Seminar: Spring 2020
POLT 40114: (Selected Topics) The US Empire: Tuesdays/Thursdays, 2.35 p.m.
This seminar offers critical perspectives on the U.S.’s history as an empire, focusing in particular on how its rise to global ascendancy effected not only its own citizens but also those who were subjected to genocide and slavery in the past and torture and occupation in the present; the emergence of a permanent war and counter-/terrorism state post 9/11/2001; and the ways in which the myth of American exceptionalism endorses racism on the one hand and the belief that U.S. people are agents only of good in the world, on the other. If there is a single question that motivates such a focus, it is: can over-reaching power ever be conducive to any form of justice? Hopefully, engaging with it will also help to clarify what it means to be an “American”—in quotes since everyone living in North and South America is, by definition, also an American.
The class has a regular attendance policy and written work includes mid-term and final concept papers as well as journals. Books: Graham Greene, The Quiet American (2004); Richard Hughes, Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and Stories that Give Us Meaning (2018); Daniel Immerwahr, How to Hide an Empire (2019);* and Lila Rajiva, The Language of Empire (2005). Copies of articles on Sakai. *You will need a KINDLE edition of Immerwahr, or second hand copies.*