Looking forward to this year of strategic planning and community-building for our 3 Minors, I find myself hoping that we might be able to merge the 3 into one big-tent program, center, and ultimately a major.  In the current university climate of shrinking fiscal support and number-crunching, joining forces under some rubric such as "Critical Ethnic and Gender Studies" might allow us to show some critical mass while making a case for future support.

I don't think of this "big tent" as a way of dissolving or commandeering existing programs, but rather as a space for building alliances.  It's exciting to me when students show up in my Native American literature classes with theoretical perspectives on white privilege that they've got from their Intro to Race, Culture and Power; it's galvanizing for me as a scholar to be able to talk with colleagues in Latin American Studies about how globalization shapes the experiences of particular immigrant populations in New Hampshire.

At our discussion of Sara Ahmed's book last night (more on this in a later post), Courtney said something that really struck me: that it might actually be okay for an institution or program, even at the level of mission statement, to acknowledge that we haven't, in fact, got it right so far.  I love the idea of moving forward with an Ethnic Studies Center that would be REPARATIVE.  So, yes, we study what's wrong with white supremacy and settler colonialism; we study the powerful forms of resistance expressed by oppressed people; but we also explore new forms of redistributive justice, including practices on our very campus.

This morning I was looking over the websites for our existing minors and finding some things that I like, and that I think could easily talk to each other under some larger heading:

From RCP: This program of study enables students to develop critical perspectives on the ways in which cultural differentiation and racial formulations have been used to maintain social, economic and political power and justify inequalities and injustices. Students will engage both U.S. and international perspectives and contexts as they examine how dominant powers use “culture” to maintain subordination and how subordinated peoples use “culture” to resist exploitation.

From Af-Am: The Africana and African American Studies Minor encompasses the multidisciplinary and comparative study of African history and culture, and the study of the African Diaspora throughout the world, from Europe to Asia as well as to North and South America. The program recognizes the global and transnational dimensions of contemporary African Diasporic experiences in the United States, the Caribbean, and in Latin American nations.

On re-reading the AMST description after all these years, I wish we had noted the importance of critically examining the construct of "the United States." 

Looking to other programs that, IMHO, have a place under a big tent, Latin American Studies does a nice job calling out groups of students who should find the program essential; and Queer Studies breaks their program description down usefully into big ideas.  What would we gain--or lose--by joining forces under a big center/major, while allowing students, perhaps, to retain minor concentrations in areas like Latin American, Queer, and American Studies?