Fall 2006 Course Offerings

SHUM 404 Science and Race: A History

(also STS 474)
Fall. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students. 
S. Seth. 
M 10:10-12:05

This course examines the social construction and utilization of scientific conceptions of race in the West. We begin with the existence (or not) of conceptions of biological race in the early-modern period, focusing on early voyages of discovery and so-called Afirst encounters@ between the peoples of the Old and New Worlds. In the second part of the course we will look at enunciations of racial thought in the late 18th century and at the problems of classification that these raised, before examining the roots of AScientific Racism.@ Part three looks at Darwin, Social Darwinism, and eugenics movements in different national contexts, concluding with a study of Nazi science and the subsequent trials of doctors at Nuremberg. The last part of the course examines recent and contemporary applications of racial thinking, including the debate over the origin of AIDS, race and IQ, and the question of whether doctors should make use of race as a category when researching and prescribing new treatments. 

Suman Seth is Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University.

SHUM 408 Global Martial Arts Film & Literature

(also ASIAN 452, COML 408, FILM 408)
Fall. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students.
P. Liu. 
T 10:10-12:05

Full title: Martial Arts Film and Literature: Globalization from the East
With recent blockbusters such as Kill Bill, Kung Fu Hustle, Hero and The Matrix, a cultural practice from the East called Amartial arts@ has transformed itself from a spiritual and bodily discipline in medieval China into a popular visual spectacle housed in transnational cinema and arcade games. This course studies the Asianization of global postmodern culture by comparing the historical routes, institutional bases, and ideologies of different modes of representing martial arts in film and literature. Our questions will include: the historical origins of martial arts and martial arts cinema; kung fu as a racialized bodily performance; the cult of Bruce Lee; and the relation of martial arts to women, muscles, and the gendering of the body. Please note that mandatory weekly film screenings will be scheduled in addition to the seminar meeting time. 

Petrus Liu received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (Chinese, Latin, and German) from UC Berkeley. His teaching and research interests focus on Marxian economics, gendered subjectivities in (post-)colonial cultures, 19th- and 20th-century Chinese literary and intellectual thought, and popular culture. He has published in InterAsia Cultural Studies, positions: east asia cultural critique, and Asian Exchange. He is currently editing a special issue of positions on queer China and transnationalism and working on a book manuscript, Stateless Subjects: Chinese Martial Arts Fiction and the Decolonization of Labor.

SHUM 412 America in the 1970s

(also AMST 402, HIST 412.01, ILRCB 608)
Fall. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students. 
J. Cowie. 
T 2:30-4:25

This course will investigate the social, cultural, and political history of what is often thought of as the first postmodern decade: the long 1970s. More than the age of bellbottoms, punk, and disco, the seventies sponsored some of the most profound transformations in our sense of citizenship in postwar history. Witness to both the fall of Nixon and the fall of Saigon, the rise of the sunbelt and the decline of the rustbelt, the reification of identity politics and the collapse of class, the death of Elvis and birth of Hip Hop, the triumph of feminism and the politics of resentment, the decade was more than the peculiar aimlessness for which it is remembered. In this class we will explore the major issues of the long seventies in order to understand the seemingly improbable transition of a nation from the tumult of the 1968 to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. We will trace the developments of the era in order to explain the rise of postmodern cultural forms, the coming of postindustrial society, the triumph of neo-conservatism, and the consolidation of a neo-liberal model of political economy. As the prefixes “post” and “neo” suggest, the seventies rested upon a series of disassembled and rebuilt ideas that form the foundation of our own time.

Jefferson Cowie is the author of Capital Moves: RCA’s Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor, and co-editor of Beyond the Ruins: The Meanings of Deindustrialization. During his time at the Society for the Humanities, he will be completing a history of the 1970s called Last Days of the Working -Class: Social History, Politics, and Popular Culture in the 1970s. An Associate Professor at the ILR School, his work focuses on the culture and politics of class in postwar U.S. and comparative history.

SHUM 413 Noise, Music, Power

(also ANTHR 414, MUSIC 413)
Fall. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students. 
G. Vargas-Cetina. 
W 2:30-4:25

Music is often contrasted with noise. Where music would be the organized reproduction of sounds, noise is often thought of as chaotic and disturbing. This seminar will bring together different fields of discussion around the musical phenomenon. Post-structural philosophy, post-colonial literature and literary criticism, experimental anthropology, musicology and film will be juxtaposed on the discussion of the musical, from acoustic to electronic beats. Some of the questions articulating the discussion will be: What is the arch-musical in our times? How is music’s dissemination effected? How does music power play out in the production of difference? How are folk musics deterritorialized in contemporary sound? How has technology de/re/constructed the boundaries between music and noise? The title of this seminar makes reference to Jacques Attali’s influential book, Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Attali proposed that power is always behind the ordering of noise into music and the limits of musical enjoyment. The legal upheaval brought about by Puff Daddy’s release of No Way Out in 1997 and Metallica’s lawsuit against Napster in 2000 show us how music can be conceptualized as part of the things and resources subject to ownership rights and commerce laws. The resistance movements spurred by these events also show there are contesting views as to what music is about and who should have the right to enjoy it. Materials will include works by Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, and others, readings in musicology and the anthropology of music, as well as music. The music will include works inspired by or making reference to these philosophers’ work, folk and folk-based music from around the world and live performances by seminar participants. 

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina is Professor of Anthropology at the Autonomous University of Yucatan. She has published articles and book chapters on cooperation and cooperatives in Sardinia (Italy), Chiapas and Yucatan (Mexico); on the Powwow dance circuit in Alberta (Canada); and on urban music in Chiapas and Yucatan. Her current research focuses on urban music in Merida, Mexico.

SHUM 415 Post-national Gastroidentities

(also ANTHR 416)
Fall. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students. 
S. Ayora-Diaz. 
R 10:10-12:05

This seminar will examine the Nation-State’s attempts to govern and the citizens’ efforts to affirm the multiplicity of identities within the context of an expanding global, (post)modern, postcolonial, and post-national world. Participants will start by discussing the mechanisms whereby the State seeks to impose its power over citizens, impressing upon them a monolithic national identity and then, move to examine the fracturing effects of the global postmodern, multicultural politics that promotes the affirmation of local and regional identities, the displacement of people within the State, and international immigration as they contribute to explode national identities. In particular, we will attempt to answer the question of how food, cuisine, and gastronomy play an important part both in the strategies to instrument normalcy through the imagination of the modern Nation-State, and the ways in which discourses affirming nation, race, ethnicity, hospitality, the universality of humanity, interact with each other fragmenting the national gastronomic field and undermining the unpolluted self-understanding of the modern Nation-State. The seminar will include discussion of the writings of Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Derrida, Bhabha, Spivak, and others. It will encourage the discussion of cases from diverse nation-states to review the multiplicity of (trans)local and regional strategies that make recourse of gastronomic traditions to engage with, reject or negotiate with other groups in the context of new forms of cultural colonialism. The seminar will also encourage the discussion of the consequences of identity politics through food. 

Steffan Igor Ayora-Diaz is Professor of Anthropology at the Autonomous University of Yucatan. He has conducted ethnographic research among mountain shepherds in Sardinia, Italy; among local healers in Chiapas, Mexico; and, currently, on Yucatan’s culinary tradition and the politics of identity. He has published papers and book chapters on Sardinian cultural and sociopolitical practices, on the politics of recognition and representation of local healers in Chiapas, and on the politics of representation of Yucatecan cuisine. He published a book, in Spanish, on Chiapas’ local healers: Globalization, Knowledge and Power: Local Medicines’ Struggle for Recognition, 2002, and co-edited with Gabriela Vargas-Cetina the book Local Modernities: The Ethnography of the Multiple Present (2005), also in Spanish.

SHUM 419 Transnational Method Then and Now: Historiography, Theory, Practice

(also AS&RC 419)
Fall. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students. 
M. Seigel. 
R 2:30-4:25

This course will explore contemporary transnational scholarship and some of its possible antecedents, both acknowledged and implicit. Its premise is that the popularity of transnational method encourages amnesiac engagements, often erasing the genealogy of less visible schools or sorts of transborder thinking. We will attempt to discern the contours of transnationalism avant la lettre—thinkers pursuing a global vision from a variety of disciplines and political positions over the past three hundred years. The course focuses mostly in the Americas due to the instructor’s focus, so such thinkers include Latin American anti-imperialists, Jesuits and Jansenists, early Afro-diasporic historians, Marxists, pan-Americanists, Boltonites, anti-colonial scholars active in the 1930s such as Fanon, C. L. R. James, Eric Williams, and W. E. B. Du Bois, early Chicano Studies scholars such as Américo Paredes, world systems theorists, neoliberal practitioners of globalization studies, postwar third world women of color and their heirs in poststructuralist feminist theory such as Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham and Elsa Barkley Brown, and then recent scholarship claiming the transnational mantle, including work by Nestor Garcia-Canclini, Michael Denning, Brent Edwards, Martha Hodes, Neil Smith, and the instructor. With these current and prior transnational studies as guides, we will explore the parameters of transnational method and consider whether the various approaches grouped under its rubric—comparison, migration studies, Diaspora Studies, globalization theory, etc.—deserve or distort the legacy our historiography will uncover. Students will read course materials and participate in seminar discussions, offer in-class presentations, and write critical historiographic essays or multi-work book reviews. In addition, undergraduates will propose a substantive research project in any field of transnational study; graduate students will write a 15-20 page research paper on the transnational topic of their choice. 

Micol Seigel (Ph. D. NYU American Studies, 2001) writes about race in the Americas, particularly the U.S. and Brazil. She is completing a book entitled Trading Race: Racial Construction in the Americas, to be published by Duke University Press in 2007, and is at work on a new project on the relationship between Cold War anticommunism in Latin America and the rise of mass incarceration in the U.S