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Amherst College Political Science for 2010-11

01 Political Identities

[CP, GP] The assertion of group identities based on language, region, religion, race, gender, sexuality, and class, among others, has increasingly animated politics cross-nationally. However, the extent to which identities become politicized varies enormously across time and place. We will explore what it means to describe an identity as political. This exercise entails assessing the conditions under which states, civil societies, and political societies recognize certain identities while ignoring or repressing others. In other words, it entails analyzing the ways in which political processes make and remake identities. What do groups gain and lose from identity-based movements? And what are the broader implications of identity-based movements for democratic politics?

Limited to 30 students. Spring semester.  Professor Basu.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

03 Secrets and Lies

[AP] Politics seems almost unimaginable without secrecy and lying. From the noble lie of Plato’s Republic to Oliver North’s claim that he lied to Congress in the name of a higher good, from the need to preserve secrets in the name of national security to the endless spinning of political campaigns, from President Kennedy’s behavior during the Cuban missile crisis to current controversies concerning lies by the tobacco industry, from Freud’s efforts to decode the secrets beneath civilized life to contemporary exposés of the private lives of politicians, politics and deception seem to go hand-in-hand. This course investigates how the practices of politics are informed by the keeping and telling of secrets, and the telling and exposing of lies. We will address such questions as: When, if ever, is it right to lie or to breach confidences? When is it right to expose secrets and lies? Is it necessary to be prepared to lie in order to advance the cause of justice? Or, must we do justice justly? When is secrecy really necessary and when is it merely a pretext for Machiavellian manipulation? Are secrecy and deceit more prevalent in some kinds of regimes than in others? As we explore those questions we will discuss the place of candor and civility in politics; the relationship between the claims of privacy (e.g., the closeting of sexual desire) and secrecy and deception in public arenas; conspiracy theories as they are applied to politics; and the importance of secrecy in resistance and revolutionary movements. We will examine the treatment of secrecy and lying in political theory as well as their appearance in literature and popular culture, for example, King Lear, Wag the Dog, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Year of Living Dangerously, and Quiz Show

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Dumm.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

04 The State

[CP, IR] 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. Fall semester. Professor Corrales.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

05 Politics, Statecraft, and the Art of Ruling

[AP, , IR, PT] In the teaching of the classic philosophers, the central questions of politics are questions of justice: What are the grounds of our judgment on the things that are just or unjust, right or wrong? What is the nature of the just, or the best, political order? What measures would we be “justified” in imposing with the force of “law”? What is the nature of that regime we would seek to preserve in this country--or, on the other hand, what are the regimes that we would be justified in resisting in other places, even with the force of arms? The problem of judgment must point to the principles, or the standards, of judgment, and to an understanding that is distinctly philosophic. But political men and women also need a certain sense of the ways of the world: the things that hold people in alliance or impart a movement to events; the ways in which the character of politics is affected by the presence of bureaucracies or elections; the arts of persuasion; the strains of rendering judgments. And the knowledge of these things must depend on experience. In this style of introduction to political science, a central place will be given over to the study of statesmen and politicians: Lincoln, Churchill, Eisenhower, but also Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan. The course will draw us back to Aristotle and Plato, to Machiavelli and the American Founders, but then it will also encompass the study of voting and campaigns, and the more recent politics of race and gender.

Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Arkes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2011

07 Leadership, Citizens and Democracy

[AP, CP] The paradox of American democracy, or of any democracy, is that effective self-government requires a perpetual struggle between the people and their leaders. Citizens must be active yet wary; governments must be effective yet accountable. The result is that democracy is frustrating and self-contradictory, even while it is the best, or the least bad system of government. In the world order, America’s claim to an international leadership role is also based on a contradiction. The U.S. is simultaneously a Liberal Democracy and a Great Power, caught inevitably between democratic instincts and the responsibilities and temptations of having so much power.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Tiersky.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008

10 An Introduction to Political Theory

[PT] This course is an introduction to political theory, examining the assumptions that allow the various forms of politics to operate as they do. It is divided into three parts: The first investigates the problems of foundations--what politics is and where we can find its limits; the second explores the politics in our ordinary lives--the politics that determine how we interact with our families and friends, and how we choose to live in our private lives; the third deals with the costs that may come from sharing our world. Throughout, we will use a variety of resources--philosophic, literary, cultural, cinematic, and historical--to develop ways of engaging our political world, unraveling those very assumptions we choose to live by.

Fall semester.  Visiting Professor Poe. 

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012

12 Political Obligations

[PT] The mark of the polity, or the political order, has always been the presence of “law”--the capacity to make decisions that are binding, or obligatory, for everyone within the territory. The roots of obligation and law are the same: “ligare,” to bind. When the law imposes a decision, it restricts personal freedom and displaces “private choice” in favor of a public obligation, an obligation applied uniformly or universally. The law may commit us then on matters that run counter even to our own convictions, strongly held, about the things that are right or wrong, and even on matters of our private lives. The law may forbid people to discriminate on grounds of race even in their private businesses; the law may forbid abortions or, on the other hand, the law may compel the funding of abortions even by people who find them abhorrent. This state of affairs, this logic of the law, has always called out for justification, and in facing that question, we are led back to the original understanding of the connection between morality and law. The law can justify itself only if it can establish, as its ground, propositions about the things that are in principle right or wrong, just or unjust-which is to say, right or wrong, just or unjust, for others as well as ourselves. The questions of law and obligation then must point to the questions at the root of moral philosophy: What is the nature of the good or the just, and the grounds on which we may claim to “know” moral truths?

The course will proceed through a series of cases after it returns to the beginning of political philosophy and lays the groundwork for the argument. We will begin with Aristotle on the polis, and the debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas on “natural rights.” We will draw on Kant and Hume, on Thomas Reid and Bertrand Russell, as we seek to set the groundwork in place. The argument of the course will then be unfolded further, and tested, through a train of cases and problems: conscientious objection, the war in Vietnam, the obligation to rescue, the claims of privacy. And the culmination will come on the issues of abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide.

Fall semester. Professor Arkes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016

13 World Politics

[IR] This is an introductory course which examines the interaction of military, political, economic, social and cultural forces in present-day world politics. Close attention is paid to the complex relationship between two central components of this system: great power relations and global capitalist dynamics. Among the topics covered are hegemonic stability and the rise and fall of the great powers, the changing role of state sovereignty, the strengths and weaknesses of international civil society, as well as the role of justice and international/transnational legal institutions in world politics. Other issues to be discussed include the relations of the world’s sole superpower (the United States) vis-à-vis the newly emerging geopolitical centers of power, namely the European Union, China, India and Russia, as well as such regions as the Middle East and Latin America. The course does not rely on a single theoretical framework; instead, we will follow in the path of such world classics as Kautylia, Sun Tzu, Thucydides, Clausewitz, Locke, Kant, and Karl Marx.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Machala.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Spring 2014

17 Domestic Politics

This course will explore the domestic sphere as a site of politics. We will define the domestic sphere broadly, including politics in the home, private life, indigenous culture, and internal versus foreign affairs. The principle questions addressed will include: How does the boundary defining the private sphere shift over time and what are the forces driving these changes? How is the domestic sphere seen as a site of safety versus danger? What are the consequences of the intervention of state power and policing into private life? How are power relations within the private sphere interconnected with privilege and status in the public domain? Our attention will be focused on the social construction of gender, race and ethnic identities, and local/grassroots activities. A wide range of issues will be covered regarding the social organization of families, domestic violence, local/urban politics, the deinstitutionalization of people with disabilities, disadvantaged communities, policing, political activism, and domestic and “homeland” security. The course will examine these issues primarily in the context of American politics and society.

Fall semester.  Professor Bumiller.


2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

18 The Social Organization of Law

(Offered as LJST 01 and POSC [LP].)  Law in the United State is everywhere, ordering the most minute details of daily life while at the same time making life and death judgments.  Our law is many things at once--majestic and ordinary, monstrous and merciful, concerned with morality yet often righteously indifferent to moral argument.  Powerful and important in social life, the law remains elusive and mysterious.  This power and mystery is reflected in, and made possible by, a complex bureaucratic apparatus which translates words into deeds and rhetorical gestures into social practices. 

This course will examine that apparatus. It will describe how the problems and possibilities of social organization shape law as well as how the social organization of law responds to persons of different classes, races and genders.  We will attend to the peculiar way the American legal system deals with human suffering--with examples ranging from the legal treatment of persons living in poverty to the treatments of victims of sexual assault. How is law organized to cope with their pain?  How are the actions of persons who inflict inquiries on others defined in legal terms? Here we will examine cases on self defense and capital punishment. Throughout, attention will be given to the practices of police, prosecutors, judges, and those who administer law's complex bureaucratic apparatus.

Limited to 100 students. Fall semester. Professor Sarat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012

20 Rethinking Post-Colonial Nationalism

[CP] 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.

Omitted 2010-11. Professor Basu.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016

24 Human Rights Activism

(Offered as WAGS 32 and POSC 24 [CP, GP].) This course is intended to give students a sense of the challenges and satisfactions involved in the practice of human rights work as well as a critical sense of how the discourses calling it forth developed and continue to evolve. We intend to provide specific historical and cultural context to selected areas in which human rights abuses of women and men have occurred, and to explore how differing traditions facilitate and inhibit activism within these areas. The semester will begin by exploring the historical growth of human rights discourse in Europe and the United States, culminating in the emergence of the post-World War II Universal Declaration. We will then turn to the proliferation of these discourses since the 1970s, including the growing importance of non-governmental organizations, many of them internationally based, the use of human rights discourse by a wide range of groups, and expanding meanings of human rights including new conceptions of women’s human rights. The third part of the course will explore criticisms of human rights discourses, particularly the charge that for all their claims to universalism, these discourses reflect the values of European Enlightenment traditions which are inimical to conceptions of rights and justice that are grounded in culture and religion. Throughout the course, rights’ workers will discuss their own experiences, abroad and in the U.S., and reflect on the relationship between their work and formal human rights discourse.

Omitted 2010-11. Professors Basu and Saxton.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010

25 Argentina, Brazil, Chile: Film and Politics of Democratization

(Offered as SPAN 88 and POSC 25 [CP, GP].) This team-taught course will examine processes of democratization through the interdisciplinary lenses of political science and cultural/literary theory. By reviewing films, critical texts, cases, and causal arguments, we will explore the history of repressive regimes, the transitions to democracy, and the challenges of enhancing the "quality" of democracy in contemporary Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

The course will be taught twice a week. One day a week, the entire class will meet in one room. The other day, the class will break into two discussion groups, one of which will be conducted entirely in Spanish and will count specifically for Spanish majors. Command of Spanish is not required except for students interested in receiving credit for their Spanish major.

Requisite: Spanish 07 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professors Corrales and Suárez. 

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008

28 Modern Classics in Political Philosophy

[PT] This course will be an introduction to the study of modern political philosophy. The course is organized around four classic texts which will be considered chronologically; they are: Hobbes, Leviathon; Locke, The Two Treatise of Government; J.S. Mill, On Liberty and Considerations on Representative Government; and Nietszche, Beyond Good and Evil. The questions that will structure this study will include: What do the various philosophers take to be the original motivation underlying the formation of political society? How do these motivations conform to the normative prescriptions that are proposed? What are the limits of legitimate political authority, and what are the philosophical justifications for them? What are the justifications underlying the various proposed institutional arrangements and under what conditions can these arrangements be legitimately suspended? Finally, does the organizing of political life of necessity do violence to a more noble conception of human potentiality?

Omitted 2010-11. Professor Mehta.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009

29 Women and Politics in Africa

(Offered as POSC 29 [GS, CP], BLST 25 [A], and WAGS 61.) This course will explore the genesis and effects of political activism by women in Africa, which some believe represents a new African feminism, and its implications for state/civil society relations in contemporary Africa. Topics will include the historical effects of colonialism on the economic, social, and political roles of African women, the nature of urban/rural distinctions, and the diverse responses by women to the economic and political crises of post-colonial African policies. This course will also explore case studies of specific African countries, with readings of novels and women’s life histories as well as analyses by social scientists.

Omitted 2010-11.  Five College Professor Newbury.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010

30 American Politics/Foreign Policy

[AP, IR] The attacks of September 11, the continuing war in Iraq and America’s growing relative industrial decline, have cast a long shadow over current U.S. foreign policy. But while these events dominate much of the news, the purpose of this course will not be to analyze any specific foreign policies, but, instead, to examine how foreign policy is made in the United States. We will explore the domestic political, socio-economic and cultural forces which have historically shaped major foreign policy debates as well as the grand strategies which have sustained America’s role in world affairs. After familiarizing ourselves with the four main foreign policy ideological traditions (Jeffersonian, Hamiltonian, Jacksonian and Wilsonian), which typically compete for political dominance, we will scrutinize how the rules set in the Constitution structure the foreign policy making process. Special attention will be paid to the shifting and evolving power of the Presidency, Congress, the mass media, public opinion, elections, think-tanks, ethnic, religious and class-based lobbies and grass roots social movements. The course will also examine the rise of the power elite and the national security state, the role of the military and intelligence agencies, the power of secrecy and deception, and the significance of the political psychology of presidents and their key advisors, as well as the function of gender in the making of foreign policy.

Limited to 70 students. Fall semester. Professor Machala.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010

31 The International Politics of East Asia

[IR] In this course, we will broadly survey contemporary East Asian politics, paying particular attention to regional security and economic development. We will also utilize some international relations theory to frame our analyses. We will begin with an examination of how bipolarity during the Cold War helped to lay the groundwork for present-day political dynamics. We will then study the origins of the “Asian miracle” of rapid development and the collapse in the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Other topics will include the emergence of the U.S.-based hub-and-spoke alliance system, the rise of China, the North Korea and Taiwan imbroglios, the growing institutionalization of regional politics through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and non-traditional security problems such as terrorism and human rights violations.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Loewenstein Fellow Chow.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2011

32 Political Economy of Development

[CP, IR] 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 2010-11. Professor Corrales.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

33 Politics and Change in China

This course is an introduction to political change in contemporary China. We will focus mainly on the post-1949 period to the current era. We also will delve into late Qing and Republican era history to consider temporal influences on the present, paying special attention to the formative events of Maoist state building and the way that memories of these episodes in urban and rural China hinder the process of reform today. The course will provide a broad sweep of Chinese political history and examine how key individuals, both at the local and national level, have participated in and experienced Chinese politics.  Special attention will be given to the nature of power and the extent of state legitimacy in authoritarian China, modalities of rule, popular understandings of power, authority, and justice, and the rise of popular resistance, protest, and contention in the Mao and post-Mao eras.  From time to time, we will compare the nature of politics and regimes in China with other places, including Iran, Spain, Cambodia, India, and South Africa.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester.  Croxton Lecturer Thaxton.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010

34 American Political Thought

[AP, PT] This course is a study of aspects of the canon of American political thought. While examining the roots of American thought in Puritanism and Quakerism, the primary focus will be on American transcendentalism and its impact on subsequent thought. Among those whose works we are likely to consider are Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Walt Whitman, W.E.B. DuBois, William James, Jane Addams, John Dewey, Martin Luther King, Hannah Arendt, Richard Rorty, and Stanley Cavell.

Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Dumm.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

35 Modern Political Thought

[PT] This course surveys the development of key political concepts in modern Western thought. These include new conceptions of political rationality and affect (how we think and feel about our politics), as well as reconceptualizations of equality and liberty in a world of rapidly changing economic conditions and social mobility. The course begins with recent and contrasting views (Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss) on what constitutes the basis for political action in the modern world: whether tradition is the only legitimate measure of political action, or if there are preferable standards by which to justify politics. Then, as a means to explain this problematic, the course will examine critical philosophical engagements on the historical appearance of modern political concepts. We will trace these paradigmatic shifts as they begin to surface in late 18th and 19th century European thought (evidenced in the writings of Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche amongst others), on through to the consequent political outcomes of such transformations in 20th century politics. 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 political problems requisite to our own political practices.

Spring semester.  Visiting Assistant Professor Poe.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

37 The American Founding

[PT, AP] Lincoln famously said at Gettysburg that the nation had been brought forth “four score and seven years” earlier. Counting back 87 years from Gettysburg brought the beginning of the republic to 1776, not 1789. The American Founding included the ingenious crafting of the Constitution, but the Founding, and the Union, did not begin with the Constitution. It began with the Declaration of Independence and the articulation of that “proposition” as Lincoln called it, which marked the character of the regime: “all men are created equal.” From that proposition sprang the principle for government by consent, and as Lincoln and the Founders understood, the case in principle against slavery. Lincoln thought it a stroke of genius on the part of Jefferson that, on the occasion of a revolution, he inserted in the Declaration an “abstract truth applicable to all men and all times.” And yet, now, that truth of the Declaration has become controversial; it is often denied on both sides of the political divide, by conservatives as well as liberals. But the claim for the Founders remains: if that central moral “truth” of the Declaration is not true, it may not be possible to give a coherent account of the American regime and the rights it was meant to secure.

The course will explore the writings and work of that uncommon generation that made the case for the American revolution and framed a “new order for the ages.” The topics will include the political philosophy of “natural rights”; the debates during the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and during the contest over ratification; the Federalist and Anti-federalist papers; the political economy of the new Constitution; the jurisprudence of Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, and John Marshall; and some of the leading cases in the founding period of the Supreme Court.

Spring semester. Professor Arkes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011

38 Debates in Private American Higher Education

(Offered as AMST 38 and POSC 38 [AP].)  Debates  continue about the purpose, content, admission and costs in private higher education, which this seminar will explore from varied views.  We will begin with some discussion of the mission of universities/colleges (eg., Weber, Whitehead, Ortega y Gasset) and their social impact (Goldin and Katz's The Race between Education and Technology).  We will then move into debates about the curriculum (Menand, Kronman, Derek Bok's Our Underachieving Colleges, and Harry Lewis's Excellence without a Soul).  On admissions we will use Karabel's The Chosen, Lehman's The Big Test, various Supreme Court decisions, and Golden's The Price of Admission.  On financial aid, we will read McPherson and Schapiro's Student Aid Game and works by Richard Kahlenberg.

Limited to 12 students.  In order to be admitted to this course, interested students should preregister and submit a one page statement by April 26, 2010, to describing why they wish to take this course. Fall semester.  Professor Marx.


2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010

39 Global Politics of Gender

(Offered as POSC 39 [GP/IR] and WAGS 02.)  This course is designed to provide students with a solid understanding of the mechanisms by which international norms of gender equality and women’s rights develop and are implemented, with a special emphasis on discourses and practices of international human rights. The course analyzes international treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and addresses issues regarding domestic violence, political participation, reproductive rights, economic opportunities, and modern slavery, among other gendered problems. Bridging gender and global politics, we explore the ways international norms are transported from the United Nations to the daily reality of women throughout the world, and how states, civil society and institutions collaborate (or not) to promote women’s rights where they are most needed.

Fall semester.  Loewenstein Fellow Picq.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010

41 The American Constitution I: The Structure of Rights

[LP, AP] This course will focus on the questions arising from the relations of the three main institutions that define the structure of the national government under the Constitution. We will begin, at all times, with cases, but the cases will draw us back to the “first principles” of constitutional government, and to the logic that was built into the American Constitution. The topics will include: the standing of the President and Congress as interpreters of the Constitution; the authority of the Congress to counter the judgments--and alter the jurisdiction--of the federal courts on matters such as abortion and busing; the logic of “rights” and the regulation of “speech” (including such “symbolic expression” as the burning of crosses); and the original warning of the Federalists about the effect of the Bill of Rights in narrowing the range of our rights.

Fall semester. Professor Arkes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

42 The American Constitution II: Federalism, Privacy, and the "Equal Protection of the Laws"

[LP, AP] In applying the Constitution to particular cases, it becomes necessary to appeal to certain “principles of law” that were antecedent to the Constitution--principles that existed before the Constitution, and which did not depend, for their authority, on the text of the Constitution. But in some cases it is necessary to appeal to principles that were peculiar to the government that was established in the “decision of 1787”; the decisions that framed a new government under a new Constitution. This course will try to illuminate that problem by considering the grounds on which the national government claims to vindicate certain rights by overriding the authority of the States and private institutions. Is the federal government obliged to act as a government of “second resort” after it becomes clear that the State and local governments will not act? Or may the federal government act in the first instance, for example, to bar discriminations based on race, and may it reach, with its authority, to private businesses, private clubs, even private households? The course will pursue these questions as it deals with a number of issues arising from the “equal protection of the laws”--most notably, with the problem of discriminations based on race and sex, with racial quotas and “reverse discrimination.” In addition, the course will deal with such topics as: self-incrimination, the exclusionary rule, the regulation of “vices,” and censorship over literature and the arts. (This course may be taken independently of Political Science 41, The American Constitution I.)

Omitted 2010-11. Professor Arkes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2011, Fall 2013

43 Ancient Political Thought

[PT] This course surveys ancient Greek and Roman political thought. Although the ancient world was remarkably different from our own, many of the concepts and ideas that dominate our thinking about politics today have been influenced by our inheritance of these classic traditions. Such ideals as democratic citizenship, the rule of law, public and private spheres, and civil liberties find their first articulation in these ancient polities. Indeed, many of the questions and problems that plagued politics in those ancient worlds--What is justice? What are the obligations of democratic citizens? What is the best form of government?--are still vibrant today. Through close textual readings and contextual analysis we will engage in a systematic comparison of our assumptions about politics with those expressed in these ancient worlds. And, in so doing, we will attempt to further our understanding of political problems requisite to our contemporary political practices.

Fall semester.  Visiting Professor Poe.


2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

44 The Political Economy of Gender in Latin America

(Offered as POSC 44 and WAGS 04)[GP]Latin America has the greatest extremes of wealth of any region in the world, and gender is one of the most important factors leading to this inequality. The study of gender therefore offers a valuable window into the socio-economic structures and political systems of the region. Bringing together the disciplines of comparative politics, political economy, and gender, this course proposes to analyze the gender implications of economic and political reforms at large in Latin America, from the military dictatorships of the 1970s through the democratization of the 1980s, the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s, and the New Left. We will also explore the history and geography of women's rights in terms of political participation, agrarian reform, informal economics, reproductive rights, welfare policies, migration, and human trafficking. Beyond women's rights, the class analyzes social movements and the politics of contestation in Latin America, movements’ interactions with state actors and the impact of changing markets on women's empowerment.

Spring semester.  Loewenstein Fellow Picq.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011

45 Contemporary Europe

Offered as POSC 45 [CP, IR] and EUST 45.)  Decline and renewal of Europe. An analysis of Europe’s role in the world order and the European Union (EU). What are Europe’s strengths and weaknesses as an international power? Does Europe meet its responsibilities or is it content to be a free rider on the ambitions and policies of other countries? What is the European Union and what are its successes and failures? What is the relationship between various European countries and the EU, between national sovereignty and European integration? Is more European integration still the future of Europe or is there now “enough Europe”?

Limited to 25 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Tiersky.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

46 Case Studies in American Diplomacy

(Offered as HIST 49 [US] and POSC 46 [AP, IR].) This course will combine the methods of diplomatic history and political science in examining critical moments and themes in American diplomacy. Our overall aim is to better understand the evolving position of the United States in world politics as well as domestic controversies over the character of America’s global role. Specifically, we will assess the combined influence of racism and ethnicity as well as of religious and secular values and class interest on American diplomacy. We shall also investigate the major domestic political, social, economic and intellectual trends and impulses, (e.g., manifest destiny, isolationism and counter-isolationism, and containment) that have shaped American diplomacy; analyze competing visions for territorial conquests and interventions as advocated by various American elites; examine the methods used to extend the nation’s borders, foreign trade and international influence and leadership; and seek to understand the impact of key foreign policy involvements and controversies on the character of the Presidency, Congress and party politics. Among the topics to be considered are the Federalist/Anti-Federalist debates over the scope of constitutional constraints on foreign policy, the Monroe Doctrine, the Mexican War, the imperialist/anti-imperialist debate, the great power diplomacies of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and FDR, as well as key moments of American diplomacy during the Cold War (e.g., the origins of the Cold War, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the end of the  Cold War. One class meeting per week.

Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professors G. Levin and Machala.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012

48 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism

[CP, IR] 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. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Corrales.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2015

49 Ancient Political Philosophy

[PT] This course provides an introduction to the political thought of Plato, Aristotle, and Saint Augustine. It is organized around classic texts which will be considered chronologically: Plato’s Republic (selections); Aristotle’s Politics, and Nicomechian Ethics; and St. Augustine’s City of God. The questions that will structure this study will include: Why is the study of politics something about which we need and can have general theories? What is the significance and the status of an “ideal” polity with respect to actual polities? What do the various philosophers take to be the original motivation underlying the formation of political society? How do these motivations conform with the normative prescriptions that are proposed? How do questions of hierarchy and equality inform ancient thought. And finally, what is the status of philosophy itself in offering political prescriptions?

Omitted 2010-11. Professor Mehta.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008

50 International Relations and Foreign-Policy Theories

There is an extremely wide variety of ways to study a subject as diverse, complex and fascinating as the U.S. foreign policy. The scope of the subject is vast and the literature is enormous.   Although the current trend in the academy is towards the erosion of methodological boundaries both between subfields of political science and political science as a whole and other social science disciplines, the dominant foreign policy theories still tend to concentrate primarily on state-to-state relations and/or on the ability of statesmen and decision-making elites to understand the exigencies of international relations. The main objective of this course is to critically examine the strength and weakness of these dominant foreign policy theories by exposing them to the trends in the relevant areas of contemporary social science.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Not open to first-year students.  Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Machala.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009

51 The Political Economy of Petro States: Venezuela Compared

[CP, IR] This is a modified version of Political Science 32, The Political Economy of Development. The first half of the course is identical to 32, 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 Political Science 32. Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Corrales.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2017

53 Contemporary Global Order and the Future of the Westphalian System

[CP] The sovereign state, the basic building block of modern world  politics, is eroding. Or is it?  While the principle of the state as supreme within its territory remains, the practice of sovereignty faces growing challenges from above (in the form of nascent global governance structures), from below (in the form of transnational non-state actors),  and possibly even from the "side" (that is, from states that might seek to overthrow the Westphalian system and establish a more hierarchical order in its place). In this course, we will examine the nature of the state in contemporary world politics,  and various challenges to  the traditional Westphalian conception of state sovereignty. We will read extensively from Hedley Bull's "The Anarchical Society," examine  different models of order among sovereign states, and discuss how recent developments are raising new questions about the trajectory of the sovereign state system as we know it. Topics will include the establishment and decline of the Bretton Woods System, the creation of the European Union and the International Criminal Court, the post-Cold War rise of China, the growing prominence of religion as a political motivator and the emergence of global terrorist and criminal networks.

Spring semester.  Professor Machala and Loewenstein Fellow Chow.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011

54 The Political Theory of Home

Home is supposed to be a refuge, the place where they have to take you in, as Frost once put it, but as he also knew, it is a place of conflict and death as much as comfort and birth. We are hidden from the world in our homes, but we also take pride in our homes, however modest, or even in their modesty. Home is a place of personal remembrance where we do not fight the battles of immortality, but instead follow another way through life, a parallel imagining of where and how we may be in the world, and away from the world. It is the most private of places, and a site of privation because of that. It is the oikos, (the household, where economy began) not the polis (the public place of political argument). And yet home is of political significance paradoxically, because it is supposed to be a refuge from the storms of politics--hence, for instance, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security as a reassurance to the American people following the terrorist attack of 9/11. In this course, we will explore the idea of home and its political significance in Western thought. Among the authors we will study will be Homer, Virgil, Books of Genesis, Exodus, and Ruth, Fustel de Coulanges, Vico, Shakespeare, Heidegger, Said, Winthrop, Thoreau, Jefferson, Addams, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Pogue Harrison.  

Requisite: One introductory Political Science course or its equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2010-11.  Professor Dumm.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2012

55 Post-Cold War American Diplomacy

(Offered as POSC 55 and HIST 50 [US].)  A 1992 still-classified Pentagon Defense Policy Guidance draft asserts that America’s political and military mission in the post-cold war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower be allowed to emerge in world politics. This course will examine American foreign relations from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the present. We will study the similarities and differences in the styles of statecraft of all post-cold war U.S. administrations in producing, managing and sustaining America’s unrivaled international position, which emerged in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.  While examining the debates between liberals and neoconservatives about America’s role in the world both preceding and following the 9-11 attack, we will also discuss the extent to which these debates not only have shaped American foreign policy but also how they have influenced our domestic politics and vice versa. Among the other main themes to be examined:  the strategic, tactical and humanitarian uses of military and other forms of power by each administration (e.g., towards Somalia, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan); U.S. policy towards NATO and towards the world economy; U.S. policy towards Russia, China, the Middle East and Latin America; human, economic and political costs and benefits of American leadership in this period.

Preference given to students who have taken one of the following courses: Political Science 13, 30, 46, 50; History 49.  Limited to 30 students. Not open to first-year students.  Spring semester. Professors G. Levin and Machala.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

56 Regulating Citizenship

[AP, PT] 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 personal interview with the instructor.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016

59 The Politics of Moral Reasoning

[GP, PT] This course is an exploration of the connections between the experience of ordinary life and the judgments humans and citizens make concerning good and bad, and competing goods. We will use as the core text Stanley Cavell’s Cities of Words, which organizes themes concerning moral reasoning around a series of thinkers--Emerson, Aristotle, Plato, Rawls, Nietzsche, Locke, Mill and others--and couples each thinker with a movie from the classic age of American cinema. While we will be relying on Cavell’s study as a primary source, students will also be reading essays by the thinkers Cavell identifies. Each week we will discuss the reading in the first class exclusively, and then screen the film prior to the second class meeting, when we will broaden the discussion.

Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Dumm.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014

60 Punishment, Politics, and Culture

[AP, LP] 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. Spring semester. Professor Sarat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

61 China's Global Rise: Implications for the Liberal Democratic Order

This seminar will assess the impact of China's rise for the liberal global democratic order constructed by the United States in the aftermath of World War II. It comprises four parts. First, we will explore how China's limited global engagement during the Cold War backfired and ultimately created a political situation in which Beijing's leaders had  to open China to global market forces. Second, we will attempt to grasp China's quest for grandeur.  We will study the ways in which its grand international strategy poses a challenge to democratic nations, including Japan and South Korea, Australia, the United States, and Europe. We also will pay attention to China's economic commitment to Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, analyzing how this commitment has gone hand in hand with support for anti-democratic forces from Burma (Myanmar) to Sudan to Venezuela and Cuba.  Third, we will analyze how China's growing involvement in the global economy is guided by an authoritarian work style that developed during the formative stage of Mao era state formation.  We will study how this style influences China's global hunt for land and food, wild life reserves, mines and minerals, oil, energy, financial hubs, commercial art, and fashion.  To what extent does this style pose a threat to global political institutions and norms, including those supportive of basic human rights and the rule of law?  Finally, we will ask whether China's ascent will undermine the liberal global democratic order and, in time, pit a rising China against a declining United States and thus increase chances of an armed conflict between authoritarian China and democratic America.

Spring semester. Croxton Fellow Thaxton

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011

70 The Political Theory of Globalization

[IR, PT] “Globalization” can mean many things. To some, it means equal integration of individual societies into worldwide political, economic and cultural processes. To others it means accentuated uneven economic development, accompanied by cultural imperialism, which merely exaggerates the political dependence of “peripheral” on “core” societies. For still others, globalization is shorthand for the social and cultural changes that follow when societies become linked with and, in an escalating way, dependent upon the world capitalist market. The idea that underlies these multiple meanings of globalization is the radical intensification of worldwide social relations and the lifting of social activities out of local and national conditions. The course will examine the major theoretical discourses raised by this idea, such as (1) the effect of globalizing material production on the formation of post-liberal democracy, (2) the nexus between globalizing cultural production and the politics of cosmopolitanism and “otherness,” (3) the impact of globalizing communication technologies and mass consumerism on the formation of transnational “gated class communities,” and (4) the relationship between the globalization of transnational class conflicts/interests/identities and transnational governance. We will also explore the connection between “late global capitalism” and liberal arts education in legitimizing the current global class dynamics. This course fulfills the requirement of an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: Two courses--one from each cluster or their equivalent: (a) Political Science 13, 20, 24, 32, 45, 63, 86, 89, Colloquium 18; (b) 28, 40, 76, 80, 81. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2010-2011.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2013

71 Political Emotions

[PT] This course explores debates on the place of emotions in democratic politics. While many political theorists once considered political emotions as dangerous (at worst) or unnecessary (at best) to a well-functioning democracy, some have recently sought to challenge this assumption and have re-conceptualized political emotions as central components in democratic politics.

To make sense of this debate, this course investigates the following questions: What are political emotions? Do some emotions help smooth the functioning of democratic politics more than others? What is the role of emotion in the formation of political allegiances? What, if anything, is the relationship between political obligation and feeling? (Between justice and feeling? Between freedom and feeling?) Do we need to understand emotion better in order to conceptualize – and perhaps enact – the functioning of central democratic processes?

The first half of the course delves into the parameters of "political emotions" as a general conceptual category; engaging arguments on what emotions are and how emotions function provides a framework for the second half of the course, which examines particular emotions as presented in the works of a variety of prominent political theorists.

Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Poe

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011

72 Culture and Politics in 20th-Century Europe

(Offered as POSC 72 [CP, IR] and EUST 35.) This seminar discusses political ideas, ideologies and political culture in 20th-century Europe. Some themes are Nationalism; Marxism, Socialism and Communism; Fascism; anti-Semitism; Existentialism; the “Century of Total War”; the year 1968; Pope John Paul II; Soccer Hooliganism; “The Idea of Europe,” and the question of whether there is a “European identity.” Throughout the course, ideas are connected to historical context. The syllabus is a mix of books and films.

Preference to Political Science and European Studies majors, and juniors and seniors.  Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Tiersky.


2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

73 U.S.-Latin American Relations

[CP, IR] Can 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. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in political science.

Requisite: Political Science 13 or its equivalent. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Corrales.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

74 Norms, Rights, and Social Justice: Feminists, Disability Rights Activists and the Poor at the Boundaries of the Law

(Offered as POSC 74 [GP, LP] and LJST 74.) This seminar explores how the civil rights movement began a process of social change and identity-based activism. We evaluate the successes and failures of “excluded” groups’ efforts to use the law. We primarily focus on the recent scholarship of theorists, legal professionals, and activists to define “post-identity politics” strategies and to counteract the social processes that “normalize” persons on the basis of gender, sexuality, disability, and class. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: One introductory Political Science course or its equivalent. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Bumiller.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016

75 Problems of International Politics

[CP, IR] The topic until further notice will be “Gorbachev, the End of the Cold War and the Collapse of the Soviet Union.” When Mikhail Gorbachev became its leader in 1985, the Soviet Union, while plagued by internal and external troubles, was still one of the world’s two superpowers. By 1991, the cold war was over, and on the day he left the Kremlin for the last time, December 25, 1991, the USSR ceased to exist. Of course, Gorbachev was not solely responsible for this upheaval. Developments in the USSR and the world prepared the way. But he set decisive change in motion, and no one else in the Soviet leadership would have done so. This course is therefore a case study of the impact of personality on politics, but also of the limits of that impact, and of the importance of other causes (economic, political, social, ideological, international) of events that changed the world. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Taubman.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

76 Modern Social Theory

[PT] This course will consider the following broad questions with respect to Tocqueville, Marx, Durkheim and Weber: (1) What is the cement of society, i.e., what makes society a coherent unit of experience and analysis? (2) What are the rigidities and flexibilities in society, i.e., how do societies change, develop, and come apart? (3) What is the role of ideas in the cohesion and development of societies? (4) What normative constraints do the answers to the above questions place on societies? With respect to this question the focus in this course will be on the political constraints in contrast with, for instance, the technological, cultural or economic constraints. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Mehta.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010

77D, 78 Senior Departmental Honors

Totaling three full courses, usually a double course in the fall and one regular course in the spring.

Open to seniors who have satisfied the necessary requirements. Fall semester. The Department.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

79 Seminar on War and Peace

[IR, PT] A conceptual and theoretical study of war and peace. The course is not a history of war or a policy study of wars today.  The seminar considers a variety of cases across time and space to examine the causes and consequences of war and the possibilities of peace. Readings range from classical sources to contemporary debates, including Euripides, Quintus Curtius Rufus, Kant, Clausewitz, Sun Tsu, Margaret Mead, Gandhi; K. Waltz, Michael Walzer, and the Geneva Conventions.  This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: Students should have some relevant background in the study of international relations, moral aspects of political life and/or international law.  Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Tiersky.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011

80 Contemporary Political Theory

[PT] 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. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Dumm.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

81 Taking Marx Seriously

[PT] 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. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: Two of Political Science 13, 28, 40, 70, 76, 80. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Machala.


2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

82 United States Foreign Policy: Democracy and Human Rights

[IR, AP] Is the United States committed to promoting democracy and human rights abroad or just advancing its own strategic and domestic corporate interests? What influence does the United States have on the development of democracy around the world and the emergence of--and compliance with--international human rights conventions, protocols and laws? This seminar begins with an historical overview of American democracy and human rights rhetoric and policies and seeks to uncover the range of political, economic, cultural and geostrategic motivations underlying U.S. behavior. We will then examine American foreign policy responses to a broad range of contemporary human rights and democracy issues with special attention given to analyzing and comparing the post-Cold War state-building efforts in the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Previous course work relating to international relations, American politics or foreign policy, or political theory required. This course fulfills the requirement for advanced seminar in Political Science.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Five College Professor Western.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2015

83 Topics in Contemporary Political Philosophy

[PT] This seminar will consider works in political philosophy that have been published within the last decade. It will be organized around the following four topics: justice, equality, the normative force of history and ethical/cultural pluralism. The readings will include works by the following thinkers: John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Michael Sandel, Ronald Dworkin, Charles Taylor, Alistair MacIntyre, David Bromwich, Jurgen Habermas, Martha Nussbaum, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Bikhu Parekh. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Mehta.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009

84 Seminar on International Politics: Global Resource Politics

[IR] An intensive investigation of new and emerging problems in international peace and security affairs. We will examine such issues as: international terrorism; global resource competition; the security implications of globalization; international migrations; transboundary environmental problems; illegal trafficking in guns, drugs, and people. Participants in the seminar will be required to choose a particular problem for in-depth investigation, entailing a study of the nature and evolution of the problem, the existing international response to it, and proposals for its solution. Students will prepare a major paper on the topic and give an oral presentation to the class on their findings. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Five College Professor Klare.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2016

85 States of Poverty

(Offered as POSC 85 [AP, GP] and WAGS 85.) In this course the students will examine the role of the modern welfare state in people’s everyday lives. We will study the historical growth and retrenchment of the modern welfare state in the United States and other Western democracies. The course will critically examine the ideologies of “dependency” and the role of the state as an agent of social control. In particular, we will study the ways in which state action has implications for gender identities. In this course we will analyze the construction of social problems linked to states of poverty, including hunger, homelessness, health care, disability, discrimination, and violence. We will ask how these conditions disproportionately affect the lives of women and children. We will take a broad view of the interventions of the welfare state by considering not only the impact of public assistance and social service programs, but the role of the police, family courts, therapeutic professionals, and schools in creating and responding to the conditions of impoverishment. The work of the seminar will culminate in the production of a research paper and students will be given the option of incorporating field work into the independent project. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: Some previous exposure to background material. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011

86 Globalization, Social Movements and Human Rights

(Offered as POSC 86 [CP, IR] and WAGS 68.) This seminar will explore the changing trajectories of social movements amidst economic, political and cultural globalization. Social movements have organized in opposition to the environmental destruction, increased class inequalities and diminished accountability of nation states that have often accompanied the global spread of capitalism. Globalization from above has given rise to globalization from below as activists have organized transnationally, employing new technologies of communication and appealing to universal human rights. However, in organizing transnationally and appealing to universal principles, activists may find their energies displaced from local to transnational arenas, from substantive to procedural inequalities, and from grass roots activism to routinized activity within the judicial process. We will consider the extent to which globalization heightens divisions between universalistic and particularistic movements or contributes to the creation of a global civil society which can protect and extend human rights. We will examine women’s movements, environmental movements, and democracy movements in several regions of the world. This course fulfills the requirement of an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: One of Political Science 13, 20, 31, 46, 48, 70, or 74. Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Basu.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010

87 Political Thought and Statecraft of Abraham Lincoln

[LP, PT] This seminar will study the statesmanship of Lincoln, and it will weave together two strands, which accord with different parts in the understanding of the statesman. First, there is the understanding of the ends of political life and the grounds of moral judgment. Here, we would consider Lincoln’s reflection on the character of the American republic, the principles that mark a lawful regime, and the crisis of principle posed in “the house divided.” But second, there is the understanding drawn from the actual experience of politics, the understanding that informs the prudence of the political man as he seeks to gain his ends, or apply his principles, in a party. The main materials will be supplied by the writings of Lincoln: the speeches, the extended debates with Stephen Douglas, the presidential messages and papers of State. The problem of his statesmanship will be carried over then to his exercise of the war powers, his direction of the military, and his conduct of diplomacy. This course fulfills the requirement of an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: One of the Political Science 12, 18, 41, 42, or 49. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Arkes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008

89 Markets and Democracy in Latin America

[CP, IR] In the 1980s an unprecedented process of change began in Latin America: nations turned toward democracy and the market. This seminar explores the literature on regime and economic change and, at the same time, encourages students to think about ways to study the post-reform period. The seminar begins by looking at the situation prior to the transition: the sources of Latin America’s over expanded state, economic decay, political instability, and democratic deficit. The seminar then focuses directly on the processes of transition, paying particular attention to the challenges encountered. It explores, theoretically and empirically, the extent to which democracy and markets are compatible. The seminar then places Latin America’s process of change in a global context: comparisons will be drawn with Asian and post-Socialist European cases. The seminar concludes with an overview of current shortcomings of the transition: Latin America’s remaining international vulnerability (the Tequila Crisis of 1995 and the Asian Flu of 1997), the rise of crime, drug trade, and neopopulism, the cleavage between nationalists and internationalists, the prospects for further deepening of reforms and the political backlash against reforms in the 2000s. This course fulfills the requirements of an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: Some background in the economics and politics of developing areas. Limited to 15 students. Not open to first- and second-year students. Fall semester. Professor Corrales.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Spring 2014

95 Gandhi and King

(Offered as BLST 65 and POSC 95 [US].) As the leader of the Indian independence struggle in the first half of the 20th century, M. K.Gandhi galvanized the marginalized and the voiceless in an epic struggle to gain recognition and freedom.  A student of Gandhi’s philosophy, Martin Luther King did much the same as the most important leader of the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.  Because they successfully mobilized millions of ordinary men and women to oppose imperialism and racism, these two figures epitomize the best possibilities of force directed toward democratic ends.  Nevertheless, they both expressed profound discomfort with politics. For example, each opposed violence as a matter of principle, celebrated individual interiority, and emphasized the importance of religious practice.  This seminar will explore the tension between the political influence of these important figures and their equally deep ambivalence towards politics.  Themes for discussion will include (1) the relationship between interiority and citizenship (2) the relationship between a care of the self and a conception of the self as the bearer of political rights (3) the role of imprisonment and freedom (4) nonviolence and its relationship to the individual and as an instrument for public advancement and (5) the relationship between technology and modernity.  This seminar will focus specifically on the writings of Gandhi and King, and less on the context and history of their times. Readings will include: Autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Hind Swaraj, and Satyagragha in South Africa by M. K. Gandhi and A Testament of Hope: Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.  Requirements will include a five-page paper during the semester, a class presentation, and a 20-page paper due at the conclusion of the class.

Requisite: One course in either Political Science or Black Studies. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professors Ferguson and Mehta.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010

98, 97 Special Topics

Spring semester.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011

Related Courses

LJST-20 Murder (Course not offered this year.)