PSC = Political Science SOC = Sociology HIST = History G = General Course
C L = Comparative Literature ASCP = American Studies AFCP = Africana Studies PSYCH = Psychology
U ED = Urban Education WSCP = Women Studies
Spring 2021 Course Descriptions
Sandy Schram (AP)
American Politics: Core, Theories, and Concepts
PSC 72000 – 3 credits
Monday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Course Description:This seminar surveys the major scholarly debates in the study of American politics today. It draws on prominent theoretical perspectives for understanding empirical issues regarding: (1) the history of American political development; (2) the constitutional and institutional structure of American government in its contemporary form; (3) the structure of power and the behavior of political elites; and (4) ordinary people’s political behavior as manifested in studies of public opinion and political participation broadly construed. As a seminar, the course emphasizes dialogue about assigned readings. Students are to be active participants in the conversation. The course is designed to help students prepare for the doctoral exam in American politics and to acquire the background to teach American politics at the undergraduate level. The course will regularly address issues in contemporary American politics and how the literature on American politics addresses these issues.
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Charles Tien (AP)
Race & Ethnic Politics
PSC 82601 – 4 credits
Wednesday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Course Description:This course examines critical questions and debates in race and ethnic politics in America. We will highlight political science approaches to the study of race and ethnicity in American politics. Primarily, the course will investigate theories of race and racism, and how race and ethnic politics interacts with American political and social institutions.
The goals of this graduate seminar include 1) acquainting students with some of the scholarly literature on race and ethnic politics in America; 2) formulating research questions to be answered with a research paper; 3) writing scholarly research papers suitable for presentation and publication in academic outlets.
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Susan Woodward (CP)
International Intervention & Domestic Consequences
PSC 87800 – 4 credits
Tuesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Course Description: The literature on early modern state-building in Europe continues to be very influential in comparative politics, but today, the issue is not states’ war-making but the interests and actions of international, external actors. As Martha Finnemore writes in The Purpose of Intervention, one of its two components are the kinds of domestic rule seen as conducive to international stability and order. Thomas Ertman notes, “We live in a great age of state-building.” Unlike early modern Europe, we cannot analyze state formation, state-building, and regime transition these days without taking the actions of external actors directly into account, including the legacy of earlier intervention through colonial rule.
This seminar will address the literature on international intervention, including the English School and normative debates, and then ask what consequences it has for domestic state-building, post-war peacebuilding, regime change, and institutional reforms. The actors are military, diplomatic, aid, humanitarian, and financial. Those who study intervention from the perspective of international relations alone tend to ignore the domestic consequences, but these are not only the intentions of these actors but also need to be studied and understood more deeply. As a research seminar, this topic offers a wide range of possibilities for student projects, either from IR or comparative politics, or their interaction. That might even include adding the role of external actors to research they are already doing.
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Kenneth Erickson (CP)
State and Society
PSC 87801 – 4 credits
Monday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Course Description: Seminar/colloquium on social movements, civil society, and the state. Readings and discussion cover historical and contemporary cases of social movements, contentious politics, and participation by civil society. In the contemporary era of democratic transition and consolidation, the course examines contentious popular and opposition movements that seek to revise the very nature of citizenship, particularly by expanding citizens’ rights of participation so as to include formerly excluded people and groups, and to win benefits for them. It covers both the role of such movements in transitions to democracy and the impact of democratization on the movements themselves. It considers the impact of changing structural factors, such as the shift from heavy industry to the neoliberalism of the information era, on the agency of popular sector actors. My Latin American politics survey courses employ a top-down perspective, emphasizing the role of the state and political elites. This seminar takes a bottom-up perspective, focusing on participation and agency by worker, peasant, popular, feminist, indigenous, religious, and other sectors of civil society and ideological and political oppositions.
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Jillian Schwedler (CP)
Basic Theories & Concepts in Comparative Politics II
PSC 77905 – 3 credits
Monday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Course Description:There is little consensus within political science about how to study politics. Even within the subfield of comparative politics, scholars use a range of approaches and methods and hold a variety of epistemological commitments. This course is designed to introduce students to the philosophical and epistemological disputes that have given rise to this lack of consensus, and how those various approaches affect methodology and research design. The aim of the course is to enable students to make more deeply informed judgments about the types of political science work that they encounter and undertake. Students will be encouraged to appreciate alternative approaches to comparative political analysis, weigh their relative utility in answering questions of importance to them, and determine whether and how these different approaches might fruitfully be combined.
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Mark Ungar (CP)
Crime and Violence in Comparative Politics
PSC 77906 – 3 credits
Thursday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Course Description:A root cause of current political upheaval around the world is the persistence and expansion of crime and violence, ranging from state corruption and electoral crackdowns to control by transnational cartels. This course will examine the impact of crime and violence on politics and democracy in each region, with a comparative assessment of political violence, organized crime, police forces, societal violence, and criminal justice. Analytical focus will be on the interaction between criminality and regimes, particularly in the context of disintegrating democracies around the globe.
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Stephanie Golob (IR)
The Rules: International Law and International Relations Approaches to Global Issues
PSC 76404 – 3 credits
Monday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Course Description: This seminar will analyze key issues of interstate conflict and cooperation at the intersection of two fields that have seen increasing synergies and interdisciplinary potential: International Law (IL) and International Relations (IR). One key objective of the course is to introduce the emerging interdisciplinary subfield known as “IL/IR,” and thus to open possibilities for seminar members to locate their own research interests within (or in close proximity to) this scholarly crossroads.
As the title suggests, this seminar will examine the nature of rules – laws and treaties, formalized institutions and informal norms - on the international level that purport to ‘govern’ relations between states, to ‘police’ the behavior of governments (and, in some cases, non-state actors), and to regulate problems that states cannot easily solve on their own.
We will identify and discuss the distinct and/or converging responses of IL, IR and IL/IR scholarship to the following questions: Why, and under what conditions, do states follow rules? Who gets to make the rules, how are they to be enforced, and on what actors? How do we measure and evaluate compliance with the rules in a world of self-interested sovereign states, and in a world of rising anti-globalist populism and nationalism? What are international “norms” (related to, and distinct from, “law”), how and why are they diffused (or not) across borders, and what motivates states to formalize them? Are ‘law’ and ‘power’ in opposition, or are they in fact two sides of the same coin of authoritative discourse and action?
This conceptual investigation will lead to a comparative examination of IL, IR and IL/IR approaches to key global issues, including (but not limited to): responses to refugee flows and mass migration; the challenges of new digital technologies; human rights and international criminal justice; climate change and the environment; and rules governing (or not) private actors such as MNCs in the global economy. Special attention will be paid to the governance challenges presented by the global pandemic, asking whether we are witnessing a “critical juncture” for the rules themselves, and how scholarship in IL, IR and IL/IR might assess this hypothesis.
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Michael Lee (IR)
International Political Economy
PSC 76300 – 3 credits
Wednesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Course Description: In this class, we will explore how power, politics and ideas shape the global economic system. We will examine key questions, such as: who wins and who loses from trade, financial liberalization, foreign direct investment, and different exchange rate regimes? Do we need a hegemon to maintain free trade? What is financial power, and how does it shape the international monetary system? How can we prevent financial crises, and govern international monetary relations? What drives the politics of migration? What conditions are necessary for economic development?
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Jacqueline Braveboy Wagner (IR/CP)
Comparative Foreign Policy: Domestic Sources of Foreign Policy
PSC 86105 – 4 credits
Thursday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Course Description: Foreign Policy Analysis remains one of the most popular subfields of international relations. Indeed, to the layperson as well as the practitioner, foreign policy is a much more familiar term than “international relations,” simply because it refers to what countries do and how they act within the external environment. Even though rational and positivist approaches have predominated in the field in the US, elsewhere a generous dose of comparative “area studies” ethnography as well as increasingly popular constructivist and critical thinking have invigorated the field. (Hence, we are really dealing with “comparative FPA.”)
Foreign policy is the only subfield of IR that lies at the boundary of the domestic and international. That means that in order to understand foreign policy, one cannot know only the structure of the international system OR the national structure. Rather, one must be able to see how domestic factors generate external policy. In this course, we focus on the historical-political (for example, the legacies of colonialism, the evolution of democracy), governmental, bureaucratic, economic, sociocultural, identity (racial-ethnic, gender) and other factors that influence foreign policy making and diplomacy at both bilateral and multilateral levels.
We do not completely ignore the influence of system factors such as the “great power” rivalries with other nations but we look at them in the context of how they enhance, or do not fit into, domestic needs, culture and popular sentiment. Foreign policy is not just security relations but also about economic, social, environmental, global governance and many other issues.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this course is the attempt to analyze as many countries/types of countries as possible. In this respect, we focus not only on the United States and Europe but also on Africa, Asia, and Latin America, primarily on the more influential “rising” nations but without neglecting smaller countries.
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Jack Jacobs (PT)
PSC 80302 – 4 credits
Monday 11:45am – 1:45pm
Course Description: At the turn of the century, there were pundits who proclaimed the end of history – and of Marxism. But in recent years, a spectre has been haunting Europe (and the USA). This course, which will be conducted as a seminar, will be devoted to discussing and critiquing the ideas of Karl Marx and some of the major thinkers who have been influenced by Marx. We will begin by exploring Marx’s analysis of alienation, his understanding of history, and his notions of the state and of class. We’ll turn next to discussing both Marxism in the era of the Second International, with particular attention to debates between Eduard Bernstein and Rosa Luxemburg, and the political ideas of Vladimir Lenin. I intend, in a somewhat later section of the course, to devote sustained attention to the development of Western Marxism, including the contributions of figures like Lukács, Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, and Marcuse, many of whom attempted to explain why the revolution predicted by Marx had not (yet) taken place. Finally: we will end this course by examining Marxist thought in the latter portions of the 20th century, and the first decades of the 21st. I expect that we will cover a work by Louis Althusser, and hope to also discuss relevant portions of the thought of Slavoj Žižek or Michael Hardt or a writer of particular interest to those enrolled in the seminar. Throughout the semester, we will engage in a close examination of key texts, and will debate the extent to which the ideas we will discuss (and the controversies which they generated) can be explained by knowledge of the contexts in which they arose. We will also explore the degree to which the ideas of the thinkers whose works we will read help to illuminate contemporary issues.
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Susan Buck-Morss (PT)
Critical Reasons: The Basics
PSC 71906 – 3 credits
Wednesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Course Description: This seminar understands “Political Theory” in a way different from much of the theory canon. Rather than dealing with philosophical writings about politics, Critical Reason reflects on the production of knowledge itself. The insight that our method of conceptualization matters for politics, that it loads the dice for political judgments made, is deeply indebted to the foundational texts that we will read together this semester. The course deals with basic concepts and problems of Western Critical Theory. The readings focus on two foundational authors, Kant, Hegel and several commentaries on them (Adorno, Marx, CLR James, Buck-Morss). Philosophy is considered from the perspective of the political. Concepts include: critical reason, transcendental claims, phenomenology, dialectics, non-identity, materialist metaphysics, history, causality, and freedom. Students are encouraged to read difficult texts with the goal of developing critical capacities for concrete, historical analyses of political, social and economic life. The challenge is not to master systems of thought, but to make the concepts of the readings and the insights they provide meaningful for contemporary projects of critical analysis. Seminar requirements: sustained, active seminar participation, one short midterm paper, and one final paper (or exam option).
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Uday Mehta (PT)
Gandhi as Political Philosopher
PSC 80606 – 4 credits
Tuesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Course Description: Depictions of Mohandas Gandhi are routinely limited to the saintly Mahatma ("Great Soul") and freedom fighter. Few thinks to ask how a saint can simultaneously be a freedom fighter, a fully engaged participant in the political arena. This course takes Gandhi seriously as a rigorous and creative thinker whose work touches on a remarkable range of topics including liberty, equality, constitutions, civil disobedience, non-violence, religion and politics, social hierarchies (caste, race), identity, and modernity. The course work will consist close readings of primary writings by Gandhi and selected secondary readings by leading thinkers who have explored Gandhi as philosopher. Special attention will be given to the complex relationship between “religion” and “politics” in Gandhi’s life and thought. The course will be team taught by John Thatamanil (Union Theological Seminary) along with two of the most prominent Gandhi scholars of our time, Uday Singh Mehta (CUNY Graduate Center) and Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia Philosophy).
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Carlos Invernizzi-Accetti (PT)
Modern Political Thought
PSC 70200 – 3 credits
Wednesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Course Description: This course offers a graduate-level introduction to modern political thought. It focuses on the work of several classical authors between the 16th and the 19th centuries: Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Baruch Spinoza, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Charles-Louis Secondat de Montesquieu, and Karl Marx. The approach is very much text-based in that it will seek to situate close readings of these authors’ main writings in their specific historical contexts while also relating them to larger themes that run across the western tradition of modern political thought. Students will be required to give one in-class presentation about an assigned text and to work on a 8,000 word final paper to be completed before the end of the semester.
Celina Sun (PP)
Participatory Democracy and Social Movements
PSC 73904 – 3 credits
Tuesday, 11:45am – 1:45pm
Crosslist: PSYCH 80103 & U ED 75200
Course Description: This seminar takes a look at what ordinary citizens do to shape public policies and engage in politics— in ways other than voting. We explore the notion that popular participation can make democratic governance more legitimate, fair, and effective. We examine theories and existing evidence on the promises and challenges of participatory democracy— alternatively called bottom-up participation, maximal democracy, or direct democracy. Specifically, we will examine forms and functions of civil society from a comparative perspective by looking at specific examples of (1) participatory institutions (neighborhood councils, urban budgeting, school governance, etc.), (2) participation in non-governmental organizations and development projects, and (3) social movements around the world (potential cases include landless people’s movements, transnational networks, mothers of political dissidents who have “disappeared,” AIDS protest groups, etc.). Sometimes, these three categories blur into one another. We will try to focus on case studies in “Global South” middle-income countries like Brazil, Argentina, India, and South Africa, though we also include domestic cases as a point of reference. How much should ordinary citizens participate in policymaking, and how? Under what circumstances?
Janet Gornick (PP)
Social Welfare Policy
PSC 73906 – 3 credits
Tuesday, 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Crosslist: SOC 85700 and WSCP 81000
Course Description: This course will examine social welfare policy in the United States, in historical and cross‐national perspective. We will begin with an overview of the development of social welfare policy in the United States. We will focus on crucial historical periods – including the Civil War years, the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, and the “welfare reform” of the 1990s and early 2000s. Second, we will assess “the big picture” of the American welfare state, through the lens of its underlying institutional framework. Third, we will analyze a set of contemporary challenges that call for active policy responses, such as severe poverty, low‐wage work, homelessness, and the care deficit. Finally, we will survey selected social policy lessons from other high‐income countries, especially in Europe, where social provisions are typically more extensive than they are in the United States.
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Leslie McCall (PP)
Intersectionality in the Social Sciences
PSC 73907 – 3 credits
Wednesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Crosslist with SOC 83100
Course Description: This course will begin with an overview of key original texts by intersectionality scholars in and connected to the social sciences in the United States, such as texts by Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Evelyn Nakano Glenn. This will be followed by readings of key later texts that introduced and amplified on the concept within different social science disciplines (e.g., Ange-Marie Hancock in political science; Elizabeth Cole in psychology), and also raised questions over the definition and scope of the term (e.g., Jennifer Nash). For the remainder of the course, we will examine intersectional research on a wide range of topics, including intersectional inequalities in political representation, income, education, family, health, and criminal justice. We will also consider different approaches to the topic across the globe, and I will welcome suggestions for readings on other aspects of intersectionality related to students’ areas of interest and expertise.
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General Courses and Cross-field
Peter Beinart (G)
Writing Politics II
PSC 79002 – 3 credits
Course Description: Writing Politics II is the successor to Writing Politics I, although students may take it without taking the predecessor. The biggest difference is that we’ll focus more on writing for publication. The goal will be for each student to publish at least one of the columns they write. We will start by coming up with a list of the publications that each student wants to target. If a piece is ready for publication on the first draft, I won’t ask for a rewrite. If the first draft suggests no hope of publication, I may suggest we choose a different topic rather than requesting a second draft. If there’s a danger of the window of opportunity on a certain subject closing, I may change the due dates for certain assignments. The goal is to give us maximum flexibility to increase the chances of publication. Because this course is more of a workshop than Writing Politics I, I may also bring in my own writing in concept or draft form and submit it for the same critical review that I give the students’ work. If there is student interest, I will also assign a longer essay (2000-4000 words) in addition to columns.
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Richard Wolin (PT)
Nietzsche for Fun and Prophet
PSC 80604 – 4 credits
Monday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Crosslist with HIST. 72400 and CL 80100
Course Description: In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche – never paralyzed by excessive self-modesty – exulted, “I am no man, I am dynamite.” He described his books as “assassination attempts,” rather than literary works, and he felicitously characterized his intellectual method as “philosophizing with a hammer.” Nietzsche joyfully prophesied the advent of “Great Politics,” which, in his eyes, meant “upheavals, a convulsion of earthquakes, a moving of mountains and valleys . . . as well as wars the like of which have never yet been seen on Earth.” Nietzsche was, unaccountably, the “court philosopher” of the Third Reich as well as the intellectual progenitor of French poststructuralism (Foucault, Derrida, etc.). In interrogating Nietzsche’s legacy, our central question will be: how did it come to pass that generations of intellectuals felt obligated to define themselves and to plot their course forward through a confrontation with Nietzsche’s work? In order to better understand Nietzsche and his titanic philosophical influence, our seminar will be divided into two parts. In the first half of the course, we will read and assess major texts by Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy, the Will to Power, Twilight of the idols, and the Antichrist. In the second half, we will focus on the major stages in the European and American reception of Nietzsche’s work: the political reception of Nietzsche in Germany, the deconstructionist reading of Nietzsche (Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault), the aesthetic interpretation of Nietzsche, and finally, recent Anglo-American studies reassessing Nietzsche’s attitude toward Darwinism.
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Michael Fortner (G)
PSC 77001 – 3 credits
Course Description: This course introduces students to qualitative research methods. After briefly reviewing positivist and interpretivist research traditions, the course will explore the analytical benefits and limitations of specific qualitative methods, such as case studies, archival research, process tracing, interviewing, ethnography, participant observation, and focus groups. It will also review ethical questions related to qualitative strategies. Examples come from multiple subfields within political science as well as sociology and history. Students will develop a research design that uses a particular qualitative method to answer a political question of interest to them.
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Susan Woodward (G)
Dissertation Proposal Workshop
PSC 89100 – 0 credits
Course Description: This workshop aims to assist students in writing their dissertation proposal in political science and passing the second examination. It introduces students to the principles and organization of a defensible proposal, provides advice on conceptualization and research strategies, and, where relevant to the workshop participants, discusses methodological questions. It is a genuine workshop, where students provide each other a mutually supportive setting to share the stages of their written drafts, get feedback, identify and resolve issues being faced by many, and learn the skills of analytical criticism necessary to one’s own future research and teaching. Each member works at a personal, self-identified pace, but also accepts the obligation of reciprocity to attend all meetings of the workshop and read the drafts of all other workshop members. Key to progress is the obligation to write every single week, even if it only means a paragraph (although, of course, one hopes more). The first meeting of the workshop will lay out the principles of a dissertation proposal and advice about how to proceed; anyone missing it will be at a distinct, even possibly irreparable, disadvantage for the rest of the workshop. The workshop does not give course credit, therefore has no grading, and can be taken more than once. That said, more than almost two decades of experience shows that a very large percentage of those who take the workshop produce a completed dissertation proposal within the one semester and succeed in passing the second exam either at the end of the spring semester or at the end of the summer before the deadline for moving to Level III in the fall.
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Alyson Cole & Julie George (G)
Teaching Political Science
PSC 71300 – 3 credits
Course Description: This course serves a dual purpose: first, to encourage students to reflect on the vocation of teaching, and second, to provide an environment in which students can explore various pedagogical techniques and prepare for teaching on the campuses in the fall. We begin the semester with two classic reflections on the art of teaching as well as recent public debates about some challenges of professing, and then move on to consider such practical issues as syllabus development, effective learning goals, assessment strategies, class preparation, and grading practices. We will also discuss aspects of the profession beyond the classroom, such as mentoring students and writing letters of recommendation. In addition to our pedagogical inquiries, students will be introduced to their colleagues who are already teaching on the campuses. This class is designed for doctoral students in political science who are obligated to teach at the colleges as part of their fellowship agreement, but it is open to any political science doctoral student. With instructor permission political science MA students, and doctoral and masters students from other programs at the Graduate Center, may also enroll.
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Ruth O'Brien (G)
Women of Color Impacting Politics
PSC 79003 – 3 credits
Crosslist with AFCP 73100 & WSCP 81000
Course Description: This course specifically tracks the roles that women with intersectional identities have played in American politics, as well as women who are public intellectuals and heretical leaders in contemporary political thought. The course is twofold: First, it traces how women have never before had such a large impact in American politics — women of color, that is, or more precisely, women who have an additional identity besides that of gender. The course studies this impact women have had on American politics since Hillary Clinton ran for and lost the Democratic nomination in 2008. Second, this course not only studies women of color in American politics but also focuses on the intellectual impact of women with intersectional identities — such as women who are Black, multiracial, and multiethnic (e.g. LatinX), or women with disabilities — who have helped shape contemporary political thought not just under deliberative or participatory democracies, as found in Europe (such as Germany or France) or the Commonwealth nations (such as New Zealand), but also in reinventing what it means to lead in electoral politics. To be sure, an ethic of care exists within many public policies that involve legal rights and human rights that have been formed as a result of social movements such as #BLM, LGBTQI, and disability rights. But this course goes further than politics and public policy to explore how the heretical political thought of bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Alison Kafer, and the Combahee River Collective has also shaped a new notion of leadership that undermines traditional iterations of masculine notions about leading nation-states.
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Ruth O'Brien (G)
Power, Resistance, Identities, and Social Movements
PSC 72410 – 3 credits
Crosslist with ASCP 81500 & WSCP 81000
Course Description:This course focuses on individual forms of socially constructed identity (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and humanness or bodies), intersectional forms of identity (e.g., gender and bodies), and collective forms of identity (e.g., citizen, worker or labor, and anarchist collectives or horizontal non- state civil movements, referred to as social movements in American politics). Several social movements will be explored as case studies. First, we will consider the worldwide struggle to end political and social violence against women (including #MeTooism), and if/how it is having global impact. We will examine, for example, the Combahee River Collective -- an organization of Black feminists who attained international reach by coining the term “identity politics” -- and assess the movement’s global impact, as seen for instance in “Women’s Internationalism against Global Patriarchy,” by Dilar Dirik (and PM Press). It explores how identities in American social movements affect power and resistance, as understood by social theorists and contemporary philosophers such as Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, and Judith Butler, who in turn draw upon Gilles Deleuze, Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Michel Foucault, Antonio Gramsci, Karl Marx, and G. W. F. Hegel, among others.
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