Ethnic Studies is the interdisciplinary and comparative study of race and racism. Ethnic Studies scholars interrogate historical and contemporary manifestations of white supremacy and racial hierarchy and explicate how systems of domination have created, and continue to create, racial subjects. From its origins in the late 1960s, Ethnic Studies scholars have been committed to issues of social justice and highlighting the histories, experiences and movements of people of color within and outside the United States.
As an academic discipline, Ethnic Studies analyzes social, political, economic, cultural and intellectual (re)productions of power, hierarchies and inequalities as they relate to whiteness and white privilege. Ethnic Studies critically engages the ways that race, as a system of domination, is intimately tied to issues of gender, class, indigeneity and sexuality.
While the social construction of race in the U.S. is at the center of traditional Ethnic Studies, we recognize that it is impossible to produce knowledge about American racial dynamics without also paying significant attention to immigration, transnational migrations and diasporic formations resulting from the slave trade, indentured labor, settler colonialism, post-colonialism, imperialism and globalization.