Immigration and Citizenship


This cluster introduces students to a multidisciplinary study of citizenship. As a whole, these courses explore how debates around race, immigration, colonialism, labor, genetics, media and cultural representations and artistic performance shape ideas about who is included in and excluded from different nations. What does it mean to belong to a nation? How is citizenship defined not only through legal terms but through social and cultural practices and assumptions as well? What are the possibilities for changing policies and attitudes about citizenship? To address these questions, this cluster turns to various examples from the Americas, Europe and Asia; each course also examines Asian immigration to the United States and the Americas through comparative case studies. By exploring citizenship through legal history, sociology, political science, anthropology, cultural studies, and performance studies, students will gain an understanding of how different disciplinary lenses can teach us about long-standing and changing views of citizenship and national identity over time.


International Comparative Studies 290FS: Global Histories of Empire, Migration, and Citizenship (CCI, CZ)

Jessica Namakkal, Assistant Professor of the Practice in the International Comparative Studies Program

As anyone with a passport knows, citizenship and the right to movement are linked. A person with a UK passport has the ability to travel throughout the world more easily than, for instance, a person with an Indian passport. Yet, Indians were once subjects of the British Empire. How did the uneven system of global mobility come to be? How has state based inclusion and exclusion been defined in the age of empire? This course will work to define the socio-political categories of citizen and subject and will also introduce students to histories of imperialism, colonialism, settler colonialism, decolonization, and nationalism in Europe, Asia, and North America. Open to students in the Focus program only.

Cultural Anthropology/ Documentary Studies/ Science and Society 220FS: Global ‘Mixed Race’ Studies: Global Perspectives on ‘Mixed Race’, Citizenship and Immigration (SS, CCI, EI, STS)

Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe, Senior Research Scholar, Center on Genomics, Race, Identity, Difference (GRID), Social Science Research Institute (SSRI)

Using the lens of citizenship and immigration, this course explores how ideas about ‘race’ and ‘mixed race’ were first created and why they persist over time. Comparing writings from biology, history, anthropology, psychology and sociology, students will gain a better understanding of both the lived experiences of citizenship, immigration, and belonging for ‘mixed race’ individuals in Asia (i.e. China, Japan and Vietnam) and the Asian Diaspora (i.e. Canada, the United Kingdom, and the US) as well as the empowering strategies they actively create in response to exclusionary social, legal or political practices.

Theater Studies 252FS: Performance and Citizenship in Asian America (ALP, CZ, CCI, EI)

Esther Kim Lee, Professor of Theater Studies

The course examines the inseparable relationship between performance and citizenship with case studies drawn from Asian American history. Performance has been central to the formation and expression of citizenship since the beginning of US history, and immigrants have been expected to perform and embody assimilation and acculturation in order to be perceived as citizens. For Asian Americans, who are stereotyped as “perpetual foreigners,” the experience of becoming citizens has involved complex legal and cultural challenges that question what “American” means broadly. From the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) to the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, Asian Americans have been seen as non-citizens excluded from the multicultural experience of the US. Providing an interdisciplinary survey, the course includes studies of various forms of performances, including legal cases, activism, political campaigns, theater, film, and new media.

Faculty Director

Ester Kim Lee
Ester Kim Lee
  • Professor of Theater Studies
(919) 660-3367