This seminar course is designed to introduce students to the study of politics through the close textual analysis and shared discussion of Thomas Hobbes’ famous 1651 treatise Leviathan, or the Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth, Ecclesiasticall and Civil. For Hobbes, human life was fundamentally unstable and dangerous. Without a common political power, he believed that cooperation was impossible and that human sociability would inevitably result in the most savage of wars. In response, Hobbes set out to develop a science by which a potent political authority could be established, and from which a lasting peace might endure. Hobbes named this authority the "Leviathan," and his account has become one of the most important for Western conceptions of sovereignty. What is political authority? What should government be for? What is a commonwealth? Can there really be a science of politics? How do reason and emotions and our imagination condition our experience of politics? What is sovereignty? What is power? What is justice? Hobbes struggled with these questions, and they will form the basis of our investigations in this course. In addition to Hobbes’ Leviathan, readings will include analysis of the political, social, and literary contexts that inform Hobbes’ thinking, as well as some contemporary theory literature on the significance of the Leviathan for modern political life.
Limited to 15 students. Limited to first-year and sophomore students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Poe.2019-20: Not offered
Can countries come together to address the challenges of climate change? And if so, which negotiation techniques are more likely to be successful, and why? Does one solution fit all, or would it be better to rely on different formats for pairs of states? This course employs a diverse set of learning techniques to address these timely questions in international politics. First, we will build on cutting-edge academic research to investigate the mechanisms through which climate change puts each country’s economy and political stability under duress. Then, we will utilize role-playing analysis techniques to have each student embrace the perspective of one key international actor (such as the U.S., the United Nations, China, Ghana, Kenya, the World Bank, etc.) and devise a strategy for that actor to decrease the challenges that climate change poses to its economic and political stability. Finally, we will use simulation techniques to reproduce international negotiations to reduce CO2 emissions. Each student, while representing a key international actor and advancing the national interest of that country, will try to mitigate the impact of climate change on the recurrence of violence and war. The aim of the course is to wrestle with the fundamental contradiction between the global scale that international efforts to tackle climate change require and the region-specific challenges that climate change impose on each country’s economy and political stability.
Limited to 18 students (10 spots reserved for first-year students). Fall semester. Professor Mattiacci.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
The current United States president is testing the American media model. Where are the media failing, and where are they succeeding? We will look at the coverage of the 2016 campaign and account for the soul-searching to which the election outcome spurred journalists. We will look at fact-checking as a genre of coverage, the problem of covering the Trumpian tweet, the difficulty of reporting from/on a White House that lies and leaks, and the growing use of anonymously sourced information. We will dig much deeper, however, to examine the foundational premises of American media: objectivity, balance and fairness, market-based competition. What do these ideas mean, and how relevant and useful are they during the Trump presidency? Finally, and most important, we will imagine what journalism might look like if we thought about it differently. The reading in this course will include both media-theory and journalistic texts.
Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Gessen.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Can one country intervene militarily against another to prevent it from abusing its own citizens? And should countries always offer asylum to those that are persecuted in their own country? The recent migration flow to Europe from war-torn Syria has emphasized the timely nature of these complex questions that constitute the impetus for this course. The course is divided into two parts. In the first part, the course will explore the way in which the concept of "human rights” has often provided a rationale for international intervention in civil conflict, at times constituting a theatre of prime superpower competition. The course will then look at what happens after the end of those conflicts, to investigate the ever vexing quandary of refugees and migration, and the challenge such phenomena pose to international cooperation.
Limited to 20 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Mattiacci.2019-20: Not offered
This course will explore the meaning of justice and its realization in everyday life. We will consider individuals’ perceptions of justice and the significance of the concept in the relationship between citizens and government. We will examine how social movements attempt to seek justice and how this quest for justice defines their strategies and goals. And finally we consider how efforts to seek justice are realized, delayed, or blocked in institutional settings, such as in workplace organizations, prisons, state bureaucracies, and the courts. This course will be conducted inside a correctional facility and enroll an equal number of Amherst students and residents of the facility. Permission to enroll will be granted on the basis of a questionnaire and interview with the instructor. Preference will be given to political science majors. If space is available, first-year students will be admitted during the add/drop period.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 Amherst students. Fall semester. Professor Bumiller.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
This course considers a fundamental issue that faces all democratic societies: How do we decide when and whether to include or exclude individuals from the rights and privileges of citizenship? In the context of immigration policy, this is an issue of state power to control boundaries and preserve national identity. The state also exercises penal power that justifies segregating and/or denying privileges to individuals faced with criminal sanctions. Citizenship is regulated not only through the direct exercise of force by the state, but also by educational systems, social norms, and private organizations. Exclusion is also the result of poverty, disability, and discrimination based on gender, race, age, and ethnic identity. This course will describe and examine the many forms of exclusion and inclusion that occur in contemporary democracies and raise questions about the purpose and justice of these processes. We will also explore models of social change that would promote more inclusive societies. This course will be conducted inside a correctional facility and enroll an equal number of Amherst students and residents of the facility. Permission to enroll will be granted on the basis of a questionnaire and interview with the instructor. Preference will be given to political science majors. If space is available, first-year students will be admitted during the add/drop period.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 Amherst students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Bumiller.2019-20: Not offered
This course will explore the role of work in the context of American politics and society. We will study how work has been understood in political and social theory by considering the scholarship of John Locke, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Judith Shklar, Pierre Bourdieu, Zygmunt Bauman, Luc Boltanski, and others. We will also consider ethnographic studies that explore how workers experience their lives inside organizations and how workplaces transform in response to changing legal regulations. These theoretical and empirical explorations will provide a foundation for reflections about how work structures opportunities in democratic societies and how re-imagining work might unleash human potential. The course will ground these questions about the role of work in the context of American politics and society. At the broadest level we will ask: Do citizens in a liberal society have a right to engage in meaningful work and earn a living wage? What is the changing nature of work in a neoliberal society? What are the goals of the state in regards to the production of a future workforce? What are the impacts of employment discrimination, occupational segregation, and wage disparity based on race or gender?
Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
This course will address the politics of gun ownership, as well as the meanings of guns in American civic life. Focusing on the philosophical, social, legal, institutional, cultural, and economic lenses through which Americans have made sense of the role of firearms in American politics, this course will use firearms policy to explore a range of questions: how has our understanding of self-protection changed or not over time? What was the role of the Second Amendment in the making of the Constitution? How do we make sense of the controversies and debates that have surrounded the “right to bear arms” and its interpretation in legal and historical scholarship? How does mobilization around guns and gun rights reflect and shape racial, ethnic, and gender identities? Where and when do such mobilizations occur? In what ways are U.S. policies and attitudes actually exceptional among developed countries? In this sense, guns serve as a way of putting into sharp focus deeper questions about the institutional and social contexts of belonging and exclusion in U.S. politics.
Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Obert.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Most humans live in territories that are controlled by a state. Why do different nations have different types of states? Why are some states more repressive than others, more war-prone than others, better promoters of development than others, more inclusive than others? How can we make sense of the varied reactions to state domination, ranging from active support to negotiated limits to apathy to vigorous contestation? Does globalization make states more or less democratic, more or less efficient, more or less able to promote development?
This course goes to the heart of current debates on the “state of the state.” How significant is the state in an era in which its sovereignty is increasingly challenged both by global and domestic forces? What ought to be the proper role of the state in the twenty-first century? These questions are central to the current debates taking place—in the U.S. and abroad—on the extent to which countries should open up their economies, privatize social services, incorporate minorities and immigrants, recognize gay marriages, counterbalance U.S. pop culture, accommodate religious fundamentalism, etc. We will explore these questions by studying political theorists and empirical cases from around the world.
Limited to 30 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Corrales.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.
Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2019-20. Visiting Professor Picq.2019-20: Not offered
This course examines the making of modern politics in Western and Eastern Europe, tracing the development of nation-states, markets, and democratic institutions from the Middle Ages to the European Union. It sheds light on key questions driving contemporary political debates around the world: How are strong states built? What explains the success or collapse of democracies? When are revolutions successful? Why do some countries transition successfully to capitalism and democracy, while others do not? How can political systems overcome social, ethnic, and religious divisions, and cope with transnational pressures? How can international security be improved? The course provides an introduction to European politics and reveals how the legacies of the past often shape the politics of the present. We cover feudalism, absolutism, revolution, industrialization, democratization, and European integration. Specific topics include state and nation-building, mass democracy, economic development, capitalism and the welfare state, East-West divides, Cold War and post-Cold War political trajectories, the European Union, security, and migration. The course draws on cases from Western Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Paul.2019-20: Not offered
This course will attempt to analyze and illuminate the leading theories of international relations (IR) today, as well as the evolution of the international relations discipline as a whole. It is meant to encourage a critical attitude towards all theoretical perspectives discussed, not only to familiarize students with the major paradigms of IR, but also to appreciate what the “international” means and how, if at all, it can be demarcated from “domestic” politics. In addition, the course will examine numerous complex international and global challenges which humankind faces today. Topics vary from year to year and will include such issues as the relations of the US, the world’s sole superpower, to the newly emerging geopolitical and/or geo-economic centers of power, namely China, Iran, India, Russia, and the European Union; regional and ethnic/religious conflicts, nuclear proliferation, transnational terrorism, refugee and migration flows, global environmental degradation and climate change, demographic stress, as well as socioeconomic and cultural globalizations.
Limited to 18 Students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Machala.2019-20: Not offered
This course is an exploration of the political form of the modern state known as fascism. We will examine fascism’s roots in political economy, war, ascriptive group identity, legislative and executive forms, political parties, and social movements, paying special attention to how it has been theorized as it emerged during the twentieth century in Europe, and its current resurgence as an idea and practice in Europe and the United States in the twenty first. Among the authors we may read will be Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, Karl Polanyi, Ernst Cassirer, Franz Neumann, Carl Schmitt, Adolf Hitler, Walter Benjamin, Filippo Marinetti, Richard Hofstadter, Sheldon Wolin, Steven Bannon, Judith Butler, and William Connolly.
Fall semester. Professor Dumm.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
(Offered as SWAG 207, ASLC 207, and POSC 207) This course will study South Asian women and gender through key texts in film, literature, history and politics. How did colonialism and nationalism challenge the distinctions between the “home” and the “world” and bring about partitions which splintered once shared cultural practices? What consequences did this have for postcolonial politics? How do ethnic conflicts, religious nationalisms and state repression challenge conceptions of home? How have migrations, globalization and diasporas complicated relations between the home and the world?
Fall semester. Professor Shandilya.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
(Offered as POSC 208 and ASLC 208) This course provides an introduction to the major institutions, actors, and ideas that shape contemporary Chinese politics. Through an examination of texts from the social sciences as well as historical narratives and film, we will analyze the development of the current party-state, the relationship between the state and society, policy challenges, and prospects for further reform. First, we examine the political history of the People’s Republic, including the Maoist period and the transition to market reforms. Next, we will interrogate the relations between various social groups and the state, through an analysis of contentious politics in China including the ways in which the party-state seeks to maintain social and political stability. Finally, we will examine the major policy challenges in contemporary China including growing inequality, environmental degradation, waning economic growth, and foreign policy conflicts.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Ratigan.2019-20: Not offered
This course is a survey of Western liberal political theory from its 17th-century origins through some of its contemporary expressions. Among the thinkers whose works we may read are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Stuart Mill, Isaiah Berlin, John Rawls, Stanley Cavell, and Judith Shklar.
Omitted 2019-20. Professor Dumm.2019-20: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 214 and HIST 215 [US/TE]) The goal in this course is to examine the geopolitics which lies at the intersection of international relations and foreign policy. But what is geopolitics and why is it as often berated as it is embraced by American politicians and policy elites alike? Over the past two centuries, what part has geopolitics played in the currents of world politics and in the conduct of American foreign policy? What role has geopolitics played in the post-Cold War era, after the demise of the Soviet Union and the ostensible triumph of liberal capitalism? Using the methods of diplomatic history and political science, this course will explore critical moments and themes in American foreign policy. Our overall aim is to better understand today’s position of the United States in world politics as well as present domestic controversies over the character of America’s global role. This is also a period which has been characterized by growing tension between two sets of political power dynamics: one is dominated by a territorial logic of power that has as its basis the direct control of specific territory, people and resources; the other is dominated by a more diffuse logic of power that derives from the command of “de-territorialized” global political, economic, technological and cultural forces which emanate from states as well as stateless groups with a global and transnational reach. In an attempt to better understand world politics in the age of America’s preponderance, the course will ultimately examine how American presidents have understood and navigated between these two sets of political power dynamics in articulating and conducting foreign policy, and how the American public and elites have facilitated or complicated this task.
Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Machala and Professor Emeritus G. Levin.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
According to many scholars, the world is experiencing a democratic recession. Since the 2000s, many established democracies are undergoing erosion in their democratic institutions, even transitioning to autocracies. Also, fewer autocracies and semi-authoritarian regimes are transitioning to democracy. During the Cold War, most threats to existing democracies came from the military or non-state actors, such as insurgents or extremist movements. In this era of democratic backsliding, most serious threats to democratic rule stem from the very winners of democracy—incumbent presidents who came to office by winning elections. This course tries to understand the extent of this democratic erosion worldwide—its dimensions, causes, and possible ways to address it. Readings will draw from theoretical, comparative, historical, and case-based works. Students will also work on independent research projects and class presentations.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Corrales.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
U.S. politics have been an object of fascination not only for American citizens but also for scholars, students, and observers from around the world. This course provides both an introduction to key scholarly arguments about American political institutions, development and participation as well as a chance to engage with the important question of how distinctive the politics of the U.S. actually are. Focusing our attention initially on the role Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution play in the shaping of policy, we will then examine how Americans actually participate in the political process. This means looking at how parties, the media, perceptions of class, race, and gender, interactions with bureaucracy, and even arguing and fighting shape the way Americans view their place in the political world. Finally, we will focus on the question of American "exceptionalism"—how different, really, are American political institutions and experience, and what lessons can we draw from the American experiment that might (or might not) help us understand the political process elsewhere?
Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Obert.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Following the tense foreign policy exchanges between North Korea and the United States in the fall of 2017, experts disagreed on how to interpret the two leaders' choices of actions and words. Some of them pointed to their personal experiences and traits, such as their lack of prior exposure to foreign policy or their propensity for risky behavior. Other experts emphasized the role of structural factors, such as China’s interests and the US position in the counterproliferation context. These disagreements highlight questions on the interplay between leaders and structural conditions that are both crucial and enduring in the field of nuclear and international security: under what conditions do leaders’ personal inclinations and experiences become pivotal in explaining nuclear policies and strategies? When instead do structural factors such as the balance of power, the spread of nuclear technology, the salience of nuclear concerns among the public, play a key role? This course will explore these puzzles by analyzing key facts and salient debates in nuclear security. In the first part of the course, we will employ traditional teaching techniques, such as lecture and discussion, to explore archival documents and cutting-edge research on this topic. In the second part of the course, we will use instead role-playing analysis techniques to have each student explore the leaders' decision-making process during nuclear crises.
Requisite: One course in POSC with focus on global politics. Spring semester. Professor Mattiacci.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
This is a modified version of POSC 232, The Political Economy of Development. The first half of the course is identical to 232, but the second half will have a different focus: the political economy of oil. This section will explore the extent to which oil is a “resource curse,” the neo-structuralist notion that an abundance of a natural resource, in this case oil, is detrimental for development because it distorts economic incentives (away from diversification) and distorts politics (by facilitating corruption, raising the stakes of power-holding, increasing the chance for abuse of state power, and weakening society’s capacity to hold the state accountable). We will examine these hypotheses by focusing on Venezuela, one of the world’s leading oil producers. Until the 1980s, Venezuela was considered an example of democratization. In the 1990s, Venezuela became instead a paradigmatic case of policy incoherence. In the early 2000s, under the Hugo Chávez administration, Venezuela became a case of political polarization, and some argue, rising authoritarianism. The second half of this course will assess whether the resource-curse theory provides the best account of Venezuela’s politics since the 1980s. To address this question, we will: (1) compare the resource-curse argument with other competing theories of development that might account for Venezuelan politics; and (2) compare the Venezuelan case with other cases in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. This course fulfills requirements for the Five College Certificates in Latin American Studies and International Relations.
Not open to students who have taken POSC 232. Admission with the consent of the instructor. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Corrales.2019-20: Not offered
This course surveys some of the principal themes in the political economy of lower-income countries. Questions will cover a broad terrain. What are the key characteristics of poor economies? Why did these countries fail to catch up economically with the West in the 20th century? Who are the key political actors? What are their beliefs, ideologies and motivations? What are their political constraints, locally, nationally and globally? We will review definitions of development, explanations for the wealth and poverty of nations, the role of ideas, positive and dysfunctional links between the state and business groups, the role of non-state actors, the causes and consequences of poverty, inequality, disease and corruption, the impact of financial globalization and trade opening, the role of the IMF and the World Bank, and the arguments of anti-developmentalists. We will look at the connection between regime type and development. (Are democracies at a disadvantage in promoting development?) We will also devote a couple of weeks to education in developing countries. We know education is a human good, but is it also an economic good? Does education stimulate economic growth? What are the obstacles to education expansion? We will not focus on a given region, but rather on themes. Familiarity with the politics or economics of some developing country is helpful but not necessary.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Corrales.2019-20: Not offered
This course will look at globalization through the lens of border culture, a term that refers to the "deterritorialized" experience of people when they move or are displaced from their context or place of origin. How are people’s experience of belonging and understanding of identity affected by borders within the realms of language, gender, ideology, race, and genres of cultural production as well as geopolitical locations? What does it mean to live between two cultures—an experience that in 2019 might well represent the nature of contemporary life? We will explore these questions by examining the political and aesthetic impact of global processes such as the unprecedented turbulence of migration, the persistent threat of terrorism, and the perplexing influence of communications technologies. Readings will include the voices of artists, critics, historians, cultural theorists, anthropologists, and philosophers, including Gloria Anzaldúa, Arjun Appadurai, Homi Bhabha, Michel Foucault, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Derek Gregory, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Nikos Papastergiadis, Edward Said, Gianni Vattimo, and Eyal Weizman.
Limited to 24 students. Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Falk.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
This course will attempt to analyze and illuminate the leading theories of international relations (IR) today, as well as the evolution of IR as a discipline. It is meant to encourage a critical attitude towards all theoretical perspectives discussed, not only to familiarize students with the major paradigms of IR, but also to appreciate what the “international” means and how, if at all, it can be demarcated from “domestic” politics. In addition, the course will examine numerous complex international and global challenges which humankind faces today. Topics will include such issues as the relations of the US to the newly emerging geopolitical and/or geo-economic centers of power, namely China, Iran, India, Russia, and the European Union; regional and ethnic/religious conflicts, nuclear proliferation, transnational terrorism, refugee and migration flows, global environmental degradation and climate change, demographic stress, as well as socioeconomic and cultural globalizations.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow Salcedo.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Modernity – the age of individualism, increasing social autonomy, and political self-determination – was an era of enormous progression and novelty in political thinking. In it we find new conceptions of political rationality and affect (how to think and feel about politics), as well as reconceptualizations of such key concepts as equality and liberty, the state and civil society. These changes held much promise, shaping institutions that seemed destined to improve economic and social conditions for rapidly increasing populations. Yet the politics that ensued from this "modern" thinking sometimes proved disastrous: The 20th century – once thought to fulfill the promise of modernity – has been the most violent in history. This course surveys the development of political concepts in modern Western thought. We will trace paradigmatic shifts in political ideas as they begin to surface in 17th- and 18th-century European thought, evidenced in the writings of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant, amongst others. And we will compare these ideas with the thinking of some prominent 19th- and 20th-century critics, including Marx, Nietzsche, Weber, and Schmitt. Through close textual readings and contextual analysis we will engage in a systematic comparison of our assumptions about politics with those expressed in these philosophical debates. And, in so doing, we will attempt to further our understanding of contemporary politics and the problems requisite to our own political practices.
Requisite: One course in POSC or LJST. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Poe.2019-20: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 248 and LLAS 248) The study of Cuba’s politics presents opportunities to address issues of universal concern to social scientists and humanists in general, not just Latin Americanists. When is it rational to be radical? Why has Cuban politics forced so many individuals to adopt extreme positions? What are the causes of radical revolutions? Is pre-revolutionary Cuba a case of too little development, uneven development or too rapid development? What is the role of leaders: Do they make history, are they the product of history, or are they the makers of unintended histories? Was the revolution inevitable? Was it necessary? How are new (radical) states constructed? What is the role of foreign actors, existing political institutions, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and sexuality in this process? How does a small nation manage to become influential in world affairs, even altering the behavior of superpowers? What are the conditions that account for the survival of authoritarianism? To what extent is the revolution capable of self-reform? Is the current intention of state leaders of pursuing closed politics with open economics viable? What are the most effective mechanisms to change the regime? Why does the embargo survive? Why did Cubans (at home and abroad) care about Elián González? Although the readings will be mostly from social scientists, the course also includes selections from primary sources, literary works and films (of Cuban and non-Cuban origin). As with almost everything in politics, there are more than just two sides to the issue of Cuba. One aim of the course is to expose the students to as many different sides as possible.
Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Corrales.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Day-to-day experiences of the lovely, the playful, the zany, the uncanny, and the mysterious encode an intricate sociality and politics. This course explores their potentialities and powers of these experiences. How do these experiences animate society and mesh with elements of critical reason, performance, and the market? What alternative kinds of pleasure and desire come to light? What other categories are urgent today? Readings in contemporary political and aesthetic theory in multiple traditions. Students will be invited to delve into the politics of their favorite categories in their work for the course.
Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow Roelofs.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
As poetry, photos, memes, tunes, performances, and news go viral on digital platforms like Twitter and YouTube, and on personal blogs, the question arises as to what kind of high-speed (or slow) politics they enact. Fast fiction, in short, enables flare politics and calls for flash philosophy—a kind of philosophical thought that critically reflects on temporality and its links to modern, colonial, gendered constellations of power. Scrutinizing speedy productions in multiple media, investigating aphoristic or fragmentary genres of philosophy in work by Nietzsche, Benjamin, Adorno, Anzaldúa, and Moten, and examining approaches to temporal disjunction, e.g. by Nelly Richard and Elizabeth Grosz, this course asks what a philosophical language looks like that reaches across art, the everyday, and political life, and engages our historically and politically fashioned senses and imaginings. Students will submit weekly flash-postings.
Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow Roelofs.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
This course is one part theoretical, presenting race as a multifaceted concept that is both a social construct and a social fact; one part historical, exploring how race in the United States has been constructed over time through institutions like the Census and in response to different waves of immigration; and one part political, surveying the politics of race in the United States from slavery to civil rights to Donald Trump and interrogating the relationship between race and other lenses through which U.S. politics can be studied, such as class.
Enrollment limit 40 students. Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Wise.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
The Affective Interface explores a range of issues concerning the technologized body—though none more urgent than the political implications surrounding life itself. The course considers the relationship of the mind and body to technology in contemporary culture between 1990 and 2020. We will discuss the profound implications of the merging of genetic code and digital code, consider how our understanding of what an apparatus is has changed, interrogate the influence of social media, delve into work made by artists who collaborate with scientists, and reflect on the ethical and political implications of creating new forms of plant and animal life. Readings may include the voices of artists, writers, scientists, historians, cultural theorists, and philosophers, including Giorgio Agamben, Sarah Ahmed, Jane Bennett, Rosi Braidotti, Patricia Clough, Donna Haraway, Jean Francois-Lyotard, Kim Stanley Robinson, Sandy Stone, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Craig Venter, among others.
Limited to 24 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Falk.
2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
What is the European Union? Where is it coming from? Where is it headed? The EU has evolved from its original ambitions as an economic regional integration project to add political substance, becoming a multi-level structure with its own constitution, currency, court, and form of citizenship, with powerful institutions, increasingly porous internal borders and a common external border. Some have argued that the EU is sui generis, an unprecedented supranational structure that should be studied as such (some have referred to it as an “unidentified political object”). Others have relied on the literatures on international organization and comparative federalism to include it on a continuum ranging from international organizations to confederations and federal states. Yet others have turned to the distant past to find equivalents, arguing that the EU resembles a “neo-medieval empire” (Zielonka).
This course tackles the big questions concerning the EU’s past, present, and future. How far and deep can the EU project expand? Can it withstand the pressures of global economic competition? Can it find solutions to the current migration crisis without compromising its defining features: porous internal borders and freedom of movement for goods, capital, services, and people on its territory? Will it overcome internal divisions between East and West, between new members and the old core of advanced industrialized democracies that initiated the European unification project? This course introduces students to the concepts, theories, and empirical resources needed to examine European integration and enlargement. We will overview the history and development of the European integration project to understand its institutional framework and relationship with member-states in different policy areas. We will analyze and assess the major theories of EU integration in light of current events. We will delve into specific EU policy areas (economic and monetary union, security, migration, external relations etc.) to understand how the EU shapes the lives of its citizens. We will also study the EU’s relationship with the U.S. and its successive rounds of enlargement towards Southern and post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, which have played an essential role in defining the EU’s current profile.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Paul.2019-20: Not offered
Russia was among the first nations in the world to face political terrorism when in the 1870s the leftist People's Will group launched the hunt for Tsar Alexander II. The terrorist trend continued into the twentieth century; in 1918, the Socialist Revolutionary Party attempted to assassinate Lenin. Eradicated by Stalin, terrorism resurfaced in the 1990s, when Russia found itself under attack by Chechen separatists. Legitimacy of political terrorism as the last refuge of the oppressed has been actively debated in Russia for more than a century, and the fact that terrorist groups in question ranged from proto-Marxists to the pseudo-Islamic has made Russian discourse on terrorism uncommonly rich. We will be using a variety of primary sources, such as terrorists’ manifestos and memoirs, as well as conceptual critiques of terror, starting with Dostoyevsky’s novel Demons. First, we will wrestle with the definition of “terrorism” as opposed to “terror.” Second, we will explore the place of terrorism in a revolutionary movement and war. Third, we will look at the counter-terrorism measures applied by the Russian government in the past and now. A case study of terrorism in Russia will hopefully help us to answer a number of questions that are highly relevant today.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Pleshakov.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the Americas. States are putting entire territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into "quick cash." In Latin America, governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining the Peruvian highlands and drilling the Amazon for oil without prior consultation and despite widespread opposition. Far from reversing historical dependencies, governments on the political Left have exacerbated this commodification of nature. This course explores states of extraction and offers an activist approach to political ecology in the Americas. We analyze water politics, extractive practices from Brazil to Canada, and Indigenous resistance like Bagua and Standing Rock. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Picq.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
What do we mean by “democracy”? Is democracy the rule of the people? Or is it free and fair elections? Is democracy merely a set of political institutions and practices, such as party systems and electoral structures? Or is democracy something more radical, such as the opposition to any form of domination? How these different meanings operate—how they do and don’t work together—is not always clear. In this course we will examine current debates in democratic theory. Our aim will be to parse different theories of what democracy is and could be. The course will be divided into three parts: Part One will serve as an introduction, questioning the possibility and impossibility of democracy, and paying particular attention to paradoxes of democratic rule. Part Two will focus on agreement, examining logics of consensus and the forms of democracy that might result. In Part Three, we will turn our investigation to disagreement, and the promise of democracy as seen through the lens of more radical and agonistic democrats. Readings will consist of selections from various theorists, including Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Jürgen Habermas, Jacques Rancière, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Carl Schmitt, Jacques Derrida, and Sheldon Wolin, amongst others.
Requisite: Must have taken at least one POSC or LJST course. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Poe.2019-20: Not offered
Hegel once remarked that "To read the newspaper is the modern man's morning-prayer." What may be captured in this seemingly obvious observation is a proposition that political understanding of current events is difficult to sustain without daily reading of a newspaper; that reading itself is a dynamic activity, involving interpretation; that all interpretation is, in effect, translation because in any act of reading, the reader inevitably forms a judgment as to what the text is saying. A century and a half later, Paul Sweezy wrote [E]veryone knows that the present will someday be history…[and believes] that the most important task of the social scientist is to try to comprehend it as history now, while it is still the present and while we still have the power to influence its shape and outcome.”
In the spirit of these observations, this seminar has a three-fold aim: (1) to introduce the habit of reading a newspaper daily; (2) to encourage an in-depth reading of current political events in the U.S. and around the world from an interdisciplinary perspective by drawing upon the theoretical and methodological tools which students have encountered in their college courses across many social science disciplines; and (3) to help students recognize the multitude of fascinating researchable social science topics imbedded in an active reading of the daily press. This groundwork will enable class participants to develop and formulate viable research designs, make normative and causal arguments as well as address rival hypotheses in a research paper which will be due at the end of the semester.
The specific newspapers may vary from year to year. In 2017-18 students read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and a newspaper of their choice, selected from a list of newspapers in English from around the world.
Requisite: The seminar is open to qualified second-semester sophomores and juniors who have taken at least six social science courses in college, including two in POSC, and at least four additional courses from at minimum two other social science departments. Participants should seriously anticipate writing a thesis during their senior year.
Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 14 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Machala.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Nationalist fervor seemed likely to diminish once so-called Third World nations achieved independence. However, the past few years have witnessed the resurgence and transformation of nationalism in the post-colonial world. Where anti-colonial nationalist movements appeared to be progressive forces of social change, many contemporary forms of nationalism appear to be reactionary. Did nationalist leaders and theoreticians fail to identify the exclusionary qualities of earlier incarnations of nationalism? Were they blind to its chauvinism? Or has nationalism become increasingly intolerant? Was the first wave of nationalist movements excessively marked by European liberal influences? Or was it insufficiently committed to universal principles? We will explore expressions of nationalism in democratic, revolutionary, religious nationalist, and ethnic separatist movements in the post-colonial world.
Fall semester. Professor Basu.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
For over a generation now, populist social movements and political parties have resisted globalization. During the ascendance of globalization (1980s–2000s), leftist populism took the lead in mobilizing opposition to globalization, not only by marginalized groups but also by the general public. In the current period, however, the rise of powerful strains of right-wing populism have begun to take over these struggles. We will examine why this has happened as well as explore why far right movements that were once marginal political forces have begun to successfully challenge leftist and even centrist political parties to form influential new populist parties.
We will analyze how in representative democracies across the world, trust in public institutions and established political parties has all but collapsed because of the inability or disinclination of governing elites to address popular anxieties and societal demands concerning inequality, immigration, globalization and the upheaval in labor markets.
Related themes to be addressed include the relationship between right and left wing populism and representative democracy, the ideological, organizational, and policy differences between right wing and left wing populism, the relationship between populist moments and populist parties (which comes first?), the transnational dimensions of populism as well as populism’s impact on the dynamics of world politics.
We will also explore the class, ethnic and gender composition of populist movements and the role charismatic leadership plays in populist movements and parties. Although our inquiry into the character, strength and weaknesses of populism in this era of crisis in global capitalism will primarily be theoretical and conceptual, empirical illustrations will include, but not be limited to, India and the United States.
Limited to 25 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2019-20. Professors Basu and Machala.2019-20: Not offered
Is there the possibility of an anarchic politics, a politics without rule? Political science has often read anarchy as a political problem: The end of sovereign government through civil war, corruption, or collapsing institutions becomes the end of politics itself. But how necessary is government to social collaboration and political action? Is a radical anarchic politics—a politics without government, without domination and without rule—possible today? This course explores anarchism’s contemporary possibility, attempting to explicate the politics that might come from resistance to rule. Anarchism has historically taken many forms—from organized resistance to state authority and police to the shared “commons” and mutual aid societies, from experimental communes to the general strike. In this advanced political science seminar, students will be asked to think experimentally about these anarchist political ideas and practices. Through close engagement with anarchist political pamphlets, as well as key texts in late modern and contemporary political theory—including Proudhon, Kropotkin, Goldman, Benjamin, Deleuze, and Rancière, amongst others—this course will explore the variations of anarchist political thought. In this way, this course will offer a tracing of anarchism’s developments as a constellation of resistant theories and techniques, as well as their place in contemporary politics.
Requisite: Prior coursework in POSC or LJST. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Poe.2019-20: Not offered
Can popular protests affect social change? This course examines protest and other forms of popular resistance by asking questions such as: How do people bring about social change from the grassroots? Under what conditions are social movements successful? What are the implications of popular movements for democracy, good governance, and citizenship? We will study a range of popular movements and acts of resistance, including peasant protest, workers’ rights, anti-globalization protests, women’s movements, and democracy movements. We will also explore various approaches to research on contentious politics, such as interviews, participant-observation, and surveys. Students will conduct independent research throughout the semester, culminating in a final paper.
Requisite: One course in POSC or its equivalent. Experience writing a research paper preferred. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Ratigan.2019-20: Not offered
This course will explore aspects of the political theory of Michel Foucault, examining different areas of his researches, across different eras of his intellectual life.
This year we will focus on two major works, Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, Volume 1, and accompanying lectures and seminar explorations he undertook before and around the period of their publication. These works trace a move from his concern with what he called an “archeology of knowledge” to a “genealogy of power.” They also trace a shift from his focus on discipline and surveillance to governmentality and biopolitics. By carefully reading Foucault’s lectures and seminars from this period side by side with these famous books, students will reach an insight in the tactical and strategic choices to be made when writing for publication. By better understanding the context in which these books were written -- the shifting terrain of intellectual and political debate -- students will better understand the stakes involved in thinking through many of the urgent problems facing us now, including precarity, power, identity, world-homelessness and the Anthropocene.
Requisite: Must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Dumm.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
(Offered as POSC 336 and SPAN 336) This is an introduction to the study of modern Latin American politics. The overriding question is: why have democracy and self-sustained prosperity been so difficult to accomplish in the region We begin by examining different definitions of democracy. Thereafter, we discuss three democracy-related themes in Latin America.
First, we focus on explaining similarities, specifically, common historical and institutional legacies that might have hindered democratic and economic development in the region. The second part of the course focuses on explaining differences. Despite similar historical legacies, the countries of the region developed different political systems after World War II. Some countries became democratic while others did not. We examine hypotheses to explain these differences. The third part of the course examines major democratic and undemocratic trends since the 2000s: current problems of democracy, the return of statism and populism, the difficulty of creating accountability, abuses by majorities and abuses by minorities, re-electionism, extractivism, the rise of religious conservatism and LGBT rights, diasporas, drugs and crime.
Language of instruction: Classes will be conducted in English. Students wishing this course to count for their Spanish major will work mostly with materials in Spanish and write all their assignments in Spanish.
Requisite: For Political Science majors, no pre-requisites. For Spanish majors, Spanish proficiency at advanced low (as per ACTFL standards) is required. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Corrales.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
How does technology change the ways in which we fight wars? Can innovations such as computerized systems, drones, or even social media make wars less deadly? Or do these technologies increase instead the probability that states will fight? To tackle these questions, this course will adopt a chronological structure and we will study some of the major military innovations in the past seventy years. Topics include important moments such as the aerial power revolution, nuclear weapons and the MAD strategy, the “CNN Revolution” in the 1990s, the spread of social media as a tool of public diplomacy for insurgents, the drones’ “war of precision,” and also the recent debate over cybersecurity. Throughout the course, we will parse out two types of technology advancements: those that change the most fundamental aspects of war (such as leaders’ objectives in the conflict and their cost/benefit calculations on whether to become involved or not) and those that merely alter the way the war is fought.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Mattiacci.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
This course seeks to give a comprehensive view of the historical evolution of international relations (IR) from 1919 to the present. Through extensive readings and numerous audio and video documentaries, students will be able to examine and analyze the main events that shaped and influenced world politics since the early twentieth century. Students will be able to appreciate how remarkable political leaders, along with huge contending forces, such as democracy, communism, fascism, poverty, populism and globalization, to name but a few, have forged the world and the international system in which we live.
Each topic will be accompanied by a selection of some of the most representative texts written by well-known historians and IR scholars. Special emphasis will also be placed on the use of historical primary sources; thus, all analysis of the main historical and political events will be complemented by relevant primary sources, such as public or private documents or memoirs. In this way, students will be provided with direct and unfiltered insight into the event itself, as well as the culture and idiosyncrasy of the period under scrutiny.
The course seeks to enhance students’ knowledge of history and especially the behind-the-scenes dynamics of diplomacy and IR.
Requisite: At least one POSC course numbered 200 or above. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow Salcedo.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Identity has emerged as a major theme of contemporary politics, although as we will learn, politics and identity have been entangled throughout history. We will explore the theoretical bases for identity politics in political psychology, political culture, and social movements. We will consider various critiques of identity politics from both the left and the right. In the second half of the semester, we will explore how identity politics have appeared in the United States, focusing on the LGBTQ+ movement, Black Lives Matter, and white nationalism.
Requisite: At least one POSC course 200 or above. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Wise.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Ethnography is an immersive, interpretive research methodology that is ideally suited for studying culture and power. This course introduces students to works of political ethnography such as Evicted by Matthew Desmond, Every Twelve Seconds by Timothy Pachirat, and Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild. Students will learn techniques such as participant observation and ordinary language interviewing. We will also consider the principle of positionality and the ethics of ethnographic research. In the second half of the semester, students will conduct and present their own ethnographic research.
Requisite: At least one POSC course 200 or above. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Wise.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other than war, punishment is the most dramatic manifestation of state power. Whom a society punishes and how it punishes are key political questions as well as indicators of its character and the character of the people in whose name it acts. This course will explore the connections between punishment and politics with particular reference to the contemporary American situation. We will consider the ways crime and punishment have been politicized in recent national elections as well as the racialization of punishment in the United States. We will ask whether we punish too much and too severely, or too little and too leniently. We will examine particular modalities of punishment, e.g., maximum security prisons, torture, the death penalty, and inquire about the character of those charged with imposing those punishments, e.g., prison guards, executioners, etc. Among the questions we will discuss are: Does punishment express our noblest aspirations for justice or our basest desires for vengeance? Can it ever be an adequate expression of, or response to, the pain of victims of crime? When is it appropriate to forgive rather than punish? We will consider these questions in the context of arguments about the right way to deal with juvenile offenders, drug offenders, sexual predators (“Megan’s Law”), rapists, and murderers. We will, in addition, discuss the meaning of punishment by examining its treatment in literature and popular culture. Readings may include selections from The Book of Job, Greek tragedy, Kafka, Nietzsche, Freud, George Herbert Mead, and contemporary treatments of punishment such as Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, Butterfield’s All God’s Children, Scarry’s Body in Pain, Garland’s Punishment in Modern Society, Hart’s Punishment and Reasonability, and Mailer’s Executioner’s Song. Films may include The Shawshank Redemption, Dead Man Walking, Mrs. Soffel, Minority Report, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Sarat.2019-20: Not offered
The digital age shapes politics around the world, in democracies and dictatorships. New information and communication technologies (ICTs) influence political processes, state-society interactions, markets, and policy-making at all levels. They raise questions for research areas as diverse as sovereignty, elections and campaigns, democratization, protest, repression, war and security policy, terrorism and counterterrorism, trade, currency policy, international cooperation, immigration and diaspora politics, identity, and citizenship.
The course asks four big questions: (1) How does digital technology change democratic politics? (2) How do ICTs challenge authoritarian regimes? (3) Do ICTs boost or undermine international security? (4) Will ICTs render states obsolete by empowering subnational and supranational actors? These structure the seminar in four modules: e-Democracy (social capital, participation, elections, accountability); online revolutions and repression (resistance, mobilization, online censorship and surveillance); cyber security (cyberwar, terrorism, hacking, intelligence, privacy); and beyond the state (international cooperation, markets, transnational activism, digital currencies, subnational actors and transnational networks).
We use current issues and cases (e.g. #Occupy, #BlackLivesMatter, net neutrality, the Arab Spring, online radicalization, the Snowden revelations, Bitcoin, Anonymous ops, Internet censorship in China, etc.) to analyze how cyberspace reshapes politics and political science as a discipline. Students will gain a rigorous and sophisticated understanding of the relationship between technology and politics. The course will help students design, develop, and conduct research in political science.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Paul.2019-20: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 374 and LJST 374) This seminar explores the role of rights in addressing inequality, discrimination, and violence. This course will trace the evolution of rights focused legal strategies aimed at addressing injustice coupled with race, gender, disability, and citizenship status. We will evaluate how rights-based activism often creates a gap between expectation and realization. This evaluation will consider when and how rights are most efficacious in producing social change and the possibility of unintended consequences.
Requisite: One introductory POSC course or its equivalent. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
This course will examine the foreign policy of the Russian Federation of the past twenty years. As a successor state Russia has inherited both the Soviet Union's clout (nuclear arms, a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council) and Soviet debts—monetary, psychological, and historical. What are the conceptual foundations of Russian diplomacy? Can we deconstruct Russian nationalism so as to examine its different trends and their impact on foreign policy? Do Russian exports of oil and gas define Russian diplomacy, as it is often claimed? Is there any pattern in the struggle over resources and their export routes in continental Eurasia?
Requisite: A previous POSC course. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Pleshakov.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. A student may take this course more than once, providing only that the topic is not the same. The current iteration of this seminar will explore the consequences of neoliberalism, cultural conservatism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiments for women of different social and economic strata as well as women’s divergent political responses. Why have some women become prominent right wing leaders and activists while others have allied with leftist, anti-racist, and other progressive forces to fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups? How have transnational forces influenced both forms of women’s activism? To what extent are there cross-national similarities in the impact of the far right surge on women, gender and sexuality? The seminar will draw on examples from many different regions of the world, with particular attention to India and the U.S. There will be a final research paper for this course.
Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Basu.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.
This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.
Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Picq.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
This course will explore how autism as both a medical diagnosis and a social category has gained significance over the past forty years. The course will situate the study of autism in the broader framework of the disability rights movement. We will consider the evidence for its characterization as an “epidemic” and how medical experts, parents, and autistic individuals have challenged and collaborated with each other. The study of autism will also be viewed in relation to wide-ranging political concerns, including vaccination and public health, economic costs of care, gender identities, and the growth of bio-medical power.
Requisite: An Introductory course in POSC or its equivalent. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Bumiller.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Should Marx be given yet another chance? Is there anything left to gain by returning to texts whose earnest exegesis has occupied countless interpreters, both friendly and hostile, for generations? Has Marx’s credibility survived the global debacle of those regimes and movements which drew inspiration from his work, however poorly they understood it? Or, conversely, have we entered a new era in which post-Marxism has joined a host of other “post-”phenomena? This seminar will deal with these and related questions in the context of a close and critical reading of Marx’s texts. The main themes we will discuss include Marx’s conception of capitalist modernity, material and intellectual production, power, class conflicts and social consciousness, and his critique of alienation, bourgeois freedom and representative democracy. We will also examine Marx’s theories of historical progress, capitalist exploitation, globalization and human emancipation.
Requisite: Two of POSC 213, 413 and 480. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Machala.2019-20: Not offered
This research seminar investigates the links between the material and political worlds in the U.S. and around the world. In particular, it tries to understand the way that technology and material objects have constrained and enabled the making of state power, while also being the product of policy choices. Since states are not merely abstract institutions, but also constellations of things like weapons, highways, computers, railroads, buildings, monuments, and even paper, to understand how infrastructure affects state formation (and vice versa), we need to explore the links between the construction of political authority and technological life as tied up in a complex process of socio-material evolution and stasis. Drawing from a wide variety of works (including literature from historical sociology, social studies of science, “big history,” anthropology, political economy and economic development, among others), this seminar will thus explore historical and contemporary case studies and theoretical accounts of the influence of key infrastructural technologies on political development from around the world, as well as examine the often incomplete attempts of historical states to redeploy or construct technological systems to extend their authority.
Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Obert2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Indigenous peoples are dynamic political actors in national and global contexts. They have secured their rights in international law, first through Convention 169 at the International Labour Organization (1989), then with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). They have created innovative political forums and organized global social movements. Global indigenous politics are forging major changes in the international system, thereby disordering conventional understandings of sovereignty.
This course locates indigeneity at the core of international relations and examines indigenous politics from the Andes to the UN. We study international law securing rights for indigenous peoples and analyze indigenous experiences such as the Arctic Council and the election of Bolivian President Evo Morales. The course also explores the epistemological implications of indigenous rights for our understanding of politics. The consolidation of plurinational states in the Andes and indigenous parliaments in the Arctic change the locus of the political, and principles of self-determination challenge Westphalian notions of sovereignty to redefine territoriality.
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2019-20. Visiting Professor Picq.2019-20: Not offered
We live in a world in which we are constantly surrounded by technology. In fact, we increasingly relate to the world, to each other, and to ourselves, by means of modern technologies. How do we understand this technological life from the perspective of political and social theories? This course focuses on this problem by covering theoretical foundations that offer groundbreaking and intriguing perspectives on technology in the modern world: Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour, Slavoj Žižek, and more. These theoretical positions will be explored in studies of fundamental aspects of human life, such as work, health, sexuality, and management. Hence, the course has the double aim of, first, providing a good grasp of what influential theorists can tell us about modern technology, and, second, discussing ways to apply these theories in studies of different aspects of living with technologies. The latter is meant to be of inspiration for the students’ own writing.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow Villadsen.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
This course explores a key concept in contemporary political theory that gives rise to intriguing and far-reaching social and philosophical questions. Modes of address, such as a police hailing or following directions from our cellphones, are forms of signification. People, other living beings, objects, and places direct these modes at each other. Address underpins large-scale political structures, such as transnational organizations, national institutions, technology, publicity, and cosmopolitanism, as well as diminutive everyday interactions like seeing, hearing, and feeling. It informs bodily existence, intimacy, materiality, and social difference. New forms of governance and citizenship are at stake. How does address fulfill these roles? This question provides our point of entry into key texts in twentieth- and twenty-first century political theory. Readings by theorists such as Walter Benjamin, Louis Althusser, Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Gloria Anzaldúa, Stuart Hall, Judith Butler, and Dina Al-Kassim.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow Roelofs2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
(Offered as POSC 425 and SWAG 425) Feminist theories are shifting and are reframing our current political landscape. Starting with historical work on intersectionality (by writers such as Lorde and Lugones), this course will go on to explore new critical trajectories in feminist political philosophy in engagement with twenty-first century writings by scholars such as Cynthia Willett, Bonnie Honig, Sara Ahmed, Anne Cheng, Siane Ngai, and Mariana Ortega, and artifacts by feminist artists. Each student will design a research project that will be presented to the group in the final weeks.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students.
Spring semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow Roelofs2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
This course will explore the history of consumer finance from Provident Loan Societies to credit cards and ask whether easy access to credit dampens the potential for class-based social movements. We will study the variety of institutions that regulate consumer finance in the United States from the Federal Trade Commission to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and explore how consumer finance was and is influenced by factors such as gender and race.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Wise.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
This class will explore mechanisms such as conflict spirals and generalized reciprocity that lie at the heart of key phenomena in international politics like arms races, reconciliations, trade deals, rivalries, diplomatic exchanges, and international apologies. Mechanisms help us understand how phenomena like these come about by shedding light on exactly how certain conditions catalyze them. For example, studying the impact of international organizations on world peace means investigating how institutions can disincentivize countries from fighting by monitoring and promoting the exchange of goods that do not involve immediate, direct repayment. It means, in other words, investigating a mechanism called “generalized reciprocity.” Studying why arms races start instead means investigating how the acquisition of weapons from one country can push others to also amass more weapons by stoking fears of being militarily inferior, a mechanism we call a “spiral.” Leveraging cutting-edge research and classic texts on mechanisms from multiple disciplines, this class aims at a deeper understanding of how these phenomena in international politics emerge, and whether understanding mechanisms can make a difference when it comes to what we learn about the world around us.
Requisite: Two or more classes in the social sciences. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Mattiacci.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
We live in an era of mobility: movement of goods, services, capital, ideas, culture, and–most importantly–people. International migrations reshape politics, markets, and societies. They generate challenges and opportunities for individuals, families, communities, businesses, political parties, governments, and international organizations. Many current political debates revolve around questions concerning transnational movement: How can states manage migratory flows, both effectively and ethically? Do international migratory flows erode sovereignty? Do they generate democratic deficit? Does migration boost economic growth, becoming a bottom-up engine of contemporary modernization that helps rural communities and developing countries? Or, on the contrary, does migration perpetuate and exacerbate domestic and global inequalities? Does it deplete human capital or does it facilitate knowledge transmission? Does diaspora participation strengthen or weaken democracy? Does transnationalism amplify or moderate nationalist tendencies?
This course examines migrations around the world, in both sending and receiving countries. We will study the impact of migration on citizenship, identity, state sovereignty, security, democracy, development, elections, and social capital. The course explores the theories and realities of international migration in this globalization era. Readings cover cases from North America, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. We will compare trends to gain a full picture of human mobility, present and past. We will examine migration across space (cross-nationally) and over time, in historical perspective. The course follows the two key dimensions of migration research. We ask two sets of questions: Why do people move? and How do migrations shape the world in which we live? We examine how democracies and authoritarian regimes deal with different types of migration: e.g. voluntary and involuntary, documented and undocumented/irregular flows. The course will help you design, develop and conduct political science research.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Paul.2019-20: Not offered
A consideration of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Western political theory. Topics to be considered include the fate of modernity, identity and difference, power, representation, freedom, and the state. This year’s readings may include works by the following authors: Freud, Weber, Benjamin, Heidegger, Arendt, Derrida, Foucault, Berlin, Butler, Connolly, and Agamben.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Dumm.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
sCan small and non-powerful nations ever profit from a relationship with a more powerful hegemon? Who gains and who loses in this type of asymmetrical relationship? This seminar attempts to answer these questions by looking at the relations between the U.S. and Latin American nations. The seminar begins by presenting different ways in which intellectuals have tried to conceptualize and analyze the relations between the U.S. and Latin America. These approaches are then applied to different dimensions of the relationship: (1) intra-hemispheric relations prior to World War II (the sources of U.S. interventionism and the response of Latin America); (2) political and security issues after World War II (the role of the Cold War in the hemisphere and U.S. reaction to instability in the region, with special emphasis on Cuba in the early 1960s, Peru in the late 1960s, Chile in the early 1970s, The Falklands War and Nicaragua in the 1980s); and (3) economic and business issues (the politics of foreign direct investment and trade, and the debt crisis in the 1980s). Finally, we examine contemporary trends: the emerging hemispheric convergence, economic integration, drug trade, immigration, the defense of democracy regime, and the re-emergence of multilateral interventionism.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Corrales.2019-20: Not offered
Independent reading course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
One full course. This course is open only to seniors majors who have been accepted in the Political Science Honors program and have departmental approval.
Fall semester. The Department.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019