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

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

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

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
x, 4 Beechey

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
x, 4 Bobrow-Strain

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, x M. Gallagher

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 Gallagher

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: Biswas; Spring: Magnusson

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.

200-204 Special Studies in Politics: Introductory Level

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.

212 What is Political Freedom?
4; not offered 2015-16

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 2015-16

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.

220 American Political Theory
4; not offered 2015-16

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.

225 Introduction to Indigenous Politics
x, 4 Casumbal-Salazar

This course will introduce students to concepts and themes in the study of indigeneity and indigenous social movements, including (but not limited to) sovereignty, land and territoriality, settler colonialism, and decolonization.  Our approach will be comparative and historical, with an emphasis on law, governance, race, and gender in North American and Southeast Asian indigenous contexts.  We will also explore cultural assertions of autonomy and resistance to settler colonialism.  How might the meaning of indigeneity shift across space and time?  In what types of political projects are indigenous peoples engaged?  How are the experiences of colonization and decolonization gendered and racialized?  This course is designed for first- and second-year students, and will require field trips to the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, the Whitman Mission, and the Happy Canyon Pageant (schedule permitting).

228 Political Ecology
4; not offered 2015-16

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
4; not offered 2015-16

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; not offered 2015-16

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.

240 Mexico: Politics and Society in the Age of NAFTA
4, x Bobrow-Strain

Mexico and the United States have been inextricably connected for as long as both countries have existed. Currently, Mexico is the United States’ third largest trade partner.  More than 10 percent of the U.S. population is of Mexican descent, and every year millions of U.S. residents visit Mexico as tourists.  And yet—fed on a diet of political polemics, racialized representations, and sensationalist media--most people in the U.S. have little understanding of their southern neighbor. This course surveys the history, political economy, and cultural politics of Mexico.  It begins with a short introduction to Mexican history and a critical exploration of representations of Mexico in U.S. popular culture going back to the 19th century. It then focuses in on several key contemporary themes including:  poverty, development, and economic restructuring; the War on Drugs; social movements and struggles for justice; migration and transnational Mexico; conflicts over land and resources; debates about race, gender, and sexuality within Mexico; and the unique dynamics of the U.S.-Mexico border region. Course materials span a wide range, from the work of Mexican political theorists, historians, anthropologists, and economists to novels, films, and social media.

242 The Politics of Development in Latin America
4; not offered 2015-16

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).

250 Latinos in US Politics and Society
4; not offered 2015-16

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, x Beechey

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 2015-16

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, x Magnusson

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.

287 Natural Resource Policy and Management
4, x Brick

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.

303 Gender and Feminism in Southeast Asia
4; not offered 2015-16

This course will examine processes of gendering, and the concerns of women’s and sexuality-based rights movements, in sites throughout Southeast Asia and the Southeast Asian diaspora.  Guiding questions of the course include: How are femininity, masculinity, and gender variance in such contexts historically-contingent?  In what ways are gender and sexuality shaped by class, racialization, colonialism, decolonization, and nationalism?  How do feminist and LGBTI movements articulate their political claims?  How can these movements be compared to similar movements in other regions of the world?  What critical conceptual frame must be mobilized to enable such comparisons?  This upper-division seminar is designed for third- and fourth-year students. Prerequisite: previous coursework in Politics or Asian Studies.  

308 Liberalism and Its Discontents
4; not offered 2015-16

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; not offered 2015-16

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.

316 Culture, Ideology, Politics
4, x Apostolidis

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 2015-16

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 2015-16

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.

320 The Politics of Global Security
x, 4 Biswas

In the study of international relations, the concept of security is almost always tethered to the nation-state through the central signifier of “national security”.  Even studies of private security, cyber warfare, or drone technology, all of which raise some complex questions about the changing parameters of modern warfare, rarely stray too far from a focus on the state. The purpose of this course is to both understand the motivations for and the effects of this linkage and open up different ways to think of the concept and the referents of security. Using a variety of different approaches through which global security has been studied, the course will ask who is made secure and/or insecure by statist security, what kinds of apparatuses of power are created in the provision of security, what sorts of affective investments are involved in projects of security, and what political possibilities and risks are inherent in imagining a world beyond security. Topics covered may include: practices and technologies of war-making, the military-industrial complex, nuclear proliferation, surveillance and the securitization of everyday life, and military disarmament and peace movements.  Prerequisite:  previous coursework in Politics.

321 Is American Higher Education in Crisis?
4, x Kaufman-Osborn

At some point in their lives, over 70% of Americans will enroll in an institution of higher education. As such, the state of higher education is not a peripheral or intra-academic concern, especially since these institutions play a pivotal role in generating, reproducing, and sometimes contesting relations of power. The purpose of this course is to encourage Whitman students to think carefully and critically about their education at Whitman College by situating that experience within the context of higher education in the United States more generally. Especially over the course of the past two decades, higher education in the United States has repeatedly been declared to be in a condition of “crisis.” Specific manifestations of this “crisis” include the claim that colleges and universities are failing to prepare students adequately for the current workplace; that students are being saddled with impossible debt upon graduation; that higher education has now effectively been “corporatized”;  that the financial model that currently informs the provision of higher education is unsustainable; that the digital revolution will soon render anachronistic the sort of education Whitman takes pride in offering; etc. Over the course of the semester, all students will be expected to complete a significant research project on some aspect of Whitman College in light of the alleged “crises” of higher education in the United States.

325 Queer Politics and Policy
4, x Beechey

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 M. Gallagher

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; not offered 2015-16

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, x Biswas

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 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
4; not offered 2015-16

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, California, 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.

337 Globalizing Southeast Asia
4; not offered 2015-16

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 2015-16

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 2015-16

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, x Culp

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
4; not offered 2015-16

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.

351 Necropower and the Politics of Violence
4; not offered 2015-16

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 2015-16

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
x, 4 J. Jackson

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 2015-16

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
x, 4 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
x, 4 Beechey

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
4; not offered 2015-16

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 2015-16

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 2015-16

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 2015-16

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 2015-16

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.

400-404 Special Studies in Politics: Advanced Level

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. Any current offerings follow.

400A ST: Politics and the Anthropocene
4, x 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 Politics 400 but must be elected as Environmental Studies 303A to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 207 or consent of instructor. Distribution area: social science.

400A ST: Theories of Work
x, 4 Apostolidis and Cohen

Originating in Whitman’s Global Studies program, this interdisciplinary course challenges students to consider the economic and political meanings of “work” from a variety of theoretical perspectives. Why do people work? How does the attachment of work to wages and profit under capitalism affect the experience of working? In what ways has this experience varied in different historical eras, over divergent geographical areas, and for distinct social groups (e.g., with regard to race, gender, and class)? Under what circumstances can one say that work is “exploitative,” “fulfilling,” or “productive,” and how do formations of economic and political power affect these attributions? When can the conditions of work catalyze opposition to political and economic domination? Students in this course will analyze work as economic practice and as political ideology, just as they will consider the work of politics and the ideological aspects of economic theory. May be elected as Economics 394A. Prerequisites: For Politics credit, a passing grade in any 100 or 200 level Politics course.  For Economics credit, Junior or Senior standing and Economics 101, with a preference for students who have successfully completed Economics 307. 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, Bobrow-Strain, Casumbal-Salazar, and Apostolidis  

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, Bobrow-Strain, Brick, Casumbal-Salazar, and Apostolidis  

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, Bobrow-Strain, Brick, Casumbal-Salazar, and Apostolidis  

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.