Skip over navigation

2011 Global Seminars

The Global Ghetto

Rome, Italy, and Krakow, Poland, June 9 - July 23


“The Global Ghetto” will be taught in Rome, Italy, at St. John’s University, Rome Campus, and in Krakow, Poland, at Jagiellonian University, from June 9 to July 23, 2011.  The course is led by Mitchell Duneier, professor of sociology at Princeton University, and Alice Goffman *10, a research fellow in health management and policy at the University of Michigan.

This seminar traces the birth and spread of the ghetto as a social form and as an idea throughout world history. It begins in Rome with the earliest Jewish residential zone in a European city, and ends with the contemporary Muslim neighborhoods in the Paris suburbs. The inquiry includes an exploration of early modern Jewish ghettos of Frankfurt, Prague and Venice; Nazi-controlled ghettos in Poland during World War II; Jewish immigrant ghettos of early 20th-century New York and Chicago; and black ghettos in northern U.S. cities from World War II to the present. The course not only traces the spread and evolution of the ghetto concept but also explores how the social form emerged in different historical moments, and what people inside and outside have made of the experience.

The European Jewish case serves as a point of departure to put the modern U.S. experience in a broader comparative context. Students will examine the important socio-historical phenomenon around the restriction of stigmatized minorities and question whether a concept rooted in the Jewish experience is actually an appropriate model for comprehending the U.S. black situation.

The course combines visits to former ghetto apartments, synagogues, streets, and markets with classical historical readings to understand the rich community and family life that helped the Jews maintain themselves through centuries of persecution. It emphasizes the way that these ghettos became physical receptacles that aggravated pathology, thus illustrating classic sociological readings on the significance of physical space in constraining the life chances of ghetto dwellers. The seminar concludes with an exploration of current debates about the transformation of “ghetto” from a place inhabited by blacks and Jews to a trait referring to bad taste, or black culture, or poverty around the globe.

The first four weeks of the course will be held in Rome and include a long weekend in Venice. The final two weeks of the seminar will be held in Krakow. Classes meet four times a week and feature daily lectures by faculty and guests. In Rome, students will attend daily classes in language instruction and participate in a community service project.
This course fulfills the Social Analysis (SA) general requirement and is open to freshman, sophomores, and seniors.
For the current syllabus, please contact Professor Mitchell Duneier at


Monday, February 14, 2011, 5 p.m.

Week of February 21, 2011

Acceptance e-mails sent
Tuesday-Wednesday, March 8-9, 2011

Acceptance deadline
Monday, March 21, 2011


April 6, 2011
Pre-departure Orientation Meetings
Aaron Burr Hall 216
12:00-12:20PM Helen Ackley (health & immunizations)
12:20-1:20PM Mitchell Duneier & Rebecca Aguas (culture, expectations, travel database, etc.)


Rebecca Aguas, Seminar Administrator
Global Seminar in Rome-Krakow
323 Aaron Burr Hall