Politics

Chair, Fall 2014: Jeanne Morefield (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Chair, Spring 2015: Aaron Bobrow-Strain
Paul Apostolidis (on Sabbatical, 2014-15)
Susanne Beechey
Shampa Biswas
Philip D. Brick
Melisa S.L. Casumbal-Salazar (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Jack Jackson
Timothy Kaufman-Osborn (on Sabbatical, 2014-15)
Bruce Magnusson, Chair, Division I
Drew C. Walker

Politics Department Website »

The departmental aim is to cultivate in students a critical ability to interpret political questions from a variety of perspectives.

A student who enters Whitman without any prior college-level preparation in politics will have to complete 36 credits to fulfill the requirements for the politics major.

Distribution: Courses completed in politics apply to the social sciences and cultural pluralism (selected courses) distribution areas.

Learning Goals: Upon graduation, a student will be able to:

  • Major-Specific Areas of Knowledge
    • Demonstrate knowledge of the interconnections of political institutions, movements, concepts, and events from multiple intersecting vantage points.
  • Critical Thinking
    • Identify contested assumptions, ideas, and intellectual debates in politics scholarship. Pose critical questions about power relations as key political questions in a globalizing world are investigated.
  • Research Experience
    • Conduct a focused academic inquiry that demonstrates a critical awareness of competing arguments in response to a key question; formulate a systematic path of analysis; generate creative findings based on original research.

The Politics major: The major in politics consists of 36 departmental credits, distributed as follows:

  1. At least 12 credits of 300- and 400-level courses, exclusive of the required senior seminar, and exclusive of the senior thesis or honors thesis,
  2. Successful completion of the department’s senior seminar (four credits),
  3. Successful composition of a senior thesis or honors thesis; a grade of C- or better is required for the thesis (four credits).

The program for the major is to be planned by the student and his or her adviser so as to ensure adequate breadth in the courses taken. No more than eight credits earned in off-campus programs, transfer credits, and/or credits from cross-listed courses may be used to satisfy major requirements. Of these eight credits, no more than four may count toward 300- and 400-level courses. Courses taken P-D-F may not be used to satisfy the course and credit requirements for the major.

The Politics minor: A minimum of 20 credits of departmental offerings. These must include eight credits in courses 300-level and above, and must include courses taught by at least two different members of the department. No more than four credits earned in off-campus programs, transfer credits, and/or credits from cross-listed courses may be used to satisfy minor requirements. Courses taken P-D-F may not be used to satisfy the course and credit requirements for the minor.

The Politics-Environmental Studies major: The requirements are fully described in the Environmental Studies section of the catalog.

Interdepartmental programs: The politics department also participates in various interdepartmental major study programs. For additional information, consult the department’s home page at www.whitman.edu/content/politics.

100 Introduction to Race, Gender & Politics of the Body
4, x Casumbal-Salazar

What is the relationship of race, gender, and sexuality to the body? We begin to address this question by exploring the body as a philosophical problem. Why do thinkers oppose the ‘rational’ mind to the ‘carnal’ body? How are race, gender, and sexuality used to illustrate this opposition? We then consider ‘nature vs. nurture’ arguments. Are race, gender, and sexuality a function of biology (biologically-determined), or produced through social interaction (socially-constructed)? What are the implications of both perspectives for conceptualizing freedom, agency, and power? How do these perspectives inform the decision-making of legal and other institutions? We consider how thinkers push beyond ‘essentialist’ and ‘social constructionist’ analyses, and instead ask how, why, and under what circumstances a body’s race, gender, and sexuality matter. We examine how movements to transform racial, gendered, and sexualized social hierarchies address this question. Finally, we reflect on the idea that race, gender, and sex are neither what one has, nor what one is, but are norms through which a body becomes recognizably human.

101-104 Special Topics in Politics: Introductory Level
4

An introductory course designed to familiarize students with basic concepts and problems in the study of politics. When offered, courses will focus on a different topic or area and will generally include lectures and discussion. The class is specifically aimed at first and second year students. Any current offerings follow.

109 Introduction to U.S. Politics and Policymaking
4; not offered 2014-15

This course introduces students to the various institutions, actors, and ideologies of contemporary U.S. politics and policymaking. We will make visible the multiple sites of policy formation in the United States as we move away from speaking of “the government” in the singular. Through a series of contemporary policy case studies we will explore the many openings to influence policymaking and discover the myriad ways that good ideas can die. Throughout the course we will view U.S. politics and policymaking with a critical eye toward the impacts of gender, race, class, sexuality, and other systems of power and difference.

117 Introduction to U.S. Constitutional Law, Culture & Political Thought
x, 4 J. Jackson

This course will provide a broad introductory survey of the emergence and development of the U.S. Constitutional tradition. We will situate that development within a set of enduring power struggles and constitutive political facts: the radical impulses of democracy, the collective yet fragmented nature of sovereignty in constitutional structure and theory, the individualistic logic of “rights,” the racialized order of U.S. law and society, the politics of property and distribution, the culture of fear and empire, and the ideology of “progress.” Readings will include texts by Alexis de Tocqueville, Hannah Arendt, Charles Beard, James Madison, The Anti-Federalists, and Thomas Paine. We will devote time to very close readings of primary texts, including: the Declaration of Independence, The U.S. Constitution (as originally ratified + the Bill of Rights and subsequent Amendments), and decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. By the end of the course, we will have to consider whether the U.S. has had one constitution or several constitutions sequentially (early republic, post-Civil War, post-New Deal, post-Brown) or many constitutions competing all at once, a jurisprudential schizophrenia that perhaps continues to this day.

119 Whitman in the Global Food System
4; not offered 2014-15

This course uses food as a window through which to examine the study of politics and its connections to our everyday lives. Topics range from the geopolitics of food aid and trade to the gendered politics of export agriculture in the Third World, from the political ecology of obesity in the United States to the causes of famine in Africa. The course is designed to get students out of the classroom and into the larger community. To this end, along with standard seminar readings, discussions, and occasional lectures, the course includes short field trips and small group projects in which students trace connections between food on campus and larger global processes.

121 Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Political Theory
4; not offered 2014-15

This course introduces students to the history of European political theory through an investigation of classical Greek and premodern Christian writings. Texts to be explored may include Aeschylus’s Oresteia, Thucydides’s Peloponnesian War, Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Politics, St. Augustine’s City of God, and St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica. May be elected as Classics 221.

122 Introduction to Modern European Political Theory
x, 4 D. Walker

This course introduces students to the history of European political theory from the 16th through the 19th centuries, focusing particularly on the origins and development of liberalism. Themes covered in this class may include: How did political theorists make sense of the developing nation state? How have modern political theorists conceived of the concepts of “justice,” “freedom,” and “equality”? What role did the growing dominance of capitalism play in altering political conceptions of the individual? How have Marxist and anarchist thinkers critiqued the language of liberalism? Authors to be considered may include Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Tocqueville, and Marx. Politics 121 is not a prerequisite for Politics 122.

124 Introduction to Politics and the Environment
x, 4 Brick

An introduction to key concepts in the study of politics using environmental issues as illustrations. Designed for first- and second-year students, this course encourages critical thinking and writing about such political concepts as equality, justice, freedom, liberalism, power, dissent, individualism, and community. Strong emphasis is placed on developing critical writing skills and persuasive oral arguments. A field trip may be required. Three periods a week.

147 International Politics
4, 4 Fall: Magnusson; Spring: Biswas

This course is designed as an introduction to the study of contemporary international politics. The course will explore contending approaches to the study of international politics, including political realism, political idealism and liberalism, feminism, political economy, and constructivism. We will discuss how these different approaches can help us understand major current issues, including war and peace, weapons proliferation, the environment, globalization, and human rights.

179 International Political Economy
4; not offered 2014-15

This course will look at the variety of ways that economics and politics intersect in the international system. Using a variety of theoretical approaches (mercantilism, liberalism, marxist-structuralism), we will explore critically the role of states in domestic and international markets, the functioning of the international finance and monetary systems, the role of multinational corporations, and other issues related to economic and political development. In thinking about each of these issues, the course will raise questions about the significance and implications of the current trends toward “globalization.”

200-204 Special Studies in Politics: Introductory Level
1-4

An introductory course designed to familiarize students with basic concepts and problems in the study of politics. When offered, courses will focus on a different topic or area, and will generally include lectures and discussion. Any current offerings follow.

200 ST: Public Health and Policy in Global Perspective
x, 4 Beechey and Knight

This course introduces students to leading global health issues and works to link our understanding of the biological/physiological bases for these disorders and current medical practices for their treatment with public policies and programs designed to address them. Students will be urged to identify links between environmental health and human health and will be challenged to explore policies that govern both. Specific topics include: obesity-related disorders (such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes) and mental health disorders; policy interventions designed to promote prevention and wellness; and critical responses to these programs. The course facilitates interdisciplinary and global thinking by bringing together students from varying disciplines and challenging them to develop a foundation in human physiology and policy-making from which to assess current public health programs and policies. May be elected as Environmental Sciences 203. Distribution area: Social Science or Science.

212 What is Political Freedom?
4, x J. Jackson

This course asks the deceptively simple question: what is political freedom? Is freedom necessarily tied to the idea of “the political”? Or is freedom best understood as being primarily challenged by the formation of the political and the decisions rendered there? Is political freedom concerned primarily with the individual? Or with the polity as a whole? Or with political collectives that cross familiar political boundaries and borders? Who is capable of political freedom? The many? The few? Do we all desire political freedom or is it a burden most would prefer not to carry? Is political freedom a gift or a right? What obstacles to realizing political freedom exist in the present? What powers and practices enable it? What powers and practices enfeeble it? We will explore these questions via an engagement with the thinking of Hannah Arendt, Aristotle, Isaiah Berlin, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Milton Friedman, Emma Goldman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Catharine MacKinnon, Karl Marx, J.S. Mill, Plato, J.J. Rousseau, and Alexis de Tocqueville.                

215 The First Amendment: Speech, Press, and Assembly
4; not offered 2014-15

The First Amendment is central to the functioning of U.S. democracy. Moreover, some scholars contend that the First Amendment is at the very heart of the “meaning of America.” In this class, we will focus on the clauses regarding speech, assembly, and the press while concentrating on the intertwined issues of freedom, democracy, and power. Some specific questions to be addressed include: what is the relationship between the First Amendment and the politics of public space; concentrated media power; new political economies of knowledge; the suppression and protection of dissent; and socio-political inequalities (e.g., group libel and hate speech)? We will also interrogate the alleged distinction between speech/act and, more broadly, between reason-persuasion/violence-force. In this course we will study the development of legal doctrine and spend a fair amount of time reading case law.

219 Law and American Society
4; not offered 2014-15

This course explores three basic topics: 1) the debates between the anti-Federalists and the Federalists concerning ratification of the U.S. Constitution; 2) competing theories of constitutional interpretation; and 3) controversies related to the meaning and application of the Bill of Rights. Specific issues to be debated include the separation of church and state, freedom of speech, abortion rights, and capital punishment.

220 American Political Theory
4; not offered 2014-15

This course provides an introduction to major works of American political theory from the founding to the present. We confront core philosophical questions about politics in general and politics in the United States specifically, including the following: What are the purposes of government, and what political institutions are most conducive to these ends? How can the American polity be democratic while preventing the tyranny of the majority? How has American nationality been defined through the exclusion of certain social groups, and how do historically excluded groups gain political power and inclusion? Readings usually include texts by J. Madison, J. Calhoun, E. Goldman, J. Dewey, and M. L. King, Jr., among others.

228 Political Ecology
4, x Bobrow-Strain

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of “political ecology,” a framework for thinking about environmental politics that combines insights from geography, anthropology, history, political economy, and ecology. Through the lens of case studies from around the world, the course critically examines the origins and key contributions of political ecology, with a focus on three themes: 1) Nature-society relations, or the challenges of weaving history, economy, and power into the study of the environment (and vice versa); 2) The politics of resource access and control in diverse settings from Amazonian forests to biotech laboratories; 3) The (dis)connections between environmental movements and social justice struggles.

232 The Politics of Globalization
x, 4 Biswas

This course introduces students to some of the major scholarly works and central debates about globalization. The course will critically examine some of the competing perspectives on the historical origins of globalization, the shape and intensity of its many dynamics (economic, political and cultural), its inevitability and desirability, and its impacts on different communities around the world. Some of the central themes covered will include the future of the nation-state, the salience of various transnational actors, changing patterns of capital and labor mobility, rising levels of environmental degradation and new kinds of cultural configurations.

236 Concepts of the Political in Southeast Asia: An Introduction
4, x Casumbal-Salazar

This course examines how the political, economic, and cultural are entangled in Southeast Asian societies. Themes include pre-colonial political formations, modes of colonization and anti-colonial resistance, cartography, social movements, and transformations in the conceptualization of power, gender, race, space, indigeneity, and the divine. How has “Southeast Asia,” as a concept and field of study, emerged? What resonances and divergences can be traced in how the political is understood and practiced in the region? Moving from the classical and early modern periods to the contemporary era, we will explore Southeast Asia’s experiences of empire, war, revolution, industrialization, and globalization. Texts draw from the fields of history, anthropology, race and gender studies, political studies, and indigenous politics.

242 The Politics of Development in Latin America
4; not offered 2014-15

This course provides a broad introduction to critical themes in contemporary Latin American development. It begins with a survey of the political economy of Latin America from colonialism through 21st century neoliberal globalization. The bulk of the course then focuses on the present. Centered on the question of how market-society relations are being contested and reworked in contemporary Latin America, it looks closely at topics such as the drug trade, immigration, the WTO FTAA, indigenous uprisings, rapid urbanization, and maquiladora-style industrialization. Finally, it compares three national cases in which popular discontent with neoliberal development has produced dramatic political shifts (Bolivia, Venezuela, and Brazil).

247 American Foreign Policy
4; not offered 2014-15

Analysis and interpretation of trends in American foreign policy since World War II. After a discussion of contending theories of foreign policy and a review of developments during the Cold War, we will focus on current issues in American foreign policy, including arms control, nuclear proliferation, human rights, regional intervention and conflict management, foreign aid, environmental policy and relations with other great powers, including German and European Community states, Japan, Russia, and China.

250 Latinos in US Politics and Society
4; not offered 2014-15

This corequisite course to Politics/Sociology 318 enables students in that course to put their community-based research projects in critical context by examining the political and social experiences of Latinos in the United States. We read critical theories of race and ethnicity to explore the meaning of these concepts as well as the features and effects of racial and cultural forms of power. We consider how these types of power operate in the local and regional problems students are researching, and in turn gain critical insight on theory by considering these problems. We also place the contemporary circumstances of Latinos, especially those in our geographic region on which the research focuses, in historical perspective, with attention to the legacies of colonization, the uncertain position of Latinos in a predominantly Black/white racial order, and the politics of immigration reform. We also study how Latinos have struggled to challenge domination and enhance democracy through labor movements, women’s organizing, the Chicano Movement, electoral politics, and immigrant justice activism. May be elected as Sociology 250. Corequisite: Politics 318 or Sociology 318.

254 Gender and Race in Law and Policy
4; not offered 2014-15

This course offers an introductory survey of the ways in which gender and race have been constructed in and through law and policy in the United States. We will uncover the legacy of racism and sexism in U.S. law and policy, and explore the potential as well as the limitations of using law and policy as tools for social and political change. Readings will draw from feminist and critical race theories to critically examine historic and contemporary debates in law and policy surrounding issues such as: employment, education, families, and violence.

255 Politics and Religion
4; not offered 2014-15

This course introduces students to crucial problems concerning the relation between politics and religion. Our approach is historical and critical, focusing on the modern world and examining the philosophical arguments found in primary texts. While we mainly study texts written in the United States, we also consider perspectives drawn from Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Key questions include: What obligations for public officials and citizens does the principle of religious toleration entail, and why should this principle be embraced or rejected? How has religion historically supported class, gender, and racial domination, and how have activists for social justice looked to religion to justify their struggles? How does Islam provide critical distance on both the modern conditions that Christian political movements have criticized and the Christian orientation of these critiques? Are the political methods and values of the contemporary Christian right consistent with U.S. liberal democracy or subversive of it?

258 Politics in Africa
4; not offered 2014-15

The end of the Cold War saw democratic movements emerge across Africa, offering hope that the continent could begin recovering from decades of political, economic, and social crises. Key themes in this course include democratization, the patrimonial state, and state collapse. Specific topics will include the colonial legacy; ethnicity, religion, and national integration; economic development and the environment in a global economy; and state power and popular resistance.

259 Politics of Race, Ethnicity and Religion
4; not offered 2014-15

Most countries are characterized by significant political cleavages along racial, ethnic, or religious lines. This course introduces students to a variety of approaches for understanding the formation and institutional expression of cultural identities as political phenomena around the world. We will consider their gender and class dimensions, as well as the policy instruments states employ around the globe to reduce conflict, including varieties of affirmative action, systems of representation, and decentralization.

283 Development in Theory and History
4; not offered 2014-15

In recent years the concept of development has come under sustained attack from both the left and the right. Neoliberal critics and influential policymakers on the right assert the superiority of market forces over planned intervention while postmodern critics on the left roundly condemn development as a project of domination imposed on Africa, Latin America, and Asia by the West. Is development dead? This course situates contemporary critiques within the historical context of ongoing struggles over the meanings of development. It traces the multiple trajectories of development theory from their origins in European colonialism through contemporary debates over neoliberalism and globalization. Topics include development economics, Bretton Woods and its institutional legacies (the IMF, World Bank, and WTO), structuralism, dependency theory, “sustainability” and environmentalism, neoliberalism, national security, and 21st century globalization.

287 Natural Resource Policy and Management
4; not offered 2014-15

This course introduces the student to basic problems in natural resource policymaking in the American West. We will focus on the legal, administrative, and political dimensions of various natural resource management problems, including forests, public rangelands, national parks, biodiversity, energy, water, and recreation. We also will explore the role of environmental ideas and nongovernmental organizations, and we will review a variety of conservation strategies, including land trusts, various incentive-based approaches, and collaborative conservation. A field trip may be required.

307 Political Theory and the Body Politic
4; not offered 2014-15

This seminar examines the metaphor of the body politic in the history of western political thought, paying particular attention to the transformation of this political trope during the transition to modernity. Through a diverse set of reading ranging from Aristotle to Hobbes to Foucault, students focus on how these authors use the body politic to imagine political community as they see it and as they believe it ought to be. Often, but not always, these authors evoke metaphorical or material bodies to describe the contours of this community, its form and shape, its impermeable limits, who it naturally includes and excludes, the relationship between its origins and the contemporary polity, and the possibility of its violation. Whether the body emerges in these works as divine or profane, satirical or scientific, this class assumes that it always points beyond itself toward a variety of different political puzzles. Prerequisite: Politics 122 or consent of instructor.

308 Liberalism and Its Discontents
4; not offered 2014-15

This class explores the ongoing debate between liberal theory and its critics. The course will address questions such as: what are the limitations and promises of liberal individualism? How do liberal theorists reconcile human freedom with social good? Is the connection between liberal politics and free market capitalism necessary and inevitable? What are liberal ethics? What is the historic and contemporary relationship between liberalism and imperialism? How do liberal theorists explain or rationalize nationalism? How do liberal theorists reconcile a theory of universal human equality with the existence of state borders? Readings for this class focus on contemporary liberal authors and their conservative, communitarian, socialist, democratic, and feminist critics. Prerequisite: Politics 122 or consent of instructor.

309 Environment and Politics in the American West
4, x Brick

This course explores the political landscape of the American West, focusing on natural resource policy and management on public lands. Topics include forest, mineral, range, grassland, water, and energy policy with an emphasis on the local impacts of climate change. Required of, and open only to, students accepted to Semester in the West.

311 Deservingness in U.S. Social Policy
x, 4 Beechey

Why are some beneficiaries of social policy coded as deserving assistance from the government while others are marked as undeserving? What impacts do these notions of deservingness have on social policies and the politics which surround them? What are the consequences for the material realities of individual lives? How do gender, race, class, and citizenship status work together to construct and maintain distinctions of deservingness? This course engages with these and other questions through historic and contemporary debates in U.S. social policies such as welfare, Social Security, and disability benefits.

314 The Christian Right in the United States
4; not offered 2014-15

This seminar explores the politics of the Christian right as both a social movement and a cultural phenomenon. It also uses the study of the Christian right to reflect more generally on American social movements, American political culture, and the relationship between religion and politics. We examine the mobilization of the Christian right in the context of the postwar new right more broadly. We also consider whether the movement’s emergence has fulfilled or violated theoretical principles concerning church/state separation, religious liberty, and the role of religion in a democratic society. In addition, we analyze Christian right popular culture as a structural feature of capitalist society and in terms of its formation of gender, racial, and sexual identities. One evening seminar per week.

316 Culture, Ideology, Politics
4; not offered 2014-15

This course explores the political meaning of culture, focusing on popular culture in the United States. Students experiment with different ways of understanding the political character of popular culture by examining a variety of cultural sources and reading the works of modern political theorists. Special attention is given to Hollywood films, the advertising industry, the news media, radicalism in the 1960s, popular music, and lesbian and gay activism. The course also discusses the concept of ideology and its usefulness in the critical analysis of popular culture (or “mass culture,” or “subcultures”). Two periods per week.

318 Community-Based Research as Democratic Practice I
4; not offered 2014-15

Students in this course design and carry out an original program of empirical research on a social or political problem affecting the local community, the state or the region. Projects typically contribute to Whitman’s research on “The State of the State for Washington Latinos.” This research is “community-based”: students perform it in partnership with professionals from organizations outside the college. The research contributes something tangibly useful to these organizations. It also enables students to develop new independent research skills. Students typically work in research teams with peers and begin to write their reports collaboratively. The course also prepares students to communicate publicly about their research findings and recommendations. In all these ways, the research provides a concrete experience in the practices of democracy. May be elected as Sociology 318. Corequisite: Politics 250 or Sociology 250.

319 Public Communication about Community-Based Research II
4; not offered 2014-15

Students begin this course by completing the final reports for the research undertaken in the fall companion course (Politics/Sociology 318), which typically focuses on “The State of the State for Washington Latinos.” The first part of this course emphasizes collaboratively writing reports that are practically useful to the community partner organizations while also being academically rigorous and intellectually rich. Students then take part in selected activities to communicate publicly about their research findings and recommendations. Public outreach activities are designed in consultation with the community partners and also include presenting in the Whitman Undergraduate Conference. Through these ventures students develop their skills in oral and visual communication, communication across lines of racial and cultural difference, cooperative communication, and leadership. Prerequisite: Politics 318 or Sociology 318.

325 Queer Politics and Policy
4; not offered 2014-15

This seminar traces the development and impacts of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) politics in the United States from pre-Stonewall through ACT-UP and the Lesbian Avengers to the HRC, Log Cabin Republicans and contemporary transgender activism, with attention to the impacts of race and ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sex, class, and age on LGBTQ organizing. We will explore contemporary policy debates surrounding: civil unions, domestic partnership and marriage; citizenship; families and children; nondiscrimination in employment and schooling; the military; health; and hate crime, among others.

328 Contemporary Feminist Theories
4, x D. Walker

This course will begin by exploring various schools of contemporary feminist theory (e.g., Marxist feminism, liberal feminism, ecofeminism, psychoanalytic feminism, etc.). We will then ask how
proponents of these schools analyze and criticize specific institutions and practices (e.g., the nuclear family, heterosexuality, the state, reproductive technologies, etc.). Throughout the semester, attention will be paid to the ways gender relations shape the formation and interpretation of specifically political experience.

329 Theories of Empire
4, x Morefield

This class examines some of the most influential and important political writings on empire from the late 18th century to the present. We will focus on the arguments of pro-imperial authors (e.g. James Mill), anti-imperial authors (e.g. Edmund Burke), and contemporary postcolonial and political theorists interested in troubling both the historical legacy and continuing presence of empire today (e.g. Edward Said). The class will consider a variety of general themes including: colonial ambiguity, the problem of sovereignty, cosmopolitanism, the status of women in the colony and postcolony, the invention of race and the persistence of hybridity, the relationship between capitalism and empire, the tension between liberal equality and colonial hierarchy, the role of history in the colonial imagination, the colonial and postcolonial search for authenticity, postimperial futures, and migration, forced migration, and exile. There are no prerequisites for this class but students are strongly encouraged to have taken or take in addition to this class Politics 122.

331 The Politics of International Hierarchy
4; not offered 2014-15

This course examines the ways in which the international social-political system is hierarchical. The course looks at how such relations of hierarchy have been historically produced and continue to be sustained through a variety of mechanisms. The first part of the course focuses on the period of classical colonialism, examining the racial and gendered constructions of imperial power. The second part of the course turns to more contemporary North-South relations, studying the discourses and practices of development and human rights, and critically examining the resuscitation of the project of empire in recent U.S. foreign policy practices.

333 Feminist and Queer Legal Theory
x, 4 J. Jackson

Broadly, this is a course on gender, sexuality, and the law. More particularly, this course will 1) explore the relationship between queer theoretical and feminist theoretical projects and will 2) consider how these projects engage legal doctrines and norms. In question form: Where do feminist and queer theories intersect? Where do they diverge? How do these projects conceive of the law in conjunction with their political ends? How have these projects shifted legal meanings and rules? How have the discourses of legality reconfigured these political projects? These explorations will be foregrounded by legal issues such as marriage equality, sexual harassment, workers’ rights, and privacy. Theoretically, the course will engage with issues such as identity, rights, the state, cultural normalization, and capitalist logics. We will read legal decisions and political theory in this course. May be elected as Gender Studies 333.

334 The U.S.-Mexico Border: Immigration, Development, and Globalization
x, 4 Bobrow-Strain

This course examines one of the most politically charged and complex sites in the Western hemisphere: the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. The borderlands are a zone of cultural mixings, profound economic contrasts, and powerful political tensions. In recent years, the border has emerged as a key site in debates over U.S. immigration policy, national security, the drug war, Third World development, social justice in Third World export factories, and transnational environmental problems. This course examines these issues as they play out along the sharp line running from east Texas to Imperial Beach, as well as in other sites from the coffee plantations of Chiapas to the onion fields of Walla Walla. These concrete cases, in turn, illuminate political theories of the nation-state, citizenship, and transnationalism. Students are encouraged, but not required, to take this course in conjunction with the U.S.-Mexico border trip usually offered at the end of spring semester.

335 Globalization and the Cultural Politics of Development in Latin America
4; not offered 2014-15

This course examines the diverse ways in which class, race, and gender identities are being reworked in the context of contemporary globalization in Latin America. Using a series of recent ethnographies, it explores issues such as the construction of gender in sites such as maquiladora factories and the Caribbean sex-tourism industry, the making of transnational identities through migration, racial politics and indigenous movements in Mexico, Brazil, and Ecuador, and the recent growth of leftist political movements throughout the region (e.g., Venezuela and Bolivia). Prerequisite: Previous coursework on Latin America in any discipline.

337 Globalizing Southeast Asia
4, x Casumbal-Salazar

This course examines Southeast Asia’s relation to “globality” and the economic, political, and cultural processes associated with “globalization,” “alter-globalization,” and “globalisms.” How have pre-colonial connections, colonial violence, anti-colonial nationalism, and post-colonial development shaped concepts of the local, global, and regional in Southeast Asia? How has Southeast Asia’s entry into, and exclusion from, circuits of transnational capital impacted sites in the region? How has neoliberalism’s ascendance been facilitated and contested? Our examination of the political, cultural, gendered, and sexual dimensions of globalization’s effects in Southeast Asia will focus on historic and contemporary examples which may include, but are not limited to, the political economy of development, trafficking, militarism, sex tourism, and the work of social movements. Prerequisite: Intro-level course in Asian Studies or Politics or consent of instructor.

338 North-South Relations
4; not offered 2014-15

With a focus on political economy, this course examines the construction and maintenance of
inequality in the international system, and a consideration of the consequences of inequality for the possibility of state action in the “global south.” The first part of the course examines the construction of Northern domination, the expansion of the European state system and the global political economy (theories of imperialism, colonization, world systems, and international society). The second part will examine the maintenance of Northern power over the South, the effects of incorporating the South on political and economic structures, and the mechanisms reproducing global hierarchies (dependency, development, military intervention, global culture). The final part of the course will examine strategies employed by the South to oppose or to accommodate a globally disadvantageous position in the international system.

339 Nature, Culture, Politics
4; not offered 2014-15

In this seminar we explore changing understandings of nature in American culture, the role of social power in constructing these understandings, and the implications these understandings have for the environmental movement. Topics discussed will include wilderness and wilderness politics, management of national parks, ecosystem management, biodiversity, place, and the political uses of nature in contemporary environmental literature. The seminar will occasionally meet at the Johnston Wilderness Campus (transportation will be provided).

342 The Rhetoric of the 47%: The Social, Political, and Rhetorical Materialism of Class
4; not offered 2014-15

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Governor Mitt Romney was infamously captured on video arguing that 47 percent of the American people are dependent upon government, pay no income tax, and as a result, were not citizens he “should worry about.” This course will examine Romney’s assertion of the 47%, alongside an understanding of rhetorical materialism, or the ways that rhetoric functions “as a palpable and undeniable social and political force.” We will discuss political rhetoric of class, poverty, income inequality, and the material forces that divide socio-economic populations in the United States. In doing so, we will strive to ask: How does an understanding of rhetoric as material illuminate questions of political and social change, particularly in cases of those who are least advantaged? In what ways does discourse work to shape understandings of class and economic value? Course requirements will include class discussion, a final paper, and weekly blog posts and/or discussion prompts. May be elected as Rhetoric Studies 342.

343 Rhetoric of Weapons of the State
x, 4 Hayes

In the moments after September 11, 2001, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan alongside the increasingly enduring “war on terror” have prompted new discourses of security, transnational alliances, and strategic weaponry. This course will trace the history and discourses of weapons of the state, beginning with discussion of the development of nuclear technology and a rhetorical strategy Edward Schiappa terms “nukespeak.” The course will trace these histories through the current debates over technological innovations in weaponry, specifically pilotless aerial weapons known as drones. In tracing these histories and discourses, we will focus on the following questions: what political discourses and strategies animate new forms of state controlled weaponry? How do these new forms of state weaponry get circulated, discussed, and critiqued? Finally, how do state forms of violence become understood in contrast to forms of violence produced by individuals in the quest for social justice and change? Course requirements include class discussion, a final paper, and weekly blog posts and/or discussion prompts by students. May be elected as Rhetoric Studies 343.

347 International Political Theory
4; not offered 2014-15

An exploration of major themes and issues in contemporary international political theory, including the nature of the international system and international society, topics in international political economy, the emerging role of international organizations, the role of ethics in international politics, and recent feminist, critical, and postmodern international theory. Prerequisite: Politics 147 or consent of instructor.

348 International Politics of Ethnic Conflict
4; not offered 2014-15

This seminar will examine the causes and dynamics of ethnic conflicts, how they have been shaped by local and international political and economic systems, their implications for national and international security, and responses to them by the international community. In addition to considering alternative frameworks for understanding conflicts that become defined along ethnic or communal lines, the course will examine several cases in some depth. These might include Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and South Africa.

351 Necropower and the Politics of Violence
4; not offered 2014-15

Cameroonian scholar Achille Mbembe posits necropower as “the capacity to dictate who may live and who must die” (2003). This course explores necropolitics as a mode of political practice that intertwines the power to kill with a concept of population. What are the conditions of possibility by which certain populations are targeted for violence and death, while others are exempt? By what determination are some forms of violence designated political, while others remain ineligible for such a designation? Our approach to the study of political violence will be historical, conceptual, empirically grounded, and comparative, with attentiveness to gendered and sexual forms of violence. We consider philosophical and legal typologies of violence, and examine case studies drawn from different countries and historical eras.

352 Political Campaign Rhetoric
4; not offered 2014-15

This course focuses on communication used in political campaigns, particularly the Presidential and to a lesser degree Senate and House races as well as ballot initiatives in the current election year. The course examines the recent history of campaigns, the importance of character and public policy, advertisements, speeches, media coverage, debates, new technologies, demographics, and after the election, implications of the results. May be elected as Rhetoric Studies 352.

354 Topics in Jurisprudence: Time, Law, and Justice
4; not offered 2014-15

This seminar will center on the nexus between theorizations of time in political life and the politics of difference. In particular, we will consider how different peoples, histories, and hopes are included and excluded in theoretical and legal orderings of temporality. For example, how might the laws, norms and practices of gendered “publics” and “politics” inform the experience of one’s sense of place in political time? And how might the accumulation of racial privilege and property structure different understandings of the future and the urgency required to get there? Does the law solidify these temporal regimes or offer the means to reconfigure them? The course will interrogate writings about the velocities of modernity, the time of capital, the historical markers of a “now,” the constitutional imperatives for justice, and the conditions prefiguring futures on the horizon. Texts will include works from the Western canon, landmark legal documents, and contemporary writings in political theory. Some thinkers we will engage include Edmund Burke, Karl Marx, Martin Luther King, Jr., Joan Tronto, and Jacques Derrida.

359 Gender and International Hierarchy
4; not offered 2014-15

This course draws attention to the manner in which international hierarchies and gender relations intersect to have implications for the lives of Third World women. The course examines how the needs and interests of Third World women are addressed in various international discourses and practices, how Third World women are affected by international political practices, and how Third World women sustain, resist, and transform international power structures. We will cover a number of different issue areas that include security and war, development and transnational capitalism, media and representation, cultural practices and human rights, women’s movements and international feminism.

363 Genealogies of Political Economy
4, x Bobrow-Strain

What is capitalism? Where did it come from? How does it work, and what are the politics of its epochal expansion? This course explores the origins, dynamics, and politics of capitalism as they have been theorized over the past 200 years. It begins with classical political economy, closely reading the works of Ricardo, Smith, and Marx. It then traces the lineages of classical political economy through the works of theorists such as Weber, Lenin, Schumpeter, Gramsci, Keynes, and Polanyi. The course ends with an examination of theorists who critique Eurocentric political economy by approaching the dynamics and experiences of capitalism from Europe’s former colonies. Topics addressed in the course include debates about imperialism, the state, class struggle, development, and globalization.

365 Political Economy of Care/Work
4; not offered 2014-15

Whether labeled work/family balance, the second shift, or the care gap, tensions between care and work present important challenges for individuals, families and states. This seminar interrogates the gendered implications of the political and economic distinction between care and work. How do public policies and employment practices construct a false choice between work and care? What role should the state play in the provision of care for children, the sick, the disabled and the elderly? How does the invisibility of carework contribute to the wage gap in the United States and the feminization of poverty globally? Course readings will draw from the literatures on political economy, feminist economics and social policy.

367 African Political Thought
x, 4 Magnusson

This course will explore themes in African politics such as colonialism, nationalism, development, authenticity, gender, violence, and justice, through the ideas of some of Africa’s most notable political thinkers of the past half-century, including Fanon, Nkrumah, Senghor, Nyerere, Mandela, and Tutu. The course also will consider the work of contemporary critics of the postcolonial African state. These may include writers, artists, and activists such as Ngugi wa Thiongo, Chinua Achebe, Wangari Maathai, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Wambui Otieno.

369 Food, Agriculture, and Society
4; not offered 2014-15

Why does the food system work the way it does, and how can it be changed? This advanced reading seminar draws together classic texts from political theory, geography, literature, sociology, anthropology, history, political economy, and agroecology to explore the workings of the global food system. It builds on Politics 119, but previous completion of this course is not required. May be elected as Environmental Studies 369, but must be elected as Environmental Studies 369 to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies.

378 Transnationalism
4; not offered 2014-15

This seminar examines the increasingly important political arena outside the exclusive control of the international system of states. Topics include transnational ideas and norms (neoliberalism, human rights), economic globalization, human migration, communications (global media and the Internet) and security issues (criminal networks and arms proliferation). The focus will be on how transnational processes work and how they affect both the structure of the international system and internal politics.

379 Freedom of Speech and the First Amendment
4; not offered 2014-15

Arguments over the “appropriate boundaries” of freedom of speech are among the most interesting and hotly debated issues addressed by the legal system. In this course, the evolution of current legal standards on freedom of speech will be traced from the earliest statements on free speech in ancient Athens, through British Common Law to Colonial America, and finally to a wide range of cases that made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Issues such as privacy, obscenity, “fighting words,” and commercial speech will be discussed, along with considerable discussion dealing with special issues of free speech such as free speech and fair trials, prior restraint, and free speech in prisons, schools, the military, and the marketplace. This course may not satisfy both politics and rhetoric studies major requirements. May be elected as Rhetoric Studies 350.

380 Argument in the Law and Politics
4; not offered 2014-15

This course emphasizes the study and practice of argument in the law and politics and involves three critical aspects. First, students engage in and evaluate legal argument in important court cases. Second, students participate in and evaluate political campaign and public policymaking processes. Third, students are exposed to argumentation theory as a way of interpreting the arguments they construct and evaluate. The goal of the course is to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the use of argument. This course may not satisfy both politics and rhetoric studies major requirements. May be elected as Rhetoric Studies 351.

387 Sustainability
4; not offered 2014-15

In this discussion and research seminar we will explore both critical and practical approaches to the concept of sustainability. What is being sustained, why, and for whom? Students will engage in individual and collaborative research on topics associated with sustainability, including energy, climate, development, water, design, agriculture, and natural resources. Our objective will be to link our critical discussions with our empirical research, resulting in a more nuanced understanding of sustainability and the wide range of environmental claims made in its name. May be elected as Environmental Studies 387, but must be elected as Environmental Studies 387 to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies.

400-404 Special Studies in Politics: Advanced Level
4

Advanced seminars designed for students who have had considerable prior work in the study of politics. Each time they are offered, these seminars focus on different topics. Students are expected to complete extensive reading assignments, write several papers, and participate regularly in discussions. One period a week. Any current offerings follow.

400 ST: Politics and the Anthropocene
x, 4 Brick

This seminar is an interdisciplinary exploration of the causes, consequences, and political implications of anthropogenic climate change. We will begin with a review of how scientific climate models are constructed and how these models have been deployed by various non-governmental organizations and climate activists to articulate and advance a climate agenda across a broad spectrum of political activities, from international negotiations to grassroots climate and environmental justice movements. We will then explore the political dimensions of various climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, including low carbon social and economic systems, geo-engineering, carbon sequestration, and landscape-scale conservation efforts. Course readings will be diverse, drawing on scientific studies, governmental and non-governmental documents, works of fiction, and academic literature from politics, sociology, and the emerging field of critical climate studies. A field trip and longer research paper may be required. May be elected as Environmental Studies 303A but must be elected as Environmental Studies 303A to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies. Distribution area: social science.

481, 482 Individual Projects
1-4, 1-4 Staff

Directed individual study and research. Prerequisites: appropriate prior coursework in politics and consent of the supervising instructor.

490 Senior Seminar
4, x Biswas, Beechey, Bobrow-Strain, and J. Jackson

This team-taught seminar will meet one evening a week throughout the semester. Its purpose is to engage senior majors in sustained discussion of contemporary political issues. Requirements include attendance at all seminar meetings; extensive participation in discussion; and the completion of several papers, one being a proposal for a senior thesis or honor thesis. Required of, and open only to, senior politics majors. Fall degree candidates should plan to take this seminar at the latest possible opportunity.

497 Senior Thesis
x, 3-4 Biswas, Beechey, Bobrow-Strain, and J. Jackson

During their final semester at Whitman, majors will satisfactorily complete the senior thesis launched the previous semester. Over the course of the semester, students submit sections of their thesis for discussion and review with their readers on a regular basis and defend the final thesis orally before two faculty members. Detailed information on this process is provided to students well in advance. No thesis will be deemed acceptable unless it receives a grade of C- or better. Politics majors register for four credits of Politics 497. Politics-Environmental Studies majors should register for three credits of Politics 497 and one credit of Environmental Studies 488, for a total of four credits. Prerequisite: Required of, and open only to, senior majors not taking Politics 498.

498 Honors Thesis
x, 3-4 Biswas, Beechey, Bobrow-Strain, and J. Jackson

During their final semester at Whitman, senior honors candidates will satisfactorily complete the senior honors thesis launched the prior semester. Over the course of the semester, students submit sections of their thesis for discussion and review with their readers on a regular basis, and defend the final thesis orally before two faculty members. Required of and limited to senior honors candidates in politics. Politics majors register for four credits of Politics 498. Politics-Environmental Studies majors should register for three credits of Politics 498 and one credit of Environmental Studies 488, for a total of four credits. Prerequisites: admission to honors candidacy and consent of the department chair.