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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Ethnic Studies: Multicultural America


This guide focuses on the rich ethnic, racial, religious and cultural diversity which makes up the multicultural landscape of the United States. Ethnic studies scholarship is an interdisciplinary investigation into the roles of race, ethnicity, religion and culture in the construction of shared and contested views of American history, identity and the political, economic, social and power structures in which we all live.

As described by Philip Yang, in his essay on Ethnic studies in Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia (2014, p. 821): 

Ethnic studies has profound interests in all social aspects of ethnic groups including their histories (such as origin, immigration, settlement, population changes, and socioeconomic transformations); cultures (like languages, religions, customs, and popular cultures); institutions and organizations (such as, family, school, economic institutions, political, social, and religious organizations); identities; experiences; and contributions to American culture and society.

Another vital component of ethnic studies is the study of intergroup relations, which include ethnic stratification; social, economic, and spatial interactions among ethnic groups; political power relations; cooperation and conflict between groups; ethnic prejudice and stereotype; and ethnic discrimination.

The Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley, long at the forefront of the discipline, defines Ethic Studies as:

The critical and interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity with a focus on the experiences and perspectives of people of color within and beyond the United States. Since the emergence of ethnic studies as an academic field in the late 1960s, scholars have analyzed the ways in which race and racism have been, and continue to be, powerful social, cultural, and political forces and their connections to other axes of stratification, including gender, class, sexuality, and legal status.


Open the various tabs of this guide to the left to assist in finding a variety of sources in ethnic studies research. 

Related Library Research Guides

Please consult some of our related library guides for additional information:

Africana Studies 

Immigration: Resources, Problems and Policies

Latin American & Latina/o Studies

Primary Sources