SBS 535

The course uses interdisciplinary, critical, and transnational/global perspectives to study racism and other systems of oppression, poverty, and the disempowerment of peoples subordinated based on race, gender, and class. The sessions include readings regarding the experiences of Black Americans, Burakumin people, Dalit people, Jewish people, Romani people, Palestinians, and other oppressed and racialized peoples.
This is an introductory course examining four main topics to be discussed in separate but interconnected sections: (1) Racism and other systems of oppression; (2) poverty and racialized and gendered poverty; (3) power; and (4) institutional and societal solutions to address racism and other oppressions.
Racism and other systems of oppression: When the rise of fast sailing ships allowed colonialist European nations to send their colonial project overseas in the sixteenth century, a key construction helped them justify their domination of indigenous peoples. That was the notion of the 'Other,' which they applied through harmful labels such as criminals, backward, and savages. Such tactics have helped to validate and justify the oppression of various peoples before, during, and after colonization. In this section, we will discuss systems of oppression implemented in different parts of the world. This section also pays particular attention to the impact of racism on access, quality, and outcomes in education and health.
Poverty: The existing measures of poverty provide a necessary but insufficient picture of poverty. International and national institutions operate with frameworks that are easily assessable (e.g., multidimensional poverty index or absolute poverty). Yet, these frameworks fail to encompass determinants and dimensions of poverty that are particular to historically oppressed peoples (e.g., multigenerational wealth, neighborhood poverty). Thus, in this section, we will not only discuss the concepts of poverty and multidimensional poverty, but also explore ways to measure intersectional, racialized, and gendered poverty.
Power: The scholarship discusses oppression and racism not only as matters of rights deprivation for the oppressed but also as "inherited advantage in power" for the oppressors or their descendants. In this section, we will discuss whether and how inherited power is transmitted economically, socially, culturally, and ideologically.
Solutions: In this final section, we will discuss examples of interventions (both successful and ineffective) to address racism and/or racialized and gendered poverty, from people and social movements to state policies and reparations.