Race and Ethnicity

Race and Ethnicity comprise two of the most important forms of social differentiation in the United States society as well as in countries around the world. What is race? What is ethnicity? Students could well consider how their own embodied lifelong and cumulative experiences with race, racialization and academic training shape their conceptualizations and praxis (e.g., research, teaching and policy). The Sociology Department at the University of New Mexico (UNM) invites a dialogue on these and many more compelling research questions in the sociology of race and ethnicity in the U.S. and global contexts.  Download PDF


Students participating in the race and ethnicity curriculum within the Sociology Department at UNM will be privileged to participate in dialogues about the social construction of race and ethnicity in some of the most uniquely diverse settings in the U.S. At both the graduate and undergraduate level, our classrooms attract a diverse body of students from across the United States and internationally. Our courses on race and ethnicity are among some of the most heavily enrolled at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Our program provides students with the opportunity to examine the multidimensional and multilevel social construction of race and ethnicity at all levels of society, from the most large-scale and global, to the meso-institutional, to the micro-interactional levels.

Sociology faculty and graduate students specializing in the sociology of race and ethnicity focus their research and teaching on the intersection of race and ethnicity (culture) and their relation to many of society’s major domains, including neighborhoods, social movements, immigrant chains, health and inequality outcomes, and the educational, political , and criminal justice systems. Core seminars in race and ethnicity map the sociohistorical trajectory and examine the sociological conceptualizations of race and ethnicity. Attention is focused on understanding the diverse paradigms and theoretical frameworks in the field: unpacking their epistemologies, central assumptions, discourses, central research questions, as well as exploring the diverse methodological approaches and public policy implications. In addition to core courses in the sociology of race and ethnicity, specialized graduate level courses are devoted to intersectionality (race-gender), health, education as well as the sociology of important groups in the American Southwest such as Native Americans and Mexican-Americans.

The explanation of race and ethnic stratification and conflict is a focal concern of our courses. Racial formation theory, critical race theory, nation-based perspectives as well as intersectionality are some of the central currents of analyzing race in the discipline, while the sociology of ethnicity, assimilation and immigration open up important issues of changing ethnicity in the United States. Such approaches permit opportunities for framing and understanding of racial and ethnic inequality in their variegated and multidimensional and multilevel facets and manifestations. In addition, some of the newer and provocative thinking on race coming out of the current revolution in genomic research are points of sociological inquiry, debate and critique. Graduate students are trained to have a comprehensive understanding of how race and ethnicity are dealt with by a substantial number of sociologists (e.g., public, applied, critical and professional sociology).


The courses offered in the undergraduate curriculum address both national and more specialized contexts of race and ethnic relations and inequality. They include:

  • Soc. 216 The Dynamics of Prejudice (the social constructions of inequalities by race, ethnicity, and immigrant status, as well as gender, class, sexuality, nationality, disability, and age);
  • Soc. 326 Sociology of New Mexico (New Mexico as a social system, including ethnic groups and inter-group relations);
  • Soc. 328 Sociology of Native Americans (Native American peoples in historical, comparative and contemporary perspective in the U.S. and/or other countries);
  • Soc. 420 Race and Cultural Relations (comparative and structural analysis of intergroup relations in the United States and/or other countries and regions);
  • Soc. 428 Sociology of Mexican-Americans (Mexican-Americans in historical, comparative and contemporary perspective and in light of theories of race and ethnicity);
  • Soc. Race, Class and Crime (the relationships of race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status to involvement in criminal behavior and social control).

The graduate courses take advanced approaches to the issues arising in the areas in race and ethnicity. They include:

  • Soc. 520 Race and Cultural Relations (historical and comparative analysis of race and ethnic relations in the U.S., with comparative reference to Western Europe, Latin America, Asia), and,
  • Soc. 528 Sociology of Mexican-Americans (Mexican-Americans in historical, comparative and contemporary perspective and in light of theories of race and ethnicity);

Research Interests

Graduate students in sociology entertain a wide range of interests in their comprehensive, master’s theses and doctoral dissertations. Faculty members incorporate race and ethnicity into their publications in a variety of ways. They include the intersection of race and ethnicity with the sociology of education; violence against Native Americans; ethnopolitical mobilization of Mexican-Americans; health, race and Native Americans; race and crime; race and ethnic identity formation; race and the census; and the sociology of ethno-racial social movements.

Research Affiliates