(Offered as POSC 108 and ASLC 108) This is an introductory intensive writing course on China. As such, we will focus on the fundamentals of reading and writing to help students develop clear and persuasive writing styles. We will also pay close attention to understanding and critiquing academic sources. Students will be expected to engage in frequent in-class writing and attend regular writing consultations.
Chinese politics is replete with tensions between opposing forces: modernity and tradition, economic growth and societal protections, central government and local government, top-down mandates and bottom-up pressures, ideology and expertise, state control and market forces, continuity and change. This course examines these tensions and their effects on state-society relations and authoritarian governance during communist party rule in China (1949-present). We will learn how to apply different reading strategies to examine a variety of sources that shed light on these tensions, including speeches, films, government documents, news media, and academic sources. Through frequent short papers, students will incorporate different types of evidence to make compelling arguments regarding the strategies that the Chinese party-state has used to maintain stability amid myriad challenges.
Limited to 12 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Associate Professor Ratigan.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
This course welcomes students from all backgrounds who want to reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and ethical questions that the Coronavirus pandemic raises. Pandemics develop non-randomly because pathogens exploit vulnerabilities in political systems, markets, and societies. As a result, pandemics hold up a mirror in which polities and societies can see their true face. What does the Coronavirus pandemic show us about who we are? What can we learn from it? How does COVID-19 intersect with other challenges, such as poverty, environmental change, inequality, migration, terrorism, and technological shift? The course combines news coverage with political and interdisciplinary analysis and uses examples – past and present – from around the world. We will compare COVID-19 to other pandemics, including the Black Plague, cholera, the Spanish Flu of 1918, Ebola, SARS, and HIV/AIDS, to understand how pandemics shape politics, markets, societies, culture, and the arts. Studying pandemic politics allows us to tackle big questions of political science in a new light. What institutions are better equipped for handling global public health emergencies? Do liberal democracies perform better than dictatorships? Does globalization provide a fruitful framework? How does a virus become a security threat, and what does biosecurity entail? Can a pathogen undermine liberal democratic order? What and whom are we willing to sacrifice in our efforts to fight the pandemic? We will also talk about the future. What will our world look like after COVID-19? Will the disease lead to a retreat into isolationism and nationalism, or will it deepen international cooperation, interdependence, and globalization? Will it lead to democratic backsliding, or will it foster an era of renewed civic engagement, activism, and participation? Classes include informal conversations with guest speakers (political scientists, historians, epidemiologists, art historians, local artists). This course satisfies requirement 2 for the IR Five-College Certificate.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Paul.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Can countries come together to address the challenges of climate change? And if so, which negotiation techniques are more likely to be successful, and why? Does one solution fit all, or would it be better to rely on different formats for pairs of states? This course employs a diverse set of learning techniques to address these timely questions in international politics. First, we will build on cutting-edge academic research to investigate the mechanisms through which climate change puts each country’s economy and political stability under duress. Then, we will utilize role-playing analysis techniques to have each student embrace the perspective of one key international actor (such as the U.S., the United Nations, China, Ghana, Kenya, the World Bank, etc.) and devise a strategy for that actor to decrease the challenges that climate change poses to its economic and political stability. Finally, we will use simulation techniques to reproduce international negotiations to reduce CO2 emissions. Each student, while representing a key international actor and advancing the national interest of that country, will try to mitigate the impact of climate change on the recurrence of violence and war. The aim of the course is to wrestle with the fundamental contradiction between the global scale that international efforts to tackle climate change require and the region-specific challenges that climate change impose on each country’s economy and political stability.
Limited to 18 students (10 spots reserved for first-year students). Spring semester. Assistant Professor Mattiacci.2021-22: Not offered
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has ignited fierce debates on the state of international relations. Pundits and occasional observers often debate the state of international relations---how freely people and goods can or should move across borders, what organizations such as WHO can really achieve, which countries are truly powerful, the real reasons why countries can or cannot cooperate on global challenges such as COVID-19 or climate change, and so on. In each of these debates, evidence, either qualitative or quantitative, counts. But what, exactly, counts as evidence? Diving into recent debates in international relations emerging from COVID-19, the class will evaluate the evidence used to support such claims. We will focus in particular on the political origins of most of the evidence used in these debates, explaining why such origins matter and how they can shape debates. The goal of the class is for students to become literate about the ways in which data are used and to begin leveraging evidence to engage in their own story-telling. This class will leverage interdisciplinary partnerships with other classes. This class fulfills requirements 1 and 2 of the 5 College IR Certificate.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23. Assistant Professor Mattiacci2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 135 and EDST 135) This course will explore the meaning of justice and its realization in everyday life. We will consider individuals’ perceptions of justice and the significance of the concept in the relationship between citizens and government. We will examine how social movements attempt to seek justice and how this quest for justice defines their strategies and goals. And finally we consider how efforts to seek justice are realized, delayed, or blocked in institutional settings, such as in workplace organizations, prisons, state bureaucracies, and the courts. The course will be taught in an “Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program” format, enrolling equal number of students from Amherst College and a Prison. This course will be taught at a local jail.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
(Offered as POSC 145 and EDST 145) This course will explore the role of work in the context of American politics and society. We will study how work has been understood in political and social theory. We will also consider ethnographic studies that explore how workers experience their lives inside organizations and how workplaces transform in response to changing legal regulations. These theoretical and empirical explorations will provide a foundation for reflections about how work structures opportunities in democratic societies and how re-imagining work might unleash human potential. The course will ground these questions about the role of work in the context of American politics and society. At the broadest level we will ask: Do citizens in a liberal society have a right to engage in meaningful work and earn a living wage? What is the changing nature of work in a neoliberal society? What are the goals of the state in regards to the production of a future workforce? What are the impacts of employment discrimination, occupational segregation, and wage disparity based on race or gender?
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Bumiller.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
This course will address the politics of gun ownership, as well as the meanings of guns in American civic life. Focusing on the philosophical, social, legal, institutional, cultural, and economic lenses through which Americans have made sense of the role of firearms in American politics, this course will use firearms policy to explore a range of questions: how has our understanding of self-protection changed or not over time? What was the role of the Second Amendment in the making of the Constitution? How do we make sense of the controversies and debates that have surrounded the “right to bear arms” and its interpretation in legal and historical scholarship? How does mobilization around guns and gun rights reflect and shape racial, ethnic, and gender identities? Where and when do such mobilizations occur? In what ways are U.S. policies and attitudes actually exceptional among developed countries? In this sense, guns serve as a way of putting into sharp focus deeper questions about the institutional and social contexts of belonging and exclusion in U.S. politics.
Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Associate Professor Obert.2021-22: Not offered
Most humans live in territories that are controlled by a state. Why do different nations have different types of states? Why are some states more repressive than others, more war-prone than others, better promoters of development than others, more inclusive than others? How can we make sense of the varied reactions to state domination, ranging from active support to negotiated limits to apathy to vigorous contestation? Does globalization make states more or less democratic, more or less efficient, more or less able to promote development?
This course goes to the heart of current debates on the “state of the state.” How significant is the state in an era in which its sovereignty is increasingly challenged both by global and domestic forces? What ought to be the proper role of the state in the twenty-first century? These questions are central to the current debates taking place—in the U.S. and abroad—on the extent to which countries should open up their economies, privatize social services, incorporate minorities and immigrants, recognize gay marriages, counterbalance U.S. pop culture, accommodate religious fundamentalism, etc. We will explore these questions by studying political theorists and empirical cases from around the world.
Limited to 30 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Corrales.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.
This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Senior Lecturer Picq.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
This course will attempt to analyze and illuminate the leading theories of international relations (IR) today, as well as the evolution of the international relations discipline as a whole. It is meant to encourage a critical attitude towards all theoretical perspectives discussed, not only to familiarize students with the major paradigms of IR, but also to appreciate what the “international” means and how, if at all, it can be demarcated from “domestic” politics. In addition, the course will examine numerous complex international and global challenges which humankind faces today. Topics vary from year to year and will include such issues as the relations of the US, the world’s sole superpower, to the newly emerging geopolitical and/or geo-economic centers of power, namely China, Iran, India, Russia, and the European Union; regional and ethnic/religious conflicts, nuclear proliferation, transnational terrorism, refugee and migration flows, global environmental degradation and climate change, demographic stress, as well as socioeconomic and cultural globalizations.
Limited to 18 Students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Machala.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
This course is an exploration of the political form of the modern state known as fascism. We will examine fascism’s roots in political economy, war, ascriptive group identity, legislative and executive forms, political parties, and social movements, paying special attention to how it has been theorized as it emerged during the twentieth century in Europe, and its current resurgence as an idea and practice in Europe and the United States in the twenty first. Among the authors we may read will be Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, Karl Polanyi, Ernst Cassirer, Franz Neumann, Carl Schmitt, Adolf Hitler, Walter Benjamin, Filippo Marinetti, Richard Hofstadter, Sheldon Wolin, Steven Bannon, Judith Butler, and William Connolly..
Spring semester. Professor Dumm.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 208, ASLC 208, and EDST 208) This course provides an introduction to the major institutions, actors, and ideas that shape contemporary Chinese politics. Through an examination of texts from the social sciences as well as historical narratives and film, we will analyze the development of the current party-state, the relationship between the state and society, policy challenges, and prospects for further reform. First, we examine the political history of the People’s Republic, including the Maoist period and the transition to market reforms. Next, we will interrogate the relations between various social groups and the state, through an analysis of contentious politics in China including the ways in which the party-state seeks to maintain social and political stability. Finally, we will examine the major policy challenges in contemporary China including growing inequality, environmental degradation, waning economic growth, and foreign policy conflicts.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Associate Professor Ratigan.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
This course is a survey of Western liberal political theory from its 17th-century origins through some of its contemporary expressions. Among the thinkers whose works we may read are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Stuart Mill, Isaiah Berlin, John Rawls, Stanley Cavell, and Judith Shklar.
Omitted 2022-23. Professor Dumm.2021-22: Not offered
According to many scholars, the world is experiencing a democratic recession. Since the 2000s, many established democracies are undergoing erosion in their democratic institutions, even transitioning to autocracies. Also, fewer autocracies and semi-authoritarian regimes are transitioning to democracy. During the Cold War, most threats to existing democracies came from the military or non-state actors, such as insurgents or extremist movements. In this era of democratic backsliding, most serious threats to democratic rule stem from the very winners of democracy—incumbent presidents who came to office by winning elections. This course tries to understand the extent of this democratic erosion worldwide—its dimensions, causes, and possible ways to address it. Readings will draw from theoretical, comparative, historical, and case-based works. Students will also work on independent research projects and class presentations.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Corrales.2021-22: Not offered
This class offers an introduction to the study of international relations in the age of a pandemic. In its exploration of both classic and cutting-edge research, the class sheds light on enduring debates in studies of global politics. Thus, this class will address foundational puzzles in international relations while tracing the unfolding of the recent pandemic, including: when are countries more likely to cooperate while facing global crises? When do crises ignite nationalism, thus pushing countries to compete for resources? When is global trade more likely to come to a halt, and why? How do major crises proliferate across issue areas, affecting cooperation on other areas such as climate change? What is the origin and the purpose of multilateral international organizations such as the World Health Organization? When do such organizations fail or succeed? What are the implications of framing the COVID-19 pandemic as a “war”? This class fulfills requirements 1 or 2 for the IR Five-College Certificate.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Mattiacci.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 218, HIST 218, & ASLC 218) As one of the world’s great powers, China has had a profound impact on the developing world. Through financial, military, and political means, China has shaped the economies, cultures, and environments of nations throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia. This course examines the historical and political aspects of this influence with the aim of better understanding the implications of China’s global presence. The course pays particular attention to how racialized narratives have complicated the relationships between Chinese actors abroad and their host communities as well as the experiences of migrants from the developing world in China. Using readings and other media from a wide range of fields and diverse perspectives, we will look at the deep historical roots of this power, while also examining the contemporary ramifications of China’s aspirations and actions beyond its national borders. Students will write about, discuss, and present on topics related to these themes.
Limited to 30 students. Priority given to sophomores. Spring semester. Associate Professor Ratigan and Professor Melillo.2021-22: Not offered
U.S. politics have been an object of fascination not only for American citizens but also for scholars, students, and observers from around the world. This course provides both an introduction to key scholarly arguments about American political institutions, development and participation as well as a chance to engage with the important question of how distinctive the politics of the U.S. actually are. Focusing our attention initially on the role Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution play in the shaping of policy, we will then examine how Americans actually participate in the political process. This means looking at how parties, the media, perceptions of class, race, and gender, interactions with bureaucracy, and even arguing and fighting shape the way Americans view their place in the political world. Finally, we will focus on the question of American "exceptionalism"—how different, really, are American political institutions and experience, and what lessons can we draw from the American experiment that might (or might not) help us understand the political process elsewhere?
Limited to 35 Students. Spring semester. Associate Professor Obert2021-22: Not offered
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 a state's character. The character of punishment in the United States has been shaped, throughout American history, by race and racism. This course considers the connections between punishment, race, and politics in this country. We will ask how far we have come in the journey from lynch mobs to the killing state. We also will consider whether we punish too much and too severely, or too little and too leniently, and the ways race has shaped the ways we punish. We will examine the politicization and racialization of punishment and examine particular modalities through which the state dispenses its penal power. Among the questions to be discussed are: Does punishment express our noblest aspirations for justice or our basest racialized fears and desires for vengeance? Can punishment ever be an adequate expression of, or response to, the pain of the victims of crime? When is it appropriate to forgive rather than punish? How do race and racial antagonism shape the answer to that question? Throughout we will try to understand the meaning of punishment in the United States by its intimate connections to this country’s racial history.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above)
Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Sarat.2021-22: Not offered
This course in Race and Ethnic Politics is designed to examine the contemporary influence of race in American politics while also exploring their historical antecedents. Issues concerning race affect how Americans think of political candidates, political policies, and their views concerning Americans who are not a member of their own racial groups. Moreover, issues relating to race has implications for political parties, elected officials, and public policy debates. This course will also provide students with an overview of the major theories and empirical approaches to the study of intergroup attitudes. While doing so, we will spend a considerable amount of time in understanding, dissecting, and extending major theories developed in the Race and Ethnic Politics subfield. Although focusing principally on matters relating to African Americans, where possible and proper, we will also make comparisons to other racial/ethnic groups. Each class will include both lectures and student-led discussion. The course assumes a basic knowledge of statistics and familiarity with American Politics.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Williams.2021-22: Not offered
This course examines the politics of the contemporary Right in the United States. We will explore historical shifts in ideologies of the Democratic and Republican parties, political conflicts in such arenas as race, gender and class; the politics of immigration; abortion rights; immigration policies; religious freedom; and foreign policy. Using primary sources taken from conservative, reactionary racist and nationalist figures as well as studies of the far Right, we will examine some of the forces that have led to its rise in the Trump era, including neoliberal economic policy, Christian fundamentalism, and the evolution of media of mass communication.
Limited to 75 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Dumm.2021-22: Not offered
In this course, we will study the political thought of Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud. We will devote equal parts of the term to each thinker and learn about the intellectual and social crises that animated what they wrote; decipher, and analyze their complex theoretical ideas; and ask to what extent their efforts to theorize capitalism, inequality, alienation, nihilism, the will to power, political moralism, rage against social constraints, the death drive, and mass delusion might help us make sense of our own times. What do these classic theories help us to see anew or more clearly in our own world? And in what ways do the classic theories fail to capture what is happening around us? These two questions drive much scholarship in political theory, and we will try our hand at them in dialogue with Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. Readings will be drawn from, among others: “On the Jewish Question,” the “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,” and Capital, Volume One (Marx); Beyond Good and Evil and On the Genealogy of Morals (Nietzsche); “Thoughts for the Times on War and Death,” Civilization and Its Discontents, and The Future of an Illusion (Freud).
Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor Park.2021-22: Not offered
The United States is at a crossroads in its political history. Long thought of as the paradigmatic example of a stable, multiracial, multiethnic, constitutional democracy, today Americans are coming to terms with the fact that this country’s history is more complex than that imagining would suggest and the fact that survival of our democratic institutions can no longer be taken for granted. The questions that will guide this course are: How has the United States come to this point, and how did we reach the current crisis of democracy? We will also consider whether the present crisis has been precipitated and shaped by our very aspiration to build a racially and ethnically inclusive society. How does that crisis play out in the internet/social media era? And have Americans forgotten what it means to think and act in a democratic fashion? Is the constitutional framework adequate to the challenges the United States now faces? What economic, cultural, social, and political changes will be necessary if a genuinely inclusive democracy is to be realized and preserved? What habits of mind need to be cultivated for that to occur? We will draw on literary and popular culture sources and authors like Amanda Gorman, Toni Morrison and Layli Long Soldier, as well as study thinkers such as Michael Sandel, Nikole-Hannah Jones, Ibram X. Kendi, Robert Putnam, Amy Chua, Anne Applebaum, Adrian Vermeule, and Danielle Allen.
Limited to 15 students. Priority given to sophomores. Fall semester. Professor Austin Sarat.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 228 and SWAG 227) In his 1955 Notes on a Native Son, James Baldwin framed his democratic obligation to the United States in romantic terms when he wrote that “because I love America more than any other country in the world, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” Only two years later, soon after Martin Luther King Jr. had become the most public face of the Civil Rights Movement, he instructed his congregation that “love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” From Aristotle in the ancient world to Frederick Douglass and David Walker in the 19th century to W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Baldwin, King, and Audre Lorde in the 20th, politics is framed in terms of the love we owe each other. What has been the theoretical upshot of framing political obligation in terms of love and friendship? What has this framing obscured and mystified? Is love and friendship an important pre-requisite for democratic citizenship or a dangerous political fantasy? This course is about the contested terrain of love as a political metaphor. We will investigate love and its cognates—care, trust, friendship, betrayal, sacrifice, resentment, desire—as conceptual terms deployed throughout the late-19th and 20th centuries to frame contests over citizenship, political obligation and responsibility, futurity, and democratic practice more generally. We will ask questions such as: What is love and friendship’s object of desire as a way of thinking democratic politics? Is there such a thing as civic love and political friendship? When, if ever, is it appropriate to love political enemies? Can we trust strangers? Should the state love its citizens? Is politics a matter of desire? Should some political members be expected to sacrifice more than others? Can we care for others without loving or befriending them? Have we come to love or desire a vision of democracy that is actually a hindrance to our flourishing?
This is a discussion-based course. High participation is a requirement and care will be taken to cultivate an environment in which students feel comfortable embarking on a shared journey of intellectual discovery. We will spend time in the course perfecting our ability to reason with each other by drawing on textual evidence to support our claims. There will be weekly reflection assignments as well as a final paper. Finally, this course will involve a practical component: students will be strongly encouraged to submit by the end of the semester a plan for how they might apply insights in the course to everyday life (political organizing, internships, volunteer work, etc.)
Fall semester. Assistant Professor Loggins.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 232 and EDST 232) 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 24 students. Prioity given to sophomores. Spring semester. Professor Corrales.2021-22: Not offered
This course will look at globalization through the lens of border culture, a term that refers to the "deterritorialized" experience of people when they move or are displaced from their context or place of origin. How are people’s experience of belonging and understanding of identity affected by borders within the realms of language, gender, ideology, race, and genres of cultural production as well as geopolitical locations? What does it mean to live between two cultures—an experience that in 2019 might well represent the nature of contemporary life? We will explore these questions by examining the political and aesthetic impact of global processes such as the unprecedented turbulence of migration, the persistent threat of terrorism, and the perplexing influence of communications technologies. Readings will include the voices of artists, critics, historians, cultural theorists, anthropologists, and philosophers, including Gloria Anzaldúa, Arjun Appadurai, Homi Bhabha, Michel Foucault, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Derek Gregory, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Nikos Papastergiadis, Edward Said, Gianni Vattimo, and Eyal Weizman.
Limited to 24 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Falk.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
The course investigates the connections between the politics of aging and political discourses surrounding seniors from an intersectional and interdisciplinary perspective. The premise of the course highlights the fact that prejudice, stereotyping, and othering based on age (both towards the young, but primarily against the old) are "the last acceptable prejudice" in democratic societies. While there are many international conventions about the rights of children or women, there is little in international law that seeks to protect seniors. Some express frustration at what they perceive as unfairness created through seniority principles, and the disproportionate attention the elderly receive as voters (due to their high levels of participation). Others deplore the invisibility and exclusion seniors face in the labor market and society. The class reflects on the ways in which these dynamics overlap and interact with race and racism, gender discrimination, and exclusion of the poor. It considers the sources of empowerment and disempowerment of senior citizens of different racial backgrounds in the US and around the world, in contemporary politics and in historical perspective. It reflects on how age and aging are perceived in different cultures and in connection with different racial and ethnic identities. One of the case studies examines COVID-19 and the condition/agency of seniors during the pandemic around the world. A central question is: what can and should be done to create cross-generational solidarity in democratic societies that are so divided along age lines?
Limited to 15 students. Priority given to Sophomores. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Paul.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 248 and LLAS 248) The study of Cuba’s politics presents opportunities to address issues of universal concern to social scientists and humanists in general, not just Latin Americanists. When is it rational to be radical? Why has Cuban politics forced so many individuals to adopt extreme positions? What are the causes of radical revolutions? Is pre-revolutionary Cuba a case of too little development, uneven development or too rapid development? What is the role of leaders: Do they make history, are they the product of history, or are they the makers of unintended histories? Was the revolution inevitable? Was it necessary? How are new (radical) states constructed? What is the role of foreign actors, existing political institutions, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and sexuality in this process? How does a small nation manage to become influential in world affairs, even altering the behavior of superpowers? What are the conditions that account for the survival of authoritarianism? To what extent is the revolution capable of self-reform? Is the current intention of state leaders of pursuing closed politics with open economics viable? What are the most effective mechanisms to change the regime? Why does the embargo survive? Why did Cubans (at home and abroad) care about Elián González? Although the readings will be mostly from social scientists, the course also includes selections from primary sources, literary works and films (of Cuban and non-Cuban origin). As with almost everything in politics, there are more than just two sides to the issue of Cuba. One aim of the course is to expose the students to as many different sides as possible.
Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Corrales.2021-22: Not offered
Since Plato and Aristotle, many thinkers have asked what motivates political behavior and influences political judgment. This course explores the assumptions that underlie studies of individual and group political behavior. We will begin by examining the motivations of citizens’ political decisions (i.e., why voters favor one candidate, public policy, or political party) and the actions of leaders (i.e., why they support or stigmatize social groups, express hostility to other nations, advocate particular policies). We will then take a close look at psychological concepts such as framing, selective exposure, motivated reasoning, priming, social identity, and self-interest and ask how they help us to better understand both historical and contemporary political outcomes. We will also explore different methods of collecting data and measuring political and psychological processes. This course will focus primarily on studies of American politics, but whenever possible we will examine comparative case studies.
Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Williams.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as ANTH 259, POSC 259, SOCI 259, and SWAG 259)
We will explore the centrality of gender in the processes, problematics and politics of development through feminist postcolonial and decolonial conceptualizations, with a particular focus on gendered livelihoods and gendered vulnerabilities. Focusing primarily on the global south, the course will draw on empirical examples from Africa, the Middle East, South and South East Asia and Latin America. We will cover the following development areas: a) orientalism and the global "war on terror"; how gendered/sexualized orientalist discourses are deployed to heal wounded national identities and justify military interventions and territorial encroachments; b) anti-colonial nationalism and the rise of femonationalism; how discourses of gender, nation and sexuality are (re)framed for contemporary political agendas; c) structural adjustment programs and femicides; how trade liberalization and feminization of labor generates economies of sexualized violence in border industries; d) politics of population control and reproductive tourism; how bodies of underprivileged women, formerly seen as "waste," and whose reproduction should be "controlled," are transformed into sites of profit generation for the reproductive industry in the global north.
The course will draw on the relevant academic literature as well as a range of other sources including news media, documentaries, feature films, and policy reports.
Fall semester. STINT Fellow Thapar-Björkert.2021-22: Not offered
The Affective Interface explores a range of issues concerning the technologized body—though none more urgent than the political implications surrounding life itself. The course considers the relationship of the mind and body to technology in contemporary culture between 1990 and 2020. We will discuss the profound implications of the merging of genetic code and digital code, consider how our understanding of what an apparatus is has changed, interrogate the influence of social media, delve into work made by artists who collaborate with scientists, and reflect on the ethical and political implications of creating new forms of plant and animal life. Readings may include the voices of artists, writers, scientists, historians, cultural theorists, and philosophers, including Giorgio Agamben, Sarah Ahmed, Jane Bennett, Rosi Braidotti, Patricia Clough, Donna Haraway, Jean Francois-Lyotard, Kim Stanley Robinson, Sandy Stone, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Craig Venter, among others.
Limited to 24 students. Omitted 2022-23. Visiting Lecturer Falk.
2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
What is the European Union? How and why did it start? Where is it headed? Will it become stronger and grow into a full-fledged United States of Europe? Will it become weaker and join the ranks of typical international organizations, following the various crises it has confronted on several dimensions: economic, migration, political - in particular, concerning its impact on sovereignty, democracy, identity, and legitimacy? The EU has evolved from its original ambitions as an economic regional integration project towards a geo-political entity, becoming a multi-level governance structure with its own constitution, currency, court, and form of citizenship, with powerful institutions, increasingly porous internal borders and a common external border. The experiment succeeded to such an extent that countries in other parts of the world have been considering ways to emulate the EU model and adapt it to their region. Some have argued that the EU is sui generis, an unprecedented supranational structure that should be studied as such (some have referred to it as an “unidentified political object”). Others have relied on scholarship on international organizations and comparative federalism to include it on a continuum ranging from international organizations to confederations and federal states. Yet others have turned to the distant past to find equivalents, arguing that the EU resembles a “neo-medieval empire” (Zielonka).
This course tackles the big questions concerning the EU’s past, present, and future, and discusses their ramifications for European and world politics. How far and deep can the EU project expand? Is the EU sufficiently democratic? Does it represent member-states' and citizens' interests effectively? How should it be reformed? Will European integration benefit or suffer after Brexit? Can the EU withstand the pressures of global economic competition and the rise of new economic giants like China? Can it find solutions to the migration crisis without compromising its defining features: porous internal borders and freedom of movement for goods, capital, services, and people on its territory? Will it overcome internal divisions between East and West, between new members and the old core of advanced industrialized democracies? This course introduces students to the concepts, theories, and empirical resources needed to examine European integration and enlargement. We will survey the history and development of the European integration project to understand its institutional framework and relationship with member-states in different policy areas. We will assess the major theories of EU integration in light of current events. We will delve into specific EU policy areas (economic and monetary union, security, migration, external relations, etc.) to understand how the EU shapes the lives of its citizens. We will also study the EU’s relationship with the United States, the United Kingdom, and the rounds of enlargement towards Southern and post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, which have all played an essential role in shaping what the EU is today.
Limited to 25 students. Spring Semester. Assistant Professor Paul.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Russia was among the first nations in the world to face political terrorism when in the 1870s the leftist People's Will group launched the hunt for Tsar Alexander II. The terrorist trend continued into the twentieth century; in 1918, the Socialist Revolutionary Party attempted to assassinate Lenin. Eradicated by Stalin, terrorism resurfaced in the 1990s, when Russia found itself under attack by Chechen separatists. Legitimacy of political terrorism as the last refuge of the oppressed has been actively debated in Russia for more than a century, and the fact that terrorist groups in question ranged from proto-Marxists to the pseudo-Islamic has made Russian discourse on terrorism uncommonly rich. We will be using a variety of primary sources, such as terrorists’ manifestos and memoirs, as well as conceptual critiques of terror, starting with Dostoyevsky’s novel Demons. First, we will wrestle with the definition of “terrorism” as opposed to “terror.” Second, we will explore the place of terrorism in a revolutionary movement and war. Third, we will look at the counter-terrorism measures applied by the Russian government in the past and now. A case study of terrorism in Russia will hopefully help us to answer a number of questions that are highly relevant today.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above)
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Pleshakov.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
(Offered as POSC 307 and SWAG 307) The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the world. From the Arctic to the Amazon, nation-states are putting large territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into ‘quick cash.’ The unparalleled levels of extraction are accompanied by unparalleled violence against women, with levels of femicide on the rise in most of the world. Governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining highlands, damming rivers, and clearing forests without prior consultation. As ecosystems are collapsing, contaminated and set ablaze, nature defenders activate social resistance to defend their territories, lifeways and nature. Many of these defenders are women, who are fighting the commodification of nature as well as their own bodies and work. We analyze the extraction of resources in nature and women as two sides of a coin, positing the fight against the climate crisis and gender equality as complementary processes.
This class offers an activist approach to study political ecology with a gender lens. We analyze the politics of extraction at large: the class discusses water struggles and extractive industries like oil and agribusiness from the Philippines to Peru, Indigenous resistance on the ground and the legal advocacy pushing for the rights of nature framework. We use the work of feminist economists like Silvia Federici and analyze the leadership of women defenders like Berta Caceres to explore the ways in which extraction of nature and bodies are fundamental aspects of capitalist states. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology, gender studies, and indigenous politics to help students identify alternatives for the future. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism in local and global contexts.
Requisite: Political Science majors must have taken two prior courses in POSC. One must be a 200 level or above. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2022-23. Karl Loewenstein Senior Lecturer Picq.2021-22: Not offered
Hegel once remarked that "To read the newspaper is the modern man's morning-prayer." What may be captured in this seemingly obvious observation is a proposition that political understanding of current events is difficult to sustain without daily reading of a newspaper; that reading itself is a dynamic activity, involving interpretation; that all interpretation is, in effect, translation because in any act of reading, the reader inevitably forms a judgment as to what the text is saying. A century and a half later, Paul Sweezy wrote [E]veryone knows that the present will someday be history…[and believes] that the most important task of the social scientist is to try to comprehend it as history now, while it is still the present and while we still have the power to influence its shape and outcome.”
In the spirit of these observations, this seminar has a three-fold aim: (1) to introduce the habit of reading a newspaper daily; (2) to encourage an in-depth reading of current political events in the U.S. and around the world from an interdisciplinary perspective by drawing upon the theoretical and methodological tools which students have encountered in their college courses across many social science disciplines; and (3) to help students recognize the multitude of fascinating researchable social science topics imbedded in an active reading of the daily press. This groundwork will enable class participants to develop and formulate viable research designs, make normative and causal arguments as well as address rival hypotheses in a research paper which will be due at the end of the semester.
The specific newspapers may vary from year to year. In 2017-18 students read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and a newspaper of their choice, selected from a list of newspapers in English from around the world.
Requisite: The seminar is open to qualified second-semester sophomores and juniors who have taken at least six social science courses in college, including two in POSC (one a 200 level or above), and at least four additional courses from at minimum two other social science departments. Participants should seriously anticipate writing a thesis during their senior year.
Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 14 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Machala.2021-22: Not offered
Since Plato and Aristotle, many thinkers have asked what motivates political behavior and influences political judgment. This course explores the assumptions that underlie studies of individual and group political behavior. We will begin by examining the motivations of citizens’ political decisions (i.e., why do voters favor one candidate, public policy, or political party) and the actions of leaders (i.e., why they support or stigmatize social groups, express hostility to other nations, advocate particular policies). We will then take a close look at psychological concepts such as framing, selective exposure, motivated reasoning, priming, social identity, and self-interest and ask how they help us to better understand both historical and contemporary political outcomes. We will also explore different methods of collecting data and measuring political and psychological processes. This course will focus primarily on studies of American politics, but whenever possible we will examine comparative case studies.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above).
Sophomores and above. Not open to first year students. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23. Visiting Assistant Professor Williams.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
This is an introduction to the study of modern Latin American politics. The overriding question is: why have democracy and self-sustained prosperity been so difficult to accomplish in the region We begin by examining different definitions of democracy. Thereafter, we discuss three democracy-related themes in Latin America.
First, we focus on explaining similarities, specifically, common historical and institutional legacies that might have hindered democratic and economic development in the region. The second part of the course focuses on explaining differences. Despite similar historical legacies, the countries of the region developed different political systems after World War II. Some countries became democratic while others did not. We examine hypotheses to explain these differences. The third part of the course examines major democratic and undemocratic trends since the 2000s: current problems of democracy, the return of statism and populism, the difficulty of creating accountability, abuses by majorities and abuses by minorities, re-electionism, extractivism, the rise of religious conservatism and LGBT rights, diasporas, drugs and crime.
Language of instruction: Classes will be conducted in English. Students wishing this course to count for their Spanish major will work mostly with materials in Spanish and write all their assignments in Spanish.
Requisite: For Political Science majors, at least one POSC course (200 level or above). For Spanish majors, Spanish proficiency at advanced low (as per ACTFL standards) is required.
Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Corrales.2021-22: Not offered
In this course we explore historical and contemporary discontents of liberal democracy through the lens of racial and economic injustice in the United States. The constitutional principle of equality on which liberal democracy is based seeks both to protect the rights of minorities and to enable its citizens to realize their full potential. However, persisting racial and economic injustices expose the project’s fragility and raise questions about whether its procedural and structural foundations are sufficient to accomplish these goals. Our exploration is informed by several questions: What is liberal democracy? Is liberal democracy the form in the best position to secure human flourishing? If not, what form or forms are? What do the racial and economic injustices within our democracy tell us about the meaning of “the people” and dissent, core features of liberal democratic thought? To what normative (i.e. ideal or desirable) standards of democracy should we aspire? Through close reading of a diverse group of thinkers including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Claudia Jones, Sheldon Wolin, Saidiya Hartman, Iris Marion Young, Nancy Fraser, Will Clare Roberts, Lawrie Balfour, Toni Morrison, Jason Frank, Cedric Robinson, among others, we will explore liberal democracy’s limitations as well as how it can be reconstructed to more effectively embody its ideals.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Sophomores and above. Not open to first year students.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23. Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor Loggins.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
In the 1990s, the importance of ethical exploration in cultural production was often described as a shift from the representation of politics to the politics of representation. More recently, Canadian cultural theorist and psychoanalyst Jeanne Randolph has explored how we ethically act while participating in a culture of abundance, opulence, and consumerism. This course will explore ethics as a subject in the work of contemporaries across different media and disciplines, and across different cultures. It will consider ethical imagining as a cultural practice—how the imagination is elusive, contingent, yet exceedingly precious, and how it helps us understand changes in human relations that have evolved with twentieth century and twenty-first century materialism. Readings include: Giorgio Agamben, Jane Bennett, Jane Blocker, Octavia Butler, Ann Cvetkovich, Jean-François Lyotard, Kevin Quashie, and Jeanne Randolph.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above)
Limited to 24 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Falk.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 363 and HIST 363 [US/TE]) The goal in this course is to examine the geopolitics which lies at the intersection of international relations and foreign policy. But what is geopolitics and why is it as often berated as it is embraced by American politicians and policy elites alike? Over the past two centuries, what part has geopolitics played in the currents of world politics and in the conduct of American foreign policy? What role has geopolitics played in the post-Cold War era, after the demise of the Soviet Union and the ostensible triumph of liberal capitalism? Using the methods of diplomatic history and political science, this course will explore critical moments and themes in American foreign policy. Our overall aim is to better understand today’s position of the United States in world politics as well as present domestic controversies over the character of America’s global role. This is also a period which has been characterized by growing tension between two sets of political power dynamics: one is dominated by a territorial logic of power that has as its basis the direct control of specific territory, people and resources; the other is dominated by a more diffuse logic of power that derives from the command of “de-territorialized” global political, economic, technological and cultural forces which emanate from states as well as stateless groups with a global and transnational reach. In an attempt to better understand world politics in the age of America’s preponderance, the course will ultimately examine how American presidents have understood and navigated between these two sets of political power dynamics in articulating and conducting foreign policy, and how the American public and elites have facilitated or complicated this task.
Requisite: Two or more classes in the social sciences. At least one must be a POSC course (200 level or above) Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Machala and Professor Emeritus G. Levin.2021-22: Not offered
This course provides an overview of the distinctive politics of the eleven-state South from the previous century to the modern day. We will examine both regional similarities and inter-state differences and analyze the major factors that have contributed to the region's changing politics. The rise of the Republican Party, the erosion of the region’s previous Democratic Party dominance, and the political mobilization of African Americans will be topics of particular interest. We will also study the personalities and events that shaped the political decisions in individual states and the influence that the South has had in national politics.
Requisite: At least one 200 level Political Science course. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Williams.2021-22: Not offered
This course will explore issues related to public opinion, including what opinions are and how they are formed, what factors do and do not influence opinion development and change, how opinions drive citizens’ political thinking and behaviour, and the role of public opinion in democratic government. We will examine philosophical perspectives, contemporary case studies, and a broad set of empirical research. Students will leave the course with a thorough theoretical understanding of political opinions, their origins, and their possible effects.
Requisite: at least one 200-level Political Science course. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Williams.2021-22: Not offered
This seminar examines how the digital age (the third industrial revolution) has transformed politics around the world, in democratic and non-democratic contexts. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) change how people, states, and non-state actors interact. Technology creates new access points and vulnerabilities, new windows of opportunity and new politically salient actors, new political behaviors and types of participation. The course includes four modules: e-democracy (online social capital, digital citizenship, hashtag movements, online electoral campaigns, election hacking and "fake news," participation, information/disinformation strategies - e.g. the use of troll farms and bot armies to undermine democratic processes and trust in open societies); cyber security (cyberwar, cyberattacks, defense, terrorism, surveillance, privacy); online revolutions and authoritarian resilience (regime change, democracy promotion, censorship, ); and beyond borders (social movements and hacktivism, crypto currencies, global markets and tech giants, etc.).
The course asks four big questions:
1. How does digital technology transform democracy and democratic politics?
2. How does the Digital Age influence national and international security?
3. Do ICTs undermine or strengthen nondemocratic regimes?
4. What political, economic and social changes occur at the subnational and supranational level as a result of new technologies?
We use current issues and cases (e.g. disinformation campaigns/fake news ops, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo/#NiUnaMenos, the Arab Spring, online radicalization, the Snowden revelations, net neutrality, Internet centralization & decentralization, Anonymous ops, Internet censorship and surveillance in China, Stuxnet, ransomware cyberattacks, Amazon as a business model, AI, virtual reality etc.) to analyze how cyberspace reshapes politics, societies, markets, communities, as well as political science as a discipline. You will gain a rigorous and sophisticated understanding of the relationship between technology and politics, and its various facets. The course will teach you how to develop expertise and design a research project on a topic of your choice: you will learn how to turn a general interest into a research question; how to read, summarize, and engage with relevant scholarship on the subject; and how to move from reading what others have to say about your topic of interest towards producing new knowledge of the kind that forms the basis for an original research paper or honors thesis. For students potentially interested in working towards a senior thesis, this seminar provides a much-needed analytical and methodological foundation.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above)
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23. Assistant Professor Paul.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
(Offered as POSC 374, LJST 374, and EDST 374) This seminar explores the role of rights in addressing inequality, discrimination, and violence. This course will trace the evolution of rights focused legal strategies aimed at addressing injustice coupled with race, gender, disability, and citizenship status. We will evaluate how rights-based activism often creates a gap between expectation and realization. This evaluation will consider when and how rights are most efficacious in producing social change and the possibility of unintended consequences.
This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.
Requisite: Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
This course will examine the foreign policy of the Russian Federation of the past twenty years. As a successor state Russia has inherited both the Soviet Union's clout (nuclear arms, a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council) and Soviet debts—monetary, psychological, and historical. What are the conceptual foundations of Russian diplomacy? Can we deconstruct Russian nationalism so as to examine its different trends and their impact on foreign policy? Do Russian exports of oil and gas define Russian diplomacy, as it is often claimed? Is there any pattern in the struggle over resources and their export routes in continental Eurasia?
Requisite: A previous POSC course. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Pleshakov.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. The past decade has witnessed the dramatic rise of populist parties, movements, and leaders. One of the populists' defining attributes, and a key reason for their success, is their affective character. Rather than laying out policy proposals for rational deliberation and critical consent, they touch and excite people in an intimate way through their oratory and bodily comportment. Gender and sexuality play a key role in these visceral appeals. We will explore the ways populists enact hegemonic forms of masculinity and femininity and employ binary constructions of gender to differentiate allies from enemies.
Although we sometimes mistakenly assume that populist leaders draw on a common script, populist performances are most effective when they mine national memories, anxieties, and aspirations. We will analyze significant differences in the gendered styles of male and female populist leaders within and across nations. We will also examine how progressive movements among LGBTQ groups, feminists, and racial/religious minorities have employed gender and sexuality to challenge right-wing populists. Our approach will be comparative, cross-national, and interdisciplinary. The seminar will culminate in a final research paper.
Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Basu.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
The senior honors seminar is designed for students who are writing theses in the Political Science department. We will begin by refining students’ thesis proposals to ensure that they are asking clear, researchable questions, defining the scope of their projects, and demonstrating the significance of their topics. We will then work on literature reviews, research strategies, and devising appropriate methodologies. Students will do several short writing assignments pertaining to their theses over the course of the semester. The final project will entail oral presentations and one to two draft thesis chapters. Students who enroll in this seminar will also work separately with their thesis advisors.
Limted to 25 students. Requsite: Open only to students who have been accepted into the Political Science honors program. Fall semester. Professor Basu.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.
This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above)
This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.
Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Senior Lecturer Picq.2021-22: Not offered
This course will explore how autism as both a medical diagnosis and a social category has gained significance over the past forty years. The course will situate the study of autism in the broader framework of the disability rights movement. We will consider the evidence for its characterization as an “epidemic” and how medical experts, parents, and autistic individuals have challenged and collaborated with each other. The study of autism will also be viewed in relation to wide-ranging political concerns, including vaccination and public health, economic costs of care, gender identities, and the growth of bio-medical power.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Bumiller.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Should Marx be given yet another chance? Is there anything left to gain by returning to texts whose earnest exegesis has occupied countless interpreters, both friendly and hostile, for generations? Has Marx’s credibility survived the global debacle of those regimes and movements which drew inspiration from his work, however poorly they understood it? Or, conversely, have we entered a new era in which post-Marxism has joined a host of other “post-”phenomena? This seminar will deal with these and related questions in the context of a close and critical reading of Marx’s texts. The main themes we will discuss include Marx’s conception of capitalist modernity, material and intellectual production, power, class conflicts and social consciousness, and his critique of alienation, bourgeois freedom and representative democracy. We will also examine Marx’s theories of historical progress, capitalist exploitation, globalization and human emancipation.
Requisite: Two of POSC 213, 413 and 480. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Machala.2021-22: Not offered
Nature and the natural world have always been front and center in international relations. They have been a curse, an ally, a rival and, at times, collateral damage as nations have competed to control natural resources. This class will explore how nature has shaped interactions between states and individuals across borders, and how it has been shaped by them. The first part of the class will consider nature’s role during peace time and ask when states compete over natural resources. When do states instead cooperate to share resources? In the second part of the class, we will focus on the degree to which disputes over the natural world escalate into wars. When do actors choose to damage the natural environment through scorched earth techniques? How does international law deal with these acts? As a culminating activity, students will be asked to do original research projects and also work in teams. This class will include lectures and a discussion. It is open to majors and non-major and it fulfills requirements 2 and 4 of the IR 5 College Certificate.
Requisite: One or more classes in the social sciences. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Mattiacci.2021-22: Not offered
Indigenous peoples are dynamic political actors in national and global contexts. They have secured their rights in international law, first through Convention 169 at the International Labour Organization (1989), then with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). They have created innovative political forums and organized global social movements. Global indigenous politics are forging major changes in the international system, thereby disordering conventional understandings of sovereignty.
This course locates indigeneity at the core of international relations and examines indigenous politics from the Andes to the UN. We study international law securing rights for indigenous peoples and analyze indigenous experiences such as the Arctic Council and the election of Bolivian President Evo Morales. The course also explores the epistemological implications of indigenous rights for our understanding of politics. The consolidation of plurinational states in the Andes and indigenous parliaments in the Arctic change the locus of the political, and principles of self-determination challenge Westphalian notions of sovereignty to redefine territoriality.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above)
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.2021-22: Not offered
This class will explore mechanisms such as conflict spirals and generalized reciprocity that lie at the heart of key phenomena in international politics like arms races, reconciliations, trade deals, rivalries, diplomatic exchanges, and international apologies. Mechanisms help us understand how phenomena like these come about by shedding light on exactly how certain conditions catalyze them. For example, studying the impact of international organizations on world peace means investigating how institutions can disincentivize countries from fighting by monitoring and promoting the exchange of goods that do not involve immediate, direct repayment. It means, in other words, investigating a mechanism called “generalized reciprocity.” Studying why arms races start instead means investigating how the acquisition of weapons from one country can push others to also amass more weapons by stoking fears of being militarily inferior, a mechanism we call a “spiral.” Leveraging cutting-edge research and classic texts on mechanisms from multiple disciplines, this class aims at a deeper understanding of how these phenomena in international politics emerge, and whether understanding mechanisms can make a difference when it comes to what we learn about the world around us.
Requisite: Two or more classes in the social sciences. One must be a POSC 200 level or above Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Mattiacci.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 431 and ASLC 431) Do crises demand different approaches to governing? This course will examine how different regimes respond to crises and the implications for good governance and human rights. The course will utilize China's response to the Covid-19 pandemic as a central case study. We will study how Chinese politics shaped the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will also compare China's pandemic politics with other East Asian states, the US, and other cases as appropriate. Finally, we will use the case of the pandemic to examine how states might effectively respond to future crises, such as climate change. Students will write about, discuss, and present on topics related to these questions.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Recommended previous experience or coursework related to China is strongly preferred. Previous coursework in the social sciences will be an asset.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Associate Professor Ratigan.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 432 and LLAS 332) This class proposes Amazonia as a site to think about world politics. The Amazon, imagined as a place of nature rather than modernity, is invisible in the study of International Relations (IR). Yet, its experiences are deeply interconnected with international dynamics. The modern world has long been influencing Amazonia, and Amazonia has in turn contributed much to forging what we now refer to as the global North. This class identifies international dynamics at play in Amazonia through different historical moments, from shaping western sovereignty in the sixteenth century to the rubber boom of the twentieth century and drug trafficking today. We show how Amazonian peripheries have contributed to forging the political economy of what we refer to as the core of world politics. This class engages with empirical approaches to Amazonia as well as theoretical debates about IR, disrupting the global division of labor in knowledge production and opening fertile grounds to think critically about IR.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 or above). Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2022-23. Karl Loewenstein Senior Lecturer Picq.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
What are the origins of human civilization? What causes political, economic or categorical inequality? What explains the rise of the West or the collapse of complex political orders? Where do states, empires, cultures, religions, organizations, and markets come from? How do technologies, catastrophes, geography, demography, and ideas shape social change? Taking its cues from the recent rebirth in scholarly interest in these issues, this research seminar will investigate the very biggest questions confronting empirical social science. It will introduce students to this literature and provide them with an opportunity to engage in debates across fields and disciplines. Class readings will be drawn from a range of important historical and contemporary works covering eclectic historical eras, geographic contexts, and topics. We will identify the assumptions informing accounts offered by different scholars and will interrogate how the framing of big questions entangle us in new and sometimes controversial ways of thinking about human biology, social structure and agency. Students will also reflect in an original research paper on how - and, indeed, whether - such big questions can be answered.
Requisite: One political science course. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Associate Professor Obert.2021-22: Not offered
This course will examine the theory and practice of Grand Strategy in a historical and contemporary context, from a variety of analytical perspectives, integrating academic disciplines, including history, economics, political science, international relations, and security studies, with elements from the profession of arms. This methodology will expose students to a rich tapestry of challenges facing senior political and military leaders and help students understand the complex relationship between national resources, military objectives, and national security policy. The strategists and their strategies we consider will range over some two and a half millennia, illustrating the continuity and change in the practice of strategy, as well as the kind of challenges and opportunities that endure for all nations and their leaders. Students will grapple with the complex interrelationship between policy, strategy, and grand strategy spanning the peace-war continuum. At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to evaluate strategic arguments and create alternative courses of strategic action. Students will also be able to apply basic strategic principles drawn from theorists, real world practitioners, and the lessons drawn from historical case studies.
Requisite: At least one prior course in political science required. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Chamberlain Fellow Smitson.2021-22: Not offered
This course will examine the intersection of democratic performance and government institutional resiliency in fragile, weak, and failed nation-states, and international actor engagement in "fixing" failed states. This course tackles the question of how to design policies and programs to rebuild failed and weak states into functioning, if not vibrant, democracies. From the collapse of the Afghan national government in 2021, the "compound security" challenge of Venezuela, persistent instability in portions of the Middle East and Africa and Latin America, and the use of weak and failing states as "contested locations" for great power influence, the study of failed states and the policy approaches designed to address them are as timely as they are relevant. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stress the stability and governing capacity of nation-states, all set against the backdrop of weakening support for democratic norms and institutions globally. We will examine the causes of nation-state failure, the trajectories or pathways to and from failure, and the ingredients purported to contribute to the consolidation of democracy, as well as societal resilience. In addition, we will critically assess the policies and programs of international actors intent upon aiding the transition to democracy, such as the United States.
Requisite: At least one Political Science course. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Chamberlain Fellow Smitson2021-22: Not offered
What is unique about European democracy? In what ways has Europe shaped the meaning of democratic politics, and our expectations about the relationship between state, society, and the market in a democratic polity? Is there anything the United States can learn from European experiences with democratic politics? This seminar examines the dimensions of European democracy, at the national and at the supranational (European Union) level. It tracks the evolution of democracy from its beginnings until the present. We will discuss visions and varieties of democracy, past and present, the different timelines for democratic development, transitions to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe following the end of the Cold War, and the impact of European integration. We will compare and contrast consolidated and fledgling democracies on the continent, and discuss similarities and differences between European and American understandings of democracy. We will analyze the relationship between majority rule and minority rights, the frictions between representation and direct participation, the relationship between democracy and nationalism, the tensions between European integration and democratization, the uneasy coexistence of democracy and capitalism, as well as the decisions facing those writing constitutions for countries transitioning to democracy after years of authoritarian rule. We will analyze current events and challenges testing the resilience of European democracies, old and new.
Requisite: At least one other Political Science course. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Paul.2021-22: Not offered
Periodically, both individual societies as well as the larger world in which they are situated face complex, profound and alarming uncertainties and crises. The opening paragraph of the Communist Manifesto emphasizes that in such uncertain times, social conflicts would often end “either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” Antonio Gramsci reminds us that in such times, “[T]he crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Today we may well be witnessing one such disconsolate period. In this seminar we will study the ways various twentieth-century as well as current Marxist thinkers (Theodor W. Adorno, Louis Althusser, Antonio Negri, Cornel West, Angela Davis, Nancy Fraser, John Bellamy Foster, and Slavoj Žižek, to name just a few) approach this complicated subject.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above)
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Machala.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
We live in an era of mobility: movement of goods, services, capital, ideas, culture, and–most importantly–people. International migrations reshape politics, markets, and societies. They generate challenges and opportunities for individuals, families, communities, businesses, political parties, governments, and international organizations. Many current political debates revolve around questions concerning transnational movement: How can states manage migratory flows, both effectively and ethically? Do international migratory flows erode sovereignty? Do they generate democratic deficit? Does migration boost economic growth, becoming a bottom-up engine of contemporary modernization that helps rural communities and developing countries? Or, on the contrary, does migration perpetuate and exacerbate domestic and global inequalities? Does it deplete human capital or does it facilitate knowledge transmission? Does diaspora participation strengthen or weaken democracy? Does transnationalism amplify or moderate nationalist tendencies?
This course examines migrations around the world, in both sending and receiving countries. We will study the impact of migration on citizenship, identity, state sovereignty, security, democracy, development, elections, and social capital. The course explores the theories and realities of international migration in this globalization era. Readings cover cases from North America, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. We will compare trends to gain a full picture of human mobility, present and past. We will examine migration across space (cross-nationally) and over time, in historical perspective. The course follows the two key dimensions of migration research. We ask two sets of questions: Why do people move? and How do migrations shape the world in which we live? We examine how democracies and authoritarian regimes deal with different types of migration: e.g. voluntary and involuntary, documented and undocumented/irregular flows. The course will help you design, develop and conduct political science research.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2022-23. Assistant Professor Paul.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
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.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above).
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Dumm.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
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.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above).
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Corrales.2021-22: Not offered
Independent reading course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
One full course. This course is open only to seniors majors who have been accepted in the Political Science Honors program and have departmental approval.
Fall semester. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021