Dr. Quintard Taylor, Jr.
Scott and Dorothy Bullitt
Professor of American History
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African American History | African American History in the West (Now available at www.blackpast.org)  

History 498F Colloquium in History:
Race, Ethnicity in the Urban West
Syllabus and Course Assignments

Download Course Syllabus (word document)

Office Hours:
Fall, 2004


This colloquium will examine the four communities of color--African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and Native Americans in the cities of the American West.  The readings and discussions will analyze the growth of the specific communities of color in different urban settings--Chicanos in San Jose, African Americans in Seattle, Native Americans in Portland, Asian Americans in San Francisco.  It will also seek to explore the interaction of these groups not simply with Euro-Americans but with each other, an interaction often forged in terms of conflict, accommodation and cooperation.  We will examine the myriad ways in which each group adjusted to urban life to seek an explanation of the varying levels of economic "success" as well as class and gender dynamics both within and between different groups.  The colloquium will also analyze the role of the urban environment in creating and refashioning individual and ethnic community identity.

Moreover, our careful scrutiny of the various articles assigned will, I hope, encourage you to devise fresh perspectives and creative approaches to the analysis of the urban histories of people of color.  We should use this colloquium, and the papers that will come from it, as the opportunity to expand our knowledge of the cities of the West and the myriad peoples who call these cities home.  People of color already comprise the majority of the residents of most of the cities in the West including most, obviously, Los Angeles.  Indeed it should be noted that of the 20 largest cities in the region, only Phoenix, Seattle, Omaha, and Portland are not in that category according to the 2000 census, although they too have significant populations of color.  This colloquium will provide a historical context for understanding the emergence of these multiracial, multicultural urban centers. 


Selecting important and yet available books and articles for a colloquium is always a daunting task.  I have tried, within the limits of our institu­tional and personal resources, to include the best of the methodologically and theoretically critical works now extant in the history of western urban people of color.  All of the assigned articles are on electronic reserve through Suzzallo Library.  The books are on standard reserve.  I would encourage you to purchase used copies to reduce the library demand.  Unless otherwise indicated, each book or article that appears on the weekly reading schedule should be read in its entirety. 


Each colloquium participant will write a 10-page paper assessing some impor­tant figure or episode in the history of people of color in the cities of the West.  Your paper should draw on primary and secondary sources but should reflect the development of your own interpretation of the issues and events addressed in your topic.   


Although your research paper can be on any topic related to people of color in the urban west, I especially invite papers that can contribute to the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project.  As many of you know, my colleague, Professor James Gregory, is constructing the first of its kind website in the nation on the relationship between the Seattle Civil Rights Movement and workers’ struggles and organizations.  This project enlists the aid of undergraduate and graduate students who will research individuals, events and episodes in the history of these two powerful movements in Seattle’s 20th Century history.  The Civil Rights Movement, broadly defined, includes the rise of the Japanese American Citizen’s League in pre-World War II Seattle, the efforts of Native Americans to create a cultural center at Discovery Park in the 1960s, the role of the Central Area Motivation Project (CAMP) in fighting poverty in from the 1960s to now, the work of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in confronting racism in the city, or the efforts of people of color to integrate the Building Trades Unions in the 1970s.  As you can see, this list suggest various topics that include but also extend beyond what is traditionally viewed as the Civil Rights Movement in the Seattle in the 1960s.  The best papers will be permanently added to the website, making your work part of the research base for future scholars.   

The project website address is: http://faculty.washington.edu/gregoryj/civilrights/ 

You should observe the following dead­lines for your paper: 

Fourth Colloquium Meeting: A Preliminary title and one-page prospectus of your paper. 

Sixth Colloquium Meeting: A four page selected annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources to be used in your paper. 

Wednesday of Final Exam Week (noon): Your Paper is due in my office. 


Each colloquium participant is expected to complete and be prepared to discuss all of each week's assigned reading.  Each student will be expected to chair at least one colloquium meeting. One's responsibilities as chair include leading the discussion of the week's readings.  The student chairing the colloquium will be expected to have completed all of the assigned readings, as I expect all of the other partici­pants as well, but she or he, if necessary, should review related readings beyond the colloquium assignment.   


Your grade will be based upon three components: the quality of your partici­pation in weekly discussions (20%), your performance as chair of your particular session (30%), and the quality of your research paper, (50%) 

Required Textbooks (Purchase):

            Stephen J. Pitti, The Devil in Silicon Valley: Northern California, Race, and Mexican Americans (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003)

            Yong Chen, Chinese San Francisco, 1850-1943: A Trans-Pacific Community (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000) 

Required Textbooks (on library reserve):

            Lawrence B. de Graaf, Kevin Mulroy and Quintard Taylor, eds., Seeking El Dorado: African Americans in California (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001)

            Yen Le Espiritu, Asian American Panethnicity: Bridging Institutions and Identities (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992)

            Dorothy B. Fujita-Rony, American Workers, Colonial Power: Philippine Seattle and the Transpacific West, 1919-1941 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003)

            George J. Sanchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993)

            Paul R. Spickard, Japanese Americans: The Formation and Transformations of an Ethnic Group (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1996)

            Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle's Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994)

            Roger Waldinger and Mehdi Bozorgmehr, eds., Ethnic Los Angeles (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1996)

            Judy Yung, Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995)      


Week 1: Seminar Introduction: Discussion and Determination of Weekly Seminar Assignments                                                  

Week 2: North from Mexico: Mexican Settlement in the Urban West, 1890-1941

            George J. Sanchez, Becoming Mexican American, Chapters 1, 3

            Stephen J. Pitti, The Devil in Silicon Valley, Chapter 4             

Week 3: The Growth of the Chinese Urban West, 1849-1941

            Yong Chen, Chinese San Francisco, Chapters 1-3

            Judy Yung, Unbound Feet, Chapters 1-2. 

Week 4: East across the Pacific: The Coming of the Japanese and the Filipinos, 1890-1941

            Paul R. Spickard, Japanese Americans, Chapter 2

            Dorothy B. Fujita-Rony, American Workers, Chapters 1, 4

            Paul Spickard, "Not Just the Quiet People: The Nisei Underclass," Pacific Historical Review 68:1 (February 1999):78-94  

Week 5: 20th Century Indians in the Urban West

            Kenneth R. Philp, "Stride Toward Freedom: The Relocation of Indians to the Cities," Western Historical Quarterly 16:2 (April 1985):175-190.

            Ned Blackhawk, “ I Can Carry On From Here: The Relocation of American Indians to Los Angeles,” Wicazo Sa Review  11:3 (Fall 1995):16-30

            Nicholas G. Rosenthal, “Repositioning Indianess: Native American Organization in Portland, Oregon, 1959-1975,” Pacific Historical Review 71:3 (August 2002):415-438 

Week 6: World War II and Communities of Color in the Urban West

            Stephen J. Pitti, The Devil in Silicon Valley, Chapter 5

            Yong Chen, Chinese San Francisco, Chapter 10

            Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community, Chapter 6

            Kevin Leonard, “In the Interest of All Races: African Americans and Interracial Cooperation in Los Angeles During and After World War II,” in de Graaf, Mulroy and Taylor, Seeking El Dorado, pp. 309-340 

 Week 7: The Multicultural Urban West into the 21st Century

            Roger Waldinger and Mehdi Bozorgmehr, "The Making of a Multicultural Metropolis," in Waldinger and Bozorgmehr, eds., Ethnic Los Angeles , pp. 3-29 and Chapter 12, “Middle Easterners: A New Kind of Immigrant” 

            Yen Le Espiritu, Asian American Panethnicity, Chapter 2

            Stephen J. Pitti, The Devil in Silicon Valley, Chapter 8 .

Week 8: No Class Meeting, Prepare Research Papers  

Week 9: No Class Meeting, Prepare Research Papers           

Week 10: Presentation of Paper Topics 

Week 11: Presentation of Paper Topics (Continued)