Political Empowerment

Transnationalism and the Francophone World: Race, Gender, Sexuality

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

This graduate course links different regions of the Francophone world and provides an introduction to the major debates about gender issues in postcolonial Francophone studies. We focus on the aesthetics and politics of writers who challenge the notion of a stable identity, be it national, racial or sexual. The course draws on the historico-cultural issues pertinent to each region (Africa, the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean). Writers include Mariama Bâ (Senegal), Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe/France/USA), Ananda Devi (Mauritius and France), Fatou Diome (Senegal and France), Assia Djebar (Algeria/France/USA), Marie Chauvet (Haiti), Shenaz Patel (Mauritius), and Linda Lê (Vietnam and France).
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Feminist Political Philosophy

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

Political philosophy is the project of offering and evaluating answers to normative questions about politics—about how we as a society should get along and share in all the benefits and costs of living cooperatively. The “feminist” in “feminist political philosophy” can be taken to modify different aspects of that project. Unsurprisingly, then, work in feminist political philosophy is extraordinarily diverse. Notwithstanding some in-fighting about the right way to be a feminist political philosopher, this diversity is part of what equips us to make good progress in developing and refining answers to important political questions. Still, we might wonder what unifies these different traditions and methodologies. Many regard “the personal is political” as the unifying insight of contemporary feminist philosophy. This will be the unifying theme for us as well, as we work to better understand that slogan and explore its implications. We will begin by examining foundational work in contemporary political philosophy on theories of justice, as well as feminist challenges to that work. The tradition of liberalism is of particular interest, because the values it celebrates seem at once empowering and problematic from the perspective of feminist political philosophy. Ideals of liberty, individuality, and free choice can be deployed by feminists to critique unjust institutions, but they also appear to shield a great deal of injustice from censure. On the applied side, then, we’ll consider some “hard cases” for liberal feminist political philosophers: prostitution, pornography, and the gendered division of labor. Along the way, we’ll hear from some more radical voices, and we’ll explore intersections between feminism, social class, and race.
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Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2019

This interdisciplinary course will explore the politics of reproductive health and health care delivery, both in the US and globally, with a particular focus on how reproduction and related clinical care are shaped by and in turn shape social inequality along axes of race, gender, and social class. The course will intertwine three threads: 1) major conceptual and theoretical issues foundational to understanding the politics and epidemiology of reproduction; 2) contemporary and historical perspectives on specific reproductive phenomena and events (preventing pregnancy, terminating pregnancy, sustaining pregnancy, and giving birth); 3) social movements organized around reproductive health (e.g. anti-abortion, reproductive justice movements).
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Contested Domains: Comparative and International Legal Struggles over Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

At the intersection of debates about religion, private morality and public policy, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are lightning rods of controversy in most societies. Political polarization has been particularly pronounced with regard to abortion rights, but is also evident in an array of other SRHR issues. Drawing on examples from constitutional and high courts in Latin America and Africa, as well as cases in various regional and international supra-national human rights forums, the course will explore: the historical origins of asserting international legal claims to SRHR; challenges and benefits of turning toward domestic courts and international forums to advance sexual and reproductive health; evolving narratives of women’s agency and state obligations; and power dynamics/conflicts within global SRHR advocacy. We will discuss the limitations of the autonomy narrative and adoption of “reproductive justice” paradigm in the US, and compare that with evolutions of SRHR in other national contexts, as well as in international law. Some of the topics to be covered include: gender-based violence; involuntary sterilization; abortion; access to care (obstetric care/LGBTQ access to care); disrespect and abuse/obstetric violence; SRHR of persons with disabilities; assisted reproductive technologies; and SRHR in an era of conservative populism and backlash against so-called “gender ideology.”
Issues of SRHR present an opportunity to extend thinking on judicial review across contexts of varying levels of democratic consolidation, as well as to critically examine the effectiveness of international human rights law in changing “lived realities.” On the one hand, the marginalization of claimants suggests a place for counter-majoritarian rights protection. Similarly, advocates have sought to set standards in international human rights forums, as these spaces have been perceived as less “tainted” by the political power structures that inflect domestic law and institutions. On the other hand, the morally contested nature of SRHR norms often complicates the claims of courts and supra-national forums to special competence, limits their ability to catalyze the politics of implementation (including within health systems), and inspires backlash. We will explore lessons with respect to how engaging with different SRHR issues can affect the sociological legitimacy of tribunals at domestic and international levels, as well as public attitudes and the dynamics of social conflict.... Read more about Contested Domains: Comparative and International Legal Struggles over Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

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