AES 442 A: Undocumented Immigrant Communities

Meeting Time: 
MW 10:30am - 12:20pm
SMI 305
Carolyn Pinedo-Turnovsky

Syllabus Description:

AES 442 Undocumented Immigrant Communities
Mon/Wed 10:30-12:20pm
305 Smith Hall

Professor:          Carolyn Pinedo-Turnovsky, Associate Professor
Appointment:  American Ethnic Studies
Office Hrs:        Wednesday, 1:00-3:00pm or by individual appointment in A-517 Padelford* (see note at bottom of page for directions)

Course Syllabus

The politics of migration, citizenship and race are the focal point for this course. In these times, the migrant crisis and others compel us to understand their productive forces and that they are crises of identity and power. This class examines sociologically the concepts of undocumented, citizen, and the structuring of il/legality as they are situated in axes of power, specifically in racialized and gendered contexts. Working with primary and secondary sources, we will learn about experiences across diverse communities, i.e., UndocuLatino, UndocuBlack, UndocuAsian and Pacific Islander, and UndocuQueer. Institutional outcomes in migration, law, labor, carceral spaces, education, and health are areas in social life that may be examined in course materials.

In this specific quarter, we scrutinize more closely the concepts of undocumented and presence and trace the historical lived experience of undocumented-ness. Our meetings will analyze course material and incorporate, whenever possible, your perspectives and assessments based on personal experience, observations, material from coursework and independent work of your own. All of this work informs and shapes the accounts we test alongside dominant, official and state methods of documentation.

Generally, we want to know from readings and class discussions: What does (un)documented mean in this context? Who are the main institutions and actors involved in the process? How do ideological forces like race or gender shape the activities and outcomes? What are the possibilities for change?

This is an upper-division course – students should be prepared to:

  1. Complete readings and assess them analytically in class discussions. Lectures will not fully cover readings, but attempt to synthesize key ideas.
  2. Advance skills in critical writing, in reasoning and in organizing coherent arguments.
  3. Locate, explain connections and think critically across inequalities, hierarchies and social change.
  4. Advance competency in research data collection, theories and methods, mainly from social sciences.
  5. Conduct independent work and research and work on a final research project.

A basic familiarity with discourses in race, ethnicity, and gender as well as studies in labor, inequality and globalization is helpful, though not required. You should be prepared to read supplementary material that will support your grasp of the material. Course readings are interdisciplinary from sociology, anthropology, ethnic and critical race studies, history and socio-legal studies. Participation is important. You are encouraged to share your observations and insights with class members. At all times, you must do so in a respectful tone and conscientious manner towards your peers and professor.

*Note:  Padelford has 3 wings: A, B and C.  The easiest way to find my office is to enter the A-wing of Padelford via the entrance nearest Hall Health. Take the elevator to the 5th floor and turn left when you exit. You'll see my office on the right side, just four office doors past the elevator.

Majoring in American Ethnic Studies:  Many students take AES courses out of interest in the topics or to fulfill general education requirements, yet do not realize how close they are to a major or even a double major. A degree in American Ethnic Studies is excellent preparation for a career in law, education, medicine, public health, social work, counseling, public policy, arts and humanities and many other careers. For more information about the major, please contact: Lorna Hamill, Academic Counselor, (206) 221-0664 or visit

Catalog Description: 
Sociological examination of the concepts of undocumented, citizen, and the structuring of (il)legality as they are situated in axes of power, specifically in racialized and gendered contexts. Topics include identity formation and experiences across communities, i.e., UndocuLatino, UndocuBlack, UndocuAsian and Pacific Islander, and UndocuQueer. Institutional outcomes in migration, law, labor, education, carceral spaces, and health. Recommended: AES 150; AES 151; AES 322; AES 461; and AES 462. Fluency with discourses in race, ethnicity, and gender as well as a basic familiarity in studies of transnational migrations, inequality and globalization. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:10pm