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FEATURED CLASS - Anthropology 3546/Asian Studies 3345: "Minorities and Majorities in Asia," taught by Professor Fiskesjö

Sapa - Bulletin archive Spring 2013

Anthropology 3546/Asian Studies 3345: "Minorities and Majorities in Asia"

Tuesday & Thursday 125-240pm (= starts August 25), Morrill 107

Instructor: Magnus Fiskesjö, Anthropology

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This course is for those who want to learn about what is a minority —how is a minority created? What does this status mean for people so designated? and why does it persist, or vanish?

In this course we look at ethnic minorities in Asian countries. We will study how minorities have been defined and treated in modern nation-states such as Thailand, Burma, Japan, and China which itself has over 100 million "minority nationalities".

We’ll investigate how minorities have been both demonized and admired, exoticized and ostracized or discriminated against; and we'll explore how minorities have been put to use in radically different ways in the politics of these states, plus how minorities themselves contribute to shaping their history and fate, against many odds. Our basic approach is relational: we don't study the minorities in isolation but take into account the majorities and the cultural, legal and political systems that minorities have to relate to. Also, we'll work comparatively, which opens for alternative perspectives not just on Asian countries, but generally and globally, on issues like identities, races, nations, and ethnicities.

The course will use articles and other readings plus film and video. We will also have occasional guests who themselves come from minority ethnicities in Asia. Students will take part in class discussions and write a series of short papers exploring key issues.