Migration in the Americas (January 2022)

Check out the syllabus, assignments, and student research projects here: https://blogs.ubc.ca/hist403c/

Syllabus – HIST 403C 201 – Migration in the Americas (Seminar in the History of International Relations)

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Term: 2021W, 2 (January 2022 term)

Time: Thursdays, 17:15-18:50

Location: Buchanan, B306

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 15:00-15:45 in person or by telephone, and by appointment on Zoom

Course Description: This course explores several themes in the history of migration in the Americas. It also focuses on public engagement and independent archival research. Our readings, discussions, and projects will teach us about the people who migrate and the responses of government officials, workers, politicians, and other migrant groups to new arrivals. Topics of the readings include diplomacy, government policies, gender, the construction of racial categories, and nationalism. The readings aim to introduce students to a variety of methodological approaches used in social history as well as to offer examples of transnational and global history. The assignments seek to strengthen students’ research skills using primary and secondary sources and to give student practical skills to develop public-facing research.

Learning Objectives (LO):

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • LO. 1) Describe how human migration has shaped societies in the Americas.
  • LO. 2) Identify and assess the ways that historians mobilize evidence and construct and revise narratives.
  • LO. 3) Critically evaluate and engage in substantive historical debates.
  • LO. 4) Develop skills to share research with digital media.
  • LO. 5) Engage with community partners to share original research.

Course Structure: Class time will be dedicated to group discussions of the readings and discussions of research projects. As a fourth-year seminar, there will be no lectures. The seminar can be divided into two distinct components. Five seminars will focus on historiographic discussions of assigned readings. The other weeks focus on developing new skills to conduct or disseminate research. We will be working with a community partner (the Roedde House Museum). Assignments are focused on experience, both in the research and writing phases. They will build on the topics examined in class, but they will require independent archival research. As much as possible, students are encouraged to explore modes of dissemination beyond the traditional essay. This includes podcasts, museum exhibits, blogs, and Wikipedia articles.


All readings are mandatory. Four out of five can be accessed as eBooks through the UBC library by clicking this link: https://courses.library.ubc.ca/c.KfNPv6. The books are on sale at the UBC Bookstore for approximately $35 each, and most can also be bought as a paperback through other vendors.

David Atkinson, The Burden of White Supremacy Containing Asian Migration in the British Empire and the United States (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

Eiichiro Azuma, In Search of Our Frontier: Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan’s Borderless Empire (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2019).

Lara Putnam, Radical Moves Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2013).

Tara Zahra, The Great Departure Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World (New York: W.W. Norton, 2017).

Elizabeth Zanoni, Migrant Marketplaces: Food and Italians in North and South America (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2018).

Evaluation: A large part of this course is based on experience, and it breaks with conventional learning and teaching relationships. To succeed, you need to embrace that difference. Some of the assignments are unlike what you are accustomed to in university-level history courses. If you give the different assignments your best effort and you dedicate as much time to them as you would to the assignments for other upper-level history courses, your grade in this class will be in line with your average history GPA. For any assignment for which you receive a grade 10% lower than your average grade in the history courses you took in 2020-21, you will be able to submit a revised version of that assignment within 14 days of receiving your grade, and your final grade on the assignment will be based 2/3 on the revised version and 1/3 on the original version.

  1. Participation in discussions of assigned books, 20%
  2. Participation in all other course activities, 5%
  3. Migrant foodways public history project, February 17, 25%
  4. Experiential learning log, March 31, 15%
  5. Research Project, April 15, 35%
  6. Bonus mark. For revising and posting research to course website. Students can get this bonus twice, 1.5%

1. Participation in discussions of assigned books. Students are expected to attend and participate in all five seminar sessions where we discuss a scholarly monograph. Discussion is an important part of fourth-year seminars, and students will learn from one another through their active participation. Students will be required to read approximately 100 pages per week, but we will discuss 250 pages at a time. Students should demonstrate a mastery of the readings and share some critical thoughts about the arguments presented. Contributions to the discussion should be based on the readings and be respectful to classmates. To prepare for seminars, students should read the assigned materials thoroughly and come prepared to state their own views about the work and engage with those of other students. If actively participating in class discussions is difficult for you, please come and talk to me.

1.b. In case of illness or other absence. If a student misses a seminar due to illness, they can submit a written review of the assigned books. Students are not asked to complete any work when ill, and this assignment can be submitted up to 4 weeks after a book is discussed in seminar (but no later than April 25). A book review will be worth 1/5 of the participation grade. For this assignment, students will be asked to write an 700-word review of the assigned book, following examples of other book reviews. In a scholarly book review, the author should talk about the book’s argument, main themes, historiographic contributions, and methodology. It is also common that the reviewer will highlight one weak point.

2. Participation in all other course activities. Students are expected to attend and participate in all other weekly seminars. This includes hosting guest speakers, a visit to UBC Rare Books and Special Collections, and two visits to the Roedde House Museum in the West End. Should instruction remain online after February 1, the two forms of participation (Participation in discussions of assigned books and Participation in all other course activities will be merged and the seminar plan will be revised).

3. Migrant foodways public history project. Website text. 800-1000 words. Students need to write an accessible history based on their own research. Students are expected to conduct independent research, whether in Vancouver archives, with oral history interviews, or using digital collections. Student researchers should also engage with Elizabeth Zanoni’s Migrant Marketplaces for the theoretical, methodological, and contextual framing. At the end of the text, students should include a list of works cited, but no footnotes are required. Images can be embedded in the Word document. Students are asked to analyze some aspect of migrant foodways and present this as a website text. They may write a recent history of a restaurant, shop, or urban space in Greater Vancouver. If they do so, the market, restaurant, shop, etc. should be considered a sort of primary document, and students can include photos, quotations from interviews with vendors/employees, or published documents related to this foodway.

Due: To be submitted in class in paper form on February 17.

4. Experiential learning log. 800 words. Students are expected to write a summary and reflection piece on four distinct activities and experiences they had during this course. In addition to describing and reflecting on what they learned in each activity (150-175 words), students should also include a conclusion that flags an overarching theme that connects their experiences (100-150 words)

Due: Due: To be submitted in class in paper form on March 31.

5. Applied history project. This assignment builds on the archival research that students did during the term, but they are expected to supplement it with further research in a digital collection or brick-and-mortar archive and with secondary sources. Students may work alone or in groups of two. The goal of this assignment is to share original research with the broader public by producing digital content. Students will do one of the following four activities or, with approval from Dr. Bryce, students may carry out any other project that that shares original historical research with the community. 1) Make or greatly transform a Wikipedia page; 2) create a podcast; 3) publish an article on www.ActiveHistory.ca; 4) Make a small exhibit that could be used at the Roedde House Museum. More information on how to carry out these projects will be provided in class and on the course website. If writing a Wikipedia entry, students should submit a PDF of the page before and after they modified it. If a podcast, students should send the instructor the completed podcast as an MP3 (or other audio format). If writing an article for ActiveHistory, students should provide evidence of submission to the editors. If a collection of posters for an exhibit at the Roedde House Museum, students should make the posters on a computer, using Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft PowerPoint, or another program, and submit the file to Dr. Bryce. Other possible projects include the following: compiling a cookbook with many historical recipes from some ethnic groups that lived in Vancouver; developing a West End walking tour; developing an exhibit with objects that the Roedde House Museum possesses.

Due: April 15. Mode of submission (course website, e-mail, Canvas, etc) to be announced in March.

5.b. Historical Research Essay. 12-15 pages. This is an alternative assignment for students who do not want to do an applied history project. Students are asked to write a historical research essay drawing from both primary and secondary sources. Students must identify and analyze an important topic in the history of migration anywhere in the Americas. Outside research is required, and at least five books or articles not assigned in this course must be examined as well as a reasonable number of primary documents. Many published primary documents related to migration can be found on www.archive.org, the HathiTrust Digital Library, the Chung Collection at UBC, or in archives near home (such as the UBC Rare Books and Special Collections or City of Vancouver Archives). The topic is open but it must relate to one of the main themes of the course. Students should discuss their topic with Dr. Bryce by April 1.

Due: To be dropped off in the History Department (Buchanan Tower, 12th floor), in Dr. Bryce’s box, in paper form, stapled, on April 15 by 4:30pm.

5.b. Historiographic Research Essay. 12-15 pages. This is another alternative assignment for students who do not want to do an applied history project. Students are asked to write a historiographic research essay. Students must identify and analyze an important topic in migration history anywhere in the Americas. Outside research is required, and at least ten books or articles not assigned in this course must be examined. Students can analyze research assigned in class in addition to ten other publications. The topic is open but it must relate to one of the main themes of the course. Students should discuss their topic with Dr. Bryce by April 1.

Due: To be dropped off in the History Department (Buchanan Tower, 12th floor), in Dr. Bryce’s box, in paper form, stapled, on April 15 by 4:30pm.

6. Bonus marks. For any assignment that receives a 72% or higher, students will be invited to make the suggested revisions and resubmit via e-mail to Dr. Bryce so that he can post it to the course website (https://hist403.opened.ca). In the spirit of experiential learning and community engagement, students are encouraged to publish their research. The voices of migrants, ethnic minorities, and racialized peoples too often remain hidden. The model for this collaborative website that we will build together is https://hist493.opened.ca/, where students in 2017 and 2019 shared their research. 

Course Overview:

Week 1 – January 13 – Course introduction. Online

  • Seminar introduction: Syllabus, course goals, and assignments
  • Readings:

Week 2 – January 20 – Seminar discussion #1. Online

  • Readings:
    • Elizabeth Zanoni, Migrant Marketplaces: Food and Italians in North and South America (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2018).

Last day to withdraw from course without financial penalty and without W standing on transcript. January 21.

Week 3 – January 27 – Archives and Museums. Online

  • Presentation by Sydney Lines on museum curation, 5:15-6:00pm
  • Planning for the archives, 6:00-6:50pm. Presentation and discussion with Claire Williams, UBC Rare Books & Special Collections
  • Over the next week, students should seek out an archive. The UBC Rare Books & Special Collections has great materials. Students could instead visit a different archive closer to home (Richmond Archives, City of Vancouver Archives, Surrey Archives, Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby, The Jewish Museum & Archives of BC in South Cambie, Italian Cultural Centre Archive near Commercial Drive, etc.)
  • Students could also visit a private archive such as a Korean church or a German club.

Week 4 – February 3 – Seminar discussion #2. Online

  • Readings:
    • Tara Zahra, The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World (New York: W.W. Norton, 2017).

Week 5 – February 10 – Roedde House Museum, 1 of 2

  • Seminar to meet at the Roedde House Museum, 6pm-7:30pm (1415 Barclay Street)
  • To discuss public history projects with Billie-Ann Woo, President of the Roedde House Museum Society, and Sara Hepper, Museum Manager

Week 6 – February 17 – Wikipedia

  • Readings:
  • Guest presentation by Erin Fields, Open Education and Scholarly Communications Librarian, UBC Library
    • Resources to be discussed in the seminar:

Assignment 3: Migrant foodways public history project. Due in class on Thursday, February 17

Reading week – February 24

  • No classes at UBC during the week of February 21-25

Week 7 – March 3 – Roedde House Museum, 2 of 2

  • Class meets as scheduled and to discuss the narrative of the museum.
  • Students are to visit the museum (1415 Barclay Street) with the group on Wednesday, March 2 at 3pm. If this does not fit their schedule, students can visit the museum at any time before this week’s seminar.

Last day to withdraw from course with W standing on transcript. March 4.

Week 8 – March 10 – Seminar discussion #3

  • Readings:
    • Lara Putnam, Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2013).

Week 9 – March 17 – Back to the archives

Week 10 – March 24 – Seminar discussion #4

  • All students interested in podcasting (whether they do so for their final assignment or not) are invited to attend a workshop on Wednesday, March 23 between 2 and 4pm with Duncan McHugh, Digital & Instructional Media Producer, The Learning Centre, Faculty of Land and Food Systems. The group will meet in Buchanan Tower 1133.
  • Readings for Thursday seminar:
    • Eiichiro Azuma, In Search of Our Frontier: Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan’s Borderless Empire (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2019).

Week 11 – March 31 – Sharing Research with the World

  • Seminar: Graphic design with Cody Rocko, Museum of Anthropology

Week 12 – April 7 – Seminar discussion #5

  • Readings:
    • David Atkinson, The Burden of White Supremacy: Containing Asian Migration in the British Empire and the United States (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

Canvas and Course website: While this course remains online, we will use Canvas. Detailed descriptions of the assignments are posted on Canvas. Students should check this site regularly. Should this course return to in person instruction in late January, detailed descriptions of the assignments will be posted on the course website. The URL is https://hist403.opened.ca.

The common cold and COVID-19: As part of the return to campus guidance set out by the provincial government and UBC, any student with any COVID-like symptom is asked to stay away from campus. This may increase the number of absences. Students are asked to inform their instructors, but no documentation is required. Staying home and keeping everybody safe will have no bearing on your mark. Participation grading will accommodate these absences. There is an alternative, take-home option for the evaluation of Participation in discussions of assigned books. For the evaluation of Participation in all other course activities, reported absences will be noted and grades will be based on the days attended.

Lateness penalty: Assignments are due on the date specified in this syllabus. Once per semester, students can use a “get out of jail free” or a “life happens” card, and they can hand in their assignment up to one week late. After that one-time extension or if it is the second time, the late submission of an assignment will be penalized in an exponential manner. For each day an assignment is late, the penalty will be as follows: 1%, 2%, 4%, 8%, 16%, 32%, 64%, 100%. No assignments will be accepted after eight days without a self-declaration form for an academic concession. To get the first, week-long extension, students should notify Dr. Bryce before the original due date; when ready to submit, students should write at the top of their assignment: “I am using my get out of jail free card. Essay 5 days late. No penalty applies.”

Illness and extenuating circumstances: If you have an illness (in light of the current policies on the common cold and COVID-19) or extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment on time, an extension can be granted. However, for this, you must discuss your situation with Dr. Bryce before the due date or fill out an academic concession from the Faculty of Arts.

Academic Concessions: If you miss marked coursework for the first time (assignment, exam, presentation, participation in class) and the course is still in-progress, speak with me to find a solution for your missed coursework. If this is not the first time you have requested concession or classes are over, fill out Arts Academic Advising’s online academic concession form, so that an advisor can evaluate your concession case. If you are a student in a different faculty, please consult your faculty’s webpage on academic concessions, and then contact me if appropriate.

Illness and absences: Notify me as soon as possible if a serious illness or other concern is affecting your ability to keep up with the course. It is also wise to contact the UBC Wellness Centre or your Faculty’s academic advising office if you are experiencing academic or personal difficulties.

Managing your mental health: You may be developing feelings of fear, stress, worry, and isolation. Everyone reacts differently to these feelings and they can be overwhelming. If you need help in coping with these feelings, here are some articles and resources compiled by UBC that will guide you in managing your mental health.

Evaluation of written work: Assignments will be returned accompanied by comments noting areas that need attention. Assignments will only be returned to the writer. Questions about grades cannot be answered effectively by e-mail and students should instead come to the instructor’s office hours. If you ask for an assignment to be reconsidered, note that your grade could go either up or down.

E-mail policy: Please use e-mail to communicate with me only for administrative matters. Please come to the scheduled office hours to address questions that you have, raise them in class, or chat with me before or after class. If you cannot meet during my scheduled office hours, please e-mail me to set up an alternative appointment. I will respond to e-mails within 48 hours, so please do not leave your inquiries to the last minute. Please take the time to compose a formal e-mail, use your UBC e-mail address, and check this e-mail account regularly to receive updates about this course.

Writing Centres: Take advantage of the free services offered at the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication (https://learningcommons.ubc.ca/improve-your-writing/).

Technology etiquette during class time: Please put cellphones on silent and only use them for emergencies. It is inappropriate to surf the web or send text messages during any class at the University of British Columbia.

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism: Authors do not cite sources properly merely to avoid accusations of plagiarism but also to establish credibility, bring other work to the reader’s attention, and demonstrate competing viewpoints. For more on the use of citations, see the History Department’s guidelines: http://www.history.ubc.ca/content/common-questions-about-citations

The University of British Columbia takes academic honesty very seriously.  Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated and academic offences could lead to permanent expulsion from UBC. More information on the University’s procedures on academic offences can be found here: http://www.calendar.ubc.ca/vancouver/index.cfm?tree=3,54,111,959

The code of academic conduct disallows the following:

  • Plagiarism, which the university defines as an individual submitting or presenting the oral or written work of another person as his or her own.
  • Submitting the same, or substantially the same, essay, presentation, or assignment more than once (whether the earlier submission was at this or another institution) unless prior approval has been obtained from the instructor(s) to whom the assignment is to be submitted.

Accessibility and Accommodations: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have an accessibility or health consideration that may require course format accommodation, please feel free to approach me to discuss your needs.  If you require accommodations for a disability or for religious observance or if you have accessibility concerns about the course, the classroom, or course materials, please contact me or the Centre for Accessibility (https://students.ubc.ca/about-student-services/centre-for-accessibility).

Student Conduct: The University of British Columbia is a community of students, faculty and staff involved in learning, teaching, research and other activities. In accordance with the UBC Respectful Environment Statement, all members of this community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that contributes positively to an environment in which respect, civility, diversity, opportunity and inclusiveness are valued, so as to assure the success of both the individual and the community. The Student Code of Conduct reflects a concern for these values and tries to ensure that members of the University and the public can make use of and enjoy the activities, facilities and benefits of the University without undue interference from others. The university’s policy and procedures involving disruptive and/or harassing behaviour by students in academic situations is available on this website:


UBC Values: UBC provides resources to support student learning and to maintain healthy lifestyles but recognizes that sometimes crises arise and so there are additional resources to access including those for survivors of sexual violence. UBC values respect for the person and ideas of all members of the academic community. Harassment and discrimination are not tolerated nor is suppression of academic freedom. UBC provides appropriate accommodation for students with disabilities and for religious and cultural observances. UBC values academic honesty and students are expected to acknowledge the ideas generated by others and to uphold the highest academic standards in all of their actions. Details of the policies and how to access support are available here: https://senate.ubc.ca/policiesresources-support-student-success