ANTH 335 Syllabus

This course is an examination of ‘race’ and ethnicity in Canada through an anthropological lens. All Canadians, other than Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, have immigrated from somewhere else. Their histories and presence may be multi-generational, while others are newly arrived. To explore every ethnic group is impossible given the time frame of a semester. Rather than focusing on specific groups, the course will examine a number of themes and issues that are relevant to all.

The format of instruction is a combination of lecture and seminar-style discussion. Films will be shown to complement readings and lectures. BE PREPARED TO PARTICIPATE!

Learning Objectives:

  • Assess the impact of racism – past to present
  • Distinguish how ‘race’ is used or weaponized in media
  • Compare and contrast a number of different settler groups within Canada
  • Critically evaluate resources as presented in various forms, e.g., news media, websites, etc.

OPTIONAL day field trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery to see Conceptions of White in January–by public transportation (BC Ferries and TransLink, 257 Vancouver).

Evaluation will be based on attendance and participation (25%), opinion piece (5%), short paper-films (15%), exam (25%), and final paper (30%).  There is no final exam.

Not submitting an exam or assignment will result in an “F”; your final grade is based on completing ALL course work.

Required texts:
James, Carl E., and Adrienne Shadd, eds.  2001.  Talking about Identity: Encounters in Race, Ethnicity, and Language. Toronto, ON: Between the Lines.  (eBook)

Optional texts: [one to be selected for final paper, sign-up]
Good, Michelle.  2020.  Five Little Indians.  Toronto, ON: Harper Perennial.

Hui, Ann. 2019.  Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Café and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants.  Madeira Park, BC: Douglas & McIntyre. (eBook)

Please review assigned readings prior to the week’s topic to facilitate discussion. Additional readings and resources are found on VIULearn. The weekly topics are a guideline and may vary to some extent according to class discussion and interests.

Jan 9 Ask Me Anything & Introduction
Jan 11 Pandemic times–still: Rise in racism and more
Jan 16 Language
READ: Dunning 2017; King, Ch1 (2016).
Jan 18 Naming
READ: Forum: Naming (BC Studies 195, 97-117)
FILM: Colonization Road (2016, 49:38 min)
Jan 23 Canadian, eh?
READ: James & Shadd, Pt.I; Sinha; Stats Canada 2021
Jan 25 READ: Lim 2023; Miyagawa 2009
NOTE: Select CHA-Ethnic Group Booklet for discussion, Feb 13.  Sign-up.
Jan 30 Race: What is It?
READ: McIntosh 1989; Fortin 2021
FILM: RACE: Are We So Different? (2009, 5:22 min)
NOTE:  Select BCAUH Episodes 1-3, for class discussion Feb 8.  Sign-up.
Feb 1 READ: Race: The Power of Illusion, The Difference Between Us (2019)
Feb 6 The BC History You Didn’t Learn  [no class, you are to use the time to view these episodes]
FILM: Ep1, Change + Resistance; Ep2, Labour + Persistence; Ep3, Migration + Resilience, BCAUH
Feb 8 CLASS DISCUSSION: BC: An Untold History
NOTE: Select Five Little Indians or Chop Suey Nation (half the class for each) for final paper.  Sign-up.
Feb 13 Roots of Identity, Points of Origin
CLASS DISCUSSION: Ethnic Groups (CHA Booklets)
READ: James & Shadd, Pt.III
Feb 15 Take home EXAM [no class]
Submit through VIULearn
Study Week – No Classes, Feb 19-23
Feb 27 Global Citizens Day [class location to TBD]
Community dialogue, sponsored by CVI Multicultural Society
Feb 29 CLASS DISCUSSION: debrief of community dialogue
Mar 5 Ethnic Persistence
READ: Christian; Zucchi 2007
Mar 7 FILM: Speakers for the Dead (2000, 49:50 min)
Mar 12 Identities
READ: James & Shadd, Pt.II; Cheung 2023
Mar 14 READ: Where We Come From (NPR 2021)
FILM: Cedar & Bamboo (2010, 22:06 min)
DUE: Short paper, NFB films
Mar 19 Ethnic Hierarchy
READ: James & Shadd, Pt.IV; CBC 2014
NOTE: Sign-up for Diversity in Media, four topics, for class discussion, Mar 28.
Mar 21 READRace: The Power of Illusion, The House We Live In (2019)
Mar 26 Stereotypes and Media Awareness
READ: Cheung 2021, 2023
Mar 28 CLASS DISCUSSION: See Diversity in Media: four topics
READ: Representation of Diversity in Media – Overview
Apr 2 Common themes
READ: Bridges; Wheeler
Apr 4 CLASS DISCUSSION: Five Little Indians
READ: TRC: Calls to Action
Apr 9 Shared learning
Apr 11 Presentations
DUE: Final Paper, April 18


  • Use of technology: Recording is only permitted by request as authorized by Accessibility Services. Please contact Accessibility Services if you are in need of academic support and accommodation.
  • If there are exceptional and/or extenuating circumstances, such as illness or a death in the family, that prevents you from meeting an assignment deadline or being present for an exam, please notify me as soon as possible so that other arrangements can be made. (See VIU Calendar, General Regulations.)
  • Should you need counselling at any time during the semester, contact Student Affairs. Drop-in counselling is available. If immediate support is needed after hours, call the Crisis & Information Line: 1-888-494-3888. As well, you can contact Cowichan Valley Mental Health and Substance Use Services Intake, 3088 Gibbins Road, Duncan: 250.709.3040.  In Nanaimo, there is a Walk-in Counselling Clinic, Brooks Landing (203-2000 Island Highway North), Nanaimo: 250-739-5710.  For general health and wellness queries, go to bc211 or dial 211; it’s free and confidential.
  • If you appear to be experiencing difficulties, you might be identified to VIU Student Affairs through the Early Alert System (EAS).  EAS is a campus-wide program to connect students with resources that may help their success.
  • Withdrawing from any VIU course MUST be done formally, that is, by applying at the Registration Centre.
  • All in-coming mail is spam-filtered. Identify the course name in the “Subject” box when emailing your instructor. Also, add your instructor to your “accepted” email address file and ensure that VIU has your correct email address.

Final grade assignment:
Grades will be assigned according to the following scale:

90-100 A+ 64-67 C+
85-89 A 60-63 C
80-84 A- 55-59 C-
76-79 B+ 50-54 D
72-75 B <49 F
68-71 B-

Morality is the custom of one’s country and the current feeling of one’s peers. Cannibalism is moral in a cannibal country.

–Samuel Butler, writer (1835-1902)

Created 2013-09-04; last updated 2024-01-10