Home » miscellaneous » Fall Course Open – Ethnography of Am. Blackness(es) – Wed 4-6:30

Fall Course Open – Ethnography of Am. Blackness(es) – Wed 4-6:30



Ethnography of American Blackness(es)

ETHN 4652-001/5652-001

W 4-6:30 PM

This course examines the relationship between “Blackness” and “Americanness” by analyzing the ways these broad concepts are defined and represented in ethnographic, autobiographical, and fictional texts. Additionally, the plural of “American Blackness(es)” points to the notion that there is not one way to be a Black American. Instead of limiting our exploration of American Blackness(es) to the national borders of the U.S., we will read texts by authors from various parts of the African Diaspora, and enjoy stories that take place in multiple locations throughout the globe, including the continent of Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Australia.  Subsequently, this multi-sited, multi-genre analysis of American Blackness enables us to understand how American Blackness is formed and defined from inside and outside the U.S. We will investigate the racialized, gendered, sexualized, and classed meanings associated with “Blackness” as Black Americans, and representations of Black American cultures, travel throughout the world. Throughout the semester, there will be class visits and Skype sessions with some of the authors, giving students the opportunity to speak with them directly. Through texts such as Jay-Z’s “Decoded,” Rebecca Walker’s “Black Cool,” Kaifa Roland’s “Cuban Color in Tourism,” and President Barack Obama’s “Dreams From My Father,” this course aims to address the following questions:

(1) Who or what is “American?”

(2) What does it mean to be “Black” in the U.S.?

(2) How is this similar or different to being Black in other locales?

(3) How are “Blackness” and “Americanness” described in locations outside the U.S.?

(4) At which moments are Black Americans discussed as Americans, as diasporic kin, or as both?

This course will be an intensive course for undergraduates, as it is ran like a graduate seminar. Subsequently, only graduate students, and advanced juniors and seniors should register for the course. To see the full list of required texts, please see the attached document.


Bianca C. Williams

Assistant Professor

Ethnic Studies

University of Colorado Boulder

339 UCB

Boulder, CO 80309-0339


(303) 492-5534