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Social Sciences

Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Human Rights
Social Science 223/323 CP Browdy de Hernandez
4 credits
This seminar aims to provide students with a broad working knowledge of human rights as both an intellectual discourse and a realm of political action. Beginning with a close reading of the 1945 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which marks the emergence of modern human rights discourse, we will discuss the roots of the UN Declaration in the French and American Revolutions; the catalyst provided by the Holocaust; and the ways in which the Declaration has been applied, extended, and frequently ignored by nations and individuals in the 50+ years since it was ratified. Specific topics, examined across a range of cultures and countries, will include torture; freedom of speech; freedom of religion; women’s rights; and economic, social, and cultural rights including the right to health and the right to development (as well as the right to avoid development). We will ask whether it is possible to establish universal human rights, examining the substance of critiques that human rights standards are biased in favor of Western socio-political formations and will focus on the roles of major actors in the violations and protection of human rights—from official human rights monitoring bodies and tribunals, NGOs, national and local governments, security forces, militias and religious groups—as well as individual victims and their families and human rights activists of every stripe, including street protesters, photographers and filmmakers, doctors, and lawyers.
Last taught S10.
Social Science 224 Oyogoa
3 credits
Globalization is one of the defining features of the contemporary world, but there is considerable controversy regarding its nature, impact, and future trends. The goal of this course is to clarify what globalization is and how it is affecting communities around the world. This course draws upon various theoretical approaches from sociology and related disciplines to explore various issues pertaining to globalization. Is globalization really a new phenomena or have we seen this before? Does globalization ameliorate or increase race and gender inequality? How has globalization impacted Third World countries? Is economic globalization a naturally unfolding process or are there specific groups of people directing the global economy? What impact has globalization had on workers and organized labor? Does the West engage in cultural imperialism? This course examines these questions and more. Specifically, it looks at how globalization has developed recently and how it has impacted economies, nation-states, workers, gender relations, class inequality, culture, and other aspects of society. Prerequisite: One 100-level course in social studies.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught S12.
The Foucault Effect
Social Science 302 Yanoshak
4 credits
Michel Foucault argued that we are “individuals” not because of our talents and preferences, but because we deviate in varied ways from an imposed norm; that sex is not a biological given, but an historically contingent concept used to defend “the normal” from “the abnormal”; that anything (and therefore nothing distinctive) can be deduced from the domination of the bourgeoisie; and that therapists in liberal democracies share with the police of totalitarian dictatorships a common ancestor in medieval Christian priests. He thus engaged in a series of provocative dialogues with other thinkers that challenged Western notions of the a priori human subject, reconceptualized the relationship of power and knowledge in academic and political discourse, and redefined what it meant to be an intellectual in the postmodern world. Noting that Foucault’s work is relevant to important new understandings of the social sciences, the arts, literary criticism, and politics, this course analyzes the fruitful encounters of his ideas with past and present critical theory, poststructuralism, and feminist and postcolonial analyses of marginalization and resistance. It thus explores possibilities for creating a future freer and more just than the present, which so exercised Foucault’s iconoclastic ire. Prerequisite: Sophomore Seminar or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Quantitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences
Social Science 309 Staff
4 credits
This course provides students with an introduction to research methods in the social sciences with a focus on quantitative methods. Students read about and practice designing, implementing, and presenting findings from various types of research methodologies, including survey, experiment, and observation. In addition, this course covers some general issues related to social science research, including forming a hypothesis, ethics, and sampling. This course is heavily weighted toward a hands-on approach. The readings for the course are important and are required; however, it is assumed that a great deal of the learning takes place in actually attempting to design the studies. Prerequisite: Sophomore Seminar or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught S11.
Junior Proseminar: Possession: Spatialities, Identities, Ownership
Social Science 320 Social Studies Faculty
4 credits
To be human is to possess and to be possessed, or so we imagine. These twin conceits enchant and animate us; the first by supposing the subject’s control over itself, its surrounds, or both, including the assumption that we have a certain agency over proximal things—our bodies, ourselves, personal effects, private property, words, thoughts, and more. The second imagines the subject’s possession by forces or processes that are immanent within, or ambient to, our bodies, our minds, or our worlds—powers granting life, informing identities, or both: Myriad energies, spirits, vitalities, chants, symbols, and songs emanating from places, spaces, sensoria, landscapes, deities, people, animals, etc. While the subject in possession acquires powers of identity, ownership, belonging, sustenance, well-being, and selfhood, that which is possessed can also be dispossessed, and that which possesses may not be benign. This course explores ontic foundations of possession, ownership, belonging, and selfhood across the domains of social scientific inquiry by focusing on mind, brain, and (self-)possession; shamanism, trance, hypnosis, and spirit possession; property rights and possession; salvation and soteriologies of poverty and possession; sex, love, and possession; possession, performance, and performativity; and possessions of, and by, nature, resources, and nationhood. Prerequisite: Acceptance by the Division of Social Studies into the Junior Fellows Program.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Social Science Tutorial
Social Science 300/400 Staff
4 credits
Under these course numbers, juniors and seniors design tutorials to meet their particular interests and programmatic needs. A student should see the prospective tutor to define an area of mutual interest to pursue either individually or in a small group. A student may register for no more than one tutorial in any semester.