Pigging Out: The Cultural Politics of Food

Examine cultural influences of food, linking class, geography, ethnicity to food practices. Investigates link between overeating and cheap food, under-eating and expensive food; discrepancy between cost and quality; changing diets in US and elsewhere; current debates regarding food production, specifically in the U.S., Americas, Africa and Asia. Discussion of Cargill companies’ restrictions on spread of their hybrid grains; questionable agricultural practices, e.g. animal cruelty, overuse of pesticides, condition of migrants.

African Americans, Mass Incarceration and Citizenship

Explores in depth the presence of African Americans within the phenomenon of U.S. mass incarceration and its implications for notions of citizenship. Surveys the history of prison build-up resulting from legislation and policy over the past forty years including the governmental discussions of drug policy and welfare reform that disproportionately affected African Americans.

Troubling Pasts: Slavery, Genocide, and Terror

Examination of commemorative practices surrounding difficult pasts. Analyzes slavery, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, and 9/11; considers the role of collective memories of trauma and injustice in the formation of racial, religious, and national identities. Readings address historic sites, monuments and other forms of commemorative art, museums, fiction, and film. Examines social, political, ethical, and economic considerations behind various forms of commemoration.

Displacements: Migration and Human Trafficking

Examination of the meaning of migration in the global world through cross-disciplinary texts and visual media. Situates the phenomenon of human trafficking within the context of these general movements focusing on the risks involved when people endanger their lives to find a better and more strategic position in the world. Explores how these experiences should be interpreted, and how processes and the politics of race, space and place are a condition and/or outcome of these movements. Investigates and considers ways to resolve some of the problems associated with such movements.

Sampling Soul

Examines how the concept of “Soul” has functioned as raw data for contemporary forms of cultural expression. Considers the broader cultural implications of sampling, in the practices of parody and collage, and the legal ramifications of sampling within the context of intellectual property law. Course also offers the opportunity to rethink the concept of archival material in the digital age. One course.

The Wire

Examines all 60 episodes of the HBO series “The Wire.” Described as “socially robust” by one television scholar, the series dramatizes the real world experiences of poor, mostly African American, residents of Baltimore struggling to survive by way of the underground drug economy, while city officials and the police department strive to bring the illegal trade in check. The course brings all 60 episodes into conversation with relevant texts in anthropology, sociology, cultural geography, queer and literary theory. Requirements include weekly blog entries and a final keyword project.

Apartheid South Africa and the Struggles for Democracy

Explores key themes in post-World War II South African history, paying attention to the plethora of anti-apartheid struggles, while giving voice to some pro-apartheid proponents. Discusses how apartheid affected people’s daily lives, the ideological and programmatic opposition to apartheid, and internecine struggles between and within anti-apartheid organizations and movements. Concludes with contemporary reflections on life during apartheid. One course.

War and Public Health in Africa

An inquiry into the nature of contemporary war in sub- Saharan Africa and its human cost. Uses public health as a parameter to assess the impact of organized collective violence on people’s lives. Link between war and public health established and measured with respect to civilian deaths, gender based violence, physical and psychological trauma, mental disorders, malnutrition and famine, and the spread of epidemic diseases, inter alia HIV/AIDS.