FemTechNet Critical Race & Ethnic Studies Pedagogy Workbook


In addition to Key Learning Projects, FemTechNet educators have developed individual assignments, group projects, and teacher resources that emphasize critical race and ethnic studies within new information culture. Submissions are ongoing at our Google Doc where we encourage you to share your own Femtechnet content, syllabi, videos, references, and pedagogical resources. For questions, contact femtechnetcres@gmail.com.

Reverse-engineer and Remix Assignment

  • Designed by: Dana Simmons
  • Brief Biography: Associate Professor of History, U.C. Riverside
  • Term Taught: Winter 2015
  • Institution or Context: Senior seminar on Science and Politics

This assignment works specifically with Legacy Tobacco Documents Archive (https://industrydocuments.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco/), a collection of 14 million searchable docs online, and with Naomi Oreskes & Eric Conway’s Merchants of Doubt and Brianna Rego’s article on polonium (“The Polonium Brief: A Hidden History of Cancer, Radiation, and the Tobacco Industry,” Isis 100(3) September 2009: 453-484). But it could be repurposed to work with any paired archive and analysis.

Choose one of our Week 2 readings  - Oreskes Chapter 1, Chapter 5 or the Rego article -and find the primary documents cited in that text.
  1. What argument does Oreskes or Rego make about the documents? - You will need to identify the main argument of the book chapter or article that you are using.
  2. Now you get to the challenging part. Having reviewed the primary sources they cite, do you feel that these sources lend toward that argument? Do they provide sufficient evidence to convince you? Are there elements in these documents that might work against their argument, or point it in another direction? You will need to cite specific passages in the primary and the secondary sources in order to answer this question.
  3. Think of a different story that you might tell using these same documents. - This is the creative part. Imagine that you are about to create a historical journal article, piece of fiction, video, podcast, artwork or website based on this same set of sources. What catches your imagination here? How could you read or talk about these documents differently? Try to make it sufficiently distinct from Rego or Oreskes & Conway to be interesting.

Simulation Assignment

  • Designed by: Dana Simmons
  • Term Taught: Winter 2015
  • Institution or Context: UC Riverside freshman humanities seminar

Our objective this quarter is to dig into the history of race, eugenics and medicine in modern history. We will use a case study or microhistory method, whereby we will seek to deeply understand one historical event as a window to broader contexts and questions. Our focus is the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis, which took place in Macon County, Alabama from 1932-1972.

This will not be an ordinary history class. The core of the quarter will be a game: a simulation of a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in 1974 by surviving study subjects and their descendents. The first few class sessions will be devoted to understanding the historical context of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: eugenics, racial science and racism.

Then the game begins: each of us will be assigned a role to play in the simulation, and we will speak, write and make decisions in that character. Each party in the lawsuit will attempt to convince the jury and the public to decide in its favor. The outcome may or may not replicate what really happened, as we will see at the game’s end. However, the goal is not to recreate history. Rather, it is to fully immerse ourselves in these people’s lives, their choices, their values and the world they moved in.

The Implosion Project assignment

  • Copied verbatim from Joe Dumit, see his beautiful description and full assignment.

“Implosion Projects are attempts to teach and learn about the embeddedness of objects, facts, actions, and people in the world and the world in them. The emphasis is on details and nonobvious connections, as well as on the many dimensions with which we can analyze them: labor, professional, material, technological, political, economic, symbolic, textual, bodily, historical, educational.

Pick an artifact, a fact, a process as “it.” Make sure it is as specific as possible (not just fluoxetine, but one of those colored, branded Prozac pills that is in your medicine cabinet; not just the fact that a monkey can use sign language, but the materialized, stated claim in a 1999 journal article). How can it be conceptualized? What is it to different groups of people and individuals? How is it situated in the world and how is the world situated in it? Following is a hastily put-together, quite incomplete, yet apparently excessive list of possibly relevant aspects of any artifact (whether it be a social movement, a name, a grouping, a set of actions, or a process in the form of a thing, a grain of rice, a mouse, a mouse pad, an ad about a mouse, you, a fact of life, a book, a statistic, an event, a story …).”

Contributors: Genevieve Carpio

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