UCL Institute of the Americas


AMER0031: Race, Identity and US Foreign Policy

***NOT RUNNING IN 2023/24***

Module Convenor: Dr. Zoe Hyman

What do race, ethnicity, identity and gender have to do with US foreign policy? To what extent have America's wars been racialised? Why and with what consequences have minority groups engaged with, and sought to influence, US foreign policy? What impact have women had on US foreign policy and why have foreign policymakers found it useful to utilise gendered and racialised language? Using a transnational and thematic approach this course addresses these questions and examines the connection between race, ethnicity and American foreign policy in the twentieth century.

We will explore how issues of race, identity, immigration and ethnicity have influenced US foreign relations and, in turn, how America's engagement with global events has influenced race, reform, and identity politics in the United States. Major topics include the role of race and gender in American imperialism; how US immigration policy has been racialised; the racialised and gendered aspects of hot and cold wars; gender politics from the suffrage movement to the war on terror; the impact of foreign revolutions and decolonisation on US policymaking and its citizens; and the change and continuity evident in US administrations from WWII to the present day. Case studies including the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), Hawaii from annexation to statehood, and a view from the White House will be used to delve deeper into these topics. The module will conclude with a discussion about the future relationship between interest groups and US foreign policy, asking whether the US can have an intersectional foreign policy and what the 2016 presidential election has revealed about race, identity and US foreign policy.

This module is assessed by a 4,000-word essay on a topic of your choice.

Introductory Reading:

  • Alexander DeConde, Ethnicity, Race, and American Foreign Policy: A History (Boston, Mass: Northeastern University Press, 1992)
  • Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000)
  • Donna R. Gabaccia, Foreign Relations: American Immigration in Global Perspective (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012)
  • Andrew Johnstone and Helen Laville, eds., The US Public and American Foreign Policy (New York: Routledge, 2010)
  • Mark Ledwidge, Race and U.S. Foreign Policy: The African-American Foreign Affairs Network (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2012)