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Expanded Course Description
Who Are Pacific Islanders? Where do they come from? Are they all Mormon? Why are they in the United States? Are they Asian or Native or American? Why are they so good at football? This course examines the lives of Pacific Islanders in the United States. In addition to the questions above, this course will address the central question: how does colonialism impact Pacific Islanders living in the United States? In this interdisciplinary and introductory survey, we will examine the varied historical conditions that have structured Pacific Islander migrations and experiences. Students will gain a greater understanding of how Pacific Islander communities in the U.S. and in the Pacific have been transformed by foreign interventions such as colonialism, the introduction of Christianity, U.S. militarism, the Pacific diaspora, and the legacy of anthropological observation. We will pay close attention to the gendered dynamics of this history and how Pacific Islander artists, activists, and scholars have responded. In-class lectures will provide broader context and demographic data on population growth, educational attainment, health, economic status, and climate change to assist students’ understanding of the various issues that affect Pacific Islander communities. The course will end with a re-evaluation of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) racial category with a focus on Pacific Islander community efforts to challenge this designation in imaginative and decolonial ways.
The course counts toward the Social Science Group requirement because it uses social science approaches to answer important questions that are fundamental to human society. In this course, the focus is on the key influences that have shaped Pacific Islander populations.
The course also counts toward the Multicultural requirement (Category A: American Cultures) because it illuminates significant issues connected with race and ethnicity in the US by comparing the history and cultural evolution of the distinctive communities known collectively as Pacific Islanders.