Making Rights in a Global Modern America

History 103U.003

Spring 2015
Day & Time: 
F 10-12P
"This course will focus on the meaning of “rights” in a global, modern, United States. Specifically, it will focus on the meaning of rights, who has had access to them, and what this concept has meant to different people at different times. For instance, has work been a right in the twentieth-century and for whom? What happened to the idea of “rights” between the right to refuse labor (emancipation), and the right to employment (institutionalized racism)? How have different groups such as women and minorities conceived of and argued for rights – as individuals or as a group. How have these concepts been shaped transnationally, through the movement of people and ideas across oceans, as well as through America’s imperial engagement in Latin and Central America?
As we move into the post World War II era, this course will trace the turn to “human rights” and explore the consequences of framing rights in this way. What has human rights made visible? What has it left out? How was the definition of human rights impacted the way in which groups or individuals seek access to resources, civil and political participation, or notions of equality? Reciprocally, how have persons continued to lobby for alternate definitions or conceptions of rights that fall outside the human rights framework?
This course will move chronologically through the late 19th and twentieth centuries, but it is not a survey course. A background in twentieth-century US history is helpful, but not necessary. Students wishing to use the course material towards their History 101 project will have the opportunity to shape their research and writing accordingly."

Course Books

American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland by Robert O. Self Princeton University Press. ISBN: 0691124868 Required
Dishing it Out: Waitresses and Their Unions in the Twentieth Century by Dorothy Sue Cobble University of Illinois Press. ISBN: 0252061861 Required
Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War by Penny Von Eschen Harvard University Press. ISBN: 0674022602 Required
No Man's Land: Jamaican Guestworkers and the Global History of Deportable Labor by CIndy Hahamovitch Princeton University Press. ISBN: 0691160155 Required
Caliban and the Yankees: Trinidad and the United States Occupation by Harvey Neptune University of North Carolina Press. ISBN: 0807857882 Required
Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America by Mae Ngai Princeton University Press. ISBN: 0691160821 Required