African American Studies 24, Section 1

“Mixed-Race” History, Experiences and Images in the United States (1 unit, P/NP)

Professor Stephen Small
Tuesday 2:00-4:00, 190 Barrows Hall, Class number: 22588

People of mixed racial origins are one of the fastest growing populations in California, and across the United States. This reflects the rising patterns of inter-racial dating and marriage. This short course provides an overview of the contemporary circumstances of people of mixed racial origins; briefly considers the historical background to the current context; and describes the range of images and representations of people mixed origins in film and social media. We examine people of mixed Asian, Black, Chicano, Native American or white ancestry). The primary approach is through the disciplines of Sociology, History and Cultural Studies.
We look at the historical background in the US first. We consider the origins of the idea of ‘race’ and the creation of a ‘mixed-race’ category in the United States. We examine the historical practices and consequences of so-called ‘miscegenation’; including gender differences in ‘race-mixing’ and variations among different racial/ethnic groups. And we look at the emergence of the ‘mixed race’ movement in the 1980s and 1990s, including the introduction of a mixed race category ("two or more races") for the first time in the US Census in 2000.
Then we turn to contemporary issues and the impact of legacies of history. We review some of the main themes in writings about people of mixed racial origins; we review some images and representations in film and social media. And we identify various sources for identifying mixed race populations, including census, biographies, interviews, literature, movies and social media. This course will equip students with basic concepts that can be utilized for other projects in African American Studies, Ethnic Studies, History, Sociology, Anthropology and Cultural Studies.

Instructor Bio

Stephen Small, Ph.D. (UC, Berkeley) is Associate Professor in the Department of African American Studies where he has taught since 1995. He teaches courses on contemporary race and ethnic relations, public history and collective memory, globalization, people of mixed race, and qualitative research methods (including historical archives, ethnography and interviewing). His current research includes public history and collective memory, the Black Diaspora in Europe, and people of mixed origins. He has carried out research in Europe (England, Netherlands and Spain), in the Caribbean (Jamaica and Curacao) and in Brazil. His Ph.d. research was on people of mixed race in the Caribbean and the United States during slavery. He is co-editor of Global Mixed Race, with Rebecca Chioko King O’Riain, Minelle Mahtani, Miri Song and Paul Spickard,New York University Press, 2014. He was born and raised in Liverpool, England, a city with a large population of mixed origins. His origins are English and Jamaican.


This seminar is designed for freshman students interested in thinking about people of mixed race origins in the United States.