they are culturally consumed, and how they are integrated into the urban political economy. Students will have the opportunity to develop an instructor-approved community project relevant to the course.

Ethnography, Related Methods and Case Based Analysis 

Prof. Robert Smith   robert.smith@baruch.cuny.edu, Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30pm, 3 credits

This course will review ethnography and related methods, and have students conduct their own ethnographic research.   The course has several goals: First, it seeks to familiarize students with different schools of ethnographic research.  Second, it seeks to develop the ability of students to do ethnographic research and writing, and make them self conscious and confident about the epistemic and scientific bases of ethnographic research, enabling students to better engage with mainstream sociology.   Two key tasks here are to develop students ability to identify what their case/s is/are case/s of, and then make the case for that case.  Third, the course will examine theories about all the various tools in the ethnographic toolkit:  participant observation, interviews of various kinds, biographical and comparative case analysis, narrative and documentary analysis, and particular issues, such as negotiating the IRB (Institutional Review Board).  As part of the class, students will engage in their own ethnographic research, and present both notes and some analysis in class.

Studying Urban Inequality

Prof. Elena Vesselinov  elenavesselinov@gmail.com, Thursdays, 11:45 – 1:45, 3 Credits

The course aims to engage graduate students in discussions about the main axes of urban inequality: economic, racial/ethnic, spatial, educational and environmental. We will discuss these five aspects of inequality, as well as how each of them is studied, using specific research methods. We will debate when and how scholars use in-depth interviews, surveys, Census data, GIS, various indexes, or social media to address specific research questions. Thus the course will focus on urban inequality in substantive and methodological way. It is organized in five sections.
The first section, Economic Inequality in the Study of Cities, begins with some theoretical evidence about the political economy of place.  The readings in this section examine the origins and sources of economic inequality in contemporary world cities. The section continues with evidence about the widening income and wealth gap between urban residents.
The second and third sections then focus on urban inequities related to racial/ethnic origin, immigration status and residential location. These sections are closely related and we will discuss some latest work about indices of residential segregation, particularly the work of Sean Reardon, Van Tran and others, as they improve the methodology of studying social and neighborhood differentiation.
The readings in the fourth section are still intertwined with the previous sections, because educational inequality is also linked to residential location. We will compare the educational outcomes of children alongside class and racial/ethnic background.
The last section is about environmental inequality and justice. While the previous three sections are focused more on the U.S., in this section we will explore inequities in cities around the world, because the environment is an area that probably shows us the most of humanity’s interdependence.
The class will operate as a seminar in which students will introduce some of the readings. There will be two take home essays assigned during the semester, corresponding to major sections of the course. In addition, each student will prepare a final project: a research proposal. The final grade will be calculated as follows: class discussion – 20 percent; essays – 25 percent each; research proposal – 30 percent.



Paths, Detours, and Barriers to Citizenship: Immigrants, Refugees, and Aliens in U.S. History, Law, & Culture

Prof. David Nasaw dnasaw@gc.cuny.edu, Mondays, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits
We will interrogate the sometimes conflicting, sometimes consonant, but always changing relationships between notions of citizenship—and its cultural significance, political resonance, and legal entitlements—and American immigration policy.  While attentive to European migrations from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries, we will focus on twentieth and twenty-first century border crossings from Mexico, immigrations from Asia, Cold War refugees from Europe, and the discordant and unintended consequences of post-World War II legislation.
The readings will explore the separate but entwined historical literatures on “citizenship” and “immigration.”  I have designed them to be global in reach and interdisciplinary in perspective.   We will, as the semester proceeds, read several works of fiction written by authors who have immigrated to the United States in recent years, some with, some without their families.
  Students may be asked to write short papers in the course of the semester and a major final paper in the form of a “lecture” to undergraduates on the themes and issues discussed in the readings.


US Immigration Law and Policy

Prof. Anna O. Law  alaw@brooklyn.cuny.edu, Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 credits

This course is designed to provide a multidisciplinary overview of the key current theoretical and policy debates in the study of the politics of U.S. immigration and citizenship. A second goal is to understand the historical context of some of the current legal and policies responses to migration at the national and subnational levels. Finally, emphasis will be placed on exploring not just the theoretical and policy debates of the field, but also on the evaluation of the empirical data and research design of these studies on which the debates/theories are based.