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American Politics After 9/11: Empire, Race and Democracy

Semester and Year SP 2014
Course Number IDSEM-UG1475
Section 001
Instructor George Shulman
Days Tue
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Units 4.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement SOC


The central goal of this course is to examine the relationship between democracy and empire in the American case. Partly that means asking theoretical and historical questions about the relationship between the universalist claims of "liberal democracy" on the one hand, and practices of exclusion, racial domination, and military coercion on the other hand. Partly that means considering the ways that culture, livelihood and politics "at home" are shaped (in anti-democratic ways) by the institutions that enable global power. We at first relate these questions to domestic and international politics around the 9/11 attack, but we will focus on the Obama years. How have Americans understood and responded to economic crisis? How should we understand the pervasive language of economic and national decline? How do we explain bi-partisan support among elites for Bush-era "national security" policies, yet intense polarization over "domestic" policies whether taxes, (in)equality, "entitlements," immigration, abortion or gay marriage? What is the racial subtext of these debates? We will study the rhetoric and narratives of Obama, and of the "Tea Party" and "Occupy Wall Street" movements, to consider their different visions of democratic citizenship. To conclude we will compare the representational strategies in recent Hollywood movies that star George Clooney as a character awakening to (and trying to redeem) his complicity in imperial power, political corruption, and economic crisis.



Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

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