Courses

Core Courses

  • GBST 101(F) LEC Religion, Politics, and Society: A Global Perspective

    In spite of predictions that religion would wither away in the face of modernization, even casual observation indicates that it remains a powerful force in contemporary political life. Our goal is to obtain an enhanced understanding and appreciation of the salience of religion in public life. The course will be divided into three parts. The first part focuses on different theoretical approaches to making sense of the relation between religion, politics, and society, discussing especially the concept of the 'secular' in Western thought and decolonial critique thereof. The second part will take a global perspective on the relation between religion and politics. We will discuss cases of Buddhism, Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam (Sunni and Shi'a), and Judaism. The third part focuses on religion in the USA. Here, we will discuss the role of religion in American political culture, the relation of religion to the state, the relevance of religious interests and their political mobilization, religious minorities in the United States, and many other aspects of religion in the US society. Although the study of religion and politics raises a host of deep philosophical questions, the principal aim of the course is to understand how religion affects politics (and vice versa), rather than to explore the normative dimensions of questions raised by the interaction of these two forces. [ more ]

    GBST 102 LEC The Modern Middle East

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This survey course addresses the main economic, religious, political and cultural trends in the modern Middle East. Topics to be covered include the cultural diversity of the Middle East, relations with Great Powers, the impact of imperialism, the challenge of modernity, the creation of nation states and nationalist ideologies, the discovery of oil, radical religious groups, and war and peace. Throughout the course these significant changes will be evaluated in light of their impact on the lives of a variety of individuals in the region and especially how they have grappled differently with increasing Western political and economic domination. [ more ]

    GBST 103 LEC America and the World

    Last offered Spring 2021

    This course will help students understand the US role in the world. US wealth and military power force its leaders to make choices that no other leaders in the world confront. Students will learn to evaluate the decisions that US leaders have made on a wide range of difficult foreign policy issues, including: rising Chinese power; Russian moves in Ukraine; nuclear proliferation to Iran; terrorist threats; humanitarian disasters in Syria and Libya; and long-term challenges like climate change. We will not only describe American involvement in various international issues but also seek to understand the reasons why the US perhaps should or should not be involved, and we will see why such careful reasoning only sometimes gains traction in actual US foreign policy debates. Finally, we will assess whether US foreign policy decisions are coherent - that is, whether the US can be said to follow a "grand strategy." By the end of the course, students will develop their ability to think about foreign policy issues, improving their ability to participate in public life as engaged citizens. [ more ]

    GBST 104(S) SEM Race and a Global War: Africa during World War II

    This course highlights African experiences of World War II. Although most histories have excluded Africa's role in the war, the continent and its people were at the center of major developments during in this global conflict. In fact, many Africans remember the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 as the start of the war. African servicemen fought alongside the Allied and Axis forces on major warfronts in Europe, Africa and Asia. African communities and individuals also established war charity campaigns to collect funds, which they sent to war ravaged societies in Europe. Indeed, African economies, despite their colonial statuses, kept European imperial nations afloat in their most hour of need. At the same time, African colonial subjects faced severe food shortages, the loss of working-age men to labor and military recruiters, and dramatically increased taxes. We will examine the impact of these and other wartime pressures on different African communities. How did African societies meet such challenges and how did they view the war? In this course we will examine the roles that women played during the war, and the various other ways that African communities met wartime demands. Other topics we will explore include the role of African women; colonial propaganda; political protest against the war; race and racial thought in the wartime era; war crimes; African American support for the liberation of Ethiopia; and the war's impact on decolonization across the continent. We will further study how Africans and outsiders have differently conceptualized the continent's role in the war by analyzing a variety of sources, including scholarly writings, archival materials, films, former soldiers' biographies, and propaganda posters. [ more ]

    GBST 116(F) SEM The Art of Playing: An Introduction to Theatre and Performance

    This is an introduction to the global art and practice of making theatre. Students will learn about the history, aesthetics, and approaches to the performer's labor associated with select performance forms from around the world. Emphasis will be on the analysis of embodied practices and the relationship between the stage and everyday life. Through readings, audiovisual materials, performance exercises, and discussions we will engage with theatre as a constantly evolving art form, sharpening our analytical skills through theoretical approaches from performance studies. Central to our exploration will be excavating the Eurocentric assumptions that conventionally shape the practice and study of theater in the United States. We will seek ways to decolonize our perspectives and ask critical questions about performance's potential to enact strategies of anti-racism and anti-imperialism. This course, open to all students, is a gateway to the major in Theatre, and is a prerequisite for THEA 201, THEA 204, THEA 301, and THEA 401. [ more ]

    GBST 117(F) SEM Bombay/Mumbai: Making of a Modern Metropolis

    Bombay or Mumbai is India's foremost urban center and is well known today as a truly global city. It is the heart of India's commercial life comparable in vibrancy and multiculturalism with the world's emerging cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo. What are the historical elements that contributed to the making of India's most modern and global metropolis? What are the antecedents of the modernity, the vibrant culture, dark underbelly and economic diversity that characterize Bombay today? What does the history of Bombay tell us about modernity in India and the emerging countries of the third world in general? This seminar will help students to answer these questions through historical materials on Bombay as well a wide range of multimedia sources including cinema, photography and literature. With a focus on the 19th and 20th centuries, we will explore themes like the commercial culture of a colonial port city, the modern public sphere, theatre and film, labor migration, public health and prostitution to understand what went into the making of this modern metropolis. The primary objective of this course is to introduce students to a wide range of historical sources and ways of interpreting them. The other objective is facilitating their understanding of the history of colonial and modern India through the history of its most important city. [ more ]

    GBST 133(S) SEM Plantation and the Plot: the Poetics of Caribbean Economic Thought and Struggle

    This introductory course to Caribbean Economic Thought contextualizes the poetics of economic ideas, struggle and knowledge alongside popular literary works connected to contemporary challenges of Caribbean Economic Development. Using the 'plantation' and the 'plot' as sites of continuing exploitation and struggle, this course delves into Caribbean postcolonial development thinking. We will explore the present-day relevance of these sites to racial justice and environmental crises and their historical roots in colonial surplus extraction. By examining literary and economic writings of Caribbeanists and Caribbean connected contributors side by side, we seek to uncover these links to how the Caribbean economy, its seascape and society are framed, conceptualized and traversed as transplanted spaces, economic zones, and extractive geographies today. Unorthodox perspectives on economic and social thought that emerged to explain the region's integral role in merchant and industrial capitalism, New World social formations and contemporary globalization will also be discussed. We will closely analyze critical texts of contributors to the New World Group that centers the Caribbean within global economic transformations. Some events this course covers are indigenous genocide, labor regimes, agrarian change, structural adjustment, economic and ecological crises, postcolonial debt, technology, current fragmentation of global neoliberalism. These events will help shape an appreciation for the material and socio-cultural understandings of economic phenomena starting from the plantation to the plot within cultural and literary works in pluralistic, productive, and powerful ways. [ more ]

    GBST 162(S) SEM Languages of East Asia

    A survey of the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages in their linguistic and cultural context. Working with various types of multimedia including audio, video, animation, and texts, we'll take up the phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon of these three major East Asian languages, including also their history and writing systems as well as how they function in the societies where they are spoken. Though the emphasis of the course is on linguistic description and analysis, there will also be an applied component, as part of which we'll learn several dozen common expressions in each language. Some of the questions to be discussed are: What are the similarities and differences among these three languages? How are and how aren't they related? How did the modern standard form of each develop and what is its relationship to any non-standard languages or dialects? How do these three languages reflect sociolinguistic phenomena such as gender, class, and politeness? How do the writing systems of these languages function and what is the role of Chinese characters in them? What has been the influence of Classical Chinese on Modern Chinese, Japanese, and Korean? How have these languages changed due to influence from English and other languages? And what are the prospects for their future development, including the influence of computers and digital communications? While this course is not intended as a comprehensive introduction to linguistics, it does introduce many basic terms and concepts from that discipline. [ more ]

    GBST 203(F) LEC Colonial Rule and Its Aftermaths in Africa

    This course focuses on the history of Africa during the colonial and post-colonial periods, especially focusing on the period between 1885 and 2000. The first part of the course will explore the imposition of colonial rule and its attendant impacts on African societies. During this section, we will especially examine how Africans responded to colonialism, including the various resistance movements that arose at different moments to contest colonial rule. We will also explore the various transformations wrought by colonialism. The second part of the course will explore the African struggle to decolonize their societies and to fashion viable political systems. In addition to historical texts, the course will make use of cultural materials such as novels and films. [ more ]

    GBST 204(S) SEM To See the Past: Russian and Soviet Cinema on History

    This course surveys Soviet and Russian cultural history of the 20th- and 21st-centuries through the history of the cinematic medium. We will watch and analyze key films of this period--films by Eisenstein, Vertov, Tarkovsky, Muratova, Balabanov, Zviagintsev, and Fedorchenko among others--from a double perspective. On the one hand, we will study the cultural and historical contexts of the Soviet Union and Russia; on the other hand, we will learn the formal and stylistic aspects of the cinematic medium as it developed historically (from silent, to sound, to color, to digital etc.). From this double perspective, we will try to answer a larger question that underlies this course: What kind of historical thinking can we learn through cinema as a medium? In other words, we will take cinema neither simply as a direct reflection of state ideology nor as pure aesthetic form or entertainment for the masses. Rather, we will approach the films of this period as audio-visual texts that are rich in historical content and require our informed and attentive interpretation. [ more ]

    GBST 207 LEC Vienna 1900-2000 and Beyond

    Last offered Spring 2013

    Once the center of a vast empire, Austria has tended to be overlooked since the demise of that empire. In fact, though, its trajectory can usefully serve as a guide to the complex developments in Europe before, during, and after the Second World War. Contemporary Austria is indeed a laboratory of post-Cold War Europe: Its population is remarkably multicultural, in spite of resistances; its language is rich and dynamic, yet increasingly dominated by its more powerful neighbor to the north; its political attitudes encompass extreme nationalism, pan-Europeanism, and much in between. Austria's capital, Vienna, will form the lens through which we examine the origins and quirks of this fascinating, sometimes paradoxical, culture. The course will employ a variety of written, video, audio, and cyber-materials to explore some of the issues facing contemporary Austria, and to continue the development of advanced reading, writing, and speaking skills begun in German 201. Conducted in German. [ more ]

    GBST 208(F) SEM The U.S. and Afghanistan: A Post-Mortem

    The United States attacked and defeated the Afghan Taliban regime over in the course of a few short weeks in 2001. Within a few years, the finality of that victory was brought into question as the Taliban regrouped and eventually reasserted itself as a formidable guerilla army that the U.S. military could not easily defeat. At the same time that it was facing a more difficult military challenge than anticipated, the United States got bogged down in the process of nation-building, as well as efforts at social reform. This course examines the history of American involvement in Afghanistan, beginning with the Cold War when the U.S. used Afghanistan as a test case for new models of political modernization and economic development. We will go on to discuss the U.S. support for Islamist political parties during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and the consequent rise of the Taliban, and the role of Afghanistan in the September 11th attacks and the "War on Terror" that followed. The course will conclude with a consideration of the impact and legacy of the two decades of nation-building and social reform carried out by the United States since 9/11. [ more ]

    GBST 210 LEC The Challenge of ISIS

    Last offered Spring 2017

    What is ISIS and what does it want? Using historical and anthropological sources and perspectives, the course considers the origins, ideology and organization of the Islamic State. Beginning with an examination of early radical movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Afghan mujahidin and Taliban, and al-Qaeda, the course will go on to investigate how ISIS derives important aspects of its ideology and organization from these earlier movements and how it deviates from them. We will look at unique aspects of the movement, such as its use of social media, its extensive destruction of ancient historical sites, its staging of spectacles of violence, and its recruitment of Muslims from Europe and North America. We will also examine the ideological constitution of the movement, including its attitude toward and treatment of non-Muslims, its conceptualization of itself as a modern incarnation of the original Islamic caliphate, the ways in which it justifies its use of violence, and its apocalyptic vision of the present-day as End Time. Finally, we will evaluate current responses to ISIS, in the West and among Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere, in terms of their effectiveness and strategic coherence. [ more ]

    GBST 212 LEC Foundations of China

    Last offered Fall 2021

    This course examines the foundational period of Chinese civilization, from the earliest evidence of human activity in the geographical region we now call China, through the end of the Han dynasty in the early third-century CE. This is the period that saw the creation and spread of the Chinese script (a writing system that would be the dominant one in East Asia for thousands of years), the teachings of Confucius (whose ideas continue to play a role in the lives of billions of people today), the construction of the Great Wall (which is not, as it turns out, visible from space), and the creation of the imperial bureaucratic system (that was, in essence, the progenitor of the modern bureaucratic state). We will proceed chronologically but focus on a set of thematic topics, including language and writing, religion and philosophy, art and architecture, politics and economics, and science and technology. While this course is entitled "Foundations of China," we will take a critical perspective on narratives, both Chinese and Western, that see Chinese history as an unbroken history of a single "civilization." [ more ]

    GBST 213 SEM Why do Pussies Riot and What is "Homosexual" Propaganda? Gender and Sexuality in Putin's Russia

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Since Vladimir Putin's rise to power, the media has highlighted events in Russia that at first glance resemble oddly sexualized jokes. At the same time that the Kremlin has reinstated authoritarian policy reminiscent of the Soviet Union, the Western press has chronicled Putin's topless vacations in Siberia, protests by the feminist collectives Pussy Riot and Femen, a 2011 ban on women's lacy underwear, federal legislation from 2013 prohibiting "homosexual" propaganda, and a 2017 court decision that outlawed a meme of Putin as a "gay clown." This course examines the Putin regime's ongoing attempts to police gender expression and private sexual behavior, as well as how Russian citizens' performance of gender and sexuality has changed in the past twenty years. We will consider gender and sexuality as distinctive features of Putinism, which have contributed to a biopolitical turn in official policy and inspired resistance and protest among Russian feminists and queers.All readings will be in English, and all films with have English subtitles. [ more ]

    GBST 214 SEM Asian/American Identities in Motion

    Last offered Spring 2021

    The course aims to explore dance and movement-based performances as mediums through which identities in Asian and Asian-American (including South-Asian) communities are cultivated, expressed, and contested. It will orient students towards "reading" and analyzing live and mediated performances within historical, social, and political frameworks. Students will explore how socio-historical contexts influence the processes through which dance performances are invested with particular sets of meanings, and how artists use performance to reinforce or resist stereotypical representations. Core readings will be drawn from Dance, Performance, Asian, and Asian American Studies, and will engage with issues such as nation formation, race and ethnicity, appropriation, tradition and innovation among other topics. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course, and might also include film screenings, discussion with guest artists and scholars, and opportunities for creative projects. No previous dance experience is required. [ more ]

    GBST 215 SEM Performance Ethnography

    Last offered Fall 2019

    The course aims to explore the theory, practice, and ethics of ethnographic research with a focus on dance, movement, and performance. Traditionally considered to be a method of research in anthropology, ethnography is the descriptive and analytical study of a particular community through fieldwork, where the researcher immerses herself in the culture of the people that she researches. In this course students will be introduced to (i) critical theory that grounds ethnography as a research methodology, (ii) readings in ethnographic studies of dance and performance practices from different parts of the world, and (iii) field research in the local community for their own ethnographic projects. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course and may include fieldwork, attendance at live performances, film screenings, workshop with guest artists etc. No previous dance or performance experience is assumed or required. [ more ]

    GBST 216 TUT Urbanism in the Ancient World

    Last offered Spring 2018

    This is a course on cities in the ancient world, which will examine four major ancient urban centers (Nineveh and Nimrud, Iraq; Teotihuacan, Mexico; and Angkor, Cambodia) and end with a sustained, in-depth exploration of urbanism in prehispanic Maya civilization. As more and more people move into cities across the world, human societies are becoming forever transformed. This transformation into an urban globalized world has ancient roots at the beginning of the first civilizations in Euroasia and the Americas. We will delve into the nature of the urban transformation by first exploring sociological and anthropological definitions of urbanism, and recent studies of modern urbanism. We will look at Nineveh, Nimrud, Teotihuacan, and Angkor to consider how ancient urbanism was distinct from modern cities, while at the same time, ancient urbanites had to deal with similar issues as residents of modern cities. We will then examine in more depth the cities of prehispanic Maya civilization, answering such questions as: how different were Maya cities from other premodern ones? Is there one type of Maya city or many? How different was life in Maya cities from life in Maya villages? What were the power structures of Maya cities? How common were immigrants and slaves in these ancient cities? [ more ]

    GBST 217 SEM Viral Inequality: Power and Difference in Pandemics

    Last offered Fall 2020

    From contested data to controversial containment strategies, the shape and course of pandemics are influenced at every level by the question: Who matters? Whose lives are prioritized and protected? Whose expertise is made actionable, and why? Focusing on the uneven distribution of risk and care during pandemics, this course explores how global health emergencies are not states of exception, but rather events that lay bare the priorities and interests of their host societies. Our investigation into pandemics--including Black Death, cholera, "Spanish" flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola and novel coronaviruses--will provide a critical entry point into understanding the social, political, and economic processes that shape health interventions and outcomes, and their divergences along lines of social difference. We will ground our discussion and analysis using key concepts in Science & Technology Studies, while drawing from critical medical anthropology, disability studies, theories of capitalism and disaster studies to enrich our conversation. [ more ]

    Taught by: Shoan Yin Cheung

    Catalog details

    GBST 218(S) SEM Capital and Coercion

    Capital, tradable ownership shares in long-lived corporations, invented in the 17th century, has connected people of different races, religions, and geographies. There are huge profits from such economic interactions, but also risks: of being cheated, deceived, or coerced. This course uses insights from the economics of incentives (principal-agent models, contracts, mechanism design) to investigate the interplay between capital, coercion, and resistance. The role of prejudice and distrust will be central, as will the rise of middlemen as enforcers of coercion. Case studies span the 17th century to the 20th and include: the spice trade and conflict in the Indian Ocean, capital markets and fraud in Amsterdam and London, the transatlantic trade in enslaved people and the Haitian Revolution, the Dutch "cultivation system" in Java, colonial control and independence in Kenya, and the U.S.-backed dictatorial regime and its overthrow in Nicaragua. Required readings for this class will be seventy or more pages per week, and will include historical case studies, excerpts from novels, and reportage. [ more ]

    GBST 219(S) SEM Indigeneity Today: Comparative Indigenous Identities in the US and Russia

    Indigenous movements for land, rights, and cultural preservation have spread to and originated in all corners of the world. However, the global nature of these movements at times obscures ways of being Indigenous in differing contexts. This course analyzes Indigeneity in both the United States and Russia today. Through reading and analyzing ethnography, theory, and literature, it focuses on Indigenous peoples in a comparative context. Rather than prioritizing concern with Indigenous peoples emerging from the US, it attempts to demonstrate what Indigeneity has been in both the United States and Russia and what it is and means today. It asks the following questions: what is Indigeneity and who is Indigenous; how is Indigenous identity constructed and by whom; and what convergences and divergences exist in Indigeneity between the US and Russia or for that matter in other contexts? To help answer these questions, in this course we will grapples with Indigeneity as a social category and other social formations, especially ethnicity, nationality, and race. Topics include: Indigeneity and the State, Revitalization and Resurgence, Indigenous People and Nature Protection, and Hemispheric and Global Indigeneities. [ more ]

    Taught by: Kamal Kariem

    Catalog details

    GBST 221(S) LEC South Asia: Colonialism to Independence, 1750-1947 CE

    This course focuses on the history of South Asia with the aim of providing an overview of the political and social landscape of the region from c. 1750 to 1947. This period spans the decline of the Mughal Empire through British colonial rule, South Asians' struggle for independence, and the Partition of India and Pakistan. We will explore a range of themes including the rise of colonialism, nationalism, religion, caste, gender relations, and the emergence of modern social and political institutions on the subcontinent. In addition to reading key texts and historical primary sources on the specific themes, we will also work with a variety of multimedia sources including films, short stories and podcasts. One objective of this course is to introduce students to the different political and social processes that led to the creation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; another is to teach students to think critically about the significance of history and history writing in the making of the subcontinent. [ more ]

    GBST 226(S) LEC Aid, Arms, and Armies: The Politics of Intervention in Africa

    Comprised of nearly 50 countries and home to over 1 billion people, sub-Saharan Africa is remarkable in its diversity, particularly in regards to a number of outcomes central to the study of political science. It has also been a central site of numerous and profoundly impactful interventions for centuries, from the slave trade and colonialism to proxy wars and structural adjustment programs. This class investigates the many types of intervention--including military, humanitarian, and resource extraction--as well as identifying the diverse actors conducting these interventions, from missionaries to mercenaries, the World Bank to the world's leading states (e.g. United States, China, France). We interrogate how these interventions have shaped a number of key political, economic, and social outcomes for African countries, highlighting both case studies as well as common themes. We will also keep an eye out for lessons learned and the future of international interventions--the politics of foreign investment, humanitarian assistance, and multilateral partnerships. [ more ]

    GBST 228 SEM Performance Practices of Global Youth Cultures

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This course investigates how young people engage in a variety of performance practices to define social identities and reflect on critical issues. We begin by examining how scholars and media have defined "youth" by way of questioning assumptions about the inherent universality of this social category. We will then explore how young people have thought about and represented themselves. Taking seriously music, dance, fashion, and ritualized uses of public space (including in the virtual realm), we will explore examples of how youth have used performance practices to engage in political activism, subvert hegemonic norms, reconfigure urban geographies, and engage in critical identity politics. Our inquiry will include attention to how youth practices travel globally and adopt new localized political meanings, as well as the ways in which the subversive potential of performances can be subsumed by the normalizing mandates of global capital. Our work in class will be based upon readings, discussions, and audiovisual materials from various parts of the world. Throughout the semester students will turn an analytical eye towards their own practices and modes of consumption. For final projects students will engage in ethnographic research about specific youth cultures in the region and on the Williams campus. [ more ]

    GBST 229 Performance Practices of India

    Last offered NA

    This course explores ancient and contemporary performance practices in India. Our objects of study will include the text and performance of Sanskrit plays, contemporary and experimental theater productions, as well as forms of dance and ritual. We will discuss dramaturgical structure, staging, acting conventions, gender representation, performer training, the experience and role of the audience, as well as mythological and political themes. Thinking historically and ethnographically, we will seek to understand the aesthetics and social purposes of these practices, in addition to the relationship that performance has with everyday life, contested concepts of the nation, and caste. Throughout the semester we will interrogate the ways in which Western categories such as "classical," "folk," "religious," "traditional," and even the distinction between "dance/theater/music/visual arts" are not indigenous or accurate concepts for organizing thinking about performance in this part of the world. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    GBST 230 SEM Who was Muhammad?

    Last offered Fall 2016

    Considered the Messenger of God, Muhammad is a central character of the Islamic tradition and has been the object of love and devotion for centuries. Recent outbursts sparked by controversial cartoons depicting Muhammad have made clear that he remains a revered and controversial figure even today. This course takes a critical historical perspective to the biographies of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Rather than focus on the "facts" of his life, we will think about the ways in which historical context, political interests, and shifting conceptions of religion have influenced the way in which Muhammad has been imagined and remembered. We will also consider the ways in which Muslim and non-Muslims biographies of Muhammad are intertwined and interdependent, often developing in tandem with one another. By exploring Muslim and non-Muslim, pre-modern and modern accounts of Muhammad's life, we will think about the many ways in which Muhammad's life has been told and re-told over the centuries. In this course we will consider some of the following depictions of Muhammad: Muhammad as the object of ritual devotion; Muhammad as statesman and military leader; Muhammad's polygynous marriages and his young wife, Aisha; Muhammad as social reformer and revolutionary. Course readings will include pre-modern biographies (in translation) as well as contemporary Muslim and non-Muslim biographies. [ more ]

    GBST 232(S) SEM Islam in Africa

    Islam in Africa is often relegated to the peripheries in the study of Islam, a religion most associated with Arabs and the Middle East. On the flip side, Islam is also portrayed as foreign to African belief systems and institutions. The relationship between Islam and Africa, however, begins with the very advent of Islam when early Arab Muslim communities took refuge in the Abyssinian empire in East Africa. This course explores the history of Islam and Muslim societies on the African continent by focusing on the localized practices of Islam while also connecting it to Islam as a global phenomenon. The course will begin with a historical focus on the spread of Islam in Africa from East Africa and North Africa in the seventh century all the way to the spread of Islam through Sufi brotherhoods in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The course will also take an anthropological approach, exploring the diverse practices of Islam in African Muslim communities and the social and cultural impact of Islam on African societies. Among the topics the course will cover include African Muslim intellectual traditions, local healing practices, religious festivals, early modern African Muslim abolitionist movements, and the historical interactions between African and Asian Muslim communities in the Indian ocean world. [ more ]

    GBST 233(F) LEC Colonialism, Capitalism and Climate Crisis

    Evolutions are part of human existence. These changes are not necessarily natural, uniform or linear across space and time. As colonial conquests sought to capture, dominate and exploit vast swathes of land, nature and people, supported by economic theories, violent, wide-ranging and long-term changes profoundly altered the environment and human-nature relationships. This course examines these transformations, specifically attending to the relationship between colonized/colonial (hu)man, nature and non-human species, drawing in perceptions of nature and the economy. Our starting point for this intellectual journey is the colonial imprint on human-ecological relations i.e. economic man, or Sylvia Wynter's conception of "ethno-class man" and "homo-economicus". We will consider social difference especially race as a central conjuncture of the changing relationship of capitalism and social organization relative to natural resource extraction, techno-scientific knowledge, industrial development and resulting accumulation of greenhouse gases that induce climate and ecological crises. We will also examine economic perspectives of climate change as a market failure, loss of economic value or a financial risk to stock portfolios that may be at odds with humane ways of organizing our collective planet. This course exposes the hierarchies of social difference and resulting inequalities (class, race, gender, species) under climate crisis to advance reparative and decolonial understandings. Drawing upon experiences from social, labor and environmental movements for climate justice, students will be able evaluate situated political economic responses to the climate crisis. [ more ]

    GBST 234 SEM What is Islam?

    Last offered Fall 2018

    This course introduces students to Islam as a varied and contested historical tradition. The course will trace the historical development of Islam, focusing on religious and intellectual thought, political developments, and the practices and lived lives of Muslims. We will begin with situating the rise of Islam within the context of late antiquity, followed by an examination of the life of Muhammad, and the rise of Muslim empires. These developments will form the framework through which we investigate the theological, philosophical, legal, mystical, and literary writings of Muslims from the classical to the early modern periods of Islamic history. The main aim of the course is to develop a framework for understanding the historical developments through which Muslims have constructed ideas about normativity, authority, and orthodoxy in debates around Islam. Sources will include pre-modern historical and religious texts (in translation). [ more ]

    GBST 235(S) SEM Race, Land, Dis/Re-possession: Critical Topics in Environmental Injustice and Subaltern Geographies

    This course is an introduction to ongoing and contemporary topics in colonialism, racial thinking, African Diaspora and, Global and Caribbean studies, studies of 'the environment,' and dispossession. We will examine how race, gender and class operate under racial capitalism and settler colonialism as ongoing, sometimes continuous and discontinuous processes. The readings will center the works of critical geographers, caribbeanist, scholars of the African Diaspora, and other critical, anti-capitalist or decolonial scholars. Readings, as in AFR 234, will take up the question(s) of land and land-making; race, racialization, and racial thinking; of space and place as they all relate to the various processes, projects and methods of (dis)/(re)possession, both "past" and "contemporary." We will interrogate temporal binaries, settler time, notions of [the] "progress(ives)" and other bifurcated understandings of the world. This course is the second part of a complementary course, titled, "Race, Land and Settler (Racial) Capitalism," which focuses on the historical geography of processes of (dis)/(re)possession from a Black and Indigenous Atlantic perspective. In this iteration, weekly in-class discussion will be combined with guest lectures to provide the opportunity for exploring how race, space and (dis)(re)possession can be understood geographically, and to explain how a range of these territorializing processes operate. Sound, music and other audio will complement discussions. Therefore, the capacity of deep listening, in-and-out of class, is a grounding. Sample topics covered in the course include: indigeneity and Blackness; (dis)possession and accumulation; plantation geographies and economies; housing and houselessness; the problem of parks and conservation; prisons and carceral geographies; Black geographies; environmental racism and colonial resistance. You are strongly encouraged to participate in both courses in this sequence, but are not required to do so. [ more ]

    GBST 236 SEM Reading the Qur'an

    Last offered Spring 2022

    In the nearly 1500 years of Islamic history, the Qur'an has been a central source of spiritual insight, ethical and legal guidance, sacred stories, and theological principles. Considered the divine word of God, the Qur'an is central to devotional life. This course will explore the Qur'an as a text that is always in a state of production. We will focus significantly on close readings of the text of the Qur'an, in addition to pre-modern and modern Qur'anic exegesis. The course will begin with a historical account of the revelation and collection of the Qur'an, placing the form and content of the text in the context of 7th century Arab society and the life of the Prophet. We will then study Qur'anic commentaries to discuss how Muslims have drawn theological, legal, philosophical, and mystical meaning from the Qur'an. We will pose some of the following questions: What do the different exegetical methods tell us about the intertextual nature of the Qur'an? How have these shifting notions affected the meaning made from Qur'anic verses and passages? What role do interpretive communities play in determining what the Qur'an says? Lastly, through an exploration of the art of Qur'an recitation, calligraphy, and Qur'an manuscripts, we will explore the ways in which the Qur'an is also an object of devotion in Muslim life. [ more ]

    GBST 241(F) SEM History of Sexuality

    Is sexuality an immutable aspect of who we are or is it socially constructed? How have people understood sex and sexuality throughout history? Why does religion have any say in the sexual lives of individuals and society? What are sexual transgressions and why are they punished? Is sex a commodity that can be exchanged for money? Is sex political? This course will explore these questions through a historical approach, focusing in particular on the shifting understanding of sex and sexuality across historical time and different geographical regions. In investigating the category of sexuality, this course will push us to consider three key questions: 1) Is sexuality a useful category for historical analysis, 2) how have our assumptions regarding sexuality and sexual ethics taken shape and changed over time and 3) how do social, cultural, political, and economic conditions affect changing meanings of sexuality. Historical studies will be read in conjunction with different theoretical frameworks about sexuality. Reading historical accounts of sexuality alongside theoretical pieces will allow us to consider how historians construct an argument and the influence of theoretical frameworks in shaping scholarship. Some of the theorists we will read in the course include: Michel Foucault, David Halperin, Afsaneh Najmabadi, Valerie Traub, and Carla Freccero. [ more ]

    GBST 243(S) SEM Anti-Muslim Racism: A Global Perspective

    The racialization of Islam and Muslims has been constitutive to how they have been imagined in Europe and elsewhere. This course looks at how difference works and has worked, how identities and power relationships have been grounded in lived experience, and how one might both critically and productively approach questions of difference, power, and equity. It goes back to the founding moments of an imagined white (at the beginning Christian) Europe and how the racialization of Muslim and Jewish bodies was central to this project, and how anti-Muslim racism continues to be relevant in our world today. The course will not only show how Muslims were constructed as subjects in history, politics and society from the very beginning of the making of Europe and the Americas to the end of the Cold War to the post-9/11 era. Rather, it also looks at how Muslims live through Islamophobia. It looks at processes of racialization of Muslims within the Muslim community and between Muslim communities, while also considering which agencies Muslims take to determine their own future. The course draws from anthropology, gender studies, history, political science, religious studies, postcolonial studies, decolonial studies, and sociology. [ more ]

    GBST 244(S) SEM Black Mediterranean

    Though European border management today seeks to limit and control movement, the Mediterranean region is a historical site of mediation between cultural differences and religious views. This course centers primarily on the works of migrant intellectuals and artists from North Africa and the Middle East, who have emerged from the Mediterranean region to become a significant part of the new voice of Europe. Borrowing from Deleuze and Guattari's definition of "minor literature" as literature that a "minority constructs within a major language" and in which "language is affected with a high coefficient of deterritorialization," we explore the political, cultural and anthropological effects of such literature in today's European public discourse. Today the Mediterranean has become a graveyard where black and brown bodies transit a hostile and deadly passage. Therefore, a centerpiece of this course will be an examination of the racist discourse in Europe in the light of the Black Lives Matter's quest for decolonizing knowledge. In this interdisciplinary course, we read both literary works (Ali Farah, Khatibi, Lakhous, Scego), and critical theory (Cassano, Chambers, Fanon, Hall, Theo Goldberg); we also analyze films, documentaries, podcasts, exhibits and museums of colonialism in Europe. [ more ]

    GBST 246 SEM Asian American Performance: Activism and Aesthetics

    Last offered Fall 2021

    This seminar will explore contemporary Asian American plays, stand-up comedy, performance art, and spoken word with an eye to how artists do politics through their cultural labor. We will begin with a brief survey of images from popular media to identify legacies of Orientalism. From here we will move towards examining the ways in which Asian American artists from various eras subvert stereotypes and pursue projects of social justice. In watching performances and reading scripts, essays, and interviews, we will attend to narratives, acting methods, theatrical design, spectatorship, and the political economy of cultural production that shapes how Asian American artists make and show work. In addition, we will explore how artists stake political claims in the public sphere through teaching and community organizing. [ more ]

    GBST 248 SEM Body Politics in South Asia: Gender, Sex, Religion, and Nation

    Last offered Spring 2015

    This course examines the relationship between body, gender, sex, and society in South Asia, using three countries and religions---India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, and Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam---as its foil. The course uses the body as a lens by which to unpack South Asian discourses that link body and sexuality with nation, community, and population. In particular, it explores a South Asian sociology that links individual and social bodies in ways that occasion solidarity as well as social suffering, violence as well as communal cohesion. How do bodies come to signify the purity or prosperity of the nation or community and with what social or discursive effects? We begin by unpacking foundational theories of the body as proposed by Mauss, Foucault, Douglas, and Bourdieu in order to better understand how local discourses of the body help produce gender and other social hierarchies in South Asia. By considering how the human body can serve as a map for society and vice versa, we examine both classical discourses and modern institutional practices of the body including the temple, the monastery, the mosque, and the mendicant, as well as bodily practices such as yoga, celibacy, sex work, and new reproductive technologies. We also analyze how the body has served as a symbol of nation, community, and social health. Throughout, we are interested in the cross-cutting effects of gender and sex in perpetuating structural hierarchies and social suffering around the body in South Asia. [ more ]

    GBST 249 LEC From Beetroot to Zero Grazing: Comparative Response to AIDS in Africa

    Last offered Fall 2014

    As AIDS in African countries grew from a few cases in the mid-1980s to more generalized levels by the mid-1990s, government policy varied widely. Consider that while Kenyan medical officials denied the existence of AIDS (insisting that the four deaths reported in the press were due to skin cancer), in Senegal, President Diouf openly acknowledged AIDS and launched a national prevention and control program. South African President Mbeki and his health minister questioned whether HIV causes AIDS and suggested a garlic, beetroot, and lemon concoction as treatment, while in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni developed a successful home-grown `Zero Grazing' campaign. Why did some African governments respond early and aggressively to AIDS, while others did essentially the opposite? What has worked and what hasn't in the fight against AIDS in African countries? Has political liberalization improved the responsiveness of African governments to AIDS? In this course we aim to better understand how politics and social factors shaped African countries' responses to AIDS. [ more ]

    GBST 262(S) SEM Paper Trails

    Long before the invention of the passport, states or state-like entities sought to document and manage populations and discipline bodies. This course invites students to critically reflect on documentation practices and systemic violence, particularly against racial, ethnic, sexual, and political minorities. Students will explore identity-making through documentary practices such as the three-generation life history, a biographical form that Soviet-allied countries used to reward loyalty and punish disloyalty. Labels, such as a criminal record or pre-existing health conditions, also trail or precede individuals their whole lives. Students will grapple with what happens when the paper trail goes cold--when identification documents are invalidated, birth certificates withheld, household registries purged, and archives destroyed. Students will explore the rise of surveillance and biometric data alongside the actors, technologies, and industries that try to circumvent them in places such as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and along the US-Mexico border. In this project-based course, students will exhume paper trails and imagine alternative ways to create, alter, and subvert them. [ more ]

    GBST 273 SEM Detectives Without Borders

    Last offered Spring 2022

    Why is detective fiction so popular? What explains the continuing multiplication of mystery novels despite the seemingly finite number of available plots? This course will explore the worldwide fascination with this genre beginning with European writers before turning to more distant detective stories worldwide. The international scope of our readings will highlight how authors in different countries have developed their own national detective typologies while simultaneously responding to the international influence of the Anglo-American model. Simultaneously, the readings will trace the evolution of the genre from the classical Sherlock Holmes model through later iterations, including golden age, hard-boiled, police procedural, female detective types, and more. Alongside fictional narratives, essays on the genre will provide the theoretical ground for our investigation. Our international journey will begin in England and the United States (G.K. Chesterton, Robert Knox, and Edgar Allan Poe) and continue through Japan (Edogawa Rampo), France (Georges Simenon), Italy (Andrea Camilleri), Argentina (Jorge Luis Borges), and beyond. As we journey around the world, we will look at the possibility of reading detective fiction through the categories of gender, postcolonial, and race studies. Film adaptations of the novels we read, TV shows, and film noirs will also be included in the course material. All readings will be in English. [ more ]

    GBST 281 LEC Contemporary African Politics

    Last offered Spring 2022

    This course is an introduction to the contemporary politics of Africa, with the aim of sparking a life-long interest in the affairs of the region. Comprised of nearly 50 countries and home to over 1 billion people, sub-Saharan Africa is remarkable in its diversity, particularly in regards to a number of outcomes central to the study of political science: how do institutions of the past shape current dynamics of political competition and economic growth? Why are some countries stable democracies while others struggle with military coups or authoritarian rule? What sparks political violence and how can countries emerge from conflict? Our focus is both contemporary and comparative, organized thematically around common political experiences and attributes across the region. We begin with the legacies of colonialism, the slave trade, and the politics of liberation. We then interrogate dynamics central to political life in Africa over the 60 years since independence: the role of ethnic diversity in shaping competition, the prominence of patronage politics, and the evolution of elections. We next assess major dimensions that have historically shaped the study of African politics, including conflict and violence, economic development, and foreign aid. The final section takes a comparative approach to some of the most pressing issues in Africa today: health crises, migration and mobility, technological revolution, climate change, and the emerging power of women and youth. [ more ]

    GBST 282 SEM Africanist Project to Black Consciousness

    Last offered Fall 2021

    In 1957, when it was clear the African Nation Congress was unwilling to change its multiracialist and nonracialist language in favor of Africanist pronouncements, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe left the party and became the editor of The Africanist newspaper. Two years later he formed the Pan-Africanist Congress. Similarly frustrated that the National Union of South African Students was dominated by white liberals, in 1968 Bantu Steve Biko helped form the black-only South Africa Students' Organization and, four years later, was the key figure in founding of the Black People's Convention, created to promote black consciousness ideas within the broader South African population. This course focuses on Sobukwe's Africanist project and Biko's Black Consciousness Movement, the strategies against apartheid they promoted, and the visions of a free South Africa they imagined. [ more ]

    Taught by: Ngonidzashe Munemo

    Catalog details

    GBST 287(F) SEM Global Sustainable Development

    In 2015, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals, an ambitious multi-pronged effort to eliminate poverty, improve health outcomes, advance clean energy, address the effects of climate change, and support more equitable forms of life on earth. This course explores the historical antecedents and contemporary manifestations of global sustainable development, a constellation of ideas and a set of policy imperatives. This course will ask: what is sustainability and how did it emerge as a key paradigm in the present? Relatedly, how have different organizations and actors worked to address entrenched global challenges? Students will engage a range of materials, including policy documents from the United Nations, World Bank, and international non-governmental organizations. Students will also explore critical scholarship on the possibilities and limitations of global development. Together we will grapple with ways to build more sustainable futures. [ more ]

    GBST 304(S) SEM Sacred Custodians: Environmental Conservation in Africa

    In this seminar we will explore environmental conservation in Africa. In particular we will look at African ideas, ethics, and approaches to environmental conservation. Are there African ideas, ethics, and activities that are uniquely conservationist in nature? We will explore well-known African leaders to understand what spurred them to become conservationists, how they interpreted and communicated environmental crises. For example, Wangari Maathai is a world-renowned female scientist who established the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. This movement focuses on addressing the problem of de-forestation. Ken Saro-Wiwa was an activist in Nigeria who fought for and alongside local communities against multinational oil corporations. We will examine these and other African conservation practices alongside popular images of environmental crisis that place blame for environmental degradation on Africans. Students will be invited to critically study histories of environmental management on the continent and the emergence, development, and impact of the idea of conservation. We will unpack the rich histories of conservation efforts in Africa, such as resource extraction, game parks, desertification, wildlife and hunting, traditional practices, and climate change. [ more ]

    GBST 305 SEM A History of Health and Healing in Africa

    Last offered Spring 2022

    This class will explore the history of health and healing in Africa, with emphasis on the colonial and post-colonial eras. During the semester we will explore diverse medical and social interventions in African health over the past 150 years. How have African societies understood healthy communities and public health? We will examine this question through the study of spirit possession and other African healing practices but also how they have intersected with different biomedical practices and public health programs. We will also study the patterns and social impacts of new diseases in the twentieth century, as well as transformations in the understanding and treatment of diseases long present on the continent. In particular we will explore shifting understandings of the causes, treatment, and social implications of sleeping sickness, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The development of colonial rule, shifting environmental conditions, changing diets, and urbanization all impacted the disease landscape, as well as the way African societies have understood public health. Indeed, the themes of health, medicine and disease provide a useful lens for understanding important social transformations across the continent. [ more ]

    GBST 312(S) SEM The Mughal Empire: Power, Art, and Religion in India

    Established in the early 1500s, the Mughal Empire was one of the grandest and the longest to rule the Indian subcontinent for over three hundred years. Commanding unprecedented resources and administering a population of 100 to 150 million at its zenith--much larger than any European empire in the early modern world--the Mughals established a centralized administration, with a vast complex of personnel, money, and information networks. Mughal emperors were also political and cultural innovators of global repute. Moreover, while the Mughal dynasty was brought to an end with British colonial rule over India in 1857, the Mughal administrative structures and cultural influences continued to have a lasting impact on the British and later Indian states that followed. Centered around the intersection of the themes of power, patronage of art and architecture and religion, this course will ask: What factors contributed to the durability of the Mughal Empire for three centuries? How did global trade and innovations in taxation contribute to its wealth and stability? How did this dynasty of Muslim monarchs rule over diverse, and largely non-Muslim populations? How did they combine Persian cultural elements with regional ones to establish an empire that was truly Indian in nature? How were the Mughals viewed in their contemporary world of gunpowder empires like the Safavids of Persia and the Ottomans of Turkey? Readings will include the best of the recent scholarship on this vastly influential empire and a rich collection of primary sources, including emperor's memoirs, accounts of European travelers, and racy biographies, which will allow students make their own analysis. They will also have the opportunity to interpret paintings (some of which are held in the WCMA collections) and architecture. They will also discuss how the Mughals are remembered in South Asian film and music. [ more ]

    GBST 315(S) LEC Globalization

    This course will examine the causes and consequences of globalization. This includes studying topics such as trade, immigration, foreign direct investment, and offshoring. The impact of these forms of globalization on welfare, wages, employment, and inequality will be a focal point. Throughout we will rely on economic principles, models, and empirical tools to explain and examine these contentious issues. [ more ]

    GBST 321(F) SEM Migration Governance: A Global Perspective

    This class is interested in thinking critically and empirically about one of the most polarizing and relevant issues of our time: how countries regulate cross-border mobility. Currently over 281 million international migrants live in a country different from where they were born, about 1 out of every 30 humans in the world and a population that has roughly doubled since 1990. How are international organizations and domestic governments regulating this level of unprecedented global mobility in destination countries as well as countries of origin? Throughout the semester we interrogate three themes central to migration politics (and political science): rights, access, and agency. The course is organized with a focus on legal status: which "categories" of people (i.e. illegal migrants, refugees) have differential access to rights, services, and representation depending on how they are classified where they live (and where they are from). We will critically analyze how those categories are constructed at the international and domestic levels, as well as how those categorizations are also racialized, politicized, and gendered. While we address current debates over migration governance in the United States, we situate US migration policy within the contemporary global context. The course places the US in conversation not only with European countries, but also (and especially) considerations of migration governance in destination countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. We also attend to the emigration governance of diaspora citizens particularly from the Global South. Students will have the opportunity to apply course readings to real-world contexts through guest speakers from global organizations at the frontlines of migration policy (UNHCR, Doctors without Borders), and filmmakers documenting border crossing around the world. [ more ]

    GBST 322(F) SEM Waste and Value

    What is trash and what is treasure? In what ways does value depend upon and necessitate waste, and how is the dialectic between the two inflected by culture? When we 'throw away' things at Williams College, where exactly do they go, and who handles them 'down the line'? What are the local and global economies of waste in which we are all embedded and how are they structured by class, race, caste, gender and nation? In this seminar we critically examine the production of waste - both as material and as category - and its role in the production of value, meaning, hierarchy and the environment. Readings include ethnographic accounts of sanitation labor and social hierarchy; studies of the political and environmental consequences of systems of waste management in the colonial period and the present; and theoretical inquiries into the relation between filth and culture, including work by Mary Douglas, Dipesh Chakrabarty and Karl Marx. Geographically the foci are South Asia, Japan, and the United States. There is also a fieldwork component to the course. In fieldtrips we follow the waste streams flowing out of Williams - to an incinerator, a sewage treatment plant, recycling and composting facilities and other sites - and students explore in individual, participant-observation-based research projects the everyday social life of waste in our communities. [ more ]

    GBST 330 SEM American Political Thought in Hemispheric Context

    Last offered Spring 2021

    Actors living during the Age of Revolutions witnessed an astounding number of social, political, and cultural changes. In the short period between 1775 and 1830 more than thirty popular insurgency movements took control of the American hemisphere, most of them by organizing around the principles of republican politics. In this course, we study the peoples, demands, and visions that comprised the popular movements of the Age of Revolutions to reconstruct the canon American Political Thought in hemispheric context. This course emphasizes the comparative features of post-colonial movements in the Americas and centers the contributions of indigenous, raced, gendered, and ethnicized communities. The course schedule is divided into two sections. The first half of the class situates the political and theoretical problems of American Political Thought by engaging with scholarship on post-colonial movements, decolonial thought, democratic theory, and theories of popular rule. The second half of the course contextualizes these frameworks by putting them in conversation with studies of revolutionary change, popular imagination, and case studies on revolutionary movements throughout the Americas. Students are expected to engage in archival research, as well as work with both primary and secondary sources on the Age of Revolutions. [ more ]

    Taught by: Arturo Chang

    Catalog details

    GBST 335(F) SEM Nowheres

    We live in a world of nation-states. The world map, according to journalist Joshua Keating, is "itself as an institution, an exclusive club of countries" that rarely accepts new members. Throughout the course, we question how countries conquered the world and became the taken-for-granted political unit. We do so, paradoxically, by looking at contemporary nations that do not appear on the world map. These include nations without statehood, such as Somaliland; those that span countries, including indigenous nations across the US and Canada; and nations that have lost their countries, such as Palestine and South Vietnam. By interrogating "nowheres," we tease out what it means to be a country, and pinpoint when and why the definitions do not apply uniformly. Students will reflect on why the world map has been so remarkably static since the end of the Cold War. We will further probe the social, political, and human costs of the exceptions to this general rule. Students will raise questions and attempt answers to what our interconnected world means for "nowheres" looming on the horizon--nation-states that, as a result of climate change, will soon vanish. [ more ]

    GBST 341 SEM Caste, Race, Hierarchy

    Last offered Spring 2017

    Caste in India looms large in global social thought as a kind of benchmark against which hierarchical social systems across the world are measured. This prominence has much to do with British colonial ideologies of rule, but it also has a deeper and different history: the Buddha compared caste to Greek slavery, early modern Jesuits related it to the system of European estates, and since the nineteenth century, anti-caste radicals from Dalit, or "untouchable," backgrounds have drawn a sustained comparison between the forms of oppression they face and those with which African Americans contend in the United States. Reciprocally, thinkers from W.E.B. DuBois to Toni Morrison have deployed the category of caste in their writings on race. What can the study of caste in postcolonial South Asia contribute to global debates over the persistence of "traditional" forms of social hierarchy? What are the stakes of bringing caste and race into the same conversation, and what are the implications of refusing to do so? In this seminar we will acquire a thorough grounding in the anthropological literature on caste and then investigate the politics of the caste-race comparison over the last hundred years. Assignments include weekly postings of 1-page critical response papers and either a research paper or an interview-based, ethnographic final project examining "caste" in one's own community. [ more ]

    GBST 342 SEM Democratic Erosion

    Last offered Fall 2020

    A central tenet of political science is that once a country reaches a certain level of political and economic development, democracy will endure indefinitely. The contemporary moment calls on us to revisit this assumption. This course explores the causes and consequences of democratic erosion through the lens of comparative politics. We ask three central questions to inform our investigation: 1) What is democracy and its alternatives? 2) How do we identify democratic breakdown? and 3) What are strategies to counteract backsliding when it occurs? Importantly, this course is not intended as a partisan critique of any particular American politician or political party. Rather, it is designed to provide an opportunity to engage, critically and carefully, with claims about the state of democracy in the US and elsewhere; to evaluate whether those claims are valid; and, if they are, to consider strategies for mitigating the risk of democratic erosion here and abroad. Readings draw from academic scholarship, media commentary, and current events as they unfold. We will address both empirical and normative dimensions of the issues, as well as learn about examples of democratic erosion around the world from early 20th century until today. As a collaborative class taught at dozens of other colleges, the course enables you to engage in debates about democratic erosion with students throughout the US and around the world. [ more ]

    GBST 343 SEM Spectacles on His Nose and Autumn on his Heart: The Oeuvre of Isaac Babel

    Last offered Fall 2013

    Known alternately as "master of the short story" and "Russian Maupassant," Isaac Babel was not only one of the most celebrated and intriguing authors of early Soviet Russia, but also a cultural figure of profound national and international significance. For a number of reasons (political, aesthetic, professional, ethical) Babel was not prolific and this will allow us to read almost all of his creative output, something we rarely get to do in the course of a single semester. Babel's writing is extremely varied--it includes sketches, journalistic prose, short stories, plays, movie scripts, one unfinished novel--and richly intertextual. This will afford us the opportunity to read the work of some of his contemporaries and predecessors, from both Russia and abroad, with whom he fashioned brilliant literary conversations, among them Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, Sholem Aleichem, and Ivan Turgenev. All course readings will be in translation, but students are highly encouraged to read in the original (Russian, French, Yiddish) whenever possible. [ more ]

    GBST 344(F, S) SEM Capitalism and Racism in the American Context and Beyond: A Global Approach

    American Studies emerged with the idea that transdisciplinarity is crucial for comprehending the concept of America. Building on this framework, this course foregrounds transepistemology as an equally important method for understanding the dynamics of America, both locally and globally, at the level of the world-system. In addition to tracing the consubstantial genealogy of racism and capitalism, we will examine their local manifestations, mainly in Asia, Europe, Africa and America, as well as their current geopolitical, social and economic outcomes, especially the reproduction of systemic inequalities and domination. Through an interdisciplinary approach and engagement with a variety of resources from economics, anthropology, sociology, critical race theory, comparative ethnic studies and decolonial thinking, this course will address the following: i) review the different forms of economic organization of human societies throughout history (with special focus on the work of Karl Polanyi); ii) trace the epistemological origins of capitalism and investigate what makes capitalism and its crises unique; iii) trace the genealogy of the concepts of race, racism and discrimination; iv) interrogate the intersection of racism and capitalism in different traditions of thought and epistemologies in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. For example, we will read key texts from "French theory", (Deleuze, Foucault, etc.), US Black tradition, (W. E. B. Du Bois and Cedric Robison, etc.), Chinese social sciences (Li Shenming, Cheng Enfu, etc.) and African economy and anthropology (Mahdi Elmandjra, Cheikh Anta Diop, etc.) and Latin American decolonial philosophy (Quijano, Dussel, Mignolo, etc.) By doing this, we will situate the rupture that capitalism and racism introduced at the level of global history, which is the first step to conceptualizing racism and capitalism. After showing that the development of capitalism and racism are historically linked, we will proceed to examine the manifestations of their interaction at local and global levels. Locally, we will focus on the effects of racism on the labor market: discrimination in hiring, wage discrimination, segregation, duality and stratification of the labor market, etc. We will also analyze how sexism and racism play out in the labor market in racialized communities. We will also reflect on the links between racism and politics and their effects on economic policies. From a more global perspective, we will analyze the roots of the global economic crisis and the resulting geopolitical issues at the international level and the racist dynamics they generate. Overall, as we will move through readings, we will situate the United States in a cross-regional perspective that would enable us to develop critical insights concerning links and convergences between capitalism and racism. [ more ]

    GBST 345 SEM Wonderland(s): Alice in Translation

    Last offered Fall 2021

    "What do you mean by that?" said the Caterpillar, sternly. "Explain yourself!" "I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir," said Alice, "because I'm not myself, you see?" The confusion around personal identity, which Alice is seen to experience as she makes her way through Wonderland, can be examined productively as an allegory of translation. Beyond living through the developmental and socio-cultural transitions of a child, what happens to Alice, a seminal text in children's literature, when it travels down the rabbit hole to a new linguistic wonderland? For starters, the seven-year-old girl becomes Marie in Danish, Arihi in Maori, Ai-chan in Japanese, and Paapachchi in Kannada. Then there are the highly idiosyncratic humor, word play, embedded English nursery rhymes, and iconic illustrations by Tenniel. How do they fare in new linguistic, cultural, and even genre contexts? Lewis Carroll told his publisher in 1866: "Friends here seem to think the book is untranslatable." And yet. Over 200 translations later, including Kazakh, Shona, Papiamento, Braille, and Emoji, Alice continues to delight and confound readers all over the world and to pose myriad challenges as well as opportunities for translators. This course will serve as an introduction to the theory and practice of translation using Carroll's Alice as an anchoring primary text. We will examine key disciplinary issues and concepts, such as equivalence, domestication, foreignization, and autonomy and challenge the old canard that translation leads ineluctably, and exclusively, to loss. [ more ]

    GBST 348(F) TUT Altering States: Post-Soviet Paradoxes of Identity and Difference

    Critics and apologists of Soviet-style socialism alike agree that the Soviet ideology was deeply egalitarian. Putting aside for a moment the very reasonable doubts about how justified this perception actually was, it is still worth asking, how did people who lived in the world in which differences in rank, class, gender or ethnicity were not supposed to matter, make sense of their postsocialist condition, one in which new forms of difference emerged, and old ones assumed greater prominence? And how do these encounters with difference impact current events, such as the war Russia is currently waging on Ukraine, or the persistent tensions between East and West Germans? This tutorial will examine new dilemmas through ethnographic studies and documentary films that aim to capture in real time the process of articulating and grappling with newly discovered divides. We will focus especially closely on Russia, but will also read studies on East Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, and Ukraine. This course fulfills the DPE requirement by exploring comparatively the ways in which people in different countries made sense of the social, cultural and political heterogeneity of the postsocialist condition. [ more ]

    GBST 351 LEC The New Left and Neoliberalism in Latin America

    Last offered Spring 2022

    Recent years have seen a resurgence of the political left in Latin America. This course seeks to understand the origins of this new left, the ideas and character of its protagonists, the neoliberal philosophy it opposes, and the arena of democratic politics it inhabits today. We first read polemics from both sides, before stepping back to consider Latin American political economy, including the twentieth-century left, from a more historical and analytical perspective. With this preparation, we then look more closely at major contemporary figures and movements in Venezuela, Bolivia, Mexico, Brazil, and other countries. After considering explanations of the rise of the left and assessments of its performance in power, we end our common readings by asking what it might mean today to be on the left in Latin America--or anywhere--both in policy and political terms. [ more ]

    GBST 352 LEC Politics in Mexico

    Last offered Fall 2020

    Geography has decreed that the futures of Mexico and the United States will be tightly bound. Yet Mexico enters this future with a very different past, a distinctive political system, important cultural differences, and mixed feelings about its neighbor to the north. This course has four parts differing in content and format. The first is historical and mostly lecture. It considers several themes, including the slow emergence of a stable national state and the interplay between politics and economic change. In the second section, following a modified tutorial format, we consider politics and cultural policies around Mexican national identity in the twentieth century, looking at films, journalism, popular music, and cultural criticism. Topics include the politics of race; rapid urbanization, especially in the valley of Mexico; and the cultural impact of the turn toward the north, after 1990, in economic policy. Then, after a few discussion classes on migration, organized crime, political corruption, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other issues facing the current government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, we turn to a seminar-style discussion of student research projects. [ more ]

    GBST 356 SEM The Myth of Venice and its Modern Aftermath

    Last offered Spring 2018

    The Republic of Venice existed for over a millennium, during which time its historical image came to be enmeshed with mythical representations, such as the image of the city rising out of the waters of the lagoon, or the personification of the city itself as a Queen of the Adriatic. This course begins in the year 1797, at the end of the Republic, and the emergence of an extensive body of literature centered on Venice and its mythical facets. Readings will include Romantic views of Venice and the 20th century reshaping of the literary myth surrounding the city. A journey into this fascinating tradition will shed light on how the literary and visual representation of Venice, rather than the focus on a nostalgic evocation of the death of the Republic, became a premise of exploration for literary modernity. Toward the end of the course we will leave the lagoon to explore the postmodern recreations of Venice around the world (from Los Angeles and Las Vegas, to Macao, Yongin, and beyond) Readings will include excerpts from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, John Ruskin's Stones of Venice, as well as full readings of Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, Marinetti's Futurist manifestos, Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, and more. We will also examine movies, such as Luchino Visconti's Senso and Death in Venice and Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now. This course is offered in English; all texts are provided in translation. [ more ]

    GBST 358(F) SEM Religion and Law

    This course explores the concept of "law" through an investigation of the complex relationship between law, ethics, and religion. In doing so, we will look at legal theoretical texts as well as legal anthropological studies to pose critical questions about the nature of law, the functioning logic of law, the relationship between law and lived experience, and the legal construction of categories and facts. In the course, we will consider two intersections of religion and law: the particularities of religious legal traditions and the relationship between religion and secular law. Topics will include the secular legal construction of religion, the relationship between law and ethics, the nature of legal hermeneutics, and the racial, gender, and sexual politics of legal interpretation. [ more ]

    GBST 365(F) SEM Race and Psychoanalysis: Slavery and the Psyche

    This course explores slavery and the psyche through a constellation of Black diasporic literary, visual, and theoretical texts from the US, Caribbean, and Africa. Unwieldy and generative, the opacity of race within the field (and practice) of psychoanalysis shares a fraught intimacy with the co-constitutive terrains of violence and race that form the unconscious. Querying what escapes the hermeneutics of psychoanalysis and aesthetics in the fantasies race engenders, we will examine modernity's articulation of racialization through conceptualizations--both fantasmatic and real--of self, world, knowledge, and possibility. Course texts may include: Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones, Adrienne Kennedy's Funnyhouse of a Negro, Bessie Head's A Question of Power, Arthur Jafa's APEX and Love is the Message and the Message is Death, Conceição Evaristo's Ponciá Vicêncio, Lars von Trier's Manderlay, Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep, Derek Walcott's "Laventille"; and, selections from Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, David Marriott, Kathleen Pogue White, Franz Fanon, Hortense Spillers, Nathan Gorelick, Jaqueline Rose, Jared Sexton, Melanie Klein, Jacques-Alain Miller, Melanie Suchet, and Jean Laplanche. Note: This course will reflect the Continental tradition in philosophy. Student should be familiar with the basic interventions of psychoanalysis. [ more ]

    GBST 366 SEM #OutofHaiti: Haiti, Black Sovereignty and the Global Political Economy

    Last offered Spring 2022

    In the Western hemisphere, Haiti (Ayiti kreyòl) is a symbol of many extremes related to revolution, impoverishment, governance and institutional sabotage, Black liberation, artistic and cultural achievement, and underdevelopment. This course places Haiti at the center of broad global political economic transformations. Starting from the Haitian Revolution and its reverberations throughout colonial empires to the present, this course will critically interrogate these superlatives and depictions of Haiti. Recent media portrayals of a 'Haitian migrant crisis' at the United States border defy empirical facts, and whitewash imperial misadventures and harm, further exposing a narrative of Haitian anti-blackness that has been pervasive throughout US history. We will unpick these imageries and material realities to consider broader perspectives within historical and contemporary significance of struggles for Black sovereignty and liberation. Taking economic and political history as data sources, documentary films and recent academic, artistic and popular works as starting points for discussion, the course will stir debate and a broader appreciation of the political contributions of civic movements and figures within Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. From the perspective of 'connected Blackness', the course explores how Black peoples' links through global struggles for liberation and freedom and against imperialism emerge today. [ more ]

    GBST 367 SEM Decolonizing International Relations

    Last offered Spring 2022

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines Decolonization as "the withdrawal from its colonies of a colonial power; the acquisition of political or economic independence by such colonies." The emergence of an international system of sovereign states--the core foundation of international relations--presumes the process of dismantling systems of domination, extraction, and exclusion ended long ago. However, there is increasing recognition that International Relations in all forms, including theory, research, and policy, continue to be structured by traditional paradigms of power (e.g. white, male, elite). This course begins with the premise that knowledge is embedded within, and often reproduces, power hierarchies. Thus, this class is organized as a collaborative investigation with the aims of: 1) examining how whiteness and other historically dominant perspectives shape International Relations theory and research areas; 2) expanding and improving our understanding of International Relations through different lenses (e.g. race, class, gender, disability, indigenous, queer, subaltern); and 3) exploring the implications of a more inclusive approach to International Relations, both within the classroom as well as contemporary decolonization movements in the US and around the world. [ more ]

    GBST 369(S) SEM Indigenous Narratives: From the Fourth World to the Global South

    In the late 20th century, world literature has witnessed a "boom" in indigenous literature. Many critics and historians describe this global re-emergence of the subaltern and the indigenous in terms of literary justice fostered by post-colonial studies and the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, by the UN General Assembly on December 18, 1992. In this course, we will investigate this "indigenous boom" by reading novels and short stories from the Americas, the Middle East and North Africa from the 1970s to the present. Through these trans-regional and trans-historical peregrinations, our principal goal will be to examine and compare narratives about conquest, settler colonialism, colonial nationalism, indigeneity, sovereignty, indigenous epistemology and philosophy. At the same time, we will consider the following questions: How did pioneering indigenous women writers, such as the Laguna Pueblo Leslie Marmon Silko in the US and the Mayan playwrights of La Fomma in Chiapas, Mexico lead the feminist front of the indigenous literary renaissance? How did Palestinian folktales, Amazigh poetics in the Maghreb, and Mayan dream narratives in Mexico and Guatemala produce narratives of decolonial history? What does the aesthetics of magical realism in Arabic, Quechua and Spanish, respectively, as evident in the works of the Kurdish writer Salim Barakat (Syria) and the mestizo writer José María Arguedas (Peru) tell us about the intersection of race, ethnicity, and indigenous epistemology? What is the connection between the recent "boom" of English translations of Indigenous texts and neoliberalism, multiculturalism and neo-colonialism? Ultimately, our goal is to trace how these texts contributed to global indigenous literature and the trans-historical and trans-geographical connections between them. [ more ]

    GBST 370 TUT Archives of Global Solidarity: Records of Collective Memory of Emancipation

    Last offered Spring 2022

    Departing from the Arabic notions of takaful and taddamun as interlinked expressions of social and political solidarity, this course seeks to investigate the textual and visual cultural production of solidarity in the Arabic-speaking world. While both terms have informed the shaping of modern Arab politics in the mid 20th century--from the birth of the socialist state to the rise of pan-Arabism--their instrumentalization as key principles of internationalism, Third Worldism, trans-nationalism, and global camaraderie since the 1990s is parallel to the emergence of social movements and popular resistance across the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. What is the meaning of solidarity and how it mobilized collective emancipation is the guiding question of this course. To interrogate this question we will read novels, poems, memoirs, labor unions and feminist manifestos, and essays that feature multidirectional solidarity and alliance building across borders of East-East and South-South. We will also examine visual and digital archives that documents particular historical moments that marked a turning point of global solidarity, such as the Spanish Civil War, the Cuban Revolution, the Algerian War, the Prague Spring, the Palestinian Intifada, the Zapatista Uprising, and most recently, the Arab Uprisings. As we approach these historical moments through a variety of texts and genres, we will identify encounters between activists and writers who established cross-regional movements and the cultural exchange between artistic collaborations. [ more ]

    GBST 391 SEM When India was the World: Trade, Travel and History in the Indian Ocean

    Last offered Spring 2021

    What do Ibrahim Ben Yiju, a Jewish merchant from 11th century Yemen, Ibn Batutah, a Muslim scholar from 15th century Morocco and Captain Kidd, a 17th century English pirate have in common? All three men travelled and lived in the Indian Ocean region! This course explores the history of one of the world's oldest maritime highways that has connected the diverse cultures of Asia, Africa and Europe for millennia, thus making it a vital element in the birth of globalization. Moving away from conventional land-centric histories, we will focus instead on understanding the human past through oceanic interactions. South Asian ports and port cities remained the fulcrum of the Indian Ocean world throughout its history; traders, travellers, nobles, scholars, pilgrims and pirates from all over the world travelled to the Indian coast in search of adventure, spices, knowledge and wealth. Thus we will primarily focus on India's role in the Indian Ocean roughly from the rise of Islam in the seventh century CE through the expansion of various European communities in the region and the subsequent rise of the global economy and colonialism in the nineteenth century. Rather than following a strict temporal chronology we will concentrate on themes such as travel and adventure; trade and exchange; trust and friendship; religion and society; pilgrimage; piracy; the culture of port cities; and food across time. [ more ]

    GBST 395(F) SEM Black Reparations Within/Beyond Borders

    Generations of Black people around the world have demanded restitution for the harms and legacies of enslavement, indigenous genocide and colonialism in order to advance social justice, new ways of living and freedom. In this way, freedom fighters, Black Power leaders, abolitionist movements, Pan-Africanists, maroons, Rastafarians, Black politicians, climate justice leaders, and revolutionary anti-capitalists have all put forward ideas on and approaches to reparations and reparatory justice. This course will analyze 'geographies of Black struggle' , the differences and commonalities among these approaches, the political strategies and movements, including responses to global climate change and socio-environmental disasters that advance reparations as a just remedy within and beyond borders. We give particular attention to Pan-Africanist and Black feminist perspectives, as well as liberal and popular struggles for reparations within the African diaspora across space and time. Do Pan-Africanism and Black feminism offer new visions for reparations movements in the 21st century? Employing speeches, writings, audio-visual content and documentary film from and about these earlier and emerging movements and their leaders, we will draw long lines between historical circumstances and drivers, and examine Black (un)freedoms within the context of calls for reparation today. [ more ]

    GBST 400(F) SEM Cuba, US, Africa, and Resistance to Black Enslavement, 1791-1991

    This seminar focuses on the entwined histories of liberation movements against racism, enslavement, and imperialism in the US, Cuba and Africa. Readings include: Hugh Thomas, Cuba: A History; Che Guevara: The Motorcycle Diaries; Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa; Laird Bergad, The Comparative Histories of Slavery in Brazil, Cuba, and the United States; Thomas Sankara, Women's Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle; Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro, How Far We Slaves Have Come! Students will read and analyze texts, screen documentaries, collectively compile a comprehensive bibliography, and present group analyses. The seminar is open to all students; however, priority is given to seniors majoring in American Studies. [ more ]

    GBST 409 SEM Crescent, Cross, and Star. Religion and Politics in the Middle East

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Is religion the most powerful force in the Middle East? Is religion becoming more prominent in the political sphere and what impact will that have on religious minorities and the status of women in the Middle East? Using a case study and historical approach, this course will consider the development of religiously inspired political ideologies in the Middle East in the 19th and 20th century. We will explore the experience of Iran, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan and evaluate role of religious actors, institutions, and ideologies in constructing national identities, policymaking, state-building, regime change, conflict, and war. [ more ]

    GBST 412 TUT Gandhi: History, Ideas and Legacy

    Last offered Fall 2020

    This course studies the life, work, and ideas of M.K. Gandhi (1869-1948), one of the most influential thinkers of the non-western world. Gandhi is well known today for his philosophy of non-violent resistance and its application in India's freedom struggle as well as his influence on the work of leaders like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Hailed as the 'father of the Indian nation', however, Gandhi is not only known for his political ideas but also for his deep engagement with aspect of everyday human behavior and morality: truth, vegetarianism, sex and celibacy, to name just a few of his obsessions which contributed to making his broader philosophy. It is this commitment to a morally pure life that earned him the title of 'Mahatma' or Great Soul in India. This tutorial will focus on three key aspects of Gandhi: his ideas of peaceful protest as means of social and political change, his contemplations on moral philosophy, and on his legacy in modern India and the world. Students will read a combination of Gandhi's own writings as well as journal articles, monographs and films. The course will probe questions such as: What was the context and nature of Gandhian nationalism? Did it help to integrate the Indian nation? Was Gandhi truly a Great Soul, a saint or a shrewd politician? In what ways is Gandhi received and remembered by the Indian nation today? How does understanding a figure like Gandhi facilitate our understanding of modern nationalism, citizenship and political action? [ more ]

    GBST 413(F) SEM The Big Ideas: Intended and Unintended Consequence of Human Ambition

    What have been the most consequential ideas of the last 100 years? This course will explore some of the more audacious and ambitious plans to alter natural and urban environments in the late 19th century to the early part of the 21st, specifically those that sought to improve the human condition through science, engineering, and technology. By building big bold things, politicians around the globe sought to bring prosperity to their nation and embark on a path of modernity and independence. Through an intellectual, political and environmental history of major construction projects such as the building of the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam, extensive river valley developments in Iran, Turkey and Iraq, and utopian and futuristic city planning in western Asia, students will consider how, with the benefit of hindsight, to best evaluate the feasibility of such bold schemes. Who has benefitted and who has not, what have been some of the unanticipated consequences, what was sacrificed or neglected, and what do these projects tell us about the larger processes of global capitalism, decolonization, and climate change? [ more ]

    GBST 420 SEM Architecture and Sustainability in a Global World

    Last offered Fall 2020

    What does it mean to create a sustainable built environment? What do such environments look like? Do they look the same for different people across different times and spaces? This course takes these questions as starting points in exploring the concept of architectural sustainability, defined as "minimizing the negative impact of built form on the surrounding landscape," and how this concept can be interpreted not only from an environmental point of view, but from cultural, political, and social perspectives as well. Over the course of the class, students will explore different conceptualizations of sustainability and how these conceptualizations take form in built environments in response to the cultural identities, political agendas, social norms, gender roles, and religious values circulating in society at any given moment. In recognizing the relationship between the way things are constructed (technique of assembly, technology, materials, process) and the deeper meanings behind the structural languages deployed, students will come to understand sustainability as a fundamentally context-specific ideal, and its manifestation within the architectural environment as a mode of producing dialogues about the anticipated futures of both cultural and architectural worlds. [ more ]

    GBST 480(F) TUT Media and Society in Africa

    The Media have long played important roles in African societies. As early as the second half of the 19th century, African intellectuals were using print technology to address the people. As radio technology was in its infancy during the first half of the twentieth century, Africans were gathering around re-diffusion stations and later around single receivers to listen to news and entertainment programing. In this tutorial, we will examine these histories of media and media technologies on the continent. Ultimately, we will explore the roles that media played in serving particular community needs and how communities also adapted new media technologies to fit local conditions. Media content has historically been determined based on standards beyond viewers', readers' and listeners' control. We will examine the influences that editors and political leaders on the continent have exerted on content as well as what forces they responded to. We will also further explore the media's role in major events on the continent, from governmental changes to the ending of apartheid in South Africa and the role that media have played in areas of conflict. [ more ]

Area Tracks

  • ARTH 104 / AFR 105 LEC Materials, Meanings, and Messages in the Arts of Africa

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This course introduces students to the wealth, power, and diversity of expressive forms that have characterized the arts of Africa and its Diaspora from prehistory to the present. Pulling extensively from the collections at the Williams College Museum of Art and other campus resources, students will not only experience firsthand the wide array of objects that have been produced within this vast geography, but will also come to recognize how multiple senses including sight, sound, smell, and touch play a key role in understanding how these objects work within their respective contexts. As tools of political control, social protest, divine manifestation, and spiritual intervention, these objects and their associated performances also challenge what we might typically consider art in the Western tradition and as such students will be pushed to think beyond such terms in their examinations of these rich creative traditions. [ more ]

    HIST 104 / AFR 104 / GBST 104(S) SEM Race and a Global War: Africa during World War II

    This course highlights African experiences of World War II. Although most histories have excluded Africa's role in the war, the continent and its people were at the center of major developments during in this global conflict. In fact, many Africans remember the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 as the start of the war. African servicemen fought alongside the Allied and Axis forces on major warfronts in Europe, Africa and Asia. African communities and individuals also established war charity campaigns to collect funds, which they sent to war ravaged societies in Europe. Indeed, African economies, despite their colonial statuses, kept European imperial nations afloat in their most hour of need. At the same time, African colonial subjects faced severe food shortages, the loss of working-age men to labor and military recruiters, and dramatically increased taxes. We will examine the impact of these and other wartime pressures on different African communities. How did African societies meet such challenges and how did they view the war? In this course we will examine the roles that women played during the war, and the various other ways that African communities met wartime demands. Other topics we will explore include the role of African women; colonial propaganda; political protest against the war; race and racial thought in the wartime era; war crimes; African American support for the liberation of Ethiopia; and the war's impact on decolonization across the continent. We will further study how Africans and outsiders have differently conceptualized the continent's role in the war by analyzing a variety of sources, including scholarly writings, archival materials, films, former soldiers' biographies, and propaganda posters. [ more ]

    MUS 120 / AFR 113 LEC Musics of Africa

    Last offered Spring 2019

    This course introduces a selection of musical cultures from the geographical breadth of Africa. Following an introductory exploration of the fundamental aesthetic and social parameters governing African musical practice, we will engage in a series of case studies considering a diverse array of musical practices and related social and political issues in specific locales. Featured countries include Ghana, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Algeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This course samples a wide range of musical practices from the Ghanaian dance craze, azonto, to Ethiopian liturgical chants, to Shona mbira music in Zimbabwe. Performance analysis and critical reading and listing assignments are combined with a number of hands-on workshops and musical exercises. [ more ]

    BIOL 134 / ENVI 134(F) LEC The Tropics: Biology and Social Issues

    Biology and Social Issues of the Tropics explores the biological dimensions of social and environmental issues in tropical societies, focusing specifically on the tropics of Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, and the Caribbean. Social issues are inextricably bound to human ecologies and their environmental settings. Each section of the course provides the science behind the issues and ends with options for possible solutions, which are debated by the class. The course highlights differences between the tropics and areas at higher latitudes while also emphasizing global interconnectedness. It begins with a survey of the tropical environment, including a global climate model, variation in tropical climates and the amazing biodiversity of tropical biomes. The next section focuses on human population biology, and emphasizes demography and the role of disease particularly malaria, AIDS and Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2). The final part of the course covers the place of human societies in local and global ecosystems including the challenges of tropical food production, the interaction of humans with their supporting ecological environment, and global climate change. This course fulfills the DPE requirement. Through lectures, debates and readings, students confront social and environmental issues and policies from the perspective of biologists. This builds a framework for lifelong exploration of human diversity in terms of difference, power and equity. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    AFR 200(F, S) LEC Introduction to Africana Studies

    This course introduces students to the content and contours of Africana Studies as a vibrant field of knowledge. Through exploration of the genealogy, disciplinary diversity, and evolution of the field, we will examine the depth and range of experiences of African-descended peoples throughout the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. We will also give some attention to how members of the Diaspora remember and encounter Africa, as well as their diverse responses to the history of enslavement, colonialism, apartheid, racism, and globalization. Through materials that embrace both historical and contemporary perspectives, we seek to help students develop critical frameworks for understanding African diasporic experience while simultaneously illumining disjunctures and challenges for the field. This course features two pedagogical strategies: 1) a rotational, interdisciplinary approach that includes the expertise, methods, and specializations of Africana faculty; and 2) the incorporation of aesthetic materials--film, photography, music, dance, performance, and artwork--to enhance student ability to draw ongoing connections between visual and textual sources covered in the course. Close textual analysis, vibrant debate, and engaging discourse are expected. [ more ]

    DANC 201 / AFR 201 / MUS 220(F) STU African Dance and Percussion

    We will examine two forms that embody continuity of tradition or the impact of societal, political or economic change. Lamban was created by the Djeli, popularly called Griots served many roles in the kingdoms of Ghana and Old Mali from the 12th century to current times. This dance and music form continues as folklore in modern day Guinea, Senegal, Mali and The Gambia where it is practiced by the Mandinka people. Bira is an ancient and contemporary spiritual practice of Zimbabwe's Shona people. While these forms are enduring cultural practices, Kpanlogo from the modern West African state of Ghana represents the post-colonial identity of this nation's youth and their aspirations for independence at the end of the 1950s. We will also consider the introduction of these forms outside of their origin. This course can be taken for academic and/or PE credit [ more ]

    DANC 202 / AFR 206 / MUS 221(S) STU African Dance and Percussion

    Before the 20th century, the African continent was the source of dance and music that influenced new forms rooted on and off the continent. These forms are shaped by the impact of religion, colonialism, national political movements, travel, immigration, and the continuing emergence of technology. In South Africa, the labor conditions of miners instigated the creation of Isicathulo, Gum boots, and in Brazil the history of colonialism is a factor that anchors Samba as a sustaining cultural and socioeconomic force. The birth of Hip Hop in the 20th century finds populations across the globe using its music, dance, lyrics, and swagger as a vehicle for individual and group voice. Hip Hop thrives as a cultural presence in most countries of the African continent and in the Americas. We will examine the factors that moved this form from the Bronx, New York, to Johannesburg, South Africa, and Rio, Brazil. We will examine at least two of these forms learning dance and music technique and composition material that will inform their practice. Each of these genres generated new physical practices, new and enduring communities while continuing to embody specific histories that have moved beyond their place of origin. What is their status in this century? [ more ]

    RLFR 203 / AFR 204 / COMP 282 SEM Introduction to Francophone Literatures

    Last offered Fall 2016

    What is the Francophone world comprised of? Who speaks French today and why? What does the idea of Francophonie really mean? Is this term really relevant? Why, how, and by whom is this idea being criticized? How does the littérature-monde manifesto fit within these interrogations? Is the French-speaking world merely a linguistic community or is it also a political, cultural, and economic project? Last but not least, why is the idea of Francophonie so important for France? We will answer these questions through the lens of literary and cinematic texts from Québec, Sénégal, Vietnam, France (l'hexagone), and Haiti among others. [ more ]

    ECON 204 / ENVI 234 / ECON 507(S) LEC Global Poverty and Economic Development

    Why are some nations rich while other nations are poor, and what can be done to end global poverty and promote shared prosperity? This course explores the historical determinants of global poverty and inequality, and analyzes the range of policy options available to promote economic development and equalize opportunities. Drawing on research in development economics, development studies, political science, and anthropology, we seek to understand the factors that shaped the global economy and contributed to the cross-country income disparities observed today. In addition, we'll use the tools of modern empirical microeconomics to assess the possibilities for eliminating global poverty and underdevelopment in the future. Undergraduate students will receive 200-level credit and should not register at the 500-level. [ more ]

    HIST 205 / AFR 203 LEC The Making of Modern Africa

    Last offered Fall 2021

    This course traces the incorporation of Africa into an expanding global world from the middle of the 19th century to the present and examines the impact of this integration on the history of African cultures and modern nation states. It is designed to provide you with an introductory understanding of the economic, social, and political forces that have shaped Africa in recent times and continue to affect the lives of individual people across the continent. Over the course of the semester you will be introduced to major historical themes in African History from the past 150 years, including the abolition of the slave trade and its effects, African states in the 19th century, the growing integration of different regions into shifting global and economic systems, European colonization, and African resistance to imperial conquest. We will also explore the emergence of the nationalist and anti-colonial movements, and Africa's post-colonial experiences of self-governance. Within these broad historical processes, the class will cover additional key themes such as religious change and the role of Western missionaries; changing gender roles; environmental exploitation and change; the emergence of the developmental state; urbanization; military dictatorships, and war and violence in the late 20th century. We will also cover some of the issues surrounding the study of African History as a discipline. This is a challenging task as no single course can cover more than a silver of the complexity and variety of the continent. This is why we approach the study of Modern African History through a comparative prism. [ more ]

    ARTH 207 / AFR 207 TUT "Out of Africa": Cinematic Por(Be)trayals of a Continent

    Last offered Fall 2020

    This tutorial provides a focused study of the politics / poetics of visualization and identification associated with film and cinema about Africa from past to present. From colonial-era propaganda newsreels about Africa's 'fighting men' to contemporary white-savior narratives that exploit current socio-political ruptures on the continent for epic effect, films about Africa produced by a primarily Western cinematic regime have proven themselves to be highly effective apparatuses for framing "Africa" as a concept to be summoned time and time again to tell different stories for different audiences, and in doing so privilege particular viewpoints and imaginaries. This tutorial will provide a space for robust discussion and debate about the various representative tropes, conceptualizations, and visualizations that have been used to shape the contours of "Africa" as understood by a primarily Western audience from past to present, and how these same tropes in many ways have come to define the nature of the relationship between film / cinema and the continent over the history of their engagement. In doing so, it will also address how strategic displays and narratives deployed by cinematic productions often support specific power dynamics that locate an idea of "Africa" within paradigms of specific cultural and political understanding. In zeroing in on how such films promote targeted realities for people and places within the continent, this tutorial will address how "Africa" in Western film and cinematic traditions is positioned within a particular framework of understanding that is more often than not irrevocably tethered to a Western imaginary. [ more ]

    MUS 222 / AFR 223 SEM Politics of Performance/Performing Politics in Contemporary Africa

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Using select examples from throughout Africa, this course highlights genres, artists, and works that engage with social and ideological change. Students practice critical listening and performance analysis, while also considering the social contexts that render these performances meaningful and provocative. Topics include: challenges to mass mediated stereotypes of African populations, the social and economic impact of cultural tourism, music as a form of social critique, changing attitudes toward women and the LGBTQIA community, music and global aid organizations, issues of migration and displacement, and the changing roles of traditional musical occupations. Popular genres-among them Afrobeat, kwaito, soukous, raï, mbalax, Chimurenga music, and a variety of rap and hip-hop styles-are discussed alongside numerous traditional and ceremonial genres, national/political anthems, and concert pieces. Active participation in class discussion is an important component of this course. [ more ]

    ENVI 231 / AFR 231 / STS 231(S) SEM Africa and the Anthropocene

    Despite its low contributions to global carbon emissions, the continent of Africa is predicted to experience some of the worst effects of climate change. This interdisciplinary course investigates the causes and consequences of this troubling contradiction. It positions the African continent as an important site for understanding how legacies of empire, racial and gendered inequality, resource extraction, and capital accumulation impact contemporary global environmental politics. Students will engage theoretical texts, reports from international organizations, films, novels, and web-based content. Topics include: humanism/post-humanism; migration and displacement; representations of conflict; and sustainable development. [ more ]

    PSCI 243 / AFR 256 LEC Politics of Africa

    Last offered Spring 2017

    This course provides an introduction to the politics of contemporary Africa, emphasizing the diversity of African politics. It seeks to challenge the widespread image of African politics as universally and inexplicably lawless, violent, and anarchic. We begin by examining the colonization of Africa, nationalist movements, and patterns of rule in the first 30 years of independence. From there, we analyze the causes, achievements and limitations of the recent wave of political liberalization across Africa. We then consider patterns of economic development in Africa. Finally, we examine China's growing expansion into Africa and ask whether this is a new colonialism. [ more ]

    PSCI 245 SEM South African Politics

    Last offered Spring 2021

    The course deals with South African politics since the end of apartheid. The readings will address the politics, policies, and composition of the African National Congress (ANC), the growth of black economic elites and the black middle class, the persistence of poverty and extreme inequality, expanding corruption, and why the ANC continues to dominate politically in spite of unabated poverty and worsening inequality and corruption. [ more ]

    PSCI 249 / GBST 249 LEC From Beetroot to Zero Grazing: Comparative Response to AIDS in Africa

    Last offered Fall 2014

    As AIDS in African countries grew from a few cases in the mid-1980s to more generalized levels by the mid-1990s, government policy varied widely. Consider that while Kenyan medical officials denied the existence of AIDS (insisting that the four deaths reported in the press were due to skin cancer), in Senegal, President Diouf openly acknowledged AIDS and launched a national prevention and control program. South African President Mbeki and his health minister questioned whether HIV causes AIDS and suggested a garlic, beetroot, and lemon concoction as treatment, while in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni developed a successful home-grown `Zero Grazing' campaign. Why did some African governments respond early and aggressively to AIDS, while others did essentially the opposite? What has worked and what hasn't in the fight against AIDS in African countries? Has political liberalization improved the responsiveness of African governments to AIDS? In this course we aim to better understand how politics and social factors shaped African countries' responses to AIDS. [ more ]

    ARTH 259 / AFR 259 / ARAB 259 LEC Bilad al-Sudan and Beyond: Arts of the Afro-Islamic World

    Last offered Spring 2020

    From the Swahili stone houses of East Africa to the massive earth and timber mosques of the Sahel, the story of Islam in Africa is one of cultural and spiritual hybridity expressed through material form. In this course, students will explore how artistic forms and traditions in Africa have functioned as vehicles of access and integration for Islam, enabling it to assimilate itself with numerous African contexts towards becoming the dominant religious force on the continent. In addition, students will investigate how the forms, functions, and meanings of Afro-Islamic objects across the continent reflect not just one African Islam, but many different iterations, each shaped by the specific frameworks of its cultural context. The contemporary component of the course will examine how modernity in the form of globalization, technology, and Westernization has affected Afro-Islamic artistic traditions, and how these shifts reflect larger evolutions within understandings of Islam in Africa in the contemporary period. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    PSCI 281 / GBST 281 LEC Contemporary African Politics

    Last offered Spring 2022

    This course is an introduction to the contemporary politics of Africa, with the aim of sparking a life-long interest in the affairs of the region. Comprised of nearly 50 countries and home to over 1 billion people, sub-Saharan Africa is remarkable in its diversity, particularly in regards to a number of outcomes central to the study of political science: how do institutions of the past shape current dynamics of political competition and economic growth? Why are some countries stable democracies while others struggle with military coups or authoritarian rule? What sparks political violence and how can countries emerge from conflict? Our focus is both contemporary and comparative, organized thematically around common political experiences and attributes across the region. We begin with the legacies of colonialism, the slave trade, and the politics of liberation. We then interrogate dynamics central to political life in Africa over the 60 years since independence: the role of ethnic diversity in shaping competition, the prominence of patronage politics, and the evolution of elections. We next assess major dimensions that have historically shaped the study of African politics, including conflict and violence, economic development, and foreign aid. The final section takes a comparative approach to some of the most pressing issues in Africa today: health crises, migration and mobility, technological revolution, climate change, and the emerging power of women and youth. [ more ]

    HIST 305 / AFR 304 / GBST 305 SEM A History of Health and Healing in Africa

    Last offered Spring 2022

    This class will explore the history of health and healing in Africa, with emphasis on the colonial and post-colonial eras. During the semester we will explore diverse medical and social interventions in African health over the past 150 years. How have African societies understood healthy communities and public health? We will examine this question through the study of spirit possession and other African healing practices but also how they have intersected with different biomedical practices and public health programs. We will also study the patterns and social impacts of new diseases in the twentieth century, as well as transformations in the understanding and treatment of diseases long present on the continent. In particular we will explore shifting understandings of the causes, treatment, and social implications of sleeping sickness, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The development of colonial rule, shifting environmental conditions, changing diets, and urbanization all impacted the disease landscape, as well as the way African societies have understood public health. Indeed, the themes of health, medicine and disease provide a useful lens for understanding important social transformations across the continent. [ more ]

    RLFR 309 / AFR 307 SEM Contemporary Short Stories from North Africa

    Last offered Fall 2017

    Short stories are the vibrant center of the literary landscape in North Africa today. Written in French, Arabic and sometimes Amazigh languages, short stories provide timely interventions in political and social discourse. In this course, we will read short stories that use humor and satire to address the effects of globalization on local communities, that experiment with language to portray war and revolution, and that seek to create a new space for the discussion of gender. We will also analyze films, sociological texts and Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian online newspapers in order to explore contemporary transformations of life in North Africa. Readings by Maissa Bey, Abdelfattah Kilito, Zeina Tabi, Mohamed Zafzaf, Ahmed Bouzfour, Soumaya Zahy and Fouad Laroui among others. Conducted in French. [ more ]

    HIST 311 Women Warriors, Colonial Soldiers, and Slave Armies: Soldiering and Warfare in African History

    Last offered NA

    Soldiering is one of the oldest professions in African history. Throughout the continent's long history, ordinary soldiers have risen to become kings, queens, presidents, and held other positions of significance. Soldiers in African history have hailed from diverse backgrounds, ranging from the enslaved to those from the nobility. Notable soldiers in African history have been both men and women. Certainly, in Africa as in other world regions there is a tendency to associate the military profession with men. Yet, there have been famous female military warriors in African history, some of the most famous ones being Queen Nzinga in the seventeenth century; the all-female military units in the kingdom of Dahomey, known for their rigor and being effective fighters; and, more recently, Alice Lakwena who commanded a rebellion that nearly brought down the Ugandan government in the late twentieth century. Some of the other themes which we will explore include how warfare was organized from the precolonial era to more recent times; the impact of changing technologies on warfare and the everyday life of armed soldiers; colonial conquest and the soldiers who fought for Europeans and those who resisted; recruitment criteria during the colonial period, and colonial military identities; service in the military as labor and rebellions and mutinies over pay and work conditions; the army and nationalism. Throughout the course we will challenge the enduring Western image and stereotype of Africa as a violent place by focusing on a) the changing conditions that have pushed individuals and communities to go to war, and b) by examining how Africans have initiated and resolved conflict. Students will analyze a variety of resources including soldiers' biographies, films, oral traditions, and archival sources that will help them to come up with their own arguments about the role of the soldiers and the military in Africa. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    DANC 330 / AFR 330 / MUS 330 STU Modern Folklore: Postcolonial Dance and Music in Africa

    Last offered Spring 2019

    "Folklore is a mixture of traditions, poems, songs, dances and legends of the people, it can be no other than the reflection of the life of the country and if that country develops, there is no reason why the folklore which is the living expression, should not develop as well. Modern folklore in present Africa is as authentic as the Africa of old." --Keita Fodeba, founding Artistic Director of Les Ballet Africain, Guinea, West Africa. This course will involve intensive dance and musical practice that is rooted in traditional and contemporary/forms from the African continent and the Diaspora. We will examine the international impact of countries who achieved independence from Europe in the late 1950's-1990s such as Les Ballets Africain, National Dance Company of Senegal, Bembeya Jazz, Ghana Dance Ensemble, and the national dance and music companies of Zimbabwe, Jamaica, and Cuba. Our study will include the impact of artists such as James Brown, Miriam Makeba, Michael Jackson, and Youssou N'Dour, as well as Hip Hop culture and the emergence of new forms of music and dance or modern folklore. [ more ]

    AFR 395 / ENVI 395 / GBST 395 / WGSS 395(F) SEM Black Reparations Within/Beyond Borders

    Generations of Black people around the world have demanded restitution for the harms and legacies of enslavement, indigenous genocide and colonialism in order to advance social justice, new ways of living and freedom. In this way, freedom fighters, Black Power leaders, abolitionist movements, Pan-Africanists, maroons, Rastafarians, Black politicians, climate justice leaders, and revolutionary anti-capitalists have all put forward ideas on and approaches to reparations and reparatory justice. This course will analyze 'geographies of Black struggle' , the differences and commonalities among these approaches, the political strategies and movements, including responses to global climate change and socio-environmental disasters that advance reparations as a just remedy within and beyond borders. We give particular attention to Pan-Africanist and Black feminist perspectives, as well as liberal and popular struggles for reparations within the African diaspora across space and time. Do Pan-Africanism and Black feminism offer new visions for reparations movements in the 21st century? Employing speeches, writings, audio-visual content and documentary film from and about these earlier and emerging movements and their leaders, we will draw long lines between historical circumstances and drivers, and examine Black (un)freedoms within the context of calls for reparation today. [ more ]

    ARTH 419 / AFR 373 / ENVI 419 SEM Going to Ground: Considering Earth in the Arts of Africa

    Last offered Fall 2015

    Drawing its inspiration from the landmark exhibition Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa (National Museum of African Art, 2013), this seminar explores how earth has been conceptualized and integrated into African artistic thought as material, metaphor, geography, environment, and intervention, and how this interpretive flexibility has allowed it to become a symbol of power and presence in African art-making from prehistory to the present. The seminar will also focus on the ways in which earth has been used in contemporary art towards addressing the growing problems of pollution, unsustainable development, and the widespread depletion of earth-based natural resources in Africa. Over the course of this seminar, students will develop a knowledge base of earth-related issues that have been addressed in African artistic production, and engage with various cross-disciplinary methodologies to critically analyze the conceptual and aesthetic strategies deployed in these works. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with specialists from diverse disciplines and fields towards fleshing out their knowledge base. [ more ]

  • ARTH 103 / ASIA 103 LEC East Asian Art

    Last offered Spring 2022

    This course is an introduction to the history of East Asian art from prehistory to the present with particular emphasis on China, Korea, and Japan. Through thematic units, we look at artworks in their original contexts and consider how cross-cultural exchanges stimulated new interpretations across time and space. We examine a broad range of objects including ritual bronze vessels, Buddhist temples, landscape paintings, woodblock prints, and installations. We also discuss these artworks in relation to other forms of creative expression such as ritual practice, performance, and literature. How is East Asia defined geographically and culturally? How did the exchange of ideas, trade, and travel impact the formation of East Asian art? How do artworks and artifacts help us understand East Asia's past? These fundamental questions guide our discussion. Through this course, you will learn to think critically about shared and diverse human experiences across cultures and historical periods. We will also discuss the historiography of East Asian art and analyze why certain types of objects were historically underrepresented in museum spaces and academic scholarship. Artworks from the Williams College Museum of Art and Special Collections also form an integral part of the course. [ more ]

    Taught by: Carolyn Wargula

    Catalog details

    MUS 112 / ASIA 112 LEC Musics of Asia

    Last offered Spring 2016

    This course offers an introduction to the great diversity of Asian music. Our survey will span from East Asia (China, Korea, and Japan) to Southeast Asia (Thailand and Indonesia) to the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia (Tibet and Afghanistan), to the Middle East (Iran and the Arabian peninsula), and will end with the extension of Asian music across North Africa and into Eastern Europe. Within this broad survey, we will focus on selected and representative musical cultures and genres. In each section of the course, aspects of cultural context (including music's function in religious life and its relationship to the other arts), will be emphasized. While our focus will be on the traditional and classical musics of these cultures, we will also briefly consider the current musical scene. Encounters with this music will include attendance at live performances when possible. [ more ]

    HIST 115 / ASIA 115 SEM The World of the Mongol Empire

    Last offered Fall 2019

    By the middle of the thirteenth century, Mongol armies led by Genghis Khan had conquered an enormous swath of territory, extending from China westward to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Further expanded by Genghis's descendants, the Mongol Empire incorporated a vast range of different peoples and cultures, enhancing communications, trade, and exchange among them. In this course we will examine the "world order" of the Mongol Empire from its origins on the Asian steppe through its expansion, consolidation,and disintegration, as well as its legacies. From a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including literature, chronicles, and traveler's accounts, we will investigate the diverse experiences of the Mongol world in places such as China, Russia, Persia, and Central Asia. [ more ]

    HIST 121 / ASIA 121 TUT The Two Koreas

    Last offered Fall 2018

    The two Koreas--North and South--were born in the aftermath of World War II, when the United States and the Soviet Union arbitrarily divided the peninsula into two zones of occupation at the 38th parallel. Today, over six decades later, the split endures as what has been called "the Cold War's last divide." This tutorial examines the history of the two Koreas from their creation in 1945 to the present. We will explore the historical and ideological origins of the division; how tensions between North and South led to the outbreak of the Korean War; why the paths of the two Koreas have differed so markedly; how each country has been shaped by its political leaders and their ideologies; and what recent developments in North Korea, including its nuclear program, have meant for relations on the peninsula and beyond. Course material will include primary and secondary sources of various kinds, including political documents, intellectual treatises, films, and short stories. [ more ]

    HIST 212 / ASIA 212 LEC Transforming the "Middle Kingdom": China, 2000 BCE-1600

    Last offered Fall 2016

    China expanded from scattered Neolithic settlements to become one of the world's most complex and sophisticated civilizations. During this process, it experienced dramatic transformation as well as remarkable institutional and cultural continuities. This course will examine Chinese history from prehistoric times to the "early modern" seventeenth century. It will address topics such as the creation and transformation of dynastic authority, the reinterpretation of Confucian thought, the transmission of Buddhism, the conquest of China proper by "barbarian" peoples, the composition of elites, and change in daily life, popular culture and China's place in the East Asian and world systems. [ more ]

    HIST 213 / ASIA 213(S) LEC Modern China, 1600-Present

    China's presence continues to grow in our world today, but contemporary China also evinces complex contradictions: a market economy promoted by a nominally Communist government, extremes of urban wealth and rural poverty, increasing participation in the international community and intensifying nationalist rhetoric. This course examines China's historical engagement with the modern world to offer perspective on its current conditions. We will begin with the Qing (1644-1911) conquest of China and consolidation of a multi-ethnic empire, and investigate China's encounters with Western and Japanese imperialism, the rise of Chinese nationalism, Republican and Communist revolutions, and the often turbulent history of the People's Republic. Throughout, we will examine themes of social, economic, intellectual, and cultural change through predominantly primary source reading and analysis. [ more ]

    HIST 217 / ASIA 217 LEC Early Modern Japan

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Over a century of constant warfare came to an end in the late 1500s, ushering in more than two hundred years of relative peace in a Japan that was ruled by a military government. This course will take up the extraordinary changes and enduring continuities of the period between the establishment of the Tokugawa government in the early 1600s and its eventual collapse in 1868, an era characterized by societal order and tensions, economic growth and stagnation, the development of cities and towns, the flourishing of urban culture, the spread of new and different ideas, and the decline of the samurai. We will focus on the political, social, and cultural history of early modern Japan, including topics such as the establishment of the Tokugawa order, the nature of the political system, foreign relations, urbanization, popular culture, material culture, the quality of life, the legal order, gender and sexuality, and the fall of the Tokugawa government. Assigned materials will include government documents, intellectual treatises, autobiographies, literature, and films. [ more ]

    HIST 218 / ASIA 218 LEC From Crises to Cool: Modern Japan, 1850s-Present

    Last offered Fall 2021

    Stunning revolutions, the construction and collapse of an empire, the waging of wars, devastating defeat and occupation by a foreign power, and postwar economic ups and downs have marked Japan's modern experience. This course will explore how various Japanese people from factory workers and farmers to politicians and intellectuals have understood, shaped, and lived the upheavals from the 1850s through the present day. And it will examine how the country of Japan as well as individual Japanese people have defined the identities and meanings of "modern Japan." We will ask why a modernizing revolution emerged out of the ashes of the early modern order; what democracy and its failures wrought; how world war was experienced and what legacies it left in its wake; and how postwar Japan has struggled with the successes and costs of affluence. Materials will include anthropological studies, government documents, intellectual treatises, fiction, films, and oral histories. [ more ]

    JAPN 220 / ASIA 220 LEC Being Korean in Japan

    Last offered Spring 2021

    Who are Zainichi Koreans (Koreans in Japan)? How are they different from Koreans in Korea or in the United States? Contemporary Korean TV dramas and films have depicted Koreans as attractive and successful people appealing to Hallyu (Korean Wave) fans around the world. However, Zainichi Koreans, who are the largest ethnic minority in Japan, have been frequently portrayed as abusive husbands/fathers, pitiful wives/mothers, or juvenile delinquents in both Japanese and Korean cinema and literature. Through close readings of films, novels, and short essays, we will explore little-known yet significant representations of Zainichi Koreans by focusing on Japanese and Korean historical contexts. By doing so, we will discover new aspects of transnational exchange not only between Japanese and Koreans, but also between South and North Koreans in Japan. All class materials will be available in English translation or with English subtitles. [ more ]

    CHIN 223 / ANTH 223 SEM Ethnic Minorities in China: Past and Present

    Last offered Spring 2021

    According to the most recent census conducted in China in 2010, of the 1.3 billion population of China, more than 110 million (8.49%) were ethnic minorities (shaoshu minzu). Most of the minority groups reside in autonomous regions and districts, which constitute 64% of China's total acreage. This course introduces students to the multiethnic aspect of China's past and present. We will ask the central question of "what is minzu" and address various topics such as the minority-group identification project; the definition of minzu (translated as "ethnic group," "nationality," or "race" by different scholars); the intersections between language, religion, tourism, diaspora and ethnicity; historical sino-centric views about "foreigners" and "barbarians" as well as the roles that "barbarians" have played in China's long history. We will examine how social differences and hierarchy are constructed and discuss how power plays in the shaping of "ethnicity." A multidisciplinary approach will be adopted for the course, taking in sources from anthropology, history, literature, ethnic studies, and cultural studies. Throughout the course, the pedagogical techniques of "intercultural dialogue" will be adopted to encourage students to discuss their own ethnic experiences and compare ethnic minority issues in China with similar issues in the United States. Students are also encouraged to come up with real-world solutions and strategies to deal with issues of racism, bias, and discrimination. [ more ]

    PSCI 247 / ASIA 249(S) LEC Political Power in Contemporary China

    The People's Republic of China has experienced rapid and extensive economic, social and cultural transformation over the past forty years. Its political system, however, is little changed. The Communist Party still monopolizes power and works hard to suppress organized opposition. Political dissent has taken various forms since 1979 but the regime has found ways to repress and divert it. Yet, in spite of the state's efforts, opposition and dissent continue to bubble to the surface. The course will review the political development of the PRC since 1949 and, then, focus on the dynamics of political contention and regime persistence since the Tiananmen Crisis of 1989. [ more ]

    REL 250 / ASIA 250 LEC Scholars, Saints and Immortals: Virtue Ethics in East Asia

    Last offered Fall 2021

    In East Asian cultures, as in the United States, popular conceptions of morality typically take their shape, not from explicit rules, but from moral paragons--stylized figures that are said to embody a distinctive cluster of virtues. For example, American Christians invoke not only Jesus, but also a pantheon of "secular saints" as diverse as Martin Luther King Jr. and General Patton, George Washington and Cesar Chavez. This course will explore the cultural functions of moral paragons and philosophies of virtue in East Asia by introducing students to examples from Chinese and Japanese history, ranging from Confucian articulations of the ideal scholar-bureaucrat to Buddhist conceptions of the Bodhisattva to Taoist immortals. It will also address the history of ethical thought in East Asia, focusing particular attention on conceptions of "Virtue Ethics." This approach has come to be seen by some contemporary analytic philosophers as a way out of the impasse produced by ethical relativism and the loss of theological rationales for moral action. Readings will include Euro-American philosophers such as Nietzsche and MacIntyre as well as primary texts in translation by Chuang-tzu, Confucius, Shantideva and others. The fall 2021 iteration of the course will have a special focus with a few additional readings on idealized communities and political "utopias." [ more ]

    REL 251 / ASIA 251 LEC Zen Buddhism: History and Historiography

    Last offered Fall 2012

    Because mystifying references to Zen are strewn throughout American popular culture-from episodes of the Simpsons to names of perfumes and snack foods-most Americans have an image of Zen Buddhism that is disconnected from anything actually practiced in East Asia. This course offers a corrective to this image by familiarizing students with both the history of Zen and the historiographical roots of these popular perceptions. This course will examine the origins of Zen (Ch'an) in China, trace its transmission to Japan, and cover its development in both cultural contexts. It will conclude with an examination of Zen's unique role in American popular culture. The course will enrich the conventional image of Zen by addressing its involvement with power and governance, gods and demons, mummies and sacred sites, sex and violence, nationalism and scholarship. Texts will include selections from primary works in translation (The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, The Gateless Barrier, The Lancet of Seated Meditation) as well as selections from secondary literature including Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, Victoria, Zen at War, and Faure, The Rhetoric of Immediacy. [ more ]

    COMP 255 / ASIA 253(S) SEM Love and Death in Modern Japanese Literature and Visual Culture

    Modern Japanese literature is filled with compelling love stories that are variously passionate and poignant, tragic or uplifting, heartwarming or twisted, and sometimes all of the above. This course offers a survey of modern Japanese fiction and visual culture through the lens of the love story, beginning with tales of doomed lovers that were popular in the eighteenth-century kabuki and puppet theaters, and moving through a range of other relationships, including parental love and sacrifice, sex and the occult, and romance at an advanced age. We will focus on novels and short stories by canonical modern authors like Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishima, as well as contemporary popular fiction by writers like Murakami Haruki and Murakami Ryu. We will also give significant attention to popular visual culture, including puppet theater, comics, animation, and film. The class and the readings are in English. [ more ]

    REL 256 / ANTH 256 / ASIA 256 / WGSS 256 SEM Buddhism, Sex, & Gender: #MeToo Then and Now

    Last offered Fall 2018

    This course considers the feminist voices that have been part and parcel of Buddhist practices, texts, and institutions for most of its 2500-year history. We will conduct a historical genealogy of Buddhist voices that illustrate the fluid and disruptive role of sex, gender, caste, and class in relation to individual behavior and social relations. How did the Buddha's inner revolution produce a set of practices that both reject and reinforce existing binaries and social hierarchies of sex and gender, and with what effects? We will trace a feminist voice that decries harassment, assault, and systemic sexism within Buddhist communities from the first female disciples (Theri) of the Buddha to the current #MeToo era of embattled toxic masculinity. Along the way, we explore a literary canon that contains misogyny and 'she devils' alongside a rich tapestry of female divinities, transgender fluidity, and female liberation. We pursue and intersectional analysis of Buddhist traditions and texts by considering the multiple forms of social hierarchy--gender, sexuality, race, and class--that Buddhism has attempted to transcend. We begin by considering three women in the Buddha's life-his mother (Maya), his stepmother/aunt (Gotami), and his wife (Yashodhara)--as well as the tales of the first enlightened Buddhist women whose topics include prostitution, patriarchy, sexism, and pathetic husbands, as well as their own decaying bodies and beauty. Our next theme is the myriad ways that gender is both produced and deconstructed in Buddhist discourses on enlightenment and the human body. Our final theme considers a range of monastic memoirs, including a Buddhist black nun who left Harvard to take ordination in Thailand, and a Dutchman who studied Zen Japan. We close by examining the current debates in the U.S. and Asia that seek to combat systemic racism, sexism, and casteism in Buddhist traditions. [ more ]

    THEA 262 / COMP 262 LEC Japanese Theatre and its Contemporary Context

    Last offered Fall 2018

    Japan's rich and varied performance traditions, old and new, born of different historical settings, coexist to this day and compete for the attention of audiences, domestically and abroad. The forms to be considered (nohgaku, kabuki, bunraku, shingeki, butoh, and Takarazuka all female revue among others) are all dynamic. Each has transformed itself in response to evolving social conditions. This course examines these performance traditions, considers how each reflects the social, cultural, and political context of its birth, and poses the question, "of what relevance is each to a contemporary audience?" Some of the other questions we will explore are: How have these performing traditions transformed themselves throughout history, including after 3.11? What do we mean by traditional? contemporary? How are traditional and contemporary performance genres interacting with each other? How have the central themes of these works evolved? All readings and discussion will be in English. [ more ]

    COMP 264 / ASIA 264 LEC The End of the World in Japanese Literature and Visual Culture

    Last offered Spring 2019

    From the endemic warfare of the medieval era to the atomic bombing and the violent explosion of technology in the last century, the end of the world is an idea which has occupied a central place in almost every generation of Japanese literature. Paradoxically, the spectacle of destruction has given birth to some of the most beautiful, most moving, and most powerfully thrilling literature in the Japanese tradition. Texts may be drawn from medieval war narratives like The Tale of the Heike; World War II fiction and films by Ibuse Masuji, Imamura Shôhei, and Ichikawa Kon; fantasy and science fiction novels by Abe Kôbô, Murakami Haruki and Murakami Ryû; and apocalyptic comics and animation by Oshii Mamoru, Ôtomo Katsuhiro, and others. The class and the readings are in English; no familiarity with Japanese language or culture is required. [ more ]

    PSCI 265 LEC The International Politics of East Asia

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This course examines the political, economic, and cultural determinants of conflict and cooperation in East Asia. Throughout the semester, we will examine three distinct but inter-related aspects of international relations in East Asia: Security, economy, and culture by using some core concepts and theoretical arguments widely accepted in the study of international relations. We will engage some of the central questions and issues in the current debate on East Asia. Do East Asian countries seek security and prosperity in a way fundamentally different from the Western system? Is there a single best way to maintain regional order and cooperation across regions? Will a strong China inevitably claim its traditional place under the sun? Will Japan continue to live as a nation with enormous economic power but limited military means? What is the choice for South Korea between security alliance with the United States and national reconciliation with the North? What should be done to dissuade the authoritarian regime in North Korea from acquiring nuclear capabilities and lead it to different paths toward national survival? By the end of the semester, you will gain both a general perspective and substantive knowledge on East Asian international politics. [ more ]

    COMP 266 / ASIA 266 SEM Confession and Deception in Japanese Literature

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Situated at the origins of Japanese literature are the beautiful and revealing diaries of ladies in waiting at the tenth-and eleventh-century court. Yet one of the most famous of these women turned out to be a man. For the next thousand years, Japanese literary tradition would place a premium on confessional writing, but the distortions and concealments of these narrators (and the authors hiding behind them) would always prove at least as interesting as the revelations. This course examines several centuries of Japanese literature to ask whether you can ever put your true self into writing; along the way I will ask you what you reveal, conceal, discover, or reinvent about yourself when you write about literature for a class like this. Texts will range from classical and medieval court literature by Sei Shônagon and Lady Nijô, through autobiographical and confessional novels by Sôseki, Tanizaki, Mishima, and Abe Kôbô, to documentary and subculture films like The New God and Kamikaze Girls. The class and the readings are in English; no familiarity with Japanese language or culture is required. [ more ]

    JAPN 276 / COMP 278 LEC Premodern Japanese Literature and Performance

    Last offered Spring 2017

    Some of Japan's performance traditions, which developed in different historical settings, have survived to this day and continue to coexist and compete for the attention of audiences both domestically and abroad. This course examines the Japanese literature of three major periods in Japan's history, focusing on how literary and performance traditions have been interrelated in the unfolding of Japanese literary history. We will begin by looking into the Heian period (794-1185), when the work of female authors occupied center stage and some of the canonical texts of the Japanese literary and cultural tradition were born. Next we will consider the medieval period (1185-1600), which saw the rise of the samurai class and the consequent shift in the domain of artistic creation. Then we will look at the Edo period (1600-1867), when a new bourgeois culture flourished and audiences were greatly transformed. We will also explore the continuing force of premodern literary traditions in contemporary performing arts. All readings and discussions will be in English. [ more ]

    HIST 313 / ASIA 313(F) SEM The People's Republic: China since 1949

    This course provides a close examination of the six decades of the history of the People's Republic of China, from the 1949 Revolution to the present day. Through readings and discussion, we will explore the multiple political, economic, social, and cultural factors that contributed to the idealism of the "golden age" of Communist Party leadership (1949-65), the political violence of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the profound transformation of the Reform Era (1978-present) as well as the motors of change in China today. Course materials will include films, novels, and ethnographies, as well as secondary analyses. Please note that this is a discussion seminar and not a survey course. [ more ]

    HIST 319 / ASIA 319 / WGSS 319 SEM Gender and the Family in Chinese History

    Last offered Fall 2020

    Although sometimes claimed as part of a set of immutable "Asian values," the Chinese family has not remained fixed or stable over time. In this course, we will use the framework of "family" to gain insight into gender, generation, and sexuality in different historical periods. Beginning in the late imperial period (16th-18th Centuries), we will examine the religious, marital, sexual, and child-rearing practices associated with traditional ideals of family. We will also examine the wide variety of "heterodox" practices that existed alongside these ideals, debates over and critiques of gender, family, and sexuality in the twentieth century and in China today. [ more ]

    HIST 321 / ASIA 321 / LEAD 321 SEM History of U.S.-Japan Relations, 1853-Present

    Last offered Spring 2021

    An unabating tension between conflict and compromise has been an undercurrent of U.S.-Japan relations since the 1850s, at times erupting into clashes reaching the scale of world war and at times allowing for measured collaboration. We will explore the U.S.-Japan relationship from the perspectives of both countries with a focus on how culture, domestic concerns, economic and political aims, international contexts, and race have helped shape its course and nature. This course will fulfill the Difference, Power, and Equity requirement by examining not just the diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Japan, but also how various types of interactions have influenced the dynamics of power between these two countries and have shaped the ways in which each country has understood and portrayed the other. [ more ]

    PSCI 345 / ASIA 345 SEM The Meaning of Life and Politics in Ancient Chinese Thought

    Last offered Spring 2021

    How can we live a good life? What standards should we use to judge how political power is constituted and used? This class will involve students in close reading of, and exegetical writing about, core texts of ancient Chinese philosophy in English translation. The purpose is to gain an understanding of a number of different perspectives on life and politics, especially Confucianism, Legalism and Daoism. While the primary focus will be on the meaning of the texts in the context of their own times, contemporary applications of core concepts will also be considered. The class will begin with background readings, since no prior work in Chinese philosophy or history is assumed. Then the class will read significant portions of the following canonical works: Yijing, Analects, Mencius, Daodejing, Zhuangzi, and Han Feizi. [ more ]

    PSCI 354 / HIST 318 / ASIA 354(F) LEC Nationalism in East Asia

    Nationalism is a major political issue in contemporary East Asia. From anti-Japanese demonstrations in China, to tensions on the Korea peninsula, to competitive elections in Taiwan, to controversies in Japan about how history is portrayed in high school textbooks, national identity is hotly debated and politically mobilized all across the region. This course begins with an examination of the general phenomena of nationalism and national identity and their historical development in East Asia. It then considers how nationalism is manifest in the contemporary politics and foreign relations of China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Taiwan. [ more ]

    HIST 416 / ASIA 416 SEM The Many Lives of Tokyo

    Last offered Fall 2021

    The city of Tokyo has had many lives from its early modern founding as the shogun's capital of Edo to its contemporary incarnation as a global megacity. This seminar explores how and why the city has changed--how an unassuming fishing village was transformed over four centuries into a vibrant early modern city of over a million people, the heart of a modern nation and metropole of an expansive empire, an emblem of urban cosmopolitanism, and a sprawling metropolis. Our focus will be on how people have lived, conceived, and shaped Edo/Tokyo. We will consider how different and various people have moved through the city; where and how they have lived, worked, and enjoyed themselves; how they have interacted with the natural and built environments; and how they have expressed their discontents with, and aspirations for, the city. Topics to be examined include: physical expansion, urbanization, and suburbanization; destruction and reconstruction from fires, earthquakes, and war; cultivation of opportunities to consume; and creation of urban popular cultures. The centerpiece of the seminar is the research and writing of a substantial and original paper that delves into a question of interest to you about the history of Tokyo. [ more ]

    CHIN 422 / ASIA 122 TUT Old Shanghai, New Shanghai

    Last offered Spring 2018

    Once nicknamed as "Paris of the East," Shanghai, now a megacity with a population of 25 million, is the industrial, commercial and financial center of contemporary China. Shanghai is often depicted as a metropolis that marked the beginning of China's modernity and urban culture. People from other regions in China see Shanghai as a city full of opportunities, but characterize its people as astute and shrewd, cocky and unwelcoming. Foreigners, however, find the city appealing and its people open-minded. Jews fleeing Nazi persecutions during WWII, found Shanghai to be a "paradise of ghetto" that provided the only haven of survival. For local people, there have always been two Shanghai: an old one and a new one. They are proud of the new Shanghai but constantly nostalgic about the old one. This tutorial examines the multifaceted city of Shanghai and its people from historical and cultural perspectives. We will look at the city's history (from the late nineteenth century to present day), its local language and culture, and everyday life of the people (including migrants and foreigners) living in it. The central ideas we will explore are "modernity" and "regional identity." We will investigate how these theoretical constructs play out in the making of the city of Shanghai and the formation of its unique local identity. Course readings include historical and cultural studies as well as documentaries in English about Shanghai, and primary sources in Chinese in a wide range of genres including fiction, essays, and films (English translation of the primary sources are available for students taking the course in English). The course is conducted in either Chinese or English. Students wishing to take the course in English should register under ASST 122T and students wishing to take the course in Chinese should register under CHIN 422T. Students will come away with a critical understanding about China's regional cultures and one of its most important metropolitan cities. Chinese language learners will be able to improve their reading and writing skills in Chinese through this course. The course has a required field trip to a Chinese restaurant on a Saturday or Sunday, depending on all students' schedules. [ more ]

  • MUS 125 / DANC 125(S) SEM Music and Social Dance in Latin America

    This course offers a full-spectrum introduction to a number of Latin American social dance forms, including samba, salsa, tango, and the Suriname Maroon genre, awasa. Through critical listening and viewing assignments, performance workshops, and readings from disciplines spanning ethnomusicology, anthropology, dance studies, Latin American studies and history, students will combine a technical understanding of the musical and choreographic features of these genres with a consideration of their broader contexts and social impact. Among the questions that will drive class discussions are: How do sound and movement interrelate? What aspects of gender, sexuality, class, race and ethnicity arise in the performance and consumption of Latin American genres of social dance? How do high political, economic, and personal stakes emerge through activities more commonly associated with play and leisure? This class is driven by academic inquiry into these various social dance practices; it does not prioritize gaining performance skills in the genres discussed. While there will be experiential components included throughout the course (for instance music or dance workshops), the majority of the class will be conducted in a discussion/seminar format. While the ability to read musical notation is helpful, it is not required. [ more ]

    RLSP 203(F) LEC From Modernismo to El Boom de la Novela

    A survey of some of the leading imaginative writers of Ibero America. Readings will begin with the modernista poets and go on to include fiction of Mexico by Rulfo, a wide sampling of verse by Pablo Neruda, and narratives of the "Boom" period by authors such as Borges, Cortázar, Lispector, and García Márquez. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

    RLSP 205 / COMP 205 LEC The Latin-American Novel in Translation

    Last offered Fall 2018

    A course specifically designed to enable students who have no knowledge of Spanish to read and discover those Latin-American authors who, in the twentieth century, have attracted world-wide attention. Among the texts to be discussed: Borges, Labyrinths; Cortázar, Blow-up and Hopscotch; Lispector, the Hour of the Star lesser works by Fuentes and Puig; and by Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude. Conducted in English [ more ]

    RLSP 206 SEM Latin-American Civilizations

    Last offered Spring 2021

    An introduction to the multiple elements constituting Latin-American culture. Class assignments include readings from selected Latin-American essayists and screenings of classic films. Particular focus on the conflict between local and foreign cultural traditions. Areas to be considered: Spanish Catholicism, the influence of European liberalism and U.S. expansion, the Indian and African contribution, and the cultural impact of social revolution in Mexico and Cuba. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

    LATS 228 / REL 223 / AFR 228 / AMST 228 LEC Revolt and Revelation in 20th-Century Americas

    Last offered Fall 2017

    Writing in 1971, Dominican priest and Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez asked "Is the Church fulfilling a purely religious role when by its silence or friendly relationships it lends legitimacy to dictatorial and oppressive government?" Such a question encapsulates the sometimes agonistic and other times deeply intertwined relationships between religious institutions, religious thought, and movements for political transformation in the 20th century Americas. This course examines those forms of "God-talk" broadly termed "liberation theologies" that responded to and challenged social relationships of class, colonization, race, culture, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability, and ecology. These theologies were borne out of and in turn deeply shaped struggles against oppressive regimes and structures in the Americas, and as such we will focus on some specific theological writings--such as those of Gutierrez--and their relationship to distinct social movements and struggles over land, economy, and political power, especially in Brazil, El Salvador, Perú, and the United States of America between 1960-2000. [ more ]

    RLSP 230 SEM Mexican Literature and Cultural Production

    Last offered Fall 2020

    This course will offer a survey of the rich and varied cultural production of Mexico, from the pre-Hispanic past to the present. Students will explore a variety of literary genres (pre-Hispanic poetry, creation stories and songs; chronicles of conquest; short works of prose fiction and novels; and modern poetry and essays) as well as other kinds of cultural production within a framework of historical contextualization and formal analysis. The course meets twice per week. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

    RLSP 231(F) SEM Indigenous Writers of Colonial Mexico and Peru

    This course examines the writings of 16th and 17th Century Indigenous authors of New Spain and colonial Peru. We will study the works of well-known Indigenous writers such as Hernando de Alvarado Tezozomoc, Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, El "Inca" Garcilaso de la Vega, and Guaman Poma de Ayala, as well as writings by lesser-known and anonymous Indigenous authors. Our focus on the historical contexts and formal aspects of their works will be supplemented and enhanced by a study of the critical methods of textual analysis that are particularly relevant to Indigenous texts, as facilitated by a set of selected critical readings. The course, in short, will aim to interrogate the idea of a "Spanish lettered city" (a colonial city dominated by Spanish men of letters) and will explore the possibilities of an "alter-native" lettered city, one in which Indigenous writing flourishes during times of crisis. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

    HIST 242 LEC Latin America From Conquest to Independence

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This course will examine the processes commonly referred to as the creation of "Latin America" and will do so from numerous perspectives. Starting with the construction of indigenous societies, from small and decentralized groupings to huge imperial polities-, before 1492, to the invasion of Europeans from that date forward, we will take up the question of the Iberian "conquest," looking at the often violent encounters that made up that event and analyzing its success, limits, and results. We will then study the imposition of Iberian rule from the point of view of would-be colonizers and the peoples they treated as objects of colonization, stressing the multiple and conflicting character of European, indigenous, and African perspectives. Thus looking at the Americas from both the outside-in and inside-out, we will focus on the unequal relations of power that came to define cultural, political, and economic life in the colonies, always with an eye on the gendered and racialized nature of those relations. We will also not only compare very different regions of the Iberian Americas but also see how the grand shifts of history intervened in--and perhaps consisted of--the most normal elements of daily life in northern Mexico, the central Andes, coastal Brazil, and other parts of colonial Latin America. Visual as well as more traditional written primary materials, along with secondary texts and films, will serve as the basis for our discussions throughout the semester. [ more ]

    HIST 243 LEC Modern Latin America, 1822 to the Present

    Last offered Fall 2016

    This course will examine salient issues in the history of the independent nations of Latin America. The first two sections of the course will focus on the turbulent formation of nation-states over the course of the "long nineteenth century," from the crises of the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires in the late eighteenth century to the heyday of liberal political economies at the turn of the twentieth century. In this regard the course will analyze the social and economic changes of the period up to World War I and the possibilities they offered for both political order and disorder. Key topics addressed will include caudillismo, the role of the Church in politics, economic dependency and development, and the place of indigenous and African Latin-American peoples in new nations, and industrialization and urbanization. The latter two sections will examine the trend toward state-led national development in the twentieth century, considering the diverse forms it took and conflicts it generated in different nations and periods. Here we will take up questions the emergence of workers' and women's movements and the rise of mass politics; militarism, democracy, and authoritarian governments; the influence of the U.S. in the region; and the life and possibly death of revolutionary options. Within this chronological framework of national and regional political economy, we will consider the ways that various Latin American social actors shaped their own lives and collective histories, sometimes challenging and sometimes accommodating the ideals of national elites. General regional trends will be illustrated by selected national cases, including Mexico, Brazil, Agentina, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. [ more ]

    AFR 248 / HIST 248 SEM The Caribbean: From Slavery to Independence

    Last offered Spring 2018

    This class will begin with and foreground the current crisis in Puerto Rico, an island emblematic of the history of colonialism, racism, environmental destruction, and economic exploitation of the region. But as the Caribbean has suffered, so has it resisted. From the Haitian Revolution to the Manley `Revolt' in Jamaica, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, the Cuban Revolution, and the Grenadian Revolution, the Caribbean has been at the forefront of radical change in the New World. Pioneering slave emancipation, independence from European empires, and unique experiments in socialism, communism, and Black Power, these small islands have been world leaders. But their innovative social and political experimentation--expressed in vivid artistic and musical forms--have all too often met with disdain and repression by their more powerful neighbors or former colonial rulers. This course will examine the audacious experiments of the Caribbean people from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries as well as the repression they have faced from abroad. We will pay attention to the rich cultural diversity of the region, using film, music, literature and art to examine diverse phenomenon, including voodoo, Santeria, and Rastafarianism. We will also explore the prospects for continuing change in the contemporary Caribbean, paying special attention to the environmental challenges they face amidst rising sea levels, drought, heat waves, and the effect of two hundred years of environmental destruction at the hands of rapacious foreigners, from slaveowners to cruise ship lines to bauxite and oil producers. [ more ]

    PSCI 253(S) LEC The Tragedy of Venezuela

    The recent history of Venezuela offers a window into many of the most important political and economic issues faced by people in developing countries. Why does an abundance of oil seem to solve some problems while often leading to perverse economic and political outcomes? How can democracy be made to work better for ordinary people? What does it mean for a government to be truly sovereign? How does corruption grow and what can we do about it? When should we leave important decisions to technocratic experts? What does it mean today to be progressive? The course first briefly reviews Venezuelan post-Independence history, with an emphasis on the post-1958 democratic settlement. It then explores more deeply the reasons for the breakdown of this settlement, the rise of Hugo Chavez, and the decay of the "21st Century Socialist" regime under Chavez and Maduro. Materials include biographies, documentary films, short videos, economic data, and news reports. [ more ]

    RLSP 259 Violent States, Violent Subjects: Nation-Building and War in 19th Century Latin America

    Last offered NA

    Although the massive, mechanized wars of the 20th century often overshadow earlier conflicts, the 19th century was also a period of widespread bloodshed in Latin America. First, of course, came the carnage of the Independence Wars, which was followed by decades of civil war (Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela) and two bitter international wars--the Paraguayan War (1864-1870) and the Pacific War (1879-1883)--each of which would have a lasting impact on the countries involved. The restoration of peace brought economic development and new opportunities for dominant groups, but also the return of some of the most violent practices of the colonial period: indigenous peoples were conquered, their lands settled by whites or used for grazing cattle, and blacks (often despite the official abolition of slavery) met with new forms of exclusion, exploitation, and physical violence. In this tutorial we will explore the literary links between some of the violent conflicts listed above and the foundation of national identities in Latin America, reading texts that probe the social and ethical implications of State-sponsored violence. Issues to be explored include militarism and the development of nationalism; genocide and the national community; torture, truth and testimony; and the notion of 'civilization.' We will read one or two key precursors and a variety of 19th century texts that may include works by Juan Francisco Manzano, Esteban Echeverría, Ricardo Palma, Rosa Guerra, Dorotea Duprat de Lassere and Juan Crisóstomo Centurión, and Lucio V. Mansilla. In addition, we will read a few contemporary texts, written in the aftermath of the late-20th century dictatorships in the Southern Cone, that actively reflect on the long history of State-sponsored violence in Latin America (Ricardo Piglia, Diamela Eltit, Augusto Roa Bastos). Students will work in trios throughout the semester, each group meeting with the instructor once a week. Each week one of the students will present a 5-page paper on the assigned reading and one will be designated the official respondent, whose job is to lead a discussion of the paper. The third member of the group will turn in a revision of the previous week's paper. Prerequisites: one 200-level RLSP course or permission of instructor. Heritage learners, international students and second-language learners are all heartily welcome. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    PSCI 266 LEC The United States and Latin America

    Last offered Spring 2022

    This course examines the most important political and diplomatic divide in the Western Hemisphere. The first half is a historical survey of U.S.-Latin American foreign relations from the early Spanish American independence movements through the end of the Cold War and recent developments. We consider how this history confirms or undermines influential views about U.S. foreign relations and about international relations generally. We also compare historical U.S. foreign policy toward the hemisphere to U.S. policy toward the entire world after the Cold War. The second half covers the most important current issues in hemispheric relations: the rise of leftist governments in Latin America; the war on drugs; immigration and border security; and competition with China for influence. At the end we briefly reconsider current U.S. policies in historical perspective. [ more ]

    RLSP 274 / WGSS 275 / COMP 286 LEC Women's Contemporary Cultural Production in Latin America

    Last offered Spring 2019

    In Latin America, women have been largely displaced as historical subjects and reduced, in many ways, to symbolic figures or icons whose trajectories have been depicted as essential to the construction of diverse social projects within the context of patriarchal nation-states. Each country has formed a specific idea of what a woman is, and can be, through its cultural production, and this constant erasure/objectification has led to a complex problematic when it comes to addressing women as cultural producers. Keeping this in mind, in this course we will explore the concept of "Woman" as a representation and women as cultural producers in contemporary Latin America. We will address intersections of race/ethnic positioning, sexual identity, and social class to explore their role in the reception and understanding of the work of these female artists. Through the analysis of varied cultural production, the syllabus will present an interdisciplinary approach to the contributions of female artists to the cultural representation of race/ethnicity, masculinity, femininity, violence, sexuality, gender identity, nationalism, citizenship, and social movements. We will explore the work of artists such as Sara Castrejón, Nahui Ollin, Citlali Fabián, Amparo Dávila, Alejandra Pizarnik, Rosario Castellanos, Reina Roffé, Ana Tijoux, Lucrecia Martel, Chavela Vargas, Graciela Iturbide, Celia Cruz, Lucía Puenzo, Cecilia Barriga, Cristina Rivera Garza, María Novaro, Cristina Peri Rossi, Maruch Sántiz Gómez, Leonora Carrington, and Maris Bustamante, among others. In addition, we will read theoretical texts on diverse subjects corresponding to each specific cultural product. [ more ]

    RLSP 280 LEC From Roma to Yalhalhj: Race and Identity Politics Through Contemporary Mexican Cultural Production

    Last offered Spring 2020

    In 2017, the National Institute of Statistics in Mexico (INEGI) used for the first time a color palette to measure individuals' skin tone. The study showed that "Mexicans who were classified by the interviewers as having darker skin tones tend to have lower levels of education and are worse off economically than their lighter-skinned counterparts" (Zizumbo and Flores, 2017). Raising controversy among those who would like to think of Mexico as a post-racial nation and those who recognize social inequality and discrimination on the basis of skin tone, the debate resonates in the way Mexican citizenship and cultural identity are both represented in mainstream media, even with the intention of showing diversity. The prevalent whitewashing dominating mass media in Mexico extends from advertisements to films, promoting an image of wealth and education intrinsically related to not only skin tone but also with race/ethnic positionality and gender. This course will explore the representation of these variables and their intersections through the analysis of photography, films, novels, paintings, reality shows, telenovelas, advertising campaigns, and music videos. In addition, we will take into account questions of representation, agency, and visibility addressed by cultural producers from pueblos originarios who do not consider themselves Mexican citizens. This class will be conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

    Taught by: Roxana Blancas Curiel

    Catalog details

    RLSP 308 SEM Survey of Colonial Latin American Literature from 1492 to the Early 19th Century

    Last offered Spring 2021

    This course will focus on major works of Spanish American literature from 1492 through the first part of the 19th century. Readings will include narrative texts such as Cartas de relación, chronicles of conquest, religious texts, and indigenous annals, as well as poetry and drama. While many of the texts will focus on colonial Mexico, we will also study texts from Central and South America. We will focus on the historical contexts and formal aspects of these works, and study methods of textual analysis that are particularly relevant to these texts via selected critical readings. Special attention will be given to colonial encounters and the clash of cultures that produced new identities and textualities under Spanish colonial rule. The course meets twice per week. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

    RLSP 319 SEM Dictatorship and the Latin-American Novel

    Last offered Spring 2022

    Military dictatorship is among the most crucial factors in Latin-American society and history, and some of the continent's leading novelists have taken it upon themselves to depict the experience in their work. In this course we will examine both the fact of dictatorship itself and the diverse representation thereof in Spanish-American fiction. Novels by García Márquez, Vargas Llosa, Poniatowska, and Tomas Eloy Martínez will be closely studied. Students will also read Absalom! Absalom! by Faulkner, whose influence on Latin-American authors' techniques of representation has been decisive and profound. [ more ]

    LATS 327 / REL 314 / AMST 327 / AFR 357 SEM Racial and Religious Mixture

    Last offered Spring 2020

    The very term "mixture" implies that two or more distinct substances have been brought together. Distinctions of race and religion are social fictions; yet, the lived ramifications of these social fictions involve tense struggles over the boundaries of racial and religious communities. These boundaries are not just ideas but also practices. In the history of the Americas, mixed racial and religious identities and experiences have more often been the result of violent clashes than romantic encounters. Still, the romanticization of the New World as a geography that makes such mixtures possible reaches back to the earliest days of Spanish conquest in the Americas. This course critically reconsiders varying ways that racial and religious mixtures have been imagined, defined, challenged, negotiated, and survived under imaginative and legal rubrics of mestizaje, creolization, transculturation, passing, syncretism, religious hybridity, and mixed race studies. [ more ]

    PSCI 330 / GBST 330 SEM American Political Thought in Hemispheric Context

    Last offered Spring 2021

    Actors living during the Age of Revolutions witnessed an astounding number of social, political, and cultural changes. In the short period between 1775 and 1830 more than thirty popular insurgency movements took control of the American hemisphere, most of them by organizing around the principles of republican politics. In this course, we study the peoples, demands, and visions that comprised the popular movements of the Age of Revolutions to reconstruct the canon American Political Thought in hemispheric context. This course emphasizes the comparative features of post-colonial movements in the Americas and centers the contributions of indigenous, raced, gendered, and ethnicized communities. The course schedule is divided into two sections. The first half of the class situates the political and theoretical problems of American Political Thought by engaging with scholarship on post-colonial movements, decolonial thought, democratic theory, and theories of popular rule. The second half of the course contextualizes these frameworks by putting them in conversation with studies of revolutionary change, popular imagination, and case studies on revolutionary movements throughout the Americas. Students are expected to engage in archival research, as well as work with both primary and secondary sources on the Age of Revolutions. [ more ]

    Taught by: Arturo Chang

    Catalog details

    WGSS 337 / ANTH 337 SEM Race, Sex & Gender in Brazil

    Last offered Fall 2021

    The course introduces students to anthropological literature of Brazil as well as Brazilian novels and films. Its focus is on understanding the history and contemporary culture of Brazil through attention to racial justice, including the country's unique history and legacies of slavery in comparative context. It also examines questions of gender, including the history of feminism in Brazil and current debates related women's equality such as Brazil's abortion laws, domestic violence, sexual tourism, and job opportunities for women. Lastly, we also examine LGBT history in Brazil and dive into writing about queer culture there. NOTE: Students must also commit to registering for a winter study travel course with a trip to Rio de Janeiro, during which time students will visit important historical sites, museums, and relevant cultural attractions. They will also meet collectively with faculty members from several universities and NGOs to learn about the research and projects our Brazilian hosts are engaged in. Students also have their own individual exploratory research projects there related to social justice, which are integral to the seminar. Students should also be aware of the physical demands of the trip, which include extensive walking, some hiking, and exposure to summer heat and the elements in the Atlantic Rainforest. Thanks to the Global Initiatives Venture Fund, the cost of the trip is covered for all students enrolled. [ more ]

    ENGL 340 / AMST 340 / WGSS 340 / COMP 342 SEM Elizabeth Bishop in the Americas

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Elizabeth Bishop has emerged as one of the most important poets of the 20th century. She is admired not only for her dazzling mastery of the craft but also her adventurous life as a world traveler. Her more than two decades living in Brazil and translating the culture and literature of that country for a North American audience, for instance, make her life and work a rich focal point for cross-cultural study. At the center of the course will be Bishop's stunning meditations on childhood, memory, travel, lesbian sexuality, gender identity, ecology, and race and class in the U.S. and Brazil. We will look at how Bishop intertwines personal and global historical encounters in order to raise serious ethical questions about our shared history of conquest and sense of place in the Americas from the 16th century to the Cold War period of the twentieth. What is ultimately at stake in our claiming of a "home"? We also read a number of the writers in North and South America who were closely connected to Bishop, from Robert Lowell and Ernest Hemingway in North America, to Pablo Neruda and Clarice Lispector in South America. Ultimately, we study how craft, poetic process, and an ethical eye on the world can open up the study of poetry and poetics in the 21st century. [ more ]

    RLSP 342(S) SEM Reading Sor Juana: "única poetisa americana, musa décima,"

    This course focuses on the writings of one of the most revered women writers in Hispanic Letters, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, who was regarded by her contemporaries as the Tenth Muse. Our exploration and study of Sor Juana's writings will focus on the different genres in which she wrote--prose, poetry, and drama--and it will include a survey and analysis of the historical context in which she wrote, the formal aspects of her writings, and critical essays about her work written by leading scholars in the field of Latin American literature. Near the end of the semester, the course will conclude by expanding its focus to examine the ways in which Sor Juana's work has influenced contemporary Latin American and U.S. Latina authors. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

    HIST 346 / AFR 346 LEC Modern Brazil

    Last offered Fall 2021

    Brazil has been the "country of the future" longer than it has been an independent nation. Soon after Europeans descended on its shores, Brazil was hailed as a land of resources so rich and diverse that they would inevitably produce great wealth and global power for its inhabitants. Although this has often contributed to an exaggerated patriotism, it has also fostered ambiguity-for if the label suggests Brazil's potential, it also underlines the country's failure to live up to that promise. This course will examine Brazil's modern history by taking up major themes from Independence to the present. Beginning with a "bloodless" independence that sparked massive civil wars, we will analyze the hierarchies that have characterized Brazilian society. The course will give particular attention to themes of race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship; national culture and modernity; and democracy and authoritarianism in social and political relations. [ more ]

    HIST 347(S) SEM Democracy and Dictatorship in Latin America

    The scarcity of stable and democratic governments in Latin America has frustrated observers across the region and beyond for almost 200 years. This course will examine the historical creation of both democratic and anti-democratic regimes in different national cases, seeking to identify the conditions that have fostered the apparent persistence of dictatorial tendencies as well as diverse forms of pro-democratic and social justice activism. Our main cases will be Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and the countries of Central America, but we will address the region as a whole. In this regard we will look at the social and economic forces as well as the political actors and ideologies that have contributed to distinct, if often parallel, outcomes. At the same time, we will also question the criteria we use to label regimes "democratic" or "dictatorial"--and the implications of our choice of criteria. [ more ]

    PSCI 349 TUT Cuba and the United States

    Last offered Spring 2020

    With the passing of the Castro brothers' regime on the horizon, we examine the long and deeply felt history of dependence and conflict between Cuba and its colossal neighbor to the north. It begins with the political economy of the colony, then covers the Cuba- US relationship from José Martí and 1898 through the Cold War to the present, emphasizing the revolutionary period. Tutorial topics include: sovereignty and the Platt Amendment; culture and politics; race and national identity; policies on gender and sexual orientation; social programs; political institutions; the post-Soviet "Special Period"; the evolution of the Cuban exile community in the US; and the fraught agenda of reform and generational transition. Materials include journalism, official publications, biographies, travel accounts, polemics, policy statements of the US government, and a wide range of academic works. [ more ]

    PSCI 351 / GBST 351 LEC The New Left and Neoliberalism in Latin America

    Last offered Spring 2022

    Recent years have seen a resurgence of the political left in Latin America. This course seeks to understand the origins of this new left, the ideas and character of its protagonists, the neoliberal philosophy it opposes, and the arena of democratic politics it inhabits today. We first read polemics from both sides, before stepping back to consider Latin American political economy, including the twentieth-century left, from a more historical and analytical perspective. With this preparation, we then look more closely at major contemporary figures and movements in Venezuela, Bolivia, Mexico, Brazil, and other countries. After considering explanations of the rise of the left and assessments of its performance in power, we end our common readings by asking what it might mean today to be on the left in Latin America--or anywhere--both in policy and political terms. [ more ]

    PSCI 352 / GBST 352 LEC Politics in Mexico

    Last offered Fall 2020

    Geography has decreed that the futures of Mexico and the United States will be tightly bound. Yet Mexico enters this future with a very different past, a distinctive political system, important cultural differences, and mixed feelings about its neighbor to the north. This course has four parts differing in content and format. The first is historical and mostly lecture. It considers several themes, including the slow emergence of a stable national state and the interplay between politics and economic change. In the second section, following a modified tutorial format, we consider politics and cultural policies around Mexican national identity in the twentieth century, looking at films, journalism, popular music, and cultural criticism. Topics include the politics of race; rapid urbanization, especially in the valley of Mexico; and the cultural impact of the turn toward the north, after 1990, in economic policy. Then, after a few discussion classes on migration, organized crime, political corruption, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other issues facing the current government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, we turn to a seminar-style discussion of student research projects. [ more ]

  • HIST 111 / ARAB 111 / LEAD 150 SEM Movers and Shakers in the Middle East

    Last offered Fall 2017

    This course examines the careers, ideas, and impact of leading politicians, religious leaders, intellectuals, and artists in the Middle East in the twentieth century. Utilizing biographical studies and the general literature on the political and cultural history of the period, this course will analyze how these individuals achieved prominence in Middle Eastern society and how they addressed the pertinent problems of their day, such as war and peace, relations with Western powers, the role of religion in society, and the status of women. A range of significant individuals will be studied, including Gamal Abd al-Nasser, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Ayatollah Khomeini, Muhammad Mussadiq, Umm Khulthum, Sayyid Qutb, Anwar Sadat, Naghuib Mahfouz, and Huda Shaarawi. [ more ]

    HIST 207 / GBST 102 / ARAB 207 / LEAD 207 / JWST 217 / REL 239 LEC The Modern Middle East

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This survey course addresses the main economic, religious, political and cultural trends in the modern Middle East. Topics to be covered include the cultural diversity of the Middle East, relations with Great Powers, the impact of imperialism, the challenge of modernity, the creation of nation states and nationalist ideologies, the discovery of oil, radical religious groups, and war and peace. Throughout the course these significant changes will be evaluated in light of their impact on the lives of a variety of individuals in the region and especially how they have grappled differently with increasing Western political and economic domination. [ more ]

    ANTH 210 / ARAB 210 / GBST 210 / HIST 210 / REL 240 LEC The Challenge of ISIS

    Last offered Spring 2017

    What is ISIS and what does it want? Using historical and anthropological sources and perspectives, the course considers the origins, ideology and organization of the Islamic State. Beginning with an examination of early radical movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Afghan mujahidin and Taliban, and al-Qaeda, the course will go on to investigate how ISIS derives important aspects of its ideology and organization from these earlier movements and how it deviates from them. We will look at unique aspects of the movement, such as its use of social media, its extensive destruction of ancient historical sites, its staging of spectacles of violence, and its recruitment of Muslims from Europe and North America. We will also examine the ideological constitution of the movement, including its attitude toward and treatment of non-Muslims, its conceptualization of itself as a modern incarnation of the original Islamic caliphate, the ways in which it justifies its use of violence, and its apocalyptic vision of the present-day as End Time. Finally, we will evaluate current responses to ISIS, in the West and among Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere, in terms of their effectiveness and strategic coherence. [ more ]

    HIST 212 / ASIA 212 LEC Transforming the "Middle Kingdom": China, 2000 BCE-1600

    Last offered Fall 2016

    China expanded from scattered Neolithic settlements to become one of the world's most complex and sophisticated civilizations. During this process, it experienced dramatic transformation as well as remarkable institutional and cultural continuities. This course will examine Chinese history from prehistoric times to the "early modern" seventeenth century. It will address topics such as the creation and transformation of dynastic authority, the reinterpretation of Confucian thought, the transmission of Buddhism, the conquest of China proper by "barbarian" peoples, the composition of elites, and change in daily life, popular culture and China's place in the East Asian and world systems. [ more ]

    ARTH 220 LEC Sacred Spaces of Islam

    Last offered Fall 2017

    A clean place oriented towards Mecca is enough for daily prayer, but the communal practices of Islam are myriad and they often transpire in more formal architectural settings. These structures range from traditional columned halls of brick and timber to modernist ensembles of reinforced concrete and plate glass; monuments may be open to the elements, flat-roofed or domed; surfaces may be enhanced with carved marble, inlaid wood, glazed tile and other beautifying elements. [ more ]

    PSCI 227 / LEAD 227 LEC International Relations of the Middle East

    Last offered Spring 2021

    This is a course about the Middle East in international politics. The structure of the course combines political science concepts with a detailed survey of the region's diplomatic history. The basic format of the course will be to combine brief lectures--either posted on the class website beforehand or given at the start of each class--with an in-depth discussion of each class session's topic. The goal of these discussions is to generate debates over the conceptual, historical, and policy significance of the subjects that we cover. Specifically, the first section of the course will cover the emergence of the Persian Gulf as an area of strategic importance in international politics; U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia and Iran after World War II; the origins of the Arab-Israeli dispute; the June 1967 and October 1973 Middle East conflicts; Egyptian-Israeli peace; the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War; the 1991 Persian Gulf War and its consequences; and the rise of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas. The second part of the course focuses on the Iraq War and its consequences; the rise of ISIS; the Arab Spring; Turkey's changing foreign relations; and the war in Syria. The last section of the course covers contemporary policy challenges confronting the Middle East. [ more ]

    REL 231 LEC The Origins of Islam: God, Empire and Apocalypse

    Last offered Spring 2014

    Both Muslim and non-Muslim historians usually see the rise of Islam in the seventh century C.E. as a total break with the past. This course will challenge that assumption by placing the rise of Islam in the context of the history of late antiquity (c. 250-700 C.E.). The first portion of the course will examine the impact of Judeo-Christian monotheism in the ancient world, the rise of confessional empires, articulation of new ideas about holiness and its relation to sexuality and the transformations undergone by Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism. We shall examine the conversation of these traditions with classical paganism and philosophy, the internal struggle within traditions to define rules of interpretation, the impact of ascetic, iconoclastic and apocalyptic ideas and, finally, polemics among the traditions. We will then examine the career of Muhammad (PBUH) in the context of Arabia, the spread of the Islamic empire into Christian and Iranian worlds, the impact of apocalyptic expectations, the fixation of religious decision making within the tradition, the process of conversion, the encounter with the Late Antique heritage and religious diversity within the commonwealth of Islam. The course will end with the end of the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258. [ more ]

    ARAB 249 / COMP 249 SEM Trauma and Memory in Maghrebi and Middle Eastern Literatures

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Arabic literature produced in the Maghreb and the Middle East has always engaged with the socio-political concerns of different Arab societies. Whether caused by the colonial state(s) or by post-independence leadership, trauma has been a central theme in Maghrebi and Middle Eastern literature for a long time. Using a combination of memoirs, films, and fictional works, this course aims to raise students' critical awareness and aesthetic appreciation of literary representations of the multiple traumas inflicted on people and societies in the Maghreb and the Middle East. The different novels and films assigned in this course will be read against seminal literature on memory and trauma studies to answer the following questions: how does Arabic literature remember? In what ways does Arabic literature engage with the past sequelae of colonialism, dictatorship, war, and displacement? How do Arabic novelists and memoirists dialogue with memory and trauma theory even though Arabic scholarship has given short shrift to trauma and memory ethics and aesthetics? What events or experiences are pivotal to collective and individual traumas represented in Maghrebi and Middle Eastern literature(s)? [ more ]

    ARAB 256 / ENGL 284 SEM Arab and Anglophone: Narratives Beyond Nation and Diaspora

    Last offered Spring 2015

    This course takes a close look at contemporary Anglophone Arab writings. The objective is to familiarize students with major Arab writers, and/or writers of Arab descent who live in the Anglo-Saxon diaspora, especially the UK, North America and Australia. We will investigate the work of these writers with special attention to the history of Arab migration to these geographies, and the emergence of hyphenated Arab identities and literatures. At the heart of this course is a desire to not only shed light on what it means to be an Arab or an immigrant producing English literature, but also to understand the multiple ways in which we conceptualize and seek to define what transnational literature means. Texts for this course may include novels by the following writers: Rabih Alameddine (Lebanon/USA), Mohja Kahf (Syria/USA), Leila Aboulela (Sudan/UK), Hisham Matar (Libya/UK), and Randa Abdel-Fattah (Palestine-Egypt/Australia). There will also be a course reader that includes critical essays, poems, as well as a number of films and selections of music that shed light on the different articulations of being Arab and Anglophone. [ more ]

    PSCI 268(S) SEM Israeli Politics

    This is an introductory course on Israeli politics. Approaching questions historically, it centers on but is not restricted to the conflict between Zionism and Palestinians. It begins by addressing the arrival of Zionists, the pursuit of statehood and the in-gathering of Jews, and the responses of neighboring Arab states and local Palestinians. The course also will examine the arrival of Arab Jews in the 1950-60, the conflicts between them and European Jews, and the effects of their conflicts on Israeli politics. The course then will turn to Israeli settlement policies on the West Bank, the controversies surrounding the Oslo Agreement, and the contemporary situations in the West Bank and Gaza. Finally, the course will address contemporary controversies about what it means to be a Jew in Israel, about the feasibility of a "two-state" solution to the Palestinian issue, about the prospects and implications of a "one-state" solution, and about the implications for Israel of not resolving the Palestinian issue to the mutual satisfaction of Israelis and Palestinians. [ more ]

    ARTH 278 / ARAB 278 LEC The Golden Road to Samarqand

    Last offered Fall 2016

    The region stretching from present day Iran to India figures prominently in contemporary global culture but it also has a rich and complex history--an amalgamation of Persian, Turkish and Islamic influences. Home to Genghis Khan and Timur (Tamerlane), Akbar the Great and Shah Jahan, it has generated some of the most renowned monuments (e.g. the Taj Mahal and the blue tiled mosques of Isfahan) and refined manuscript painting ever known. We will cover a broad swath of time--from the 10th to the 20th century--concentrating on important centers of artistic production such as Timurid Central Asia and Mughal India. Students will have the opportunity to study original works of art in the college museum collections. [ more ]

    HIST 310 / ARAB 310 LEC Iraq and Iran in the Twentieth Century

    Last offered Spring 2017

    Despite being neighbors, the historical experience of Iran and Iraq has been drastically different. In this course we will begin by exploring the creation of Iraq in 1921 and the Pahlavi government in Iran. We will evaluate the revolutions of 1958 and 1978-9 and compare the lives and careers of Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini. The tragic Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 will also be discussed. Finally, the political future of these countries will be assessed. [ more ]

    ARAB 331 / COMP 332(F) SEM Popular Culture in the Arab World: Youth, Populism, and Politics

    Since the uprisings in the Arab world in 2011 and the counter-revolutions that followed, much attention has been paid to the significant role of the "popular" in creating social and political transformations. The voice of the youth and "the street," in particular, emerged as massive sources and sites for political mobilization. But, are these categories identical? Does youth culture equal popular culture? This survey course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the different layers that constitute popular culture in the Arab world since the decolonization of Arab states in the 1950s. Questions that we will ask include: What constitutes "popular culture" in the Arab world? How is it different than folk culture, mass culture, or "high" culture? Who are the key players in the creation and dissemination of "popular" culture? Besides globalization, for example, what other social, political and economic dynamics engulf the definition of the "popular"? What are modes of self-fashioning and representation of Arab identity that characterize this culture? To answer these questions we will examine original sources (with English translation) that include a graphic novel, political cartoon and graffiti, documentaries, TV shows, soap operas, video clips, music, comedy, blogs, news and social media. A selection of essays from anthropology, Arab culture studies, political science, journalism, and online videos will be used to provide historical and critical context for the material discussed in class. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARAB 368 / COMP 368 / WGSS 368 SEM Arab Women Writers: Remapping Urban Narratives

    Last offered Fall 2017

    In "The Lover of Blue Writing above the Sea," (1995) a poem written to console a lover after the death of his beloved, Syrian poet, Ghada al-Samman, pens: "If you are sad and burn the edge of my book/I shall come to you/like the genie in my grandmother's Damascene stories..." As these lines imply, the fantastic grandmother's Damascene stories have the power to equally amend broken hearts and restore memories of loss. In this course, we will adopt "the grandmother's Damascene stories" as a conceptual metaphor that guides our line inquiry into the intersection of Arab women's narrative and the city. We will read novels and short stories by Arab women writers about cities and capitals in the Arab world and the diaspora. The goal of this course is not only to familiarize students with prominent Arab women novelists, such as Hoda Barakat, Radwa Ashur, Liana Badr, Raja'a Alem, Alia Mamdouh, and Ahlam Mosteghanemi, among others, but also to introduce them to the literary and visual cartography of Beirut, Granada (via Cairo), Ramallah, Mecca, Baghdad, and Constantine, respectively. We will also read short stories about other cities in the world, such as New York, Paris, London, Buenos Aires and Tokyo among other world metropolis. Questions we will address include: How does the city appear as a protagonist? How do Arab women novelists represent nationhood, modernity, memory, love, war, sexuality and religion, among other themes, in their construction of urban narratives? How do these narratives map an Arab feminist metropolis? How do Arab women writers represent cities beyond the Arab world? To answer these questions, we will also look at Arab women's blogs and watch films that focus on the city as a site for spatial articulation of national histories, popular revolutions, and feminist public spheres. [ more ]

    HIST 409 / ARAB 409 / GBST 409 SEM Crescent, Cross, and Star. Religion and Politics in the Middle East

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Is religion the most powerful force in the Middle East? Is religion becoming more prominent in the political sphere and what impact will that have on religious minorities and the status of women in the Middle East? Using a case study and historical approach, this course will consider the development of religiously inspired political ideologies in the Middle East in the 19th and 20th century. We will explore the experience of Iran, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan and evaluate role of religious actors, institutions, and ideologies in constructing national identities, policymaking, state-building, regime change, conflict, and war. [ more ]

  • RUSS 203 / COMP 203 SEM Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature

    Last offered Fall 2021

    This course will introduce you to some of the most influential literary texts of the nineteenth-century Russian literature that became moral, ideological, and aesthetic touchstones for all later periods of Russian culture. We will study the works of Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Turgenev, Chernyshevsky, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov with attention to their thematic and aesthetic preoccupations, socio-political and philosophical contributions, and historical contexts. Topics of particular interest include Russia's national and imperial identity; Russia's experiment in Westernization; questions of religion and science; the fluctuating meanings of social class and rebellion. By the end of this course, you will have acquired a basic understanding of the history, aesthetics, and politics of nineteenth-century Russian literary culture, as well as its broader legacy. You will have strengthened your reading and writing skills through training to read primary texts closely and analytically. All readings are in English. [ more ]

    RUSS 204 / COMP 204 / GBST 204(S) SEM To See the Past: Russian and Soviet Cinema on History

    This course surveys Soviet and Russian cultural history of the 20th- and 21st-centuries through the history of the cinematic medium. We will watch and analyze key films of this period--films by Eisenstein, Vertov, Tarkovsky, Muratova, Balabanov, Zviagintsev, and Fedorchenko among others--from a double perspective. On the one hand, we will study the cultural and historical contexts of the Soviet Union and Russia; on the other hand, we will learn the formal and stylistic aspects of the cinematic medium as it developed historically (from silent, to sound, to color, to digital etc.). From this double perspective, we will try to answer a larger question that underlies this course: What kind of historical thinking can we learn through cinema as a medium? In other words, we will take cinema neither simply as a direct reflection of state ideology nor as pure aesthetic form or entertainment for the masses. Rather, we will approach the films of this period as audio-visual texts that are rich in historical content and require our informed and attentive interpretation. [ more ]

    RUSS 213 / GBST 213 / WGSS 214 / COMP 257 SEM Why do Pussies Riot and What is "Homosexual" Propaganda? Gender and Sexuality in Putin's Russia

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Since Vladimir Putin's rise to power, the media has highlighted events in Russia that at first glance resemble oddly sexualized jokes. At the same time that the Kremlin has reinstated authoritarian policy reminiscent of the Soviet Union, the Western press has chronicled Putin's topless vacations in Siberia, protests by the feminist collectives Pussy Riot and Femen, a 2011 ban on women's lacy underwear, federal legislation from 2013 prohibiting "homosexual" propaganda, and a 2017 court decision that outlawed a meme of Putin as a "gay clown." This course examines the Putin regime's ongoing attempts to police gender expression and private sexual behavior, as well as how Russian citizens' performance of gender and sexuality has changed in the past twenty years. We will consider gender and sexuality as distinctive features of Putinism, which have contributed to a biopolitical turn in official policy and inspired resistance and protest among Russian feminists and queers.All readings will be in English, and all films with have English subtitles. [ more ]

    RUSS 275 / COMP 287 SEM Russian and Soviet Cinema

    Last offered Spring 2019

    In this course, we will survey over a hundred years of Russian and Soviet film to explore how cinema has reflected and, at times, created the country's most important historical events and cultural myths. We will pay close attention to Russian filmmakers' varied reactions to Hollywood cinema, as well as to the lively body of cinema theory that these reactions generated. Our survey will begin in the pre-Revolutionary era and include representative films from the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalinism and World War II, the Thaw and Stagnation, Glasnost, and the Putin era. In addition to studying films by auteur filmmakers, such as Sergei Eisenstein, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Aleksandr Sokurov, we will watch movies made for the masses, which have helped to form Russians' understanding of their country and themselves. All readings will be in English and all films will be viewed with English subtitles [ more ]

    RUSS 306 / COMP 306 SEM Rise and Shine with Tolstoy

    Last offered Spring 2022

    Prepare to alternately fall in love and lock horns with this illustrious nineteenth-century Russian author. He is worth it. Whether searching for the meaning of life, interrogating what it means to love another human being or struggling with religious faith, Tolstoy was a busy, busy man and a prolific writer. This course will examine his life and major works in the broader context of Western intellectual history. Readings will include his two great novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, as well as a number of shorter works, such as The Cossacks and The Death of Ivan Ilych. We will also consider some of Tolstoy's aesthetic and religious writing as we examine his constant, rich, and at times surprising development as one of the greatest artists and thinkers of the 19th-century. [ more ]

    RUSS 343 / GBST 343 / JWST 343 SEM Spectacles on His Nose and Autumn on his Heart: The Oeuvre of Isaac Babel

    Last offered Fall 2013

    Known alternately as "master of the short story" and "Russian Maupassant," Isaac Babel was not only one of the most celebrated and intriguing authors of early Soviet Russia, but also a cultural figure of profound national and international significance. For a number of reasons (political, aesthetic, professional, ethical) Babel was not prolific and this will allow us to read almost all of his creative output, something we rarely get to do in the course of a single semester. Babel's writing is extremely varied--it includes sketches, journalistic prose, short stories, plays, movie scripts, one unfinished novel--and richly intertextual. This will afford us the opportunity to read the work of some of his contemporaries and predecessors, from both Russia and abroad, with whom he fashioned brilliant literary conversations, among them Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, Sholem Aleichem, and Ivan Turgenev. All course readings will be in translation, but students are highly encouraged to read in the original (Russian, French, Yiddish) whenever possible. [ more ]

    SOC 348 / GBST 348 / RUSS 348(F) TUT Altering States: Post-Soviet Paradoxes of Identity and Difference

    Critics and apologists of Soviet-style socialism alike agree that the Soviet ideology was deeply egalitarian. Putting aside for a moment the very reasonable doubts about how justified this perception actually was, it is still worth asking, how did people who lived in the world in which differences in rank, class, gender or ethnicity were not supposed to matter, make sense of their postsocialist condition, one in which new forms of difference emerged, and old ones assumed greater prominence? And how do these encounters with difference impact current events, such as the war Russia is currently waging on Ukraine, or the persistent tensions between East and West Germans? This tutorial will examine new dilemmas through ethnographic studies and documentary films that aim to capture in real time the process of articulating and grappling with newly discovered divides. We will focus especially closely on Russia, but will also read studies on East Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, and Ukraine. This course fulfills the DPE requirement by exploring comparatively the ways in which people in different countries made sense of the social, cultural and political heterogeneity of the postsocialist condition. [ more ]

  • ARTH 105 / ASIA 105(F) LEC Arts of South Asia

    South Asia, which includes the modern-day nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives, is often compared to the European continent. Regional societies in the Indian "subcontinent" are as distinct from each other as those of Italy, Germany and France. Similarly, they also differ in their language, dress, diet, rituals and politics. However, parallel to the wealth of diversity, South Asia also demonstrates a rich history of interconnectedness. This complex web of culture, language, religion and politics is best manifested in the arts of the region. How does visual culture reflect regional variations? How does a survey of artistic style and iconography help uncover networks of exchange across South Asia? What role did the arts play in the expression of religious traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Islam? With these questions in mind, this course is designed as a survey of the arts of South Asia starting with the height of the Indus Valley Civilization in 2600 BCE and ending in 1857 CE, a date that marks the cessation of independent rule in South Asia. Using the study of architecture, painting, sculpture and textiles, students will learn how to make stylistic and iconographic analyses, while also improving their art historical writing and analytic skills. [ more ]

    HIST 117 / ASIA 117 / GBST 117(F) SEM Bombay/Mumbai: Making of a Modern Metropolis

    Bombay or Mumbai is India's foremost urban center and is well known today as a truly global city. It is the heart of India's commercial life comparable in vibrancy and multiculturalism with the world's emerging cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo. What are the historical elements that contributed to the making of India's most modern and global metropolis? What are the antecedents of the modernity, the vibrant culture, dark underbelly and economic diversity that characterize Bombay today? What does the history of Bombay tell us about modernity in India and the emerging countries of the third world in general? This seminar will help students to answer these questions through historical materials on Bombay as well a wide range of multimedia sources including cinema, photography and literature. With a focus on the 19th and 20th centuries, we will explore themes like the commercial culture of a colonial port city, the modern public sphere, theatre and film, labor migration, public health and prostitution to understand what went into the making of this modern metropolis. The primary objective of this course is to introduce students to a wide range of historical sources and ways of interpreting them. The other objective is facilitating their understanding of the history of colonial and modern India through the history of its most important city. [ more ]

    HIST 221 / ASIA 221 / GBST 221(S) LEC South Asia: Colonialism to Independence, 1750-1947 CE

    This course focuses on the history of South Asia with the aim of providing an overview of the political and social landscape of the region from c. 1750 to 1947. This period spans the decline of the Mughal Empire through British colonial rule, South Asians' struggle for independence, and the Partition of India and Pakistan. We will explore a range of themes including the rise of colonialism, nationalism, religion, caste, gender relations, and the emergence of modern social and political institutions on the subcontinent. In addition to reading key texts and historical primary sources on the specific themes, we will also work with a variety of multimedia sources including films, short stories and podcasts. One objective of this course is to introduce students to the different political and social processes that led to the creation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; another is to teach students to think critically about the significance of history and history writing in the making of the subcontinent. [ more ]

    ANTH 233 / ASIA 233 / REL 253 SEM Spiritual Crossroads: Religious Life in Southeast Asia

    Last offered Spring 2019

    No region of the world presents a richer tapestry of religious beliefs, practices, and institutions than Southeast Asia. Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are all to be found and all of them interpenetrate and contend with each other and with a deep undergirding of animism, shamanism, and mystical folk belief systems. This course will survey these religious traditions through time and space, looking in particular at the growing tension between religion and the state as fundamentalism and religious militancy have spread into the region in recent times. All of Southeast Asia will be covered, but particular attention will be devoted to Indonesia, where religious blending and the growth of new fundamentalism are both especially marked. [ more ]

    ECON 240 / ASIA 241(S) TUT Colonialism and Underdevelopment in South Asia

    British colonial rule in South Asia shaped economy and society in fundamental ways. As resistance to colonial rule emerged in the late nineteenth century, "nationalist" writers developed a critique of its economic impact via taxation, fiscal policy, trade, and many other policies. In their turn, supporters of British rule, "apologists," argued that British rule had laid the foundations of economic growth by securing property rights, enforcing contracts, and developing infrastructure. The debate between "nationalists" and "apologists" has never quite ended, but after the recent growth of the Indian economy it has lost some of its emotional charge. We will use this opportunity to revisit the controversy. [ more ]

    COMP 243 Performance Practices of India

    Last offered NA

    This course explores ancient and contemporary performance practices in India. Our objects of study will include the text and performance of Sanskrit plays, contemporary and experimental theater productions, as well as forms of dance and ritual. We will discuss dramaturgical structure, staging, acting conventions, gender representation, performer training, the experience and role of the audience, as well as mythological and political themes. Thinking historically and ethnographically, we will seek to understand the aesthetics and social purposes of these practices, in addition to the relationship that performance has with everyday life, contested concepts of the nation, and caste. Throughout the semester we will interrogate the ways in which Western categories such as "classical," "folk," "religious," "traditional," and even the distinction between "dance/theater/music/visual arts" are not indigenous or accurate concepts for organizing thinking about performance in this part of the world. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    REL 244 / ASIA 244 / PHIL 245(S) LEC Mind and Persons in Indian Thought

    In this course, we follow the Indian philosophical conversation concerning the self and the nature of consciousness, particularly as they are found in its various Yogic traditions. We start with some of the Hindu views about the self and the mind and consider their ethical implications. We then consider a range of Buddhist critiques of these views, focusing more particularly on the Madhyamaka, which radicalizes the critique of the self into a global anti-realist and skeptical stance. We also examine the Yogacara school, which offers a process view of reality focusing on the analysis of experience. We conclude by considering some of the later Hindu holistic views of the self as responses to the Buddhist critique. In this way we come to realize that far from being the irrational foil of "the West," Indian tradition is a rich resource for thinking through some of the central questions that have challenged philosophers in both traditions. [ more ]

    REL 245 / ASIA 247 LEC Tibetan Civilization

    Last offered Spring 2014

    Often depicted as Shangrila, a mythical and ideal country, Tibet has had the dubious privilege of being a focus of Western fantasies. One cannot but wonder about the motives and sources of this mythology. Although this course examines these representations, its main focus is an immersion in the cultural and historical aspects of Tibetan civilization, which give students the tools with which to understand Tibetan culture from the inside. As such this course is part of the Exploring Diversity Initiative. We first consider the early history of Tibet, the introduction of Buddhism, the relations between Buddhism and the indigenous religion, and some of the stages in the development of Tibetan Buddhism. We also examine the historical developments that led to the development of the institutions (such as the Dalai-Lama) unique to Tibet and some of the aspects of the culture that these institutions helped to create (such as gender roles, family structure and social stratification). Finally, we consider the more recent tragic events and examine the profound transformations that they have brought. Throughout the course, we consider the central role of the complex interaction between Buddhism and politics in Tibetan history, both in the pre-modern period and in more recent times, when the Tibetan people have faced the challenge of how to use their institutions and culture to resist oppression. In this way, we get a footing in the Tibetan world, and the indispensable assessment of Western representations of Tibet becomes not just an exercise in self-reflection but also a gate to a better understanding of a remarkable but tragically threatened civilization. [ more ]

    REL 246 / ANTH 246 / ASIA 246 / WGSS 246 TUT India's Identities: Nation,Community, & Individual

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This tutorial considers India's multiple and intersecting identities, in relation to climate emergencies, resource scarcities, and ongoing struggles for power and status across very different parts of India. We examine the intersectional identities that produce solidarity and opposition within landscapes always already structured by power and inequity. How do communal and individual identities such as gender, class, caste, sexuality or religion shape social conflict and ongoing struggles for power in India today? We examine key moments in Indian history that that continue to produce social conflict and fluidity such as Partition, the riots in Gujarat, Hyderabad, and Delhi that have shaped the modern landscape of communal identity, as well as the contested border such as Ladakh as well as Jammu & Kashmir. Our readings will include ethnographic, sociological, historical fiction, and oral history. Students choose their own topics to delve into for final weeks of the semester. [ more ]

    REL 248 / ANTH 248 / ASIA 248 / GBST 248 / WGSS 249 SEM Body Politics in South Asia: Gender, Sex, Religion, and Nation

    Last offered Spring 2015

    This course examines the relationship between body, gender, sex, and society in South Asia, using three countries and religions---India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, and Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam---as its foil. The course uses the body as a lens by which to unpack South Asian discourses that link body and sexuality with nation, community, and population. In particular, it explores a South Asian sociology that links individual and social bodies in ways that occasion solidarity as well as social suffering, violence as well as communal cohesion. How do bodies come to signify the purity or prosperity of the nation or community and with what social or discursive effects? We begin by unpacking foundational theories of the body as proposed by Mauss, Foucault, Douglas, and Bourdieu in order to better understand how local discourses of the body help produce gender and other social hierarchies in South Asia. By considering how the human body can serve as a map for society and vice versa, we examine both classical discourses and modern institutional practices of the body including the temple, the monastery, the mosque, and the mendicant, as well as bodily practices such as yoga, celibacy, sex work, and new reproductive technologies. We also analyze how the body has served as a symbol of nation, community, and social health. Throughout, we are interested in the cross-cutting effects of gender and sex in perpetuating structural hierarchies and social suffering around the body in South Asia. [ more ]

    ANTH 249 / REL 149 / ASIA 242(S) LEC The Sacred in South Asia

    Is religious identity necessarily singular and unambiguous? The jinn - Islamic spirits born of fire - are sought out for their healing and other powers not only by Muslims in India, but by Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, as well. In parts of Bengal statues of the Hindu goddess Durga are traditionally sculpted by Muslim artisans. Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka contain tombs of Muslim Sufi saints and shrines of Hindu deities. South Asia - where a fifth of humanity lives - provides some of the most striking examples of pluralism and religiously composite culture in our contemporary world. Yet at the same time, strident religious majoritarianism has been a defining feature of the politics of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for decades, and haunts Nepal and Bangladesh as well. Are these two modes of religious being - pluralistic and composite on the one hand, singular and majoritarian on the other - reflective of two different conceptions of selfhood? What if we turn from questions of community and identity to questions of unseen power and the sacred? This course is an exploration of lived religion in South Asia. It is simultaneously a study of popular Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam and an introduction to the anthropology of religion. Centered on in-depth studies of popular sites of 'syncretic' ritual practice (shared across religious difference) as well as studies of mass mobilizations that seek to align the religious community with the nation, we approach from multiple angles what the sacred might mean in modernity. [ more ]

    REL 255 / ANTH 255 / ASIA 255(F) LEC Buddhism: Ideas and Practices

    This course introduces students to Buddhism by examining its ideas and practices as they have taken place in actual social contexts rather than as disembodied textual objects. After examining the main ideas and narratives of the tradition, we turn our attention to Thailand where we examine how these ideas and narratives have shaped a whole range of practices, from meditation to shamanistic rituals. We then consider the transformations that Buddhism is undergoing in contemporary society, examining the rise of meditation movement, the changing role of monks and laity, the resurgence of the nun order, the rise of Buddhist social activism and the development of new Buddhist social philosophies. We ask questions such as: How can Buddhism adapt to a modern global consumerist society? What are the transformations involved in this process and the role that Buddhism can play in such a global society? Should Buddhists take advantage of the opportunities of this new global culture or should they adopt a critical stance toward its consumerist values? [ more ]

    REL 269 / ANTH 269 / ASIA 269 / STS 269(F) TUT Mindfulness Examined: Meditation, Emotion, and Affective Neuroscience

    This course provides a social analysis of and practical engagement with mindfulness in the US today. It considers the modern applications of Buddhist meditation as a tool to improve awareness of the related processes of mind, behavior, and emotions within landscapes structured by racism, sexism, and other systemic inequalities. We consider how mindfulness relates to Buddhist discourses as well as the rapid rise of fields like contemplative neuroscience, affective neuroscience, and integrative neurobiology. How can mindfulness help people communicate more effectively--be they doctors or patients, teachers or students?How has the exploding research on mindfulness and meditation since 2000 help us understand the intersection of human emotions, behaviors, and relationships? We train in a variety of Buddhist meditation practices through the semester including forest bathing, mindfulness, compassion meditation, while unpacking the subjective experience of our minds and emotions first-hand. Students will be asked to train in mindfulness practices the entire semester while studying models of the mind developed by research in clinical and evolutionary psychology, affective neuroscience, and interpersonal neuroscience. [ more ]

    ANTH 272 / WGSS 272 SEM Sex and the Reproduction of Society

    Last offered Fall 2014

    Why is reproduction such a controversial subject in society today, especially in areas of medicine, culture, and religion? And why is the reproductive body subject to such highly ideological and yet contradictory types of practices and discourses across the globe? This course seeks to examine the myriad ways that societies police the range of practices surrounding reproduction--including fertility, conception, pregnancy, birth, abortion, and motherhood. We will pursue a comparative analysis of reproduction across major societies and cultures, through an in-depth look at specialized topics such as the new reproductive technologies, the medicalization and ritualization of obstetrics in America, the continuing controversies over abortion across the globe, and the ongoing debates about the rise of women and the 'End of Men'. Throughout the course, we remain focused on the cultural, social, and medical construction of birth and reproduction more generally. To this end, we explore the varying ritual and medical practices that surround reproduction in different cultural contexts, from high tech to low tech settings and societies. We will deconstruct the process of human reproduction through readings culled from a variety of cultures and disciplines including anthropology, medicine, religious studies, sociology, and gender and sexuality studies. [ more ]

    HIST 388 SEM Decolonization and the Cold War

    Last offered Fall 2019

    The second half of the twentieth century came to be defined by two distinct, yet overlapping and intertwined phenomena: the Cold War and decolonization. In the two decades that followed the end of WWII, forty new nation-states were born amidst the bipolar struggle for global supremacy between the Soviet Union and the United States. Those new nations were swept up in the Cold War competition in ways that profoundly influenced their paths to independence and their postcolonial orders, but they often had transformative effects on the Soviet-American rivalry as well. In this course, students will focus on two related questions: How did decolonization influence the Cold War and the international behavior and priorities of the two superpowers? And what impact did the Cold War exert on the developing states and societies of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America? Course materials will consist of scholarly texts, primary sources, memoirs, films, and fiction. [ more ]

    HIST 391 / ASIA 391 / GBST 391 SEM When India was the World: Trade, Travel and History in the Indian Ocean

    Last offered Spring 2021

    What do Ibrahim Ben Yiju, a Jewish merchant from 11th century Yemen, Ibn Batutah, a Muslim scholar from 15th century Morocco and Captain Kidd, a 17th century English pirate have in common? All three men travelled and lived in the Indian Ocean region! This course explores the history of one of the world's oldest maritime highways that has connected the diverse cultures of Asia, Africa and Europe for millennia, thus making it a vital element in the birth of globalization. Moving away from conventional land-centric histories, we will focus instead on understanding the human past through oceanic interactions. South Asian ports and port cities remained the fulcrum of the Indian Ocean world throughout its history; traders, travellers, nobles, scholars, pilgrims and pirates from all over the world travelled to the Indian coast in search of adventure, spices, knowledge and wealth. Thus we will primarily focus on India's role in the Indian Ocean roughly from the rise of Islam in the seventh century CE through the expansion of various European communities in the region and the subsequent rise of the global economy and colonialism in the nineteenth century. Rather than following a strict temporal chronology we will concentrate on themes such as travel and adventure; trade and exchange; trust and friendship; religion and society; pilgrimage; piracy; the culture of port cities; and food across time. [ more ]

    ECON 470 SEM The Indian Economy: Development and Social Justice

    Last offered Spring 2022

    The Indian economy has (usually) grown rapidly in the last three decades, but poverty has declined relatively slowly, malnutrition remains high, and the sex ratio remains heavily biased against women. Is this the persistence of long-standing historical disadvantages such as those faced by Scheduled Castes and Tribes? Does this reflect failures in policy, in areas such as trade, credit, or labor law? Or is the quality of governance primarily to blame? We will use the theoretical and quantitative methods of an economist to consider these questions. [ more ]

Thematic Tracks

  • AFR 132 / AMST 132 / PSCI 132 SEM Contemporary Africana Social and Political Philosophy

    Last offered Spring 2022

    This introductory seminar investigates the relationship between three major schools of thought in contemporary Africana social and political philosophy: the African, Afro-North American, and Afro-Caribbean intellectual traditions. We will discuss a range of thinkers including Dionne Brand, Aimé Césaire, Angela Davis, Édouard Glissant, Kwame Gyekye, Paget Henry, bell hooks, Katherine McKittrick, Charles Mills, Nkiru Nzegwu, Oyèrónke Oyewùmí, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Cornel West, and Sylvia Wynter. A primary goal of the course is to provide students with the intellectual resources to decipher problems central to philosophical discourse and to allow students an opportunity to apply what they learn to critical issues in current geopolitics. [ more ]

    GERM 201(F) SEM "Oida!" Living Language in Vienna

    Language is a living being, varied, like identity itself, across cultures and across time. This course has as its thematic focus Wienerisch, the very special variety of German that has developed in the multi-linguistic metropolis of Vienna; listening and reading work will center on Viennese German. But the thrust of the course is honing the students' own German. It will provide extensive study of German grammar and style, and intensive practice in speaking and writing idiomatically. Readings and discussion in German. [ more ]

    LATS 203 / ARTH 203 / WGSS 203 / AMST 205(F) LEC Chicana/o/x Film and Video

    Hollywood cinema has long been fascinated with the border between the United States and Mexico. This course will examine representations of the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexican Americans, and Chicanxs in both Hollywood film and independent media. We will consider how positions on nationalism, race, gender, identity, migration, and history are represented and negotiated through film. We will begin by analyzing Hollywood "border" and gang films before approaching Chicana/o/x-produced features, independent narratives, and experimental work. This course will explore issues of film and ideology, genre and representation, nationalist resistance and feminist critiques, queer theory and the performative aspects of identity. Through a focus on Chicana/o/x representation, the course explores a wide spectrum of film history (from the silent era to the present) and considers numerous genres. [ more ]

    RLFR 203 / AFR 204 / COMP 282 SEM Introduction to Francophone Literatures

    Last offered Fall 2016

    What is the Francophone world comprised of? Who speaks French today and why? What does the idea of Francophonie really mean? Is this term really relevant? Why, how, and by whom is this idea being criticized? How does the littérature-monde manifesto fit within these interrogations? Is the French-speaking world merely a linguistic community or is it also a political, cultural, and economic project? Last but not least, why is the idea of Francophonie so important for France? We will answer these questions through the lens of literary and cinematic texts from Québec, Sénégal, Vietnam, France (l'hexagone), and Haiti among others. [ more ]

    JAPN 220 / ASIA 220 LEC Being Korean in Japan

    Last offered Spring 2021

    Who are Zainichi Koreans (Koreans in Japan)? How are they different from Koreans in Korea or in the United States? Contemporary Korean TV dramas and films have depicted Koreans as attractive and successful people appealing to Hallyu (Korean Wave) fans around the world. However, Zainichi Koreans, who are the largest ethnic minority in Japan, have been frequently portrayed as abusive husbands/fathers, pitiful wives/mothers, or juvenile delinquents in both Japanese and Korean cinema and literature. Through close readings of films, novels, and short essays, we will explore little-known yet significant representations of Zainichi Koreans by focusing on Japanese and Korean historical contexts. By doing so, we will discover new aspects of transnational exchange not only between Japanese and Koreans, but also between South and North Koreans in Japan. All class materials will be available in English translation or with English subtitles. [ more ]

    PSCI 225 / LEAD 225(S) LEC International Security

    This is a course about war and peace. It deals with some of the most foundational questions that concern scholars of security studies: What accounts for great power conflict and cooperation? Is intense security competition between major states inevitable, or can they get along, provided their main interests are protected? Does the structure of the international system necessarily cause conflict? Do particularly aggressive states? Can wars occur "by accident"? When and why do states choose to use military force? What role does statecraft play in matters of war and peace? How do nuclear weapons affect great power politics? The course will consider these questions from an interdisciplinary perspective that combines political science concepts with an historical approach to the evidence. The bulk of the course deals with the major events in the history of great power politics, such as the causes and conduct of World War I and World War II; the origins and course of the Cold War; the nuclear revolution; and the post-Cold War period. The course concludes with an examination of a number of major contemporary policy debates in security studies. [ more ]

    RLFR 229 Black Outside the U.S.

    Last offered NA

    This course explores multiple ways Black identity evolves, adapts and is experienced differently depending on location. Students analyze Black experience in the U.S., France and Senegal through a range of texts from books and social media to music and film. One key aspect of the course is a study abroad trip to Senegal, which increases cultural awareness through experiential learning. This combination of textual learning with experiential knowledge exemplifies how language, religion, gender, geography, and performance shape one's racial identity. In the first section of the course, students investigate Black experience in the U.S., focusing on such topics as the one-drop rule, racial profiling and where mixed people fit within Black/White tensions. The second section highlights the politics of language in France. Students explore how words like "Black," "noir" and "race" have strong political connotations in France and spur both resistance to and alliance with Black American civil rights history. In the third part of the course, students visit Dakar, Senegal, and analyze Blackness through their own observations and encounters. Their trip insights jumpstart the final focus of the course on Senegal. Students investigate the influence of French colonialism on Black identity in Senegal, which makes the two geographical experiences of Blackness very different but still forever linked. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ANTH 235 LEC Refugees and Migrants

    Last offered Fall 2018

    An overflow of refugees to the EU and alarmist electoral campaign rhetoric in the U.S. have intensified the issue of international migration around the world. Right- and left-wing politicians and their constituents, human rights activists and state officials, journalists and NGOs discuss, argue, and mull over causes and consequences of population change, strategies of migration management, and predicaments of social integration. In this course, we will examine the emerging conditions of international migration. Specifically, we will focus on how contemporary welfare and labor regimes, claims on citizenship rights, immigration rules, public deliberations, and interethnic and racial experience shape the movements of people and affect their lives by controlling their bodies, subjectivities, social networks, health, and labor. We will draw on domestic and international case studies as we examine a controversy surrounding the Arizona immigration law, DACA debates, challenges of a migration crisis in EU, rural-to-urban migration in India, and a complexity of refugee flows in the Caucasus and the Middle East. We will briefly engage with the subtleties of migration estimation, such as the politics of population censuses, and will analyze consequences of immigration on host populations. [ more ]

    COMP 242 / AMST 242 / ENGL 250(S) SEM Americans Abroad

    This course will explore some of the many incarnations of American experiences abroad between the end of the 19th century and the present day. Materials will be drawn from novels, short stories, films, and nonfiction about Americans in Europe in times of war, peace, and pandemic. We will compare and contrast the experiences of novelists, soldiers, students, war correspondents, jazz musicians, and adventurers. What has drawn so many Americans to Europe? What is the difference between a tourist, an expat, and an émigré? What are the profound, and often comic, gaps between the traveler's expectations and the reality of living in, say, Paris or a rural village in Spain? What are the misadventures and unexpected rewards of living, working, writing, or even falling in love in translation? How did recent lockdowns and border closings impact and/or interrupt these complex experiences? Authors may include: Edith Wharton, Henry James, Langston Hughes, Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway, Elaine Dundy, Richard Wright, and Ben Lerner. Additional reading will be drawn from historical and critical works. All readings will be in English. This comparative course is designed to highlight the challenges and benefits of cultural immersion abroad. It will focus on the linguistic, emotional, intellectual, and social adaptation skills that are required to understand others, and oneself, in new contexts. Many of the authors chose, or were forced to, leave oppressive situations in the United States where their futures were limited due to factors related to politics, gender, race or class (and combinations thereof). We will study their dislocation, and freedom, and struggles to reshape their (and our) concept of "home" into something that reflects individual identity, and not one imposed by any national culture--American or foreign. [ more ]

    GBST 243 / PSCI 244 / REL 247(S) SEM Anti-Muslim Racism: A Global Perspective

    The racialization of Islam and Muslims has been constitutive to how they have been imagined in Europe and elsewhere. This course looks at how difference works and has worked, how identities and power relationships have been grounded in lived experience, and how one might both critically and productively approach questions of difference, power, and equity. It goes back to the founding moments of an imagined white (at the beginning Christian) Europe and how the racialization of Muslim and Jewish bodies was central to this project, and how anti-Muslim racism continues to be relevant in our world today. The course will not only show how Muslims were constructed as subjects in history, politics and society from the very beginning of the making of Europe and the Americas to the end of the Cold War to the post-9/11 era. Rather, it also looks at how Muslims live through Islamophobia. It looks at processes of racialization of Muslims within the Muslim community and between Muslim communities, while also considering which agencies Muslims take to determine their own future. The course draws from anthropology, gender studies, history, political science, religious studies, postcolonial studies, decolonial studies, and sociology. [ more ]

    AFR 251 SEM Afro-Diasporic Crossroads: Translating and (Re)Imagining Black Experiences

    Last offered Spring 2020

    For many centuries Black subjects have forged multiple forms/processes/modes of resistance, yielded in particular by the brutal forced migration of African men and women in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Afro-Diasporic subjects utilized, evoked, and preserved their cultural and historical/intellectual legacies, healing practices/sacred traditions - and (re)crafted the African Diaspora. This course will examine the crucial roles played by the politics of language and translation in Afro-Diasporic dispersions, intersections, and (re)connections. We will explore the concept of translation as reparation and the ethics of translation, while interrogating how language may be utilized as an effective tool for political control and conversely, a powerful means for Black Liberation. Grounded on Black Feminist Theory, we will engage with the often-overlooked significance of embodied Black knowledge in translation theories within and beyond the boundaries of written texts across African Diasporic settings. Particular attention will be placed on a critical analysis of the ways through which Black popular cultures travels across African Diasporic settings. Authors we shall explore in the seminar include Angela Y. Davis, Patricia Hill Collins, Rachel Harding, Paul Bandia, Brent Edwards, Omise'eke Tinsley, Marsha J. Hamilton and Eleanor S. Block. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARAB 256 / ENGL 284 SEM Arab and Anglophone: Narratives Beyond Nation and Diaspora

    Last offered Spring 2015

    This course takes a close look at contemporary Anglophone Arab writings. The objective is to familiarize students with major Arab writers, and/or writers of Arab descent who live in the Anglo-Saxon diaspora, especially the UK, North America and Australia. We will investigate the work of these writers with special attention to the history of Arab migration to these geographies, and the emergence of hyphenated Arab identities and literatures. At the heart of this course is a desire to not only shed light on what it means to be an Arab or an immigrant producing English literature, but also to understand the multiple ways in which we conceptualize and seek to define what transnational literature means. Texts for this course may include novels by the following writers: Rabih Alameddine (Lebanon/USA), Mohja Kahf (Syria/USA), Leila Aboulela (Sudan/UK), Hisham Matar (Libya/UK), and Randa Abdel-Fattah (Palestine-Egypt/Australia). There will also be a course reader that includes critical essays, poems, as well as a number of films and selections of music that shed light on the different articulations of being Arab and Anglophone. [ more ]

    COMP 273 / ENGL 273 / GBST 273 SEM Detectives Without Borders

    Last offered Spring 2022

    Why is detective fiction so popular? What explains the continuing multiplication of mystery novels despite the seemingly finite number of available plots? This course will explore the worldwide fascination with this genre beginning with European writers before turning to more distant detective stories worldwide. The international scope of our readings will highlight how authors in different countries have developed their own national detective typologies while simultaneously responding to the international influence of the Anglo-American model. Simultaneously, the readings will trace the evolution of the genre from the classical Sherlock Holmes model through later iterations, including golden age, hard-boiled, police procedural, female detective types, and more. Alongside fictional narratives, essays on the genre will provide the theoretical ground for our investigation. Our international journey will begin in England and the United States (G.K. Chesterton, Robert Knox, and Edgar Allan Poe) and continue through Japan (Edogawa Rampo), France (Georges Simenon), Italy (Andrea Camilleri), Argentina (Jorge Luis Borges), and beyond. As we journey around the world, we will look at the possibility of reading detective fiction through the categories of gender, postcolonial, and race studies. Film adaptations of the novels we read, TV shows, and film noirs will also be included in the course material. All readings will be in English. [ more ]

    COMP 276 / AFR 276 / GERM 276 TUT Black Europeans

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This course explores the in/visibility of Black Europeans from the Enlightenment to the present with a particular focus on French, German, Austrian, Dutch, British, and Russian history. With the European Enlightenment as point of departure, the tutorial investigates the large presence of Blacks as objectified subjects in paintings and decorative artifacts of the 18th and 19th centuries while interrogating their century-long absence from European historiography until fairly recently. In this tutorial, we will start discussing the significance of the Code Noir (1685) as well as the major economic impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on European countries such as Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands. We will read historical biographies about a handful of outstanding Black Europeans in France (composer Monsieur de Saint George), Germany (Prussian officer Gustav Sabac el Cher, philosopher Wilhelm Anton Amo), Austria (royal tutor Angelo Soliman), Holland (Prince Kwasi Boachi), and Russia (military leader Abram Petrovitch Gannibal) during the 18th and 19th centuries, study paintings and decorative artifacts of the 18th and 19th centuries depicting black servants--such as Hyacinthe Rigaud's Portrait of Marquise de Louville (1708), Nicolas Lancret's The Escaped Bird (1730), and Manet's Olympia (1863) to name a few--and watch the biopic Belle by Amma Asante (2013), narrating the life of black heiress Dido Elizabeth Belle in 18th-century England. We will also do a quick survey of 20th-century European cinema, that has until now cast very few black actors in supporting and leading roles, and we will ponder the representation of black people in recent films that were commercially successful at the box office (such as Les Intouchables by Nakache/Toledano, France 2011). Finally, we will reflect on the deep roots of European colonialism that takes the form of national debates surrounding the naming of chocolate-coated treats and licorice sweets (Têtes de nègre, Mohrenkopf, and Negerkuss) or of a controversy around cultural identity resulting from the grotesque depiction of black men in folkloric tradition (like Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands). [ more ]

    THEA 284 SEM Global Digital Performance

    Last offered Fall 2020

    This course explores the ways in which digital technologies are shaping performance practices. We will consider theater, dance and performance art, as well as the use of social media in political movements and everyday life. We will begin by examining the long history of mediatization in performance. From painting, puppetry and photography to video, VR and Tik Tok, performers' bodies have always been, in some sense, "mediated." We will interrogate the affects and power relations at stake in questions of "liveness," paying particular attention to how the representation of bodies is embroiled in longstanding imperialist projects of representing the "Other," racialized and gendered modes of viewing, and global regimes of neoliberal surveillance. On the other hand, we will examine the role digital communication platforms play in political resistance. We will apply our growing understanding of the pitfalls and potential of digital technologies to examining the aesthetic strategies and political projects of artists and their audiences from various parts of the world. Throughout our work we will acknowledge how access to new technologies, as well as the meaning given to their use, vary between national, cultural, and class contexts. This includes keeping in mind the "digital divide" so that we can chip away at our common sense assumptions that the internet and digital art making are inherently democratic. [ more ]

    GERM 316 SEM "Wer ist wir?": Recent Debates over Multiculture in Germany

    Last offered Spring 2019

    German chancellor Angela Merkel controversially claimed in 2010: "Multikulti ist gescheitert." (Multiculturalism has failed in Germany). We will investigate different perspectives on Germany's integration of minorities. In the 1960s, government labor contracts brought large numbers of foreign workers into the country and facilitated the "economic miracle." How did the newcomers adapt to life in Germany and what did they hold on to from their home cultures? How did subsequent generations experience life in Germany? What were the major political shifts that took place regarding citizenship and participation in the public sphere? How do popular media portray minorities? How do members of minority groups portray themselves? We will read texts by: Zafer Senocak, Hatice Akyün, Yoko Tawada, Marica Bodrozic, Navid Kermani, Wladimir Kaminer, view feature films and documentaries, and discuss a wide range of social commentary and analyses across the political spectrum from right wing populists to left liberals: Thilo Sarrazin, Kirsten Heisig, Astrid Geisler and Christoph Schultheis, Wilhelm Heitmeyer, Alexander Häusler, Freya Klier, Mark Terkessidids, Rita Süssmuth and others. [ more ]

    AFR 317 / AMST 317 / DANC 317 / ENGL 317 / THEA 317 / COMP 319 SEM Black Migrations: African American Performance at Home and Abroad

    Last offered Fall 2017

    In this course, students will investigate, critique and define the concepts migration and diaspora with primary attention to the experiences of African Americans in the United States and Europe. Drawing on a broad definition of performance, students will explore everything from writing and painting to sports and dance to inquire how performance reflects, critiques and negotiates migratory experiences in the African diaspora. For example, how did musician Sidney Bechet's migration from New Orleans to Chicago to London influence the early jazz era? How did Katherine Dunham's dance performances in Germany help her shape a new black dance aesthetic? Why did writer James Baldwin go all the way to Switzerland to write his first novel on black, religious culture in Harlem? What drew actor/singer Paul Robeson to Russia, and why did the U.S. revoke his passport in response to his speeches abroad? These questions will lead students to investigate multiple migrations in the African diasporic experience and aid our exploration of the reasons for migration throughout history and geography. In addition to critical discussions and written analysis, students will explore these topics through their own individual and group performances in class. No prior performance experience is necessary. [ more ]

    AFR 323 / ARTH 223 / COMP 322 / AMST 323 / ENGL 356 SEM Comic Lives: Graphic Novels & Dangerous Histories of the African Diaspora

    Last offered Spring 2021

    This course explores how the graphic novel has been an effective, provocative and at times controversial medium for representing racialized histories. Drawing on graphic novels such as the late Congressman John Lewis' March and Ebony Flowers' Hot Comb, this course illustrates and critiques multiple ways the graphic novel commingles word and image to create more sensorial access into ethnic traumas, challenges and interventions in critical moments of resistance throughout history. Students will practice analyzing graphic novels with the help of critical essays, reviews and film; the chosen texts will center on Africana cultures, prompting students to consider how the graphic novel may act as a useful alternate history for marginalized peoples. During the course, students will build comic creation and analysis skills through short exercises, eventually building up to the final project of a graphic short story that illustrates historical and/or autobiographical narratives. No art experience is required, only an openness to expanding one's visual awareness and composition skills. This course is often taught in collaboration with the Williams College Museum of Art's Object Lab program, which allows the class to have its own space and art objects that are directly related to the course topic. This class may feature Object Lab participation, film screenings, and collaborations with guest speakers. [ more ]

    PSCI 334 SEM Theorizing Global Justice

    Last offered Spring 2022

    While economic exchanges, cultural convergence, and technological innovations have brought people in different parts of the world closer together than ever before, globalization has also amplified differences in material wealth and social inequalities. Ill health, inadequate sanitation, and lack of access to safe drinking water are increasingly common. Yet, more than ever before, the means exist in affluent regions of the world to alleviate the worst forms of suffering and enhance the well-being of the poorest people. How are we to understand this contradiction as a matter of justice? What is the relationship between justice and equality, and what do we owe one another in a deeply divided world? Course readings will engage your thinking on the central debates in moral philosophy, normative approaches to international political economy, and grassroots efforts to secure justice for women and other severely disadvantaged groups. Key theorists include Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, John Rawls, Thomas Pogge, Nancy Fraser, Paul Farmer, Vandana Shiva, Majid Rahnema, and Enrique Dussel. [ more ]

    LATS 338 / WGSS 338 / AMST 339 SEM Latina/o/x Musical Cultures: Sounding Out Gender, Race, and Sexuality

    Last offered Spring 2019

    In this class we will investigate a wide variety of Latina/o/x popular musical forms, with particular attention to issues of gender, sexuality, and ethno-racial identity. Employing interdisciplinary materials and approaches, this course focuses on the sonic and visual analysis of contemporary Latina/o/x popular music and the identities of its producers, performers, and audiences. We will focus on the following questions, among others: How are hybrid Latina/o/x identities expressed through popular music and dance? In what ways do gender, sexuality, and ethno-racial identity inform the performance and interpretation of particular Latina/o musical forms? What unique role does sound play in our understanding of popular music and identity? [ more ]

    ENGL 340 / AMST 340 / WGSS 340 / COMP 342 SEM Elizabeth Bishop in the Americas

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Elizabeth Bishop has emerged as one of the most important poets of the 20th century. She is admired not only for her dazzling mastery of the craft but also her adventurous life as a world traveler. Her more than two decades living in Brazil and translating the culture and literature of that country for a North American audience, for instance, make her life and work a rich focal point for cross-cultural study. At the center of the course will be Bishop's stunning meditations on childhood, memory, travel, lesbian sexuality, gender identity, ecology, and race and class in the U.S. and Brazil. We will look at how Bishop intertwines personal and global historical encounters in order to raise serious ethical questions about our shared history of conquest and sense of place in the Americas from the 16th century to the Cold War period of the twentieth. What is ultimately at stake in our claiming of a "home"? We also read a number of the writers in North and South America who were closely connected to Bishop, from Robert Lowell and Ernest Hemingway in North America, to Pablo Neruda and Clarice Lispector in South America. Ultimately, we study how craft, poetic process, and an ethical eye on the world can open up the study of poetry and poetics in the 21st century. [ more ]

    HIST 361 / AMST 360 LEC The Atlantic World: Connections, Crossings, and Confluences

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Early Americans inhabited an interconnected world through which people, beliefs, and objects circulated. This course explores the "Atlantic World" as both a place and a concept: an ocean surrounded by diverse communities and empires, and an imagined space of shared or competing affiliations. Moving from the tenth century to the nineteenth, it examines ecological, cultural, political, economic, intellectual, and religious exchanges among Native Americans, Europeans and colonizers, and Africans and African Americans. It introduces both conceptual dimensions of this Atlantic paradigm and case studies that investigate its human subtleties, with the goal of examining early American history through a transnational lens. The course will take up the stories of Wabanaki mariners and Norse/Viking expansionists; Pocahontas, a trio of Inuit people, and myriad other Indigenous travelers to Europe; West African survivors of the Middle Passage and their enslaved descendants who pushed for survival and recognition of their humanity overseas; New England religious dissidents, intellectuals, and profiteers from Caribbean slavery; Touissant L'Ouverture and the reverberations of the Haitian Revolution; and whaling ship crews who pursued cetaceans ever farther out at sea, among other topics. The course also delves into new methodologies for telling histories that have been unevenly presented or seemingly silenced in traditional documentary archives, probing ways that oral traditions, songs, archaeology, material culture, and other forms of expression and representation can help recast the nature and meanings of these connected spaces and histories. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to engage with original materials pertaining to Atlantic World histories in the Williams College Archives/Special Collections and Art Museum. [ more ]

    AFR 368 / COMP 367 SEM The Diasporic Impulse in African American Art

    Last offered Fall 2018

    Since the mid-20th century, growing numbers of African American artists have explored historical, symbolic, and ritual meanings shared by Blacks in the USA and people of African descent in other parts of the diaspora. Using specific visual, musical, literary, and kinetic themes, Black creatives--across genres--develop work that addresses explicit and implicit points of diasporic connection around issues of identity, indigenous/ancestral wisdom, cultural and political critique, and alternative religious orientations. Looking especially at the work of playwright August Wilson, painters John Biggers and Daniel Minter, dancer Katherine Dunham, and sculptor Elizabeth Catlett Mora, this course examines the symbolic and ritual vocabularies of African American art in diasporic perspective. [ more ]

    COMP 369 / HIST 306 / ARAB 369 / GBST 369(S) SEM Indigenous Narratives: From the Fourth World to the Global South

    In the late 20th century, world literature has witnessed a "boom" in indigenous literature. Many critics and historians describe this global re-emergence of the subaltern and the indigenous in terms of literary justice fostered by post-colonial studies and the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, by the UN General Assembly on December 18, 1992. In this course, we will investigate this "indigenous boom" by reading novels and short stories from the Americas, the Middle East and North Africa from the 1970s to the present. Through these trans-regional and trans-historical peregrinations, our principal goal will be to examine and compare narratives about conquest, settler colonialism, colonial nationalism, indigeneity, sovereignty, indigenous epistemology and philosophy. At the same time, we will consider the following questions: How did pioneering indigenous women writers, such as the Laguna Pueblo Leslie Marmon Silko in the US and the Mayan playwrights of La Fomma in Chiapas, Mexico lead the feminist front of the indigenous literary renaissance? How did Palestinian folktales, Amazigh poetics in the Maghreb, and Mayan dream narratives in Mexico and Guatemala produce narratives of decolonial history? What does the aesthetics of magical realism in Arabic, Quechua and Spanish, respectively, as evident in the works of the Kurdish writer Salim Barakat (Syria) and the mestizo writer José María Arguedas (Peru) tell us about the intersection of race, ethnicity, and indigenous epistemology? What is the connection between the recent "boom" of English translations of Indigenous texts and neoliberalism, multiculturalism and neo-colonialism? Ultimately, our goal is to trace how these texts contributed to global indigenous literature and the trans-historical and trans-geographical connections between them. [ more ]

    PSCI 382 SEM The Politics of Migration: Citizen, Immigrant, Alien, Refugee

    Last offered Fall 2020

    Currently 272 million international migrants live in a country different from where they were born, an increase of 78% since 1990. What are the social, economic, and political consequences of unprecedented global mobility in both destination countries and countries of origin? This class investigates one of the most polarizing and relevant issues of our time: the politics of migration. Throughout the semester we interrogate four themes central to migration politics: rights, representation, access, and agency. The course is organized with a focus on status: which "categories" of people (i.e. citizens, migrants, refugees) have differential access to rights, services, and representation and why. Drawing on political speeches, documentary films, humanitarian campaigns, and a variety of academic texts, we critically analyze how those categories are constructed, as well as the political work they do in making claims, justifying policies, and shaping public opinion. The class situates contemporary US migration policies within a global context and over time, placing the US case in conversation with considerations of migration politics and policies in countries around the world. As an experiential education course, we will (virtually) attend a US naturalization ceremony as well as interview officials from organizations working with migrants and refugees here and abroad. [ more ]

    LATS 386 / HIST 386 / WGSS 386 SEM Latinas in the Global Economy: Work, Migration, and Households

    Last offered Spring 2019

    An increasingly global economy, from 1945 to the present, has affected Latinas in their home countries and in the United States. The garment industry, one of the first industries to go global, has relied extensively on Latina workers in their home countries and in the United States. Domestic work, a traditional field of women's work, also crosses borders. Challenging the myth that labor migration is a male phenomenon and that women simply follow the men, this course explores how the global economy makes Latinas labor migrants. What impact has the global economy and economic development had on Latinas' work and their households in their home countries? How have economic changes and government policies shaped Latinas' migrations and their incorporation in the changing U.S. economy? How have Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Dominican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan women confronted the challenges created by a globalizing economy and balanced demands to meet their households' needs? [ more ]

    LATS 409 / WGSS 409 / AMST 411 SEM Transnationalism and Difference: Comparative Perspectives

    Last offered Fall 2021

    In the age of digital communications and mobile applications such as WhatsApp and Skype, transnational living has rapidly emerged as the norm as opposed to the exception. However, what does it really mean to "be transnational"? How are the lived experiences of transnational individuals and communities shaped by categories of difference such as gender, ethno-racial identity, sexuality, and class? What impacts do the growing number of transnational citizens and residents in the U.S. have on our understanding of "American" identity in the local, national, and global contexts? In this interdisciplinary seminar we will analyze recent theories regarding the origins and impacts of transnationalism. Particular attention will be paid throughout the semester to the intersections of gender, ethno-racial identity, sexuality, and class in connection with everyday transnational dynamics. The broad range of case studies examined includes Central American, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, the Middle East, and Peru. [ more ]

    HIST 434 / REL 335 / JWST 434 SEM The Meaning of Diaspora and the Jews of Europe

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Dispersion, exile, migration, statelessness are all aspects of diaspora. In the study of diasporic peoples and cultures, the Jews have long figured as the archetype. As a result, Jewish political figures, intellectuals, social activists and scholars have played a central role in discussions of the meaning of diaspora, including debates about its political and social implications, economic value, and cultural significance. In the first half of the semester, in discussions of common readings, we will examine various historical interpretations of Jews¿ diasporic existence from the nineteenth century to the present and its implications for humanitarianism. Beginning in the first half of the semester and with greater intensity in the second half of the semester, you will conduct independent archival research on some aspect of the history of the Jewish diaspora using the digitized archives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee that will culminate in a twenty-plus-page paper. In the second half, the seminar will continue to meet weekly as a research colloquium, to provide a forum for you to present your research and drafts in progress and to give feedback on fellow students¿ work. In this seminar, we are not merely studying history; you are actually doing history. That is to say, you will be more than students of history in this course: you will become historians in your own right. Over the semester, you will learn how to pose historical questions; to engage critically with readings beyond summarizing them; to synthesize an enormous amount of source material; and to learn how to write more clearly. By the end of the semester, the goal is for each student to produce a polished research paper based on substantial engagement with archival sources and relevant secondary literature that will serve as a capstone to your coursework at Williams or as a potential jumping-off point for future research projects, including a senior thesis in History or Jewish Studies. [ more ]

    LATS 471 / HIST 471 SEM Comparative Latina/o Migrations

    Last offered Spring 2019

    Since the 1970s, policymakers, scholars, the media, and popular discourses have used the umbrella terms "Hispanic" and "Latina/o" to refer to Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans and more recent immigrants from Central and South American countries. As a form of racial/ethnic categorization, however, these umbrella terms can mask widely divergent migration histories and experiences in the United States. In this course, we develop theoretical perspectives and comparative analyses to untangle a complicated web of similarities and differences among Latino groups. How important were their time of arrival and region of settlement? How do we explain differences in socioeconomic status? How fruitful and appropriate are comparative analyses with other racial/ethnic groups, such as African Americans or European immigrants? Along the way, we explore the emergence of Latina/o Studies as an interdisciplinary and comparative field of study, as well as methods used in Latino and Latina history, specifically oral histories, government documents, newspapers, and interdisciplinary approaches. [ more ]

  • ENVI 110 TUT The Anthropocene: Nature and Culture in the Human Age

    Last offered Spring 2018

    In 2016, a group of scientists appointed by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the body that keeps the official timetable of earth's history, argued that the planet has entered a new age known as the Anthropocene. Their questions were epochal: Has humanity become a geological force as powerful as those that have shaped the planet's deep past, such as ice sheets and asteroids? Have we truly entered "the human age," and if so, when did it begin and what does it all mean? This course will ask how researchers from different fields have sought to answer these questions. Just as important, it will ask how they became questions in the first place. Where did the idea of the Anthropocene come from? What are its social, political, and ethical implications? How we have arrived at this new understanding of our planet and ourselves? And what can this major intellectual shift-a shift that has already begun to send waves far beyond the academy into the worlds of art, literature, politics, and religion-tell us about the construction of environmental knowledge in the twenty-first century? Readings will come primarily from the environmental social sciences and humanities, including works by nineteenth and early twentieth-century environmental thinkers, but will be supplemented with material from the natural and environmental sciences. Topics will include climate change, mass extinction, urbanization, and deforestation. Our focus throughout will remain on ways of knowing, imagining, and representing global environmental change in an era of ever-expanding human influence. [ more ]

    AMST 202 / AFR 209 SEM Introduction to Racial Capitalism

    Last offered Spring 2022

    The historical relationship between race and capitalism is one of the most enduring debates in U.S. historiography, shaping modes of inquiry and analysis across history, law, economics, sociology, anthropology, and other fields. This course seeks to introduce students to the concept of "racial capitalism"--which rejects treatments of race (and racism) as external to the so-called real workings of capitalism--as a way to understand this relationship and as an activist hermeneutic through which to identify and respond to the conditions that American Studies must reckon with. Students will gain familiarity with the global history of racial capitalism and the power of the concept itself through secondary sources and a wide range of primary sources, and through engaged discussion and short essays. Throughout the course, we will pay special attention to the cultural politics, political geographies, and historical development of racial capitalism, thus attending to how the social relations of racial capitalism have been known, lived, and resisted across time and space. The course is organized around three key themes: the land question; race, capitalism, and nation; and the banalities of racial capitalism. Across these themes, the course will address such issues and topics as North American settler colonialism, circum-Caribbean plantation slave and "Coolie" labor, mass incarceration, the subprime mortgage crisis, and the War on Terror. The course will do so through and against a history of racial capitalism that privileges the U.S. nation-state in particular. By the end of this course, students should be able to: detail and analyze the historical development of and resistance to racial capitalism, doing so in relation to the global itineraries of racial slavery, settler colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy; trace the history of the concept of racial capitalism itself; and identify how the concept continues to shape the field of American Studies. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ECON 204 / ENVI 234 / ECON 507(S) LEC Global Poverty and Economic Development

    Why are some nations rich while other nations are poor, and what can be done to end global poverty and promote shared prosperity? This course explores the historical determinants of global poverty and inequality, and analyzes the range of policy options available to promote economic development and equalize opportunities. Drawing on research in development economics, development studies, political science, and anthropology, we seek to understand the factors that shaped the global economy and contributed to the cross-country income disparities observed today. In addition, we'll use the tools of modern empirical microeconomics to assess the possibilities for eliminating global poverty and underdevelopment in the future. Undergraduate students will receive 200-level credit and should not register at the 500-level. [ more ]

    ENVI 206 SEM Global Environmental Politics

    Last offered Spring 2021

    This course examines the history and current status of international environmental cooperation and conflict. We will consider the interactions of nation-states, multilateral international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and social movements in the formation of transnational environmental policy and treaties. We will also examine non-state approaches to global environmental challenges. After reviewing competing explanations for the causes of global environmental problems and diverse disciplinary approaches to studying those issues, we will read case studies covering a range of topics. These include fresh water conflict, fisheries and oceans, climate change, waste and pollution, agriculture, pesticides, population and development, wildlife, forestry, and consumerism. The reading assignments are drawn from the fields of environmental and foreign policy history, political science, international relations, geography, and anthropology in order to develop an interdisciplinary approach to international policy analysis. The written assignments are a series of policy briefs. You will also be responsible for two oral presentations during the semester, related to the policy briefs. [ more ]

    Taught by: April Merleaux

    Catalog details

    WGSS 211 / ECON 105(F) SEM Gender in the Global Economy

    This course will present a feminist economic analysis of the global economy, and some of the urgent issues facing women in the Global South. The course will start by developing theoretical resources: these will include feminist critiques of economic theory, work on care labor and the shifting boundaries between markets, governments, households and the environment, and discussions of intersectionality and difference. Then we will discuss a series of interlinked issues which may include the contradictory effects of structural adjustment and its successors; the informal sector and global value chains; the economics of sex work and global sex trafficking; climate change; and migration. We will finish by looking at community-based activism, non-governmental organizations, and the possibilities for North/South alliances. [ more ]

    ECON 215 / GBST 315(S) LEC Globalization

    This course will examine the causes and consequences of globalization. This includes studying topics such as trade, immigration, foreign direct investment, and offshoring. The impact of these forms of globalization on welfare, wages, employment, and inequality will be a focal point. Throughout we will rely on economic principles, models, and empirical tools to explain and examine these contentious issues. [ more ]

    ECON 219 TUT Global Economic History

    Last offered Fall 2016

    Why did Western Europe--and not China, India, or the Middle East--first experience the Industrial Revolution? Why did Latin America fall behind in the 20th century, while Japan and eventually China boomed? What explains the historical success of the US economy? And why has African economic growth been relatively slow for so long? These and other questions will guide our exploration of global economic development over the past several millennia. We will draw on micro and macroeconomic theory to help explain and interpret the historical roots of the modern global economy. Our focus will be broadly comparative across space and time, with an emphasis on how institutions, resource endowments, culture, technology, and market developments help explain economic differences and change around the world. Throughout the course, we will draw on micro and macroeconomic theories and concepts to help explain and interpret the historical roots of modern global economy. [ more ]

    PSCI 229(S) LEC Global Political Economy

    This course offers a broad introduction to the contemporary global political economy, emphasizing the inherent and inseparable intertwining of politics and economics, power and wealth, the state and the market. The core of the course involves analyses of global trade, global finance, development, and migration, with special attention to subjects such as free trade, central banking, industrial policy, and border walls. We conclude the course with a look at the future of global capitalism. [ more ]

    ENVI 231 / AFR 231 / STS 231(S) SEM Africa and the Anthropocene

    Despite its low contributions to global carbon emissions, the continent of Africa is predicted to experience some of the worst effects of climate change. This interdisciplinary course investigates the causes and consequences of this troubling contradiction. It positions the African continent as an important site for understanding how legacies of empire, racial and gendered inequality, resource extraction, and capital accumulation impact contemporary global environmental politics. Students will engage theoretical texts, reports from international organizations, films, novels, and web-based content. Topics include: humanism/post-humanism; migration and displacement; representations of conflict; and sustainable development. [ more ]

    ECON 235 LEC Urban Centers and Urban Systems

    Last offered Spring 2001

    Cities, systems of cities, and the interactions between cities are the outcome of human decisions and reflect their social structure and desire for interaction. The form of these urban areas is determined by the choices made by the people who reside in, work in, and travel between cities. Economic forces influence and constrain these choices, and economic models of decision-making can help us to explain and predict the patterns that result. These models help us to comprehend the structure of urban areas. This course will introduce the ideas and some of the analytic tools that assist in understanding the economic foundations of urban centers and urban systems. Topics addressed in the course will include the determinants of land use, location of firms, choice of transportation mode, flows of capital investment into real estate, housing prices and housing availability and regulation of housing markets, movement of population from one city to another, and public policies designed to deal with urban problems. [ more ]

    ENVI 249 SEM Food, Agriculture, and Globalization

    Last offered Spring 2021

    This course examines the history and current politics of the international political economy of food with a focus on how agriculture and food provisioning have been transformed through imperialism and globalization. We examine the interactions of corporations, nation-states, multilateral international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and social movements in the formation of a globalized food system. Topics include the historical antecedents of our present system, plantation agriculture, the influences of war and settler colonialism on global food production, Cold War transformations in the international food system, the origins of sustainable development discourse, international anti-hunger programs, fair trade and other labeling schemes, labor migration, the antiglobalization and local food movements, and neoliberalism. We will pay particular attention to theories about how producers and consumers are connected to one other through the political economy of food. The reading assignments are drawn from the fields of environmental, food, and policy history, and we will also read works from political scientists, international relations scholars, geographers, anthropologists, and advocacy organizations. [ more ]

    Taught by: April Merleaux

    Catalog details

    ENVI 250 / STS 250 SEM Environmental Justice

    Last offered Fall 2021

    How are local and global environmental problems distributed unevenly according to race, gender, and class? What are the historical, social and economic structures that create unequal exposures to environmental risks and benefits? And how does inequity shape the construction and distribution of environmental knowledge? These are some of the questions we will take up in this course, which will be reading and discussion intensive. Through readings, discussions, and case studies, we will explore EJ in both senses. Potential topics include: toxics exposure, food justice, urban planning, e-waste, unnatural hazards, nuclearism in the U.S. West, natural resources and war, and climate refugees. Occasionally, community leaders, organizers, academics, and government officials will join the class to discuss current issues. [ more ]

    REL 287 / ENVI 287 LEC The Dynamics of Globalization: Society, Religion and the Environment

    Last offered Spring 2010

    This course offers a theoretical reflection on the social, cultural and environmental dynamics of globalization and their consequences for the nature and place of religion. Rather than argue for or against globalization, we first examine the nature of this new configuration and its relation to (post)modernity, asking questions such as: What are the cultural and social dynamics of globalization? What are the effects on the nature of the state and the political practices that take place in the global world? What are its environmental consequences? We then shift to examining the role of religion, arguing that its renewed relevance is a function of the socio-cultural transformations that globalization brings about, particularly the loss of community and the increasing atomization of individuals. We conclude by examining some of the perspectives created by the new religious expressions that attempt to respond to this situation, from personal spiritual quests as manifested in interest in Buddhism, ecology or mountain climbing, to various forms of fundamentalism, such as Evangelicalism, the fastest growing religious movement in the Americas, and the most radical forms of Islamicism. Reading list: Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity; Castells, The Rise of the Network Society; Bauman, Globalization; Kivisto, Multiculturalism in a Global Society; Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World; Ortner, Life and Death on Mt. Everest; Matthews, Global Cultura/ Individual Identity; Shuck, Mark of the Beast; Roy, Globalized Islam. [ more ]

    PSCI 341 SEM Modern Midas? Resource Abundance and Development

    Last offered Spring 2015

    Many academics, international nongovernmental organizations, international financial institutions, and the media assert that natural resource endowments--oil, gas, and diamonds--are like the touch of Midas. Yet consider that while mineral abundance promises to give countries a platform for prosperity, equity, and political stability, it often produces poor economic performance, poor populations, weak authoritarian states, and widespread conflict. Is there a resource curse, or is it possible for mineral rich countries to escape the modern counterparts of Midas? In this research seminar we revisit the debate on the relationship between mineral wealth and development, focusing on the factors and conditions that lead some resource rich countries to fail and others to succeed. [ more ]

    ECON 348 / ECON 548(S) LEC Human Capital and Development

    Children around the world face unequal opportunities to attend school, and to learn. This course will introduce students to economic studies of education, focusing on pre-school through high school. The course will mainly cover research in low-income and middle-income countries, but will also discuss connections to policy debates in the United States and elsewhere. Topics will include the importance of early-life conditions and investments; the connections between health and education; the roles of information, incentives, inputs, and technology; research methods; and decisions between policy options. Students in this course will analyze data themselves, and will critically read published research. [ more ]

    ECON 360 LEC Monetary Economics

    Last offered Spring 2022

    This course covers a range of theoretical and applied issues bearing on monetary policy as conducted in the U.S. and abroad. Topics to be covered include: the causes of inflation, how central banks manage interest rates, the channels through which monetary policy affects the economy, and the costs and benefits of imposing rules on the conduct of policy. The class will also touch on a number of current issues facing central banks, such as unconventional monetary policy and cryptocurrencies. [ more ]

    ECON 362 LEC Global Competitive Strategies

    Last offered Spring 2022

    Econ 362 acknowledges both the importance of large, diversified multinational firms in global economic activity, and the forms of strategic thinking that often displace, in practice, the optimization models of traditional economic analysis. In this course, we seek to describe competition in global markets by developing competence in decoding and critiquing (and even formulating) varieties of business and corporate strategies employed during the past forty years. While we treat a variety of theoretical models that seek or have sought to explain patterns of international economic activity, our priority is to ascertain their descriptive integrity and usefulness today. Our historical interest begins with mercantilism and covers Smith, comparative advantage, varieties of factor endowment theories, and much more, proceeding to strategic management perspectives and contributions of the 20th and early 21st century. We complete these efforts with a few original attempts to reconcile modern growth theory (e.g., Romer) with modern strategic practice (e.g., Porter). Further, substantial recent shifts in the nature of globalized economic activity, including the changing relative mobility and power of capital and labor, are examined. While the course is largely descriptive, it cannot fail to treat a few normative issues. We treat the efficacy of various government policies in promoting the competitiveness of home-based industries in regional and global markets. Finally, welfare propositions and policy ideas for addressing welfare impacts in a descriptively accurate context are advanced. [ more ]

    Taught by: Michael Fortunato

    Catalog details

    ECON 376 LEC The Economics of Global Inequality

    Last offered Fall 2020

    This course focuses on the proximate and ultimate causes of global economic inequality across nations. Motivated by several stylized facts from cross-country data, we will pose a series of questions: Why are some countries so rich while others remain so poor? What explains heterogeneity in the experience of economic growth across nations, with some growing at a moderate pace over long periods of time, others experiencing rapid growth over shorter intervals, and yet others stagnating persistently? Do all economies face comparable challenges to achieving sustained economic growth? Will poorer countries ever catch up to richer ones? To answer these and other related questions, we will explore the underlying mechanisms of economic growth. What role is played by savings and investment (i.e., the accumulation of physical capital)? What is the influence of population growth? How important are investments in human capital (i.e., education and population health)? What about technological differences across nations? How much significance should we ascribe to cross-country differences in geographical characteristics? How much should we ascribe to differences in the quality of institutions? For each question, we will explore both theoretical and empirical approaches, ranging from formal models to qualitative historical evidence to cross-country growth regressions. We will debate the usefulness of these different approaches for development policy and will discuss the reasons why so many questions about global economic inequality remain difficult to answer. [ more ]

    ECON 378(F) LEC Long-Run Comparative Development

    The world today is marred by vast disparities in the standard of living, with about a 30-fold difference in real GDP per capita between the poorest and most affluent of nations. What are the causes of such differences in prosperity across countries? Are the origins of global inequality to be found in underlying differences among societies over the past few decades, the past few centuries, or the past few millennia? If contemporary differences in living standards have such "deep" historical roots, what scope exists for policies to reduce global inequality today? Can we expect inequality to be reduced through some natural process of macroeconomic development, or is it likely to persist unless acted upon by policy? This course will present a unified theory of economic growth for thinking about these and related questions. Examples of issues to be covered include: the Neoclassical growth model and its inefficacy for answering questions about development over long time horizons; Malthusian stagnation across societies during the pre-industrial stage of economic development; the importance of the so-called demographic transition and of human capital formation in the course of industrialization; the persistent influence of colonialism, slavery, and ethnic fragmentation in shaping the quality of contemporary politico-economic institutions; and the enduring effects of geography on comparative development, through its impact on the emergence of agriculture in early human societies and its influence in shaping the composition of traits in populations across the globe. [ more ]

    POEC 401(F) SEM Contemporary Problems in Political Economy

    This course examines contemporary problems in political economy at and across diverse spatial scales. Using both Economics and Political Science methods of analysis, students will study the way societies respond to the myriad risks facing its citizens. The goal of this course is both to build upon theoretical debates encountered in POEC 250 as well as to prepare students for the public policy analysis they will do in POEC 402. [ more ]

    ECON 470 SEM The Indian Economy: Development and Social Justice

    Last offered Spring 2022

    The Indian economy has (usually) grown rapidly in the last three decades, but poverty has declined relatively slowly, malnutrition remains high, and the sex ratio remains heavily biased against women. Is this the persistence of long-standing historical disadvantages such as those faced by Scheduled Castes and Tribes? Does this reflect failures in policy, in areas such as trade, credit, or labor law? Or is the quality of governance primarily to blame? We will use the theoretical and quantitative methods of an economist to consider these questions. [ more ]

    ECON 501(F) SEM Economic Growth and Development

    This course focuses on the analysis of modern economic growth and comparative development across nations. Motivated by several stylized facts from cross-country data, we will pose a series of questions: Why are some countries so rich while others remain so poor? What explains heterogeneity in the experience of economic growth across nations, with some growing at a moderate pace over long periods of time, others experiencing rapid growth over shorter intervals, and yet others stagnating persistently? Do all economies face comparable challenges to achieving sustained economic growth? Will poorer countries ever catch up to richer ones? To answer these and other related questions, we will explore the underlying mechanisms of economic growth. What role is played by savings and investment (i.e., the accumulation of physical capital)? What is the influence of population growth? How important are investments in human capital (i.e., education and population health)? What about technological differences across nations? How much significance should we ascribe to cross-country differences in geographical characteristics? How much should we ascribe to differences in the quality of institutions? For each question, we will explore both theoretical and empirical approaches, ranging from formal models to qualitative historical evidence to cross-country growth regressions. We will debate the usefulness of these different approaches for development policy and will discuss the reasons why so many questions about economic growth remain difficult to answer. [ more ]

    ECON 504(F) SEM Public Economics in Developing Countries

    This class is about microeconomic and empirical analysis of government expenditure programs in developing and transitional countries. It provides tools for understanding the effects of government policies, as well as a useful conceptual framework for analyzing normative questions such as "what role should government play in the economy" and "what is a good policy?" The course begins by considering the efficiency of market economies, and rationales for government intervention in the market, such as public goods, externalities, information-based market failures, imperfect competition, and equity. We also consider ways that human behavior might deviate from perfect rationality, and what that might imply for policy. Along the way, we apply these concepts to various examples of policy issues, including, among other things, the environment, education, health, infrastructure, security, social insurance, and aid to the poor. We then turn to the general question of how to make the government work better, addressing questions such as the following. When is it better to have the government own and produce things, and when is it better to privatize? What are the incentives of politicians and government employees, and how does the design of political and budgetary institutions affect the degree to which they serve the public interest? How should responsibilities be divided up between the central government and local governments, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of "decentralization?" What can be done to improve the delivery of basic services? For example, how might one address problems of corruption and absenteeism? Throughout the course, we consider examples of empirical research, and to facilitate this, we will occasionally introduce econometric tools that are particularly useful for microeconomic policy evaluation. [ more ]

    ECON 505(F) LEC Developing Country Macroeconomics I: Theory

    The macroeconomic structures of developing countries tend to be very different from those in high-income countries, and their macroeconomic policy environments also differ in important ways from those in rich countries. This course is intended to introduce students to a set of models that is particularly suitable for analyzing macroeconomic performance in developing countries, as well as to develop some analytical tools that help us understand why such countries have often experienced a variety of macroeconomic crises, including sovereign debt, currency, and banking crises. [ more ]

    ECON 510 / ECON 352(S) LEC Financial Development and Regulation

    This course focuses on the financial system in developing countries and its role in economic development. The first part explores the functions of finance, how it contributes to growth and poverty alleviation, as well as examines what can be done to increase financial inclusion. What are the key parts of the infrastructure that are needed to improve access to financial services, including via 'fintech,' which is taking off in many developing countries? We will look at experiences with financial sector repression and subsequent liberalization and investigate the causes and impact of financial crises, as well as how to manage them. Then we will study how to make finance effective in dealing with a variety of risks facing societies, including aging and climate change. A key focus will be how to prevent or minimize crises, analyzing government's role as regulator, supervisor, standard setter, contract enforcer, and owner, including how regulation should respond to climate risk. In this final part, attention will be devoted to the role of institutions (laws, norms, culture) and incentives in financial sector development. [ more ]

    ECON 515 / ECON 359(S) SEM Developing Country Macroeconomics II: Institutions and Policy Regimes

    Developing countries must confront a number of macroeconomic challenges that industrialized countries do not have to contend with: exchange rate volatility, large capital flows and commodity price fluctuations, for example. Building on ECON 505, this course examines these issues from both theoretical and empirical standpoints. The focus will be on the design of monetary, fiscal and exchange rate policies and institutions to enhance macroeconomic stability, and create an environment conducive to growth. [ more ]

    ECON 516 / ECON 366(S) SEM International Trade and Development

    This course will examine the causes and consequences of globalization and its implications for less-developed countries. We will study the classic models of international trade and discuss the empirical relevance of these theories. In addition, we will focus on other dimensions of globalization that are of particular importance to developing countries such as trade and education, emigration, brain drain, remittances, foreign direct investment, trade policies, infant industry protection, trade and growth, the resource course, and trade agreements. [ more ]

    ECON 535 TUT International Financial Institutions

    Last offered Spring 2018

    This tutorial will explore the role of official international financial institutions in the global economic and financial system, their relations with members, proposals for how they might be reformed, and issues that they face. The focus will be principally on the International Monetary Fund, and to a lesser extent the World Bank, the Bank for International Settlements and Financial Stability Board. Topics and readings will focus on such issues as: the roles and governance reform of the IMF and World Bank; lessons from their performance in international crises; initiatives of the Fund and Bank; the global adjustment process; financial system stability; governance reform; lending programs; the management of international reserves; and provision of advice to members. Participants will meet in pairs with the faculty member. Each week, one student will prepare a policy paper and submit the paper to the professor and to the other student in advance of the meeting. During the meeting, the student who has written the paper will present an argument, evidence, and conclusions. The other student will provide a critique of the paper based on concepts and evidence from the readings and his own research and experience. The professor will participate in the discussion after each participant has presented and ask questions that highlight or illustrate critical points. [ more ]

  • ENVI 101(F, S) LEC Nature and Society: An Introduction to Environmental Studies

    Environment and society interact on scales from the local to the global. This course explores these interactions and introduces students to the interdisciplinary methods of environmental studies. We will investigate the social, political, and historical aspects of environmental problems -- including environmental racism, species extinction, climate change, and more -- as well as their possible solutions. We will survey policy-making and activism in a variety of contexts and will examine art, literature, film, music, maps, advertisements, and other cultural objects. Throughout the course, we will ask how unequal distributions of power affect people and environments. Case studies, readings, discussions, and field exercises will help students develop their understanding how natural systems influence and are influenced by human activities. [ more ]

    HIST 117 / ASIA 117 / GBST 117(F) SEM Bombay/Mumbai: Making of a Modern Metropolis

    Bombay or Mumbai is India's foremost urban center and is well known today as a truly global city. It is the heart of India's commercial life comparable in vibrancy and multiculturalism with the world's emerging cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo. What are the historical elements that contributed to the making of India's most modern and global metropolis? What are the antecedents of the modernity, the vibrant culture, dark underbelly and economic diversity that characterize Bombay today? What does the history of Bombay tell us about modernity in India and the emerging countries of the third world in general? This seminar will help students to answer these questions through historical materials on Bombay as well a wide range of multimedia sources including cinema, photography and literature. With a focus on the 19th and 20th centuries, we will explore themes like the commercial culture of a colonial port city, the modern public sphere, theatre and film, labor migration, public health and prostitution to understand what went into the making of this modern metropolis. The primary objective of this course is to introduce students to a wide range of historical sources and ways of interpreting them. The other objective is facilitating their understanding of the history of colonial and modern India through the history of its most important city. [ more ]

    HIST 136 SEM Before the Deluge: Paris and Berlin in the Interwar Years

    Last offered Fall 2012

    Paris and Berlin were the two poles of Europe in the 1920s, rival capital cities of two historically hostile nations that had only just put an end to the carnage of World War I. Paris was the grande dame; Berlin the upstart. In the 1920s, these two pulsating metropolises became the sites of political and cultural movements that would leave a lasting imprint on European society until the present day. This course focuses on the politics, society, and culture of these two cities in their heyday in the 1920s. We will also consider their fate in the 1930s, first as depression set in, and then as the Nazis came to power. Devoting half the semester to Paris and the other half to Berlin, we will examine a range of parallel topics in both contexts, including the impact of World War I, the growing popularity of right-wing political movements and the increase in political violence, shifting gender norms and sexual mores, and new developments in the realms of art, film, theatre, cabaret, and literature. [ more ]

    GERM 203 SEM Hansestadt Hamburg

    Last offered Spring 2018

    "Wenn Du in Hamborger Hopn platt snacken kannst, dann geiht immer eine Dör mer auf". Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany (with 1.8 million inhabitants), always had a particular significance within German cultural consciousness. Part of the Hanseatic League since the Middle Ages, the Free City of Hamburg quickly became an important commercial center in Northern Europe and a prosperous city of traders and merchants. Located on the river Elbe and in close proximity to the North Sea, the city-state Hamburg is still a major port city which has long benefited trading activities and fostered an exposure to other cultures. Called the gateway to the world (because the port was for a long time the gateway to the Americas) and the Venice of the North (the city is surrounded by water and features more canals, streams, and bridges than Amsterdam), later on completely destroyed by the World War II bombing raids, Hamburg is a city of contrasts: infamous for its dialect (Plattdeutsch) as well as its red light district (St Pauli), renowned for its journalism (Der Spiegel, Die Zeit) and culture scene, famous for its culinary specialties, (the burger might have been invented there) and its sports culture (soccer, handball, basketball), Hamburg has a rich past and a multicultural present that this course will examine. In order to gain a deeper insight into the geography, history, and culture of this fascinating city, we will read the autobiography by Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi, novels by Uwe Timm, short stories by Yoko Tawada and Siegfried Lenz, listen to songs by Hans Albers, Wolf Biermann, Udo Lindenberg, the Hip Hop band Fettes Brot, and watch movies by Fatih Akin, Sandra Nettelbeck, Christian Alvart, Özgür Yildirim, and Leander Haußmann. Taught in German. [ more ]

    GERM 205 SEM Berlin--Multicultural Metropolis Between East and West

    Last offered Spring 2022

    We will examine texts and films about Berlin as a center of cultural and social transformations in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with special emphasis on the post-wall period. We will move from the turn of the century (when the city's population had recently tripled in size) to the establishing of Berlin as a world capital in the 1920s, then through Nazi-era transformations, wartime destruction and the cold war division of the city. We will conclude with the reshaping of the city after the fall of the Berlin wall. Texts and films may include: Walter Benjamin, Berliner Kindheit um 1900, excerpts from Ulrich van der Heyden und Joachim Zeller's Kolonialmetropole Berlin, Walter Ruttmann, Sinfonie einer Großstadt, Irmgard Keun's Das kunstseidene Mädchen, Nazi architect Albert Speer's plans for Berlin as the fascist capital "Germania," the 1956 East German youth protest film Ecke Schönhauser, short fiction by Reiner Kunze, Aras Ören, Peter Schneider, Bodo Morshäuser, Irina Liebmann. Recent films to be included are: Sonnenallee, Goodbye, Lenin!, Berlin is in Germany, Berlin Calling. [ more ]

    Taught by: Helga Druxes

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    GERM 207 / GBST 207 LEC Vienna 1900-2000 and Beyond

    Last offered Spring 2013

    Once the center of a vast empire, Austria has tended to be overlooked since the demise of that empire. In fact, though, its trajectory can usefully serve as a guide to the complex developments in Europe before, during, and after the Second World War. Contemporary Austria is indeed a laboratory of post-Cold War Europe: Its population is remarkably multicultural, in spite of resistances; its language is rich and dynamic, yet increasingly dominated by its more powerful neighbor to the north; its political attitudes encompass extreme nationalism, pan-Europeanism, and much in between. Austria's capital, Vienna, will form the lens through which we examine the origins and quirks of this fascinating, sometimes paradoxical, culture. The course will employ a variety of written, video, audio, and cyber-materials to explore some of the issues facing contemporary Austria, and to continue the development of advanced reading, writing, and speaking skills begun in German 201. Conducted in German. [ more ]

    PSCI 215 / LEAD 215(S) SEM Race and Inequality in the American City

    In the past half-century, American cities have gotten both much richer and much poorer. The making of "luxury cities" has gone hand-in-hand with persistent, concentrated poverty, extreme racial segregation, mass incarceration, and failing public services-social problems borne primarily by people of color. This course will examine the political underpinnings of inequality in American cities, with particular attention to the racialization of inequality. Among the topics we will cover are: the structures of urban political power; housing and employment discrimination; the War on Crime and the War on Drugs (and their consequence, mass incarceration); education; and gentrification. We will ask: How have city leaders and social movements engaged with urban problems? How have they tried to make cities more decent, just, and sustainable? Under what circumstances has positive leadership produced beneficial outcomes, and in what circumstances has it produced perverse outcomes? We will engage primarily with political science, but also with scholarship in other disciplines, including sociology, history, geography, and legal studies, all of which share an interest in the questions we will be exploring. Students will leave this course with a deeper understanding of contemporary urban problems, a knowledge of the political structures within which those problems are embedded, and a better sense of the challenges and opportunities leaders face in contemporary urban America. [ more ]

    ANTH 216 / GBST 216 TUT Urbanism in the Ancient World

    Last offered Spring 2018

    This is a course on cities in the ancient world, which will examine four major ancient urban centers (Nineveh and Nimrud, Iraq; Teotihuacan, Mexico; and Angkor, Cambodia) and end with a sustained, in-depth exploration of urbanism in prehispanic Maya civilization. As more and more people move into cities across the world, human societies are becoming forever transformed. This transformation into an urban globalized world has ancient roots at the beginning of the first civilizations in Euroasia and the Americas. We will delve into the nature of the urban transformation by first exploring sociological and anthropological definitions of urbanism, and recent studies of modern urbanism. We will look at Nineveh, Nimrud, Teotihuacan, and Angkor to consider how ancient urbanism was distinct from modern cities, while at the same time, ancient urbanites had to deal with similar issues as residents of modern cities. We will then examine in more depth the cities of prehispanic Maya civilization, answering such questions as: how different were Maya cities from other premodern ones? Is there one type of Maya city or many? How different was life in Maya cities from life in Maya villages? What were the power structures of Maya cities? How common were immigrants and slaves in these ancient cities? [ more ]

    SOC 216(F) SEM The City

    Modern humans have moved to the city, a site with concentrated powers of various kinds, this move has effected irreversible change in human life. We will examine these forces through readings in urban theories as well as ethnographic studies. We will address themes such as the organization of urban life, the political economy of cities, housing and homelessness, and urban planning. The city is also the chief site of cultural production and meaning, and our scope of interest will range from studying subcultures, to reading graffiti, to analyzing monuments. Bearing in mind the inexorable social change of past decades, we will reconsider some classical thought on urban life in the context of postmodern discourse, conceptualize the post-industrial and global city, and conclude with an examination of the problems faced by cities in developing countries. This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive introduction to urban studies. Students will become familiarized with both classical and modern urban theories, and in reading ethnographies they will have an opportunity to understand some fundamental methodological approaches to the study of the city. [ more ]

    ECON 235 LEC Urban Centers and Urban Systems

    Last offered Spring 2001

    Cities, systems of cities, and the interactions between cities are the outcome of human decisions and reflect their social structure and desire for interaction. The form of these urban areas is determined by the choices made by the people who reside in, work in, and travel between cities. Economic forces influence and constrain these choices, and economic models of decision-making can help us to explain and predict the patterns that result. These models help us to comprehend the structure of urban areas. This course will introduce the ideas and some of the analytic tools that assist in understanding the economic foundations of urban centers and urban systems. Topics addressed in the course will include the determinants of land use, location of firms, choice of transportation mode, flows of capital investment into real estate, housing prices and housing availability and regulation of housing markets, movement of population from one city to another, and public policies designed to deal with urban problems. [ more ]

    CLAS 242 / ANTH 242 / ENVI 242 SEM The Country and the City in the Classical World

    Last offered Spring 2020

    A growing urban-rural divide is defining political discourse around the world. The interrelation and tension between "city" and "countryside" are not new, however, but date back to the time when cities first began. How do cities occupy and transform, interact with and displace rural landscapes? What are the values, stereotypes, and ideals--as well as artistic, literary, and architectural forms--associated with the city and the countryside? What role does one play in the political, social, and economic life of the other? With a focus on ancient Greece and, especially, Rome, this course will combine archaeological evidence and contemporary scholarship with primary sources ranging from Hesiod, Theocritus, Vergil, and Propertius to Cato the Elder, Varro, Vitruvius, and Pliny the Elder, to examine an array of topics including land surveying and colonization; agrarian legislation; the urban food supply; rustic religion in the city; urban parks and gardens; and the concept of the pastoral. Together, we will explore the city and the countryside - not just as places, but also as states of mind. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

    SOC 315 SEM Culture, Consumption and Modernity

    Last offered Fall 2017

    How do lifestyles, fashions and trends appear and evolve? Are we authors of our own taste? What structures our choices of goods and activities? What is it that gives meaning to objects and makes them desirable? Are there non-consumer societies in the modern world? How has globalization changed the ways people consume in different parts of the globe? This course will explore consumption and consumer practices as products of modernity and will analyze the political, cultural and social agendas that have transformed consumption over time. Politics of consumption (the way in which seemingly free and independent consumption choices aggregate into the existing system of global capitalism) will be treated alongside its symbolic element: the role of consumer practices in creating and articulating identities, building relationships and creating solidarities. We will look at fashion, advertising, arts and shopping in places as varied as nineteenth-century France, socialist Russia, and in contemporary United States, tracing both the mechanisms that structure patterns of consumption, and the consequences that these patterns have for the larger social order. [ more ]

    RLFR 316 / WGSS 315 SEM Paris on Fire: Incendiary Voices from the City of Light (1830-2015)

    Last offered Spring 2018

    During the 1830s, Balzac described Paris as a "surprising assemblage of movements, machines, and ideas, a city of one hundred thousand novels, the head of the world," but also characterized the French capital as a "land of contrasts," a "monstrous wonder," a "moral sewer." Similarly, writers from Hugo to Zola have simultaneously celebrated Parisian elegance and condemned the appalling misery of Paris's urban poor. Since 1889, Paris has been fêted as the "City of Light" for its Enlightenment legacy, its Eiffel Tower modernity, and its luminous urban energy, captured in countless paintings, photographs, and film. However, Paris is also the historical site of revolution, resistance, and riots. From revolutionary revolt (1830, 1848, 1871), to wartime resistance (1870, 1914-18, 1940-44), to reformist and race riots (1968 and 2005), Paris has repetitively sparked with incendiary passion and political protest. As fires raged during the riots in 2005, many heard the echo of Hitler's ominous 1944 question, "Is Paris burning?" and asked: why was Paris burning again at the dawn of the twenty-first century? And following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, many wonder what lies ahead for the City of Light. To answer these questions, we will examine the social, political, and literary landscape of Paris during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from urbanization and modernization, to occupation and liberation, to immigration and globalization. Readings to include poetry, short stories, and novels by Hugo, Balzac, Baudelaire, Maupassant, Verne, Zola, Apollinaire, Colette, Duras, Perec, Rochefort, and Charef. Films to include works by Clair, Truffaut, Godard, Minnelli, Clément, Lelouch, Luhrmann, Kassovitz, Besson, and Jeunet.Conducted in French. [ more ]

    ARAB 368 / COMP 368 / WGSS 368 SEM Arab Women Writers: Remapping Urban Narratives

    Last offered Fall 2017

    In "The Lover of Blue Writing above the Sea," (1995) a poem written to console a lover after the death of his beloved, Syrian poet, Ghada al-Samman, pens: "If you are sad and burn the edge of my book/I shall come to you/like the genie in my grandmother's Damascene stories..." As these lines imply, the fantastic grandmother's Damascene stories have the power to equally amend broken hearts and restore memories of loss. In this course, we will adopt "the grandmother's Damascene stories" as a conceptual metaphor that guides our line inquiry into the intersection of Arab women's narrative and the city. We will read novels and short stories by Arab women writers about cities and capitals in the Arab world and the diaspora. The goal of this course is not only to familiarize students with prominent Arab women novelists, such as Hoda Barakat, Radwa Ashur, Liana Badr, Raja'a Alem, Alia Mamdouh, and Ahlam Mosteghanemi, among others, but also to introduce them to the literary and visual cartography of Beirut, Granada (via Cairo), Ramallah, Mecca, Baghdad, and Constantine, respectively. We will also read short stories about other cities in the world, such as New York, Paris, London, Buenos Aires and Tokyo among other world metropolis. Questions we will address include: How does the city appear as a protagonist? How do Arab women novelists represent nationhood, modernity, memory, love, war, sexuality and religion, among other themes, in their construction of urban narratives? How do these narratives map an Arab feminist metropolis? How do Arab women writers represent cities beyond the Arab world? To answer these questions, we will also look at Arab women's blogs and watch films that focus on the city as a site for spatial articulation of national histories, popular revolutions, and feminist public spheres. [ more ]

    ECON 383 LEC Cities, Regions and the Economy

    Last offered Spring 2021

    Cities and urbanization can have significant impacts on the economy. In many developed economies, a process of regional decline is associated with older, industrial cities. In developing countries, the process of economic growth is generally associated with increasing urbanization. Urbanization, with its increasing concentration of population and production, puts particular pressure on markets to allocate resources for provision of land, housing, transportation, labor and public goods. Urbanization can alter the productivity of land, labor, and capital in ways that can improve the welfare of residents and the performance of the broader economy. In this course we will examine these conflicting economic forces and examine some recent research that contributes to our understanding of the difference between regional growth and decline, and the role that the urban structure plays in these processes. We will examine the function of land, housing, transportation, and labor markets in the urban context, and the scope for public policies to improve the performance of the regional economy. [ more ]

    ECON 388 / ENVI 388 / ECON 517 LEC Urbanization and Development

    Last offered Spring 2014

    At current rates of growth, the combined population of urban areas in developing countries will double in the next 30 years. The land area devoted to urban use is expected to double even more quickly. The costs of providing housing and infrastructure to accommodate this growth are enormous, but the costs of failing to accommodate urban development may be even larger. The decisions made in response to these challenges will affect the economic performance of these countries and the health and welfare of the urban residents. By affecting global patterns of energy use, these decisions will have broader impacts on the entire planet. This course will focus on these challenges. What are the economic forces that drive the process of urbanization, and how does the level of urbanization affect economic development? How are policies towards housing, transportation, public finance and development affected by urbanization? What policy choices are available, and which are most likely to succeed in dealing with the challenges of urban growth? [ more ]

    HIST 416 / ASIA 416 SEM The Many Lives of Tokyo

    Last offered Fall 2021

    The city of Tokyo has had many lives from its early modern founding as the shogun's capital of Edo to its contemporary incarnation as a global megacity. This seminar explores how and why the city has changed--how an unassuming fishing village was transformed over four centuries into a vibrant early modern city of over a million people, the heart of a modern nation and metropole of an expansive empire, an emblem of urban cosmopolitanism, and a sprawling metropolis. Our focus will be on how people have lived, conceived, and shaped Edo/Tokyo. We will consider how different and various people have moved through the city; where and how they have lived, worked, and enjoyed themselves; how they have interacted with the natural and built environments; and how they have expressed their discontents with, and aspirations for, the city. Topics to be examined include: physical expansion, urbanization, and suburbanization; destruction and reconstruction from fires, earthquakes, and war; cultivation of opportunities to consume; and creation of urban popular cultures. The centerpiece of the seminar is the research and writing of a substantial and original paper that delves into a question of interest to you about the history of Tokyo. [ more ]

    CHIN 422 / ASIA 122 TUT Old Shanghai, New Shanghai

    Last offered Spring 2018

    Once nicknamed as "Paris of the East," Shanghai, now a megacity with a population of 25 million, is the industrial, commercial and financial center of contemporary China. Shanghai is often depicted as a metropolis that marked the beginning of China's modernity and urban culture. People from other regions in China see Shanghai as a city full of opportunities, but characterize its people as astute and shrewd, cocky and unwelcoming. Foreigners, however, find the city appealing and its people open-minded. Jews fleeing Nazi persecutions during WWII, found Shanghai to be a "paradise of ghetto" that provided the only haven of survival. For local people, there have always been two Shanghai: an old one and a new one. They are proud of the new Shanghai but constantly nostalgic about the old one. This tutorial examines the multifaceted city of Shanghai and its people from historical and cultural perspectives. We will look at the city's history (from the late nineteenth century to present day), its local language and culture, and everyday life of the people (including migrants and foreigners) living in it. The central ideas we will explore are "modernity" and "regional identity." We will investigate how these theoretical constructs play out in the making of the city of Shanghai and the formation of its unique local identity. Course readings include historical and cultural studies as well as documentaries in English about Shanghai, and primary sources in Chinese in a wide range of genres including fiction, essays, and films (English translation of the primary sources are available for students taking the course in English). The course is conducted in either Chinese or English. Students wishing to take the course in English should register under ASST 122T and students wishing to take the course in Chinese should register under CHIN 422T. Students will come away with a critical understanding about China's regional cultures and one of its most important metropolitan cities. Chinese language learners will be able to improve their reading and writing skills in Chinese through this course. The course has a required field trip to a Chinese restaurant on a Saturday or Sunday, depending on all students' schedules. [ more ]

See also Public Health