[CP, GP] [SC - starting with the Class of 2015] The assertion of group identities, based on language, region, religion, race, gender, sexuality, and class, among other variables, 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.2021-22: Not offered
[CP, IR] [G - starting with the Class of 2015] 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.2021-22: Not offered
[PT] [PT - starting with the Class of 2015] 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.
Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Poe.2021-22: Not offered
[CP, IR][SC - starting with the class of 2015] This course is designed to introduce students to the basics of comparative politics. We will focus on questions such as: Why are some countries rich while others are poor? Why is democratization a challenge for some countries? Is world capitalism the answer or the problem? Are some countries more prone to violence? What are the legacies of colonialism in the Third World? Through critical comparative analysis, we will examine the challenges of state-building, nation-formation, economic development and democratization, and globalization. The political systems of a number of countries (Great Britain, Germany, France, Brazil, India, Nigeria among others) will be examined in conjunction with theoretical investigations about the nature of contemporary politics. The primary goal of this class is to enable students to be able to compare countries in relation to these key themes and develop an analytical eye towards understanding contemporary political problems and their historical background.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Zencirci.2021-22: Not offered
[CP, IR][SC - starting with the class of 2015] The part of the world we most commonly call the Middle East is today the focus of considerable attention. This introductory course provides an overview of the history, politics and society of the Middle East which will help students get beyond the headlines. The purpose is to familiarize students with the historical patterns and political problems that countries in this region face. The overriding question guiding this course is: Is the Middle East an exceptional region (different from the rest of the world?) We will address this question by learning about Middle Eastern history and topics such as state legitimacy, national unity, religious politics, and democratization. We will be focusing on Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Turkey more in depth, as well as a number of other countries. Please note that the course will heavily rely on readings and active class discussion.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Zencirci.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as WAGS 207 and POSC 207 [SC - starting with the Class of 2015].) 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? Texts will include Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown, Ram Gopal Varma’s epic film Sarkar and Partha Chatterjee’s The Nation and Its Fragments.
Spring semester.. Professors Basu and Shandilya.2021-22: Not offered
[PT] [PT - starting with the Class of 2015] 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 Sklar.
Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor Dumm.2021-22: Not offered
[PT] [PT - starting with the Class of 2015] 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.2021-22: Not offered
[IR] [G - starting with the Class of 2015] 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. To see examples of past syllabi please go to http://www3.amherst.edu/~pmachala/Syllabi/ for more information.
Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Machala.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as LJST 101 and POSC 218 [LP] [IL - starting with the Class of 2015].) 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.2021-22: Not offered
[CP, IR] [IL - starting with the Class of 2015] 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. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Corrales.2021-22: Not offered
[LP, AP] [IL - starting with the Class of 2015] 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.2021-22: Not offered
[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.
Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Poe.2021-22: Not offered
[IL - starting with the Class of 2015] This course will consider how institutions, often contrary to their intended purposes, serve to disable individuals and limit their life potential. We will examine a variety of institutions, including state bureaucracies, facilities designed to house people with mental and physical conditions, schools, and prisons. We will also consider a range of disablements, resulting from visible and invisible disabilities as well as gender, sexuality, race and class-based discrimination. We will explore how institutions might be redesigned to less rigidly enforce normalcy and to enable the political participation of individuals who currently experience social exclusion.
Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.2021-22: Not offered
James MacGregor Burns, an eminent political historian, once remarked that party leaders in America are constantly engaged in an attempt to “outwit the framers.” To foil “factions,” the framers built a structure of separated powers, added staggered elections, and distributed the powers of government through a federal system. The struggle of partisans to overcome these obstacles continues today. Indeed, it is a major theme in the 2012 presidential election.
In the mid-twentieth century, many political scientists urged that America adopt a version of “responsible party government” on the European model. The entrenchment of Southern Democrats in positions of Congressional leadership and the strength of liberal Republicans in coastal states prevented that, but the recent polarization of parties (how has that happened?) may put that old vision within reach. Is this what the Committee on Responsible Party Government had in mind?
Many scholars include party leadership among the “hats” presidents have worn. Another, tracing the outlines of the “rhetorical presidency,” writes of the enduring vitality of the Constitution as a restraint on what a president can accomplish. Alfred Stepan and Juan Linz have shown that, while 32 countries in the Americas, North and South, have adopted constitutions featuring the separation of powers, only one of them, the United States, has avoided collapsing into presidential dictatorship. How do we account for this? It may have something to do with the nature of the American party system. If that is changing, do we risk an end to American exceptionalism, or are there other factors that account for it?
We will examine how these factors--the Constitution and the party system, interacting--have shaped American political development, and what they contribute to the current impasse in American politics.
Requisite: Coursework in either American National Government or American Presidency, or consent of the Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Robinson.
2021-22: Not offered
[CP, IR][SC - starting with the class of 2015] The goal of this class is to illuminate the complex relationship between secularism, political Islam and democracy through an in-depth case study of Turkey. In the past decade, some scholars have identified Turkey as a model “Muslim democracy” with significance to the larger Muslim world. In this course we will learn about the historical and political features of “Muslim democracy” in Turkey, and then discuss whether the Turkish case can be extended to other countries. The course is divided into three parts: (1) Theoretical investigations concerning the relationship between secularism, Islam and democracy (2) The Turkish case—historical background and current politics—and (3) trajectories of political Islam in Egypt, Iran and Indonesia. Please note that this course will heavily rely on readings.
Requisite: Prior coursework in Political Science. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Zencirci.
2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 256 [US] and POSC 311 [AP, IR] [G - starting with the Class of 2015].) 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. To see examples of past syllabi please go to http://www3.amherst.edu/~pmachala/Syllabi/ for more information. One class meeting per week.
Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professors G. Levin and Machala.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 312 and HIST 257 [US].) [G - starting with the Class of 2015] 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: POSC 213, 310, 311, 410; HIST 256. Limited to 30 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professors G. Levin and Machala.2021-22: Not offered
[PT] [PT, SC - starting with the Class of 2015] The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory grew out of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt am Main, which was founded in 1923 by Felix Weil. With the rise of National Socialism, members of the Institute were forced to flee in 1933, and eventually relocated to the United States. The Frankfurt School only existed as a “school” for a brief period, but the work of critical theory that emerged continues to be a rich and enduring tradition that centers around a re-interpretation of Marxism in response to the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century. The economic and political conceptions of commodification, reification, and fetishization figure prominently in the often conflicting critiques of mass culture and existent political, social, and economic institutions. In addition to Marx, thinkers like Erich Fromm and Herbert Marcuse rely heavily on a reading of Freud that emphasizes the relationships between psychoanalysis and economy. In addition to Marx and Freud, the tradition of critical theory is strongly influenced by the works of Hegel, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Lukács who weave together a rich analysis of aesthetics, philosophy, and political action. These influences are very much present today in the work of contemporary political theory.
This course is an introduction to and survey of the essential figures in The Frankfurt School. We will begin with Marx and the Freudo-Marxist work of Herbert Marcuse, which focuses on man’s relationship to the world in capitalist society. From there, we will move to Horkheimer and Adorno’s critique of “the culture industry,” and then to Adorno’s most philosophical work Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life, which provides a poetic interlude before exploring the works of Walter Benjamin, who was often at odds with Adorno, and remains a mysterious and controversial figure. We will end the course with Benjamin’s last work, Theses on the Philosophy of History.
Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hill.2021-22: Not offered
[PT] [PT - starting with the Class of 2015] 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.
Requisite: One course in political or social theory. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.2021-22: Not offered
[CP] [SC - starting with the Class of 2015] Using comparative case material drawn from Britain, Ireland and Europe this course considers the structural determining contexts of class, "race," gender, sexuality, and age focusing particularly on the relationship between power (formal and informal) and the regulation of "deviance," "crime," and "conflict." Through engaging critical primary research, the course will examine the experiential realities of individuals and communities within their historical, structural and reproductive contexts, with particular attention to the role of state intervention. Key topics include: institutionalized racism and sectarianism; gender, sexuality and violence; prisons and incarceration; marginalization and exclusion of children and young people; the "war on terror" and criminalized communities; justice transition in the North of Ireland and the legacy of conflict.
Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow Scraton2021-22: Not offered
[PT - starting with the Class of 2015] 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. Fall semester. Professor Dumm.2021-22: Not offered
[AP, PT] IL - starting with the Class of 2015] 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. Fall semester. Professor Bumiller.2021-22: Not offered
[AP, LP] [IL - starting with the Class of 2015] 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.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 372 [CP, IR] and EUST 372.) [SC - starting with the Class of 2015] 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.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Tiersky.2021-22: Not offered
[SC - starting with the Class of 2015] 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, and state and local governments. The principle questions to be addressed will include: How does the conception of public and private shift over time and what are the forces driving these changes? How is the private sphere seen as a site of safety versus danger? What are the consequences of the intervention of state power and policing into the private sphere? A wide range of issues will be covered including the role of bureaucracies, the social organization of families, regulation of health and safety, domestic violence, urban revitalization, the deinstitutionalization of people with disabilities, homelessness, economic and racial inequality, policing, and incarceration. The course will examine these issues primarily in the context of American politics and society. There is a required 20-page research paper. This course satisfies the seminar requirement for the Department of Political Science.
Requisite: An Introductory course in political science or its equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.2021-22: Not offered
[PT] [SC - starting with the Class of 2015] Many perceive a dangerous rise in radically Utopian politics, often described as "fanaticism." Against the backdrop of increased ethnic and nationalist violence, authoritarianism, and declining safeguards for human rights, fanaticism is considered a fundamental impediment to well-functioning democratic politics. Yet, if such a concept is to have the theoretical force policy makers and theorists would like, more clarity is needed regarding what fanaticism is and how it operates. This course examines the history of fanaticism as a political concept. In particular, we will explore theoretical critiques of fanaticism, especially as the concept developed in relation to the history of liberal democracy. The first half of the course explores the emergence of fanaticism as a political--not merely as a religious--idea. Engaging Enlightenment debates on civil society, toleration, and public passions, this section of the course should highlight how fanaticism came to be re-conceived in modern political thought. Here we will explore the traditionally perceived dangers of fanaticism to democratic politics. The second half of the course questions the conceptual costs of this redefinition. Who are political fanatics? What are the political (and psychological) consequences to us in labeling others as fanatics? How might we distinguish between fundamentalism and fanaticism? Is fanaticism necessary to define the extant parameters of toleration or civil society? Is fanaticism always dangerous to democratic politics? Ultimately, this inquiry into the genealogy of fanaticism is designed to test our assumptions about what fanaticism is as a political idea and how it operates in contemporary political thought. This course fulfills the requirement of an advanced seminar in Political Science.
Requisite: One course in political or social theory. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.2021-22: Not offered
[CP, IR][SC - starting with the class of 2015] This course serves as an introduction to the politics of humanitarianism. We will focus on questions such as: How has humanitarianism developed historically? What explains the increasing appearance of humanitarianism as a moral sentiment around the globe? What are the ethical dilemmas and political effects of humanitarian projects? How is humanitarianism practiced on the ground? In this course, humanitarianism will be examined as a political practice with a focus on different domains of its practice: welfare, development, disaster assistance, NGOs and volunteerism. The primary purpose of this class is to help students understand giving as a political practice by providing them with the necessary theoretical tools to investigate global humanitarianism in its multi-dimensionality.
Requisite: Prior coursework in Political Science. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Zencirci.
2021-22: Not offered
[IR, PT] [SC - starting with the Class of 2015] “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 of POSC 213, 232, 244, 312, 320, 332, 345, 468, and 489 or their equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Machala.2021-22: Not offered
[PT] [PT - starting with the Class of 2015] 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 POSC 213, 413, 480. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2012-13. Professor Machala.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 467 [CP] [SC starting with the class of 2015] and WAGS 467) The goal of this seminar is illuminate the complex character of social movements and civil society organizations and their vital influence on Indian democracy. Social movements have strengthened democratic processes by forming or allying with political parties and thereby contributed to the growth of a multi-party system. They have increased the political power of previously marginalized and underprivileged groups and pressured the state to address social inequalities. However conservative religious movements and civil society organizations have threatened minority rights and undermined secular, democratic principles. During the semester, we will interact through internet technology with students, scholars and community organizers in India. This seminar counts as an advanced seminar in Political Science.
Requisite: Prior course work in Political Science. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2012-13. Professor Basu.
2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 474 [GP, LP] [SC - starting with the Class of 2015] and LJST 374.) 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.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
[CP, IR] [G- starting with the Class of 2015] 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.2021-22: Not offered
[PT] [PT - starting with the Class of 2015] 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.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
[IR, AP] [G - starting with the Class of 2015] 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. Fall semester. Five College Professor Western.2021-22: Not offered
[IR] [G - starting with the Class of 2015] 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 20 students. Spring semester. Five College Professor Klare.2021-22: Not offered
Fall and spring semesters.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Spring semester: One course credit.
Open to seniors who have satisfied the necessary requirements. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022