Optional Comments on Women and Gender
Reading Assignment for Feb. 21st
Please read as much as you can of Obama's Dreams from My Father. But be sure to read chapters 1,2,7,8,15,16 and the Epilogue. You need not post a comment on the readings for Feb. 21st or Feb. 23rd.
Friday Feb. 18th
Please post a comment on the talk by Zoya Hasan.
First Paper Topic
Amartya Sen and Bikhu Parekh both celebrate the possibility and desirability of upholding multiple identities. They fear that the pre-eminence of a single identity leads to exclusion and a denial of the many identities that people possess—in their personal and social lives –and on the basis of their shared humanity. However theorists of primordialism contend that certain identities (i.e. racial and ethnic) are more powerful than others. And political leaders differ on the value of asserting plural or singular identities. Malcolm X contends that Blacks can only achieve freedom from racial oppression by organizing independently of Whites. Barack Obama disagrees,
Drawing on the relevant readings through February 21st, analyze and asses these contending perspectives on the desirability and possibility of upholding multiple as opposed to singular identities, Referring to theories on the sources of collective identities and on class, status and race, provide your own views of this question.
Strategies for Writing the Paper:
- Discuss why Parekh (i.e. on p. 23) and Sen (i.e. p. 19) believe that it is possible and desirable for people to uphold plural or multiple identities
- Why would certain primordial theorists disagree with Parekh and Sen? You can refer to the works of Connor, Van Den Berghe and/or Geertz.
- Contrast the views of Malcolm X and Barack Obama on being Black and American. How and why do they hold different views of this question?
- Optional: You can refer to some of the readings on class (Marx, Weber, Class Matters, Hochschild) on whether class identities are and should be primary, particularly for the poor. However if you would prefer to confine your discussion to race, you need not discuss these readings.
- What are your own views of the desirability of upholding plural or multiple as opposed to singular identities? What are the advantages and disadvantages to organizing groups on the basis of one or many identities? Are there particular conditions that make either approach more likely and more desirable? Be sure to substantiate your views by referring to the readings you have discussed earlier in the paper.
Question for Feb. 16th
Malcolm X develops an understanding of Black Nationalism as a personal response to his experiences of racism and a political response to racial oppression in the US and internationally. Explore and assess the evolution and character of Malcolm X’s theory of Black Nationalism.
Question for Feb 14th
Class Matters suggests that while class is becoming a more significant determinant of the quality of people’s lives, America appears to be less class bound than ever. Drawing on the readings and possibly your own experiences and observations, provide one or two explanations for this paradox.
Please read the Introduction and chapters 1,2,3,6,7,8 and 12 of Class Matters.
Question for Feb. 9th
In the selection of his writings that we are considering, Marx links the objective conditions to the subjective consciousness of the working class. Explain why Marx considers the proletariat a revolutionary class and why Weber might disagree. How would you evaluate Marx's argument?
Question for Feb. 7th
Some scholars believe that many identities that appear to be rooted in ancient history or biology are in fact products of modernity. What political implications stem from the notion that identities are rooted in tradition as opposed to modernity? What is your view of the perspectives the readings for Monday provide on this question?
Question for Feb. 2nd
Why do you think that the concept of primordialism has been so heavily criticized and yet has so often been employed in studying ethnic conflict? What are your own views of the limitations and possible strengths of this approach?
Question for Jan. 31st
Reflecting on the work of Stein Rokkan, Charles Tilly asks why among the many identities political actors have at their disposal, only some of them become the bases of public collective action or social movements. How does Tilly respond to this question? What do you think of his argument?