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Sociology of Deviance (Advanced class)
Crime is the cover story the state uses to crack down on threats to the social and political order. The battleground may be in the streets or in prisons like Abu Ghraib, it is about who gets to command the common sense. As the philosophers Dead Prez sang, “But the reality is, The police become necessary in human society, Only at that junction in human society, Where it is split between those who have and those who ain’t got”. In this course, you will acquire familiarity with the major theoretical approaches in sociology to deviance derived from Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Jeremy Bentham, Max Weber, Erving Goffman, and Michel Foucault. You will see how imprisonment emerged as the preeminent form of punishment in modern society. The post-civil rights turn to hyperincarceration makes USA an exceptional case among other developed liberal democracies. We will examine the social causes, functions, and consequences of this punitive turn in the United States by looking at deviance historically and comparatively. Overall the course prepares you to make the conceptual links between Punishment and Social order.
Drugs and Society/Dangerous tastes: spices, drugs and colonial wars
It started with pepper and nutmeg and expanded to opium, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, coffee, and alcohol. The pursuit of spices, aromatics, and intoxicants to please, to stimulate, and to benumb transformed the history of food, work and global trade from the 15th C with the emergence of European powers on the global scene. Starting from the Opium wars in this course we will learn how the fascinating and dangerous journey of drugs by road and by sea routes dovetailed with the expansion of capitalism and subjugation of people through colonialism, slavery and indentured labour. The course asks you to see the politics of consumption not as a question of national policy or national cultures but through global flows of ideas, people and commodities.
Sexuality and Society: Sexualizing political economy (Advanced class)
This course will explore topics in gender and sexuality by drawing on sociology of gender, feminist theory and political economy. The social construction and politics of gender and sexuality was profoundly shaped by discourses and practices of globalization and development. By exploring topics from the politics of AIDS funding to controversies around clinical trials for HPV vaccine this course will help you find ways to gender political economy and inequality. This course will also give you tools to approach the Sociology of Medicine.
Sexuality and Society
In this course we will explore the connections between norms and rebellions of gender and sexuality in 20th century U.S. society. Each week we will examine the conceptual and political terms of sexuality from a sociological and historical perspective. Whether a form of sexuality is “normal” or “abnormal” depends on how distant it is from a paradigmatic type. By looking at sociological shifts and tensions, the class offers an opportunity to rethink commonly held assumptions and beliefs of what sexuality is. You will develop familiarity with the key concepts and vocabularies of sexuality, gender and society in sociology and feminist studies. The course will provide you an aerial view of the histories of struggles for gender diversity.
The course introduces different sociological approaches to race relations from historical, critical race theory to social constructionist. Students will focus on the emergence of the idea of race and ethnicity, and trace the ways in which these concepts have changed over time. The course examines the influence of science, nationalism, politics, and economics on the definition of both. Finally, students will consider the implications of race by exploring the ways in which race has been used to justify the institution of slavery, apartheid, and incarceration.
Caste, Race and the Politics of Inequality
This course explores how the politics of caste and race unfolded in the U.S and India. We will review how the categories of race and caste were politcized over time through struggles for life and livelihood in their respective contexts. The course will help you unpack concepts like identity, inequality, hierarchy, labour, stigma and violence as ways of articulating both caste and race.
Trauma, Politics and the Uses of History
This course will examine the connection between memory, history and politics. We will explore how memory forms the basis for political identity, how it travels across generations and geographies and the limits of memory. We will ask how people removed in time and space from original, often traumatic, events, endow them with meaning and power in the present. How do memory institutions (memory laws, archives, memorials, museums, schools, but also literature, theater, and film) negotiate the shifting roles of personal and collective memory? How does migration change how social and cultural memory is understood and studied? We will be looking at cases and writings about memory from around the world.
Introduction to Social Theory
This course provides an introduction to social theory from the European and non-European worlds. The ideas of freedom, democracy, equality, love, family, scarcity, etc were transformed between the 15th and 18th century and debates continue to be salient in the contemporary world. In this course you will have the opportunity to discuss key societal issues through these ideas and the critiques of them from the postcolonial perspective. Through an analysis of readings and films, we will explore the connection between ideas and the historical context in which they appear, the difference between ideas of freedom and good rule in Europe and the implications for non-European people on a global scale and on different times and places. The course encourages students to acquire knowledge of and fosters an appreciation for historical perspectives while the postcolonial perspective emphasizes the need to account for context of socal thought so that students can understand the ideas in their context and connect it with their own futures.
[Adapted from Professor Graciela Monteagudo’s introductory and advanced courses for the Social Thought and Political Economy Program]