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        Politics Student Handbook

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    • Courses in the Department of Politics combine a theoretical framework of political ideas with real-world implications. These interdisciplinary courses help students attain a better and more complete understanding of how politics operates and why policies work. In these courses, students discuss the personal, national, and global implications of these questions.

      Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Fall 2022 courses include:

      Jessica Pisano, Associate Professor of Politics

      This seminar critically explores the uses and limits of the vocabulary we use to describe contemporary political orders: What do concepts like “democracy” and “authoritarianism” illuminate, what do they obscure, and what alternative vocabularies might we consider for thinking and talking about varieties of political regimes? What about political orders that seem to combine elements of different regime types? Contemporary electoral democracies sometimes seem to veer toward authoritarianism, even as repressive regimes encourage government responsiveness. What are the social, political, and economic conditions that give rise to such apparent ambiguity, and how can our conceptual language accommodate it? How can we parse economic as well as political shifts? Twentieth-century concepts like "fascism" are still relevant in the practice of politics, but are they still helpful for its analysis? Finally, how can we think about political regime type in relation to wars of imperial expansion? This course addresses these questions using a range of historical and contemporary case studies. 

      Julia Ott, Associate Professor of History 

      Decades ago, historians Eugene and Elizabeth Genovese advised that the discipline of history should focus on the questions of “who rides whom, and how?” In this readings seminar, we examine how power operated, how it felt, and how it has been negotiated and challenged—on both the personal and institutional levels—throughout U.S. history. The actualization, accumulation, and transmission of wealth—and its translation into political power—are central questions in our seminar discussions and in the projects that students devise. As students use history and historiography to develop their own approaches to the study of power and wealth, they consider how that study might inform their political engagements in their own daily lives. 

      Quentin Bruneau, Assistant Professor of Politics

      The First-Year Politics Seminar introduces incoming students to the Politics department at The New School and to political science as a discipline. Throughout the term, Politics department faculty in residence at the New School in the fall term, as well as closely affiliated faculty, present their research to the seminar. Assigned readings are provided before the faculty presentations. Every three to four weeks, we hold a reflective session without an external speaker in which seminar participants can discuss questions of content and method of individual sessions as well as considering comparisons across presentations. The aim of the seminar is to provide incoming students with an overview of faculty research areas and identify emerging areas of research. 

      T. Alexander Aleinikoff, University Professor and Director, Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility

      This is a multidisciplinary, interdepartmental course that examines human mobility; the physical, legal, and discursive construction of borders; the meaning(s) of membership; and immigrant integration. The course is taught by faculty from colleges across The New School, including NSSR, Milano, and Parsons. It is intended to introduce students to concepts and methodologies drawn from a number of disciplines. The course is the core requirement for the Migration Studies graduate minor.

      Achilles Kallergis, Assistant Professor and Director of the Project on Cities and Migration

      More than ever, cities represent the locus of human mobility. The majority of the world’s migrants and forcibly displaced live in urban areas. Migration continues to be a process fundamental to the development and growth of cities. The role of cities in shaping mobility and that of migrants in shaping cities have been increasingly recognized in policy, academic, and media circles. However, understanding this dialectical relationship requires us to look beyond disciplinary silos, challenge past assumptions, revisit theoretical concepts, and provide new evidence from cities the world over. The purpose of the course is to offer an interdisciplinary lens on the topic of cities, migration, and mobility. By closely examining city and migrant experiences across the world, students focus on different forms and aspects of migration, urban governance, contentious politics, and migrant city making. Throughout the course, students gain theoretical insights and analytical skills to be applied in different urban and mobility contexts. The course brings together scholars, practitioners, and activists from across disciplines to share insights, advance conceptual and empirical findings, and discuss actions that can provide a holistic view of human mobility in cities.

      Jeremy Varon, Professor of History 

      This course focuses on U.S. history to explore current permutations of historiographical interests, practices, and methodologies. Over the last few decades, U.S. history has been a particularly fertile ground for rethinking the historical, although many of these topics and themes have shaped the study of other nations and societies. U.S. history has been largely rewritten by a generation of scholars who experienced the 1960s and its aftermath and have viewed the United States' past as a field of inquiry and contestation of great political urgency. Identity politics, the culture wars, and other forms of organization and debate have also endowed U.S. historiography with unprecedented public resonance in a culture that had been notoriously amnesiac. We examine major trends and controversies in U.S. historiography, the history of the historical profession, the emergence of race and gender as cardinal categories of historical analysis, popular culture as history, the impact of memory studies on historical thinking, the recurrent agonizing over U.S. exceptionalism, and current efforts to break the nation-state mold and to globalize U.S. history. Another focus is the intersection of analytical strategies borrowed from the social sciences and literary studies with methods of historicization that originated from the historical profession.

      Rafi Youatt, Associate Professor of Politics

      Global ecological crisis has become the normal condition within which world politics takes place. This condition has generated new planetary-scale systems of concern such as climate and biodiversity, as well as its own geologic era (the Anthropocene). On the one hand, it has reinforced the idea of the human species as a historical agent, both of responsibility and redemption; on the other hand, it has also spawned more specific categories of political belonging and difference, highlighting and reframing divides of geography, culture, geopolitics, governance, and development. To illuminate these issues, the course first surveys a range of contending political approaches to planetary issues; it then considers the politics of key elemental planetary objects, including climate, biodiversity, fire, mountains, and water. We conclude by considering implications for global political ecology as practice and scholarship.

      Anne McNevin, Associate Professor of Politics

      This course is designed around a working draft of a book of the same title, which aims to reveal a world in which borders are not the organizing principle and to shift the dynamic potential of this world from the realm of utopia to that of serious political consideration. The course reflects, somewhat paradoxically, on alternative worlds in existence alongside the hardening of border defenses around the world. Alternative worlds invoked in this way are not the same as borderless worlds, worlds without states, or worlds in which borders are open. Nor are they worlds in which the exiled and excluded are integrated into a given collective future. Part of what we will explore in this course is that visions of this kind are reactive to prevailing geopolitical and chronopolitical norms that obscure a wider field of possibilities. Readings for the course move geographically between Australia, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Mexico, Europe, and colonial diasporas, narrowing in on specific sites of imprisonment, detention, sanctuary, abolitionist experimentation, and anti-racist, anti-colonial and Indigenous organizing. The premise for the course is that forms of spatial and temporal disjuncture coalesce in these sites in ways that shift the sense in which a political grammar of borders makes sense at all. The course explores how other modes of affiliation and geopolitical configuration become both imaginable and real in these sites as a result of actually existing practices. Students are engaged as interlocutors and critics in the development and refinement of the book and write on subjects of their own choice in conversation with its themes. 

      Faculty TBA

      Colonization was always a project invested in gender and sexuality. This course examines the gendered and sexual dimensions of colonization, both historical and contemporary, by interrogating its effects on both colonized and colonizing populations. In order to do so, we anchor investigations in the body of scholarship and activism of decolonial feminism. In so doing, we ask to what extent accepted notions of gender and sexuality are themselves legacies of a colonial structure, even in places that are putatively postcolonial.  

      Faculty TBA 

      This course interrogates the concept of capture and two theoretical renderings of resisting capture: fugitivity and abolition. Proceeding from explorations of two specific modes of capture—slavery and incarceration—we will investigate the conceptual and political contours of the problematic of capture in their historicity, present, and conceptual grammars. Employing explicit considerations of race, gender, sexuality, and capital, we look at the political resistance embodied by fugitivity and abolition, as well as the vision of liberation contained in those concepts. 

      Mark W. Frazier, Professor and Chair of Politics, Co-Director of the India China Institute

      This course engages with both new and enduring questions in comparative social research. It is designed to encourage students to think critically and creatively about the study of politics and the political in comparative perspective and to provide the intellectual foundations for the development of their own research agendas. In the course, we read works of social research that take seriously the spatial and temporal contexts that embed relations of power and exchange. Such contexts may be local or global, and comparisons may be explicit or implicit. A central objective is to generate new questions for comparative inquiry—questions that emerge through our engagement with fieldwork-based research and open novel avenues for theorization. The seminar is open to graduate students from any department at NSSR; some seminar participants may wish to use the course in preparation for the qualifying exam in comparative politics, but it is not designed exclusively for this purpose.

      Andreas Kalyvas, Associate Professor of Politics

      The field seminar introduces students to the history and key themes of political theory. Every year, there is a different theme. This year’s seminar is a comprehensive critical introduction to the study of contemporary radical theories of democracy, with the overall aim of systematically rethinking the modern democratic experience and its legacy and promises. The seminar focuses on various attempts to radicalize democracy (agonistic democracy, fugitive democracy, dissensus democracy, savage democracy, plebeian democracy, council democracy, etc.), with an emphasis on what constitutes the singularity of democracy and what it is about democracy that accounts for its radicalism. In the context of the modern advent of democracy, the course engages with the relationship between democracy and the state form; popular sovereignty and private property; participation, representation, and delegation; pluralism and antagonism; equality and capitalism; and wealth and poverty, autonomy and heteronomy. It also interrogates the complex nexus of power, law, race, and gender. The objective is threefold: 1) to determine which radical elements in democratic theory remain current, no matter what form and shape they take in concrete instances; 2) to understand the diverse attempts to radicalize democracy not as speculative exercises but as historical and political explorations in conversation with and in response to current social conflicts; and 3) to examine whether the politics and theory of radical democracy can provide a viable emancipatory alternative to the oligarchic rule of capital, the ongoing crisis of the liberal paradigm of politics, and the global rise of authoritarianism, xenophobia, racism, and far-right violence. Authors like Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Antonio Gramsci, Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, Sheldon Wolin, Wendy Brown, Miguel Abensour, Partha Chartterjee, and others, are central to a radical rethinking of democracy. 

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