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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

History (HIST)

HIST 261Y (GH;US;IL) (J ST 261Y) Ghetto: From Venice to Detroit (3) This course explores why certain groups have been segregated in cities around the world in the last 500 years.

HIST (J ST) 261Y Ghetto: From Venice to Detroit (3)
(GH;US;IL)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

This course examines the history of segregated and demarcated districts for certain groups of people within cities (and metropolitan regions) in the last five hundred years in different parts of the world. The course identifies factors that led to the establishment of segregated (and often demarcated) districts – and their eventual dissolution (or transformation). The course traces the social and political impact of exclusion within the segregated district, the possibilities of making contacts beyond the district, the function of innovation and cultural production emanating from these urban areas, and the conceptual trajectory of the Ghetto concept from Renaissance Venice to post-industrial Detroit.

Cities and states have allowed certain groups to settle within their confines for economic benefit but have imposed severe restrictions to safeguard the respective city’s and/or the state’s cultural, political, and “racial” integrity. The course will present several representative case studies of segregated and demarcated districts in European, North American, Asian and African cities, highlighting strikingly different trajectories and purposes behind the spatial segregation of people categorized as different and threatening but also as useful. Comparing the case studies will lead to a discussion about the transformation of the Ghetto concept between 1517 and the present.

Following a discussion of the Ghetto concept and an overview of urban history since 1500 we will study Jewish Ghettos in early and late Renaissance Italy and Central Europe. For comparison we will discuss the history of Dutch and Portuguese trade colonies in Japan around 1600. The second part of the course will focus on Jewish and other immigrant neighborhoods in late 19th century New York and Chicago. Before moving to the origins of the 20th century “Black Ghetto” (Chicago, Detroit) four related cases will be discussed: Chinatowns in the United States; residential segregation in colonial cities in South and East Asia, Nazi Ghettos in Poland and the Soviet Union; and townships in South Africa during the Apartheid period.

The course introduces students to interdisciplinary approaches, placing some emphasis on the use of theoretical texts written by historians, sociologists, political scientists, and anthropologists.


General Education: GH
Diversity: US;IL
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Spring 2015

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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