Define and Rule - Race, Gender, and Colonial Knowledge

This is an independent study class for Ph.D. students. The course seeks to introduce students to debates and topics within contemporary foucauldian approaches to colonial studies. It is a truism to state that “knowledge is power” but what does this mean? How has colonial knowledge shaped race, gender, illness, language, sexuality, etc? What are the methodologies used in the study of knowledge/power? What are the criticisms and limitations of such discourse centered approaches?

Table of Contents

Required Readings

  1. Dirks, Nicholas B. The Scandal of Empire. Harvard University Press, 2009.
  2. (a) Nandy, Ashis. The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism. Oxford University Press, 2010. & (b) Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on Colonialism. Monthly Review Press, 2000.
  3. Williams, Patrick, and Laura Chrisman, eds. Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader. Columbia University Press, 1994. [Parts 1 and 2]
  4. Stoler, Ann Laura. Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things. Duke University Press Books, 2012.
  5. Vaughan, Megan. Curing Their Ills: Colonial Power and African Illness. Stanford University Press, 1991.
  6. Mitchell, Timothy. Colonising Egypt. University of California Press, 1991.
  7. Errington, Joseph. Linguistics in a Colonial World: A Story of Language, Meaning, and Power. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
  8. Thomas, Nicholas. Colonialism’s Culture. Princeton University Press, 1994.
  9. Mamdani, Mahmood. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. Princeton University Press, 1996.
  10. Wolfe, Patrick. Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race. Verso, 2016.

Teaching Method and Requirements

Course requirements

All students will be required to write several “reading response papers.” The exact number will depend on the size of the class. (There will be a response paper presented every week except the first and last weeks of the semester, or if there is a guest lecturer.) The student who writes the reading response paper for a particular week will be the one who leads the discussion that week. Reading response papers must be submitted to the class at least 7 days before the next class so that everyone has time to read them.

About the required readings

If you do not feel you can meet the expectation of reading all the required books, please do not take this class. This course is a graduate seminar at the Ph.D. level and so class time will be spent discussing books, not summarizing them.

Reading Response Papers (60%)

A reading response paper is a research paper. It is not a paper summarizing the book, but is a critical engagement with the literature in that book. It should (a) contextualize the book to aid understanding by presenting the intellectual motivation for the book, (b) critically engage with the book by providing an internal critique of the book’s argument and methodology, and (c) attempt to apply the book’s argument to case-studies not discussed in the book.

So, for instance, a reading response paper on Imagined Communities would (a) discuss the importance of the book in the development of nationalism studies, (b) ask whether Anderson’s notion of an imagined community adequately explains the phenomenon he discusses in the book, and (c) apply the argument to a discussion of another case-study, like Taiwan. These papers should be between 6 and 9 pages long (not counting the bibliography, and using a standard 12 pt. font, double spaced).

Discussion (40%)

Because this is a seminar, all students will be expected to contribute to the discussion each week. This will be an important part of your grade. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing in class, you can also post your thoughts online.