Contentious Knowledge Courses

Fall 2007: Comparative Labor Movements in Latin America (ILRIC 631)
Maria Cook

This course is an introduction to the historical development of organized labor in Latin America and to the contemporary issues affecting Latin American labor unions and workers. Among the questions we will consider are: What was the political and institutional context in which labor movements developed historically and how does this context affect their actions and strategies today?  What happened to labor unions and workers during the brutal military dictatorships of the 1970s, during the re-democratization of the 1980s, and during the economic reforms of the 1990s?  How is “globalization” affecting workers and unions in Latin America today? Although the course emphasizes a thematic rather than country-by-country approach, readings will cover the following countries in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.

Fall 2007: Social Movements in Latin America (GOVT 426/626)
Kenneth Roberts

This course analyzes different types of historical and contemporary social movements in Latin America. It begins with an overview of class-based labor and peasant movements, including their relationships with populist or leftist political parties. The class will then study revolutionary movements and the social actors that participate within them. The second half of the course will focus on various “new” social movements that have altered the region’s social and political landscape over the past twenty years, including movements organized around gender issues, human rights, environmental protection, shantytown communities, and indigenous rights. Special attention will be given to the construction and transformation of collective identities, and to new patterns of social protest in response to market globalization in the region.

Fall 2007: Politics of Science (GOVT 429)
Ron Herring

A research seminar in which each student, or perhaps some in clusters, will write research papers on the politics of science. How do societies — and increasingly global regimes — deal with collective uncertainty and risk? What are the arguments about trade-offs and precaution? Science claims for itself only a method of judging truth claims through transparent and replicable testing of theory-driven hypotheses: how do theological (“creation science” or “Vedic science”) and civilizational (“Western science”) embeddings become politically activated? To what extent is real science politically crippled by its own commitment to incremental evidence-based knowledge in the face of junk science? We will look at scientific controversies and their political representation in the large general field of the environment, medicine, biotechnology and food systems.


Spring 2008 Courses

Spring 2008: Biotechnology and Development (CSS 494/GOVT 430)
Ron Herring and Janice Thies
Mondays, 1:25-4:25 p.m.
146 Myron Taylor, ISS Conference Room, See directions.

Biotechnology promises unprecedented improvements in the human condition – or prefaces unanticipated  disasters. Social movements have arisen to block deployment of biotech products on grounds of food sovereignty; patents and intellectual property; social justice; and environmental and human health concerns. Students will be introduced to these globally [and locally] contentious arguments, will investigate both the science and the politics, and write and present to the seminar their own conclusions.

A companion course to CSS 410: The GMO Debate


Spring 2008: Crossing Borders: Migrations in Comparative Perspective (ILRIC 601(6010)) 

Maria Cook
Wednesdays, 1:25-4:25 p.m.
146 Myron Taylor, ISS Conference Room. See directions.

This seminar will examine the links between globalization and migration and explore the character and dimensions of “unauthorized” migration in several regions of the world. Drawing on in-depth regional case studies from Europe, North America, and Australasia, we will consider the implications of contemporary migrations for national immigration policies, border control, labor markets, human rights, development, asylum and refugee protection, and politics and citizenship.

Spring 2008: Research Methods in Social Movements (SOC 650) 
Sarah Soule
Wednesdays, 10:10 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
254 Uris

This seminar presents a sociological examination of social movements, with an eye toward understanding the dominant research methodologies employed by social scientists studying them. We will examine the dominant research methodologies employed by scholars of social movements (surveys, interviews, case studies, network analysis, event analysis, participant observation, longitudinal analyses, frame analysis, and historical analyses).  In so doing, we will be reading about a variety of different social movements (contemporary and historic, in the United States and in other countries).  And, we will also examine the dominant theoretical perspectives in the area of social movements
Fall 2006 Courses

Fall 2006: Gandhi and the Politics of Nonviolence (HIST 119) 
Durba Ghosh

This course will examine the writings of Mohandas K. Gandhi, a leader of the non-violent movement against British colonialism in India. In particular, students will consider whether Gandhi’s philosophies of self-reliance, moral discipline, civil disobedience, non-violent protest, and vegetarianism are applicable to living in the modern world. We will read some of Gandhi’s well-known criticisms of modernity, including Hind Swaraj and My Experiments with Truth, and address the sources, impact and legacy of Gandhi’s ideas, including the relationship between Gandhian non-violence and the American civil rights movement. Written assignments will involve close readings of Gandhi’s work with an eye toward engaging whether his ideas translate to being a modern and morally responsible individual in the early 21st century.
Fall 2006: From Greening to Gene Wars (GOVT 400.3) 
Ronald Herring

A research seminar in which each student, or perhaps some in clusters, will write research papers on the politics of science. How do societies deal with collective uncertainty and risk? What are the arguments about trade-offs and precaution? Science claims for itself only a method of judging truth claims through transparent and replicable testing of theory-driven hypotheses: how do theological (“creation science” or “Vedic science”) and civilizational (“Western science”) embeddings become politically activated? To what extent is real science politically crippled by its own commitment to incremental evidence-based knowledge in the face of junk science? We will look at scientific controversies and their political representation in the large general field of the environment, with some consideration of medicine and food systems.


Fall 2006: Political Sociology
 (SOC 605(6050)) 
Sarah Soule

This seminar presents the basic approaches to political sociology, with emphasis on the political process in the United States (including the study of both conventional and unconventional politics). Students will learn about explanations for individual participation in both conventional and unconventional politics. Major theoretical and empirical works in this area will be studied.

Fall 2006: The New Life Sciences: Emerging Technology, Emerging Politics (S&TS 645, Govt 634) 
Stephen Hilgartner

The new life sciences (including genetics, genomics, and biotechnology) are highly controversial areas of emerging science and technology. They inspire both hope and anxiety, and are a source of ongoing conflicts. This course will examine the politics of the new biology, both to consider the issues in their own right and to examine the relationships among science, technology, and politics. In particular, the course will focus on three themes—the politics of property, the politics of identity, and the politics of risk—as they pertain to the emerging technologies of life. Topics may include the social shaping biological research; eugenics and genetics; genomic medicine; risk; commercial biotechnology; university-industry relationships; social movements; North-South issues; the Human Genome Project; genetics and race; intellectual property; the debate over human cloning; and the capacity of contemporary societies to manage emerging technologies.

Fall 2006: Political Ecology of Development (GOVT 731) 
Ronald Herring

This course introduces at a graduate level what we might call the political economy of nature, or “political ecology” in shorthand. It is explicitly comparative in scope. Political ecology is at the center of the continuing struggle — at the level of meaning, politics and policy — over “development.” Much of the contest over forms and strategies of development concerns variable appropriation of benefits — and distribution of costs — of the conquest and transformation of nature. Central to these disputes is the contested role of markets, states and communities in driving outcomes. These matters will form the substantive core of the course. Theoretically we will be concerned with the causal connections between structures of social ecology and movements spawned within those structures — that is, the problem of structure and agency — and between political movements and state responses — that is, policy.

Spring 2007 Courses

Spring 2007: Science in the American Polity: 1960- Now (S&TS 391) 
Stephen Hilgartner

Reviews the changing political relations between science, technology, and the state in America from 1960 to the present. It focuses on the politics of choices involving science and technology in a variety of institutional settings, from Congress to courts and regulatory agencies. The tensions and contradictions between the concepts of science as an autonomous republic and as just another special interest provide a central theme for the course. Topics addressed include research funding, technological controversies, scientific advice, citizen participation in science policy, and the use of experts in courts.

Spring 2007: Knowledge, Technology and Property (S&TS 411)
Stephen Hilgartner

Should the human genome be treated as private property or a public resource? How should copyright be managed in the digital environment of the Internet? Is music “sampling” high-tech theft or artistic expression? Does bioprospecting represent an enlightened strategy for preserving biodiversity or a post-colonial means for transferring resources from the developing world to the North? Debate about the nature and scope of intellectual property is an increasingly salient feature of contemporary politics. This course examines the ownership of knowledge and technology, exploring fundamental tensions that intellectual property systems express and incompletely reconcile. Perspectives from science and technology studies, sociology, law, and economics inform the course. Case studies explore the construction of property in contexts ranging from the early history of copyright to the ownership of life forms, airwaves, algorithms, artistic content, electronic databases, and the personal identities of celebrities.

Spring 2007: Crossing Borders: Migrations in Comparative Perspective (ILRIC 630)
Maria Cook

This seminar will examine the links between globalization and migration and explore the character and dimensions of “unauthorized” migration in several regions of the world. Drawing on in-depth regional case studies from Europe, North America, and Australasia, we will consider the implications of contemporary migrations for national immigration policies, border control, labor markets, human rights, development, asylum and refugee protection, and politics and citizenship.

Spring 2007: Social Movements and Contentious Politics (GOVT 660[6603] & SOC 660(6600))
Sid Tarrow

This research seminar surveys the related fields of social movements and contentious politics. Using theories that derive from both the collective behavior and political process traditions of social movement research, the course seeks to broaden these into a general approach to contentious politics, applicable protest cycles, strike waves, nationalism, democratization and revolution. Students will write review essays or research papers.