Critical Ethnic Studies

Professors: Espelencia Baptiste, Cyndy García-Weyandt, Amelia Katanski (Co-Director), Shanna Salinas (Co-Director), and Babli Sinha

Critical Ethnic Studies interrogates the production of knowledge. CES Majors are required to theorize from multiple, and simultaneous, narratives of silenced peoples and epistemologies. Critical Ethnic Studies untangles and analyzes colonial and racial projects that attempt to govern the relationship between people and land.

Critical Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary field and process of engagement. The field seeks to change the logic governing the academy, and does not accept an uncomplicated grafting of content onto a universal idea. This change is realized through the relentless pursuit of multiple means of engagement. These processes invert, rethink, and displace universalities. Central to the field is a refusal to consume the other. Critical Ethnic Studies requires that scholars go beyond themselves, and devise conversations that move beyond voyeurism and consumption.

Requirements for the Major

Eight units are required.

Required Courses

  • CES 200: Argument with the Given (key concepts)
  • CES 240: Language: The Colonial and Imperial Difference
  • CES 260: Insurgency, Solidarity and Coloniality of Power
  • CES 490: CES Senior Colloquium
  • Four Electives chosen from Critical Ethnic Studies Elective List:
    • AFST/FREN 455 Afro-Perspectives
    • ANSO 270 Communities and Schools
    • ANSO 357 Immigrants and Exiles
    • ANSO/CES 410 Missionaries to Pilgrims: Diasporic Return
    • ANSO 424 Border Epistemologies
    • ARTX 360 Queer Aesthetics
    • CES 300 Body, Land, and Labor
    • CES 340 Plant Communication/Kinship
    • CHIN 250 China from the Borders
    • ENGL 150 Reading the World: Beyond Realism: Imperial Romance*
    • ENGL 155 Reading the World: Identities*
    • ENGL 156 Reading the World: Social Justice
    • ENGL/SEMN 217 World Indigenous Literatures
    • ENGL 220 African American Literature
    • ENGL 221 African Literature
    • ENGL 222 American Indian Literature
    • ENGL 230 US Ethnic Literature
    • ENGL 260 African Cinemas
    • ENGL 310 Constructing Blackness
    • ENGL 318 Post-colonial Literature
    • ENGL 323 Chicana/o/x Literature
    • ENGL 331 East Asian Diasporic Literatures
    • ENGL/SEMN 492 Advanced Literary Studies: American Indian Literature and the Law
    • GERM 200 Myth of a Nation: German Film
    • GERM 430 Contemporary German Minority Cultures
    • GERM 435 Minority Cultures in Germany
    • HIST 291 History of Latin America in its Colonial Period
    • MUSC-207/SEMN-210 Listening Across Cultures
    • POLS 229 Race, Law, & US Politics
    • RELG 122 Religions of Latin America (and the Caribbean)
    • RELG 123 Catholicism in the Americas
    • WGS 390: Feminist and Queer Inquiry**
  • *Courses taught as part of the Reading the World (RTW) series in the English Department must be approved of by CES Director. Only RTW: Identities taught by Dr. Salinas and RTW: Beyond Realism taught by Dr. Sinha currently count as approved CES electives.

**WGS 390 will count as an elective only if taught by Dr. Fong. All other iterations of this course will have to be approved by the CES Director.

Courses that fit into the major will be designated CES courses under course type. The elective lists will continue to develop. For a list of current electives please consult the Critical Ethnic Studies website.

Courses taken at other U.S. colleges and universities, or on Study Abroad, may count for an elective course. We usually only accept one transfer credit toward the major. Please speak with the Director of the program for final approval and clarification.

Critical Ethnic Studies Courses

CES200Argument with the Given This course is a survey course; consequently a wide breadth of topics will be covered. The primary work will consist of developing a sophisticated understanding of central themes, and key concepts, in the field of Critical Ethnic Studies. Students will pursue that understanding via an interdisciplinary process. The secondary goal will be to acquire and build the skills necessary to pursue further learning in Critical Ethnic Studies; these include identifying your own research agenda (obsessions and desires), stocking your analytical tool kit (bibliographic skills, critical thinking, and the identification of knowledge demands), and lighting your intellectual fire (interest in the field).
CES210Applied Practice in Mexico
CES240Language: The Colonial & Imperial Difference This course is an interdisciplinary survey course designed to introduce students to the study of language and power. Our primary objective will be to assert linguistic rights and interrogate the politics of language use, and language thought, in light of colonization, imperialism and the transit of empire. We will consider ideas and practices of literacy, language revitalization, translation and identity. These explorations will serve as a means to counter the monologism, monoculture, and monolingualism often invoked in nationalist projects.
CES260Insurgency, Solidarity and Coloniality Of Power This course is an interdisciplinary survey course designed to engage students in the study of power. The primary focus will be on instances of continuity and insurgency, between and among world indigenous, national, and transnational subjects. Embedded in this practice will be the assertion of epistemic rights, and simultaneous world views, and the varied and landed responses made to world systems of racialization and colonization. We will engage history and narrative through the power of storytelling and the critical fictions of conquest and enslavement. Most important, we will ask: what alternatives to modernity/coloniality can we conceive of through practices of insurgency and solidarity? How can we restore relations that have been severed, or disfigured, by these same world systems, as well as our wide-ranging responses to them?
CES295Applied Practice Experience This course is deigned to follow alternative epistemologies, ontologies, and methodologies that aim to help students in the development of research designs with emphasis in social change. The main goal is to understand how academic research as a tool, serves BIPOC communities change social conditions such as racism, social injustices, inequalities, and accessibility through community-based and experiential learning. The main goal of this course is to uplift, make visible, and use research as a platform for the voices of resistance, resilience, survivance, heroism, activism, achievement, and cultural expressionsPrerequisite: One of the following courses: CES-200, CES-240, or CES-260
CES298Independent Study
CES300Body, Land, and Labor In this course, students will consider the questions of how racialized bodies, gendered bodies, and able/disable bodies play a crucial role in understanding present realities in the U.S. and around the globe. Using different case studies from the Americas, students will examine the interconnection between performance of identity, embodiment, natural resources, geographies, and unfree labor, with particular attention to social movements in times of a global pandemic. Student will develop projects to incorporate their embodied experiences with the land and explore topics of resistance in social movements such as land sovereignty and/or labor rights.
CES340Plant Communication/Kinship In this course, students learn about the theories of ontology and the "ontological turn" to understand human and "other-than-human" being interactions. In this course, students explore non-Western concepts of kinship. The course will prioritize plant and human interactions. Student will examine how communities make sense of multispecies relations, reflect on their own relationship with plants, challenge topics such as personhood, understand the division between science/culture and discuss issues of food scarcity, food sovereignty, food justice, and land pedagogy.Prerequisite: Must have taken CES-200, CES-240, or CES-260, or with Instructor Permission. Must be taken concurrently with CES-395L.
CES395LPlant Communication/Kinship Lab This lab will add training in Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK) and Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society (ISTS) as a form of scientific practice. Students will gain training in observation, data collection, alternative methods, and decolonial methods to understand how Native communities conceive the environment as an extension of kin. Students will use the lab space to enter in relation with plants via ethical experimentation that follows Indigenous protocols and principles of coexistence, foster a diverse and inclusive learning environment in which all bodies are important, including the bodies of more-than-human beings, practice decolonial methods such as the arts and performances, and learn how Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities rely on the teachings of plants to confront environmental problems such as climate change.
CES398Independent Study
CES/ANSO410Missionaries to Pilgrims: Diasporic Retu This course explores the synergistic relationship between Africa and its diaspora through an analysis of return voyages. From 19th century formerly enslaves Africans who returned home after emancipation to contemporary religious and ethnic pilgrims seeking connection with their African ethnicity and or spirituality; the meeting space between the diaspora and Africa represents a contested terrain. Because Africa and the diaspora are ideological and political constructs, the class will engage the ways these constructions are negotiated and deployed across space and time. We will pay particular attention to questions of belonging, identity, and place and moments of miscommunication as Africa seeks to claim its diaspora and the diaspora makes claims on AfricaPrerequisite: 300-level ANSO course
CES490Ces Senior Colloquium The Critical Ethnic Studies Senior Colloquium, 1-unit course collaboratively shaped by the CES faculty and senior majors. The colloquium will focus on the planning and executing of an intellectual social-political project that contributes to the CES program, to the larger community, and to the field of Critical Ethnic Studies. The Critical Ethnic Studies Senior cohort will decide the form and content of the project, in collaboration and consultation with CES faculty, who will provide leadership and organizational support. Infused in the project and the work of the course are professional development, collaborative scholarly work, and learning community development.Prerequisite: Must be a CES Major
CES593Senior Integrated Project Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Integrated Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Integrated Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details.