This course examines key technological developments and challenges of the 21st century from an ethical perspective. We will discuss some of the following topics: self-driving cars and autonomous weapons systems; the impact of technology on employment; surveillance and the value of privacy; the use of predictive algorithms in the criminal justice system; the risk of human extinction and the value of the future; human enhancement.
What is culture? Should the state protect cultural diversity? What should be done when this protection clashes with protection of the individual? What about conflicts between multiculturalism and protections for other types of difference (race, sex, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.)? This course explores definitions of culture, and vigorous debates about liberal multiculturalism, cultural relativism, critical race theory, and more. We will study leading philosophies of cultural and other difference, and current controversies about cultural inclusion, appropriation, ableism, intersectionality, and religious freedom.
This course explores central themes and ideas in the history of African American political thought: slavery and freedom, solidarity and sovereignty, exclusion and citizenship, domination and democracy, inequality and equality, rights and respect. Readings will be drawn, primarily, from canonical authors, including Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Martin Delany, Booker T. Washington, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Ralph Ellison, Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton, and Martin Luther King, Jr. This is an introductory course, which emphasizes both thematic and historical approaches to political theory.
This course examines various political controversies that surround the role of race and ethnicity in American society. These controversies and issues affect public opinion, political institutions, political behavior, and salient public policy debates. Thus this course will assess and evaluate the role of race in each of these domains while also examining historical antecedents. The first half of the course will focus on historical antecedents such as the civil rights movement and the Black Power movement. The second half of the course will focus on the role of race in the 2008-2020 presidential elections.
This course introduces the study of African politics. The lectures briefly review the social and historical context of contemporary political life. They then profile some of the changes of the early post-Independence period, the authoritarian turn of the 1970s and 80s, and the second liberation of the 1990s and 2000s, before turning to some contemporary challenges (e.g., conflict resolution, land tenure, natural resource management, public goods provision, climate resilience, health, urbanization). Each session introduces a major analytical debate, theories, and African views. Broadly comparative; some special attention to selected countries.
This course draws on the use of immigrant narratives as a lens through which to understand both the history of immigration in the U.S. and the contemporary immigration landscape. We will grapple with notions of citizenship and 'illegality' while examining backlash to demographic changes. Course topics include the politics and policies of immigrant admission to and deportation from the United States as well as the nature and consequences of immigration at the national, state, and local levels.
Why do political cleavages often divide along lines of race and ethnicity? Does human psychology tend towards 'groupism'? How do government institutions like schools, police and elections increase or decrease the salience of various ethnic and religious boundaries? This course investigates the relationship between identity, groups and politics in the U.S. and around the world. We will consider theories of group identity development; assess empirical approaches to the study of racial and ethnic groups in politics and look at how politically relevant aspects of identity can be measured for conducting original research (JPs or Senior Theses).
This course covers major current issues in political economy of development with special focus on Africa. The course will be structured in three parts. The first part will cover broad macro political economy issues (e.g. democracy and development, historical legacies, Resource curse). The second part will focus on micro issues (e.g. property rights, clientelism, electoral accountability). The final part will draw mostly from the experimental literature in political economy and discuss policy prescriptions to improve development prospects (e.g. institutional reforms, information campaigns, foreign aid).
This course covers selected topics in contemporary African politics. We first highlight recent events in African history as well as contemporary African political issues. We then cover specific topics in greater detail including clientelism, democratization, and ethnic politics. We finally look at the historical legacies that continue to affect Africa's political landscape.
The racial wealth gap is today one of the most salient features of the American polity. This course places widening racialized inequalities in a broad historical perspective by connecting them to the politics of money and credit. Ever since colonial times, Americans have passionately, even violently, debated the nature of money. We will follow these debates to study how money and credit have been intimately linked to questions of race from Alexander Hamilton to Martin Luther King Jr. We will connect this historical material to political theoretical debates about race, credit, and money today.
This course will analyze the role of cinema in the construction (and deconstruction) of national and transnational discourses in the Portuguese-speaking world. We will examine a number of recurring cultural topics in a wide variety of films from Africa, Brazil and Europe, situating works within their socio-historical contexts and tracing the development of national cinemas and their interaction with global aesthetics and trends.
Short stories and music will serve as vehicles for a deeper understanding of the major political and social shifts that have affected the landscape of the Contemporary Portuguese-speaking world. We will hear an array of voices and delve into a diversity of narratives as we explore the interconnected historical, social, political, and cultural aspects of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and Timor-Leste.
Luanda, Lisbon, Rio, São Paulo...Through readings of selected texts and audiovisual materials, this course will visit the diverse cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world through the lens of culture produced in, by and about major cities. We will compare and contrast both "official" and "unofficial" narratives of these spaces and investigate how cultural productions from and about the periphery contest hegemonic representations of urban spaces and culture(s).
This course offers an audio-visual immersion into the musical culture and soundscapes of Brazil. How do political activism and a philosophy of life converge in the social arena as a musical form of communication? From contemporary Amerindian songs to the Afro rhythms and spirituals of Capoeira and Candomblé; from the rituals of Congada in Minas Gerais to Repente and Carnival; from Samba to Bossa Nova to Tropicalia to Hip-Hop and their relation to literature and film. Students will study lyrics, watch films, and read critical analysis on music. Each student will build a repertoire of songs and texts to create a final sonic production.
How do emotion and movement appear in Brazilian music? While music is a form of translation and dialogue everywhere, the song in Brazil is an especially porous form, capable of daily reinvention of languages, traditions and habits, thus questioning history and politics. How are identity, sexuality, orality and writing worked out in musical genres such as samba, hip hop, rock? How is the African Diaspora cyphered in Brazilian music? How does that process differ from other diasporic communities? Is Brazilian music really Brazilian? These are some of the questions the seminar will address through listening and scholarly discussion.
This course will introduce students to the history of slavery and race relations in modern Brazil and will explore how it resonates in present-day debates about citizenship. Students will read classical and recent historical works as well as primary sources in order to gain a critical and comparative understanding of slavery as an institution in the Americas, and its adaptability to local realities. Students will be introduced to methods of historical research, with a particular focus on digital history. Students will write papers tackling how the history of slavery has distinctively shaped ideas of democracy, human rights and social justice.
This course will focus on Brazilian literature through the close reading of different genres, from fiction to poetry and essays. Each class will concentrate on a single text, with a close look at the way it was crafted and a discussion of the author's biography and historical moment. Through the study of 19th-century to contemporary authors, we will discuss how a canon can be re-signified when it takes in women, Black and Indigenous writers.
The scientific study of social behavior, with an emphasis on social interaction and group influence. Topics covered will include social perception, the formation of attitudes and prejudice, attraction, conformity and obedience, altruism and aggression, and group dynamics.
The aim of this course is to introduce students to the historically complex relationship between "religion" and "the political" in African American life. For instance, is there a non-political religious identity? And, how does the "religious" identity of an African American atheist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, or naturalist affect their "political" imagination? These questions will guide us as we engage in close readings of texts from a variety of genres (historical, theoretical, and literary) that capture the dynamics of African American experiences, religion, and thought.
This course will trace the origins and historical development of African American Religion in the United States in all its various forms, beginning with the Colonial period and ending with the era of Civil Rights in the late 1950s and early 1960s. "Slave Religion" and its impact on the subsequent cultural, theological, and material expressions of black religion will serve as the theoretical centerpiece of the course. We will also analyze and discuss the predominance of "urban religion" and the rise of New Religious Movements such as the Black Hebrews and the Nation of Islam after the First World War and during the Great Migration.
In this course, we will examine music and the religio-political imagination of the Black Atlantic, focusing on Jamaica and the US. We will examine the ways that the various cultures of hip-hop and reggae offer critique to our contemporary religious and political arrangements. Listening to the perspectives expressed in these cultural formations we will question whether the music provides a prophetic challenge to the status quo. Giving attention to the music, from the Negro Spirituals, to contemporary Hip Hop and Dancehall, we will contextualize it with an interest in understanding the relationship between their religious and political visions.
Christianity and incarceration have a long and storied history. One way of telling the history of Christianity is through its changing relationship to the carceral practices and geographies. The course explores the changing relationship between Christians and carceral practices and geographies throughout its history, beginning at the origins of what became Christianity in 1st century Palestine and ending with the 2017 Alabama State Legislature's passing of a bill allowing churches to police their communities.
Pentecostalism is the fastest growing religious movement in the world, having a major impact on the religious, social, and economic practices in many areas of the country. This course looks into the religious and cultural sources of the movement from its birth in Los Angeles in 1906, focusing on such distinctive features as healing, expressive bodily worship, "speaking in tongues," and its special appeal to people on the margins of society.
Inter-disciplinary seminar makes use of texts in translation including: Qur'an and hadith, legal treatises, documents, letters, popular literature, autobiography, novels and subtitled films. These texts are supplemented by scholarly literature from religious studies, anthropology, history, gender studies, and sociology. Topics include: women in the Qur'an and hadith, sexuality and the body, woman and law, gendered space, marriage and the family, nationalism and feminism, gender and post-colonial societies, women's voices, women and Islamic revivalism. No prior background in gender studies or Islamic studies required.
This course explores the dynamics of religion, gender, and power in American religious history, with case studies of women in a variety of traditions. We consider how theologies, religious practices, and institutional structures shape gender systems; women's religious leadership; gender and religious constraint and dissent; race and women's religious experiences; and religion and sexuality. Each student's final digital history project (e.g. podcast, online museum exhibition, Wikipedia page, digital oral history, audio walking tour, digitized primary source) will contribute to a collaborative digital exhibition.
This course examines the religious and philosophical roots of prophecy as a form of social criticism in American intellectual and religious history. Particular attention is given to what is called the American Jeremiad, a mode of public exhortation that joins social criticism to spiritual renewal. Michael Walzer, Sacvan Bercovitch, and Edward Said serve as key points of departure in assessing prophetic criticisms, insights and limitations. Attention is also given to the role of black prophetic critics such as James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cornel West.
This course is designed to explore the possession experiences in Caribbean Religions. Through historical, ethnographic, autobiographical, literary and visual texts this course examines complex, gendered practices within the possession process, the vibrant spiritual energy that sustains communal connections during religious ceremonies, and the transnational imaginations that animate Caribbean religious practices in the Americas. Special attention will be given to Santeria, Candomble, Vodou, Myal, Palo Monte, and Revival Zion in the Americas.
In this seminar we examine the tangled and shifting relationship between religion and race in American history. In doing so, we explore a broad landscape of racial construction, identity, and experience and consider such topics as American interpretations of race in the Bible, religion and racial slavery, race and missions, religion, race, and science, popular culture representations of racialized religion, and religiously-grounded resistance to racial hierarchy.
This course provides a broad introduction to major themes in and recent literature exploring the history of religion in modern American culture. Topics may include religion, politics, and law; empire, migration, and immigration; religious diversity; race and ethnicity; gender and sexuality; theological conflicts and transformations.
This course provides a broad introduction to major themes in and literature exploring African American religious history. We consider the stakes of defining African American religions, both historically and in scholarship; the role of African American religions in politics, economics, education, and culture; transnational engagements in African American religious history; religious diversity; and gender and sexuality in African American religions.
This course investigates poverty in America in historical and contemporary perspective. We will explore central aspects of poverty, including low-wage work and joblessness, housing and neighborhoods, crime and punishment, and survival and protest. Along the way, we will examine the cause and consequences of poverty; study the lived experience of severe deprivation and material hardship; evaluate large-scale anti-poverty programs with an eye toward what worked and what didn't; and engage with normative debates about the right to housing, living wages, just punishment, and other matters pertaining to American life below the poverty line.
By taking a comparative approach, this course examines the role of social, economic, and political factors in the emergence and transformation of modern cities in the United States and selected areas of Latin America. We consider the city in its dual image: both as a center of progress and as a redoubt of social problems, especially poverty. Attention is given to spatial processes that have resulted in the aggregation and desegregation of populations differentiated by social class and race.
Widening inequality is a key challenge of the 21st Century. This course introduces students to the sociological study of inequality and stratification, motivated by the question of how disparities of wealth, income, and life chances have variously grown, shrunk, and transformed in the United States during recent decades. Distributional inequality and race/class /gender gaps will be examined amid changing systems of education, work and labor markets, housing, healthcare, wealth/financial security, and criminal justice/policing.
Our goal in this course is (a) to understand various definitions of race and ethnicity from a theoretical perspective and in a plurality of contexts and (b) to account for the rise of ethnicity and race as political and cultural forces in the age of globalization. Why are ethnic and racial delimitations expanding in areas of the world where such distinctions were formerly muted? Is race and racial discrimination all the same regardless of geographical region? What are the main theories and methodologies now available for the study of race and ethnicity from a comparative point of view? These are among the questions our course aims to answer.
This course examines economic phenomena from a sociological perspective. We first consider conceptual tools that sociologists have used to understand economic life and connections between economy and society. We then apply these concepts to a rich array of topics including labor markets, worklife, firms, commodification and consumption, credit and finance, social stratification and inequality, and contemporary transformations of capitalism
This seminar focuses on the structural and institutional foundations of racial discrimination in the United States. It emphasizes the contributions of sociologists, some of whom will participate as invited guests. The course gives a historical overview followed by an investigation of key legislative actions and economic factors inhibiting racial equality. Subsequent topics include migration and immigration; urban development; and residential segregation. The end of the course reviews resistance movements and policies aimed at addressing systemic racism, including restorative justice and reparations.
This course will examine our individual and collective identities -- especially as they relate to sexuality, race, gender, and class. We will specifically focus on the social processes that produce these identities, how identities change over time, and the individual and collective anxieties that occur when identities become destabilized. This course will also focus on how power, privilege, and oppression intersect with our identities.
From soap dispensers that don't see dark skin, to facial recognition tools that misidentify black faces, scholars and citizens have documented how the devices and tools we use compound inequalities in society. This Princeton Challenge intervenes in this trend by asking what would it look like to build explicitly anti-racist systems? Students will work in teams to design, build and test systems that embrace anti-racism as a core value, drawing on sociology of race, technology, and Human-Computer Interaction, and scholarship on anti-racism. Students from all sectors of campus, with or without technical backgrounds welcome.
This course explores the vast linguistic diversity of the Americas: native languages, pidgins, creoles, mixed languages, and other languages in North, Central, and South America, including the Caribbean. We will examine historical and current issues of multilingualism to understand the relationship between language, identity, and social mobility. We will discuss how languages played a central role in colonization and nation-building processes, and how language policies contribute to linguistic loss and revitalization. This course has no prerequisites and is intended for students interested in learning more about languages in the Americas.
This course examines literature, court records, travel narratives, and the only known autobiography of an ex-slave in Spanish to consider the world of slavery, uprisings and emancipation across Latin America in the nineteenth century. Centered on Cuba, whose earliest literature focused on the island's massive slave industry, the course opens up to consider histories and literatures from Haiti, Colombia, Brazil, and beyond. Also included: recent historiography, psychoanalysis, and contemporary representations of slavery in Latin America, including films.
Diversity has sometimes been viewed as a source of vitality and strength, other times as a threat to cultural or national cohesion. This seminar explores histories of segregation and debates about diversity in a hemispheric framework, asking: how can Latin American perspectives inform our understanding of the U.S.? How has the U.S. shaped urban developments in Latin America, as a model or cautionary tale? What is the interplay between identity politics and moral values? Urbanism and ethics? How does diversity relate to inclusion, difference, and inequality? Topics include immigration, globalization, social justice, planning, race and racism.
This course introduces students to a variety of approaches to the study of art and culture, with a focus on those produced in and about Latin America. Was the Haitian Revolution victorious thanks to strong military leaders or shrewd masses? Are films a fun escape or a means to rethink the world? How do people with little internet access make creative use of new media? How do we understand art's relation to history and politics? Readings include selections from the Black Radical tradition, Marxism, Feminism, Subaltern Studies, Aesthetics, as well as select examples from literature and film. Nor prior knowledge of theory expected.
This course studies contemporary urban poetry composed in Spanish on both sides of the Atlantic in cities such as New York, Madrid, Los Angeles, Mexico D.F., Barcelona and Buenos Aires. It focuses on lyrical practices that combine sound and language in a wide range of literary expressions. Contemporary hip-hop poetry and rap lyrics are at the center of the course.
This course will explore witchcraft and rituality in the Americas through accusations and identity claims. We will look at how witchcraft has been used in colonial and imperial contexts to control, sanction, and extract power from women and marginalized groups in different periods, as well as how people make claims to witchcraft and rituals as a way to thwart domination. Topics include: shamanism in Latin America, the Mexican Inquisition, Afro-Latinx and Caribbean diasporic religious systems, and the contemporary social media ritual activism of "bruja feminisms." Students will be introduced to theories of race, gender, and sexuality.
Transnational feminist approaches to globalization, race, sexuality, diaspora and nationalisms from Latinx, Black, and Asian American perspectives. Through different methodologies and interdisciplinary approaches to feminism, we will explore issues of women's and LGBTQIA rights, gender equality, globalization, capitalism, and contemporary debates around race and sexuality.
This seminar examines the ethical and historical dimensions of the 2019 Summer Puerto Rican Protests. Developing within an ongoing financial catastrophe and the trauma of Hurricane María, most issues raised today are deeply rooted in the history of U.S. imperial domination since 1898. The course aims to rethink questions of second-class citizenship, colonial capitalism, militarization, ecocide and massive migrations, as well as gender, sexual and racial inequalities. Special focus on how musical, artistic, religious, political, and literary traditions shape memory and resistance in Puerto Rico and in its vast diasporic communities.
This seminar relates Caribbean music to historical and contemporary migratory issues. It examines questions of listening, memory, joy, diaspora, and the Anthropocene through genres like: son, bolero, calypso, salsa, reggae, merengue, bomba, and reggaeton. Attention to gender, sexual and racial inequities in portrayals of migrant cultures as symbolic of multiculturalism, while migrants are stigmatized as risks to security. Seminar speaks to current global context of displacement with focus on climate change's impact on the Caribbean. We study music, sound, performance, literary, ethnographic and historical texts, visual arts, and journalism.
This course introduces students to important texts from the immense body of scholarship on slavery, anti-slavery movements, and post-emancipation culture in the Iberian Atlantic world, focusing primarily on the "slave societies"of 19th-century Cuba and Brazil and their connections to the greater Caribbean. Grounded in historiography, the course includes literature, court documents, visual culture, studies of post-emancipation movements, theories from the black radical tradition, and films about Latin American slavery. Sub-topics include insurrections, autobiography, religion, the role of translators, conucos/provision grounds, fashion.
Analyzes the historical construction of race as a concept in American society, how and why this concept was institutionalized publicly and privately in various arenas of U.S. public life at different historical junctures, and the progress that has been made in dismantling racialized institutios since the civil rights era.
Analyzes the historical construction of race as a concept in American society, how and why this concept was institutionalized publicly and privately in various arenas of U.S. public life at different historical junctures, and the progress that has been made in dismantling racialized institutions since the civil rights era.