Ethnicity and Diversity in American Life, from Emancipation to the Present

Module code: AM2014

Module co-ordinator: Dr George Lewis

To understand modern America, one must understand the role that the diversity of its population has played in the nation's development. From slavery to Barack Obama's run for the presidency in 2008, the treatment of America's ethnic groups has played a conspicuous role in US history. In this module we will examine the ways in which American ethnic identities are constructed. We will analyse the place of ethnic identity within a single 'American' identity, and the ways in which ethnic minorities have struggled against oppression.

You will explore key themes and events in the history of ethnicity and diversity in the years following Emancipation, beginning with an analysis of terms such as 'ethnicity' and 'race'. We will trace important aspects of the history of African, Native, Hispanic and Asian Americans, alongside some of the ways in which white Americans have sought to maintain political, social, and economic superiority over non-white groups. You will also be introduced to historiographical debates and to the wide range of source materials available for studying ethnicity and diversity in the US.


  • 20 one-hour lectures
  • 7 one-hour seminars
  • 3 one-hour workshops


  • Exam (60%)
  • Essay (30%)
  • Presentation (10%)