MODERNITIES IN STRUGGLE: Economies, Polities, Cultures

Fall 2008 Tuesdays 5-7:50 PM, GEC 1005


Anth 897-53 (________); Comm 754 (__________); Geog 804-2 (____)

This class will address the questions of how one might think about economic realities and relations in the contemporary world, focusing to some extent on questions of “globalizations,” in the context of thinking about modernities. Yet the argument of the class is that such matters (economies and globalizations) cannot be understood in isolation, either from the systems of relations in which they are constituted and operate, or from the broader ethical and political concerns of the contemporary context. These challenges become all the greater when one consider the growing assumption, common among many scholars and researchers, that we are in a highly transitional moment in terms of both institutional and everyday lives. The challenge is, as Stuart Hall put it, to find ways “to interpret how a society is changing in ways that are not amenable to the immediate political language.” Similarly Boaventura de Sousa Santos –an architect of the World Social Forum movement—suggests, on a planetary scale, “we are facing modern problems for which there are no modern solutions”.

Disciplinary knowledge is, to a large extent, predicated on the “modern” fragmentation of the social formation into relatively autonomous and often fetishized spheres, such as economy, politics, culture, and nature and largely overlooking or oversimplifying the intricate flows and relations among them. In this class, we want to consider interdisciplinary ways of thinking about these challenges by hypothesizing the possibility and even existence of a multiplicity of modernities (against the most commonly held views of either a universal modernity or alternative modernities that are variations of the universal one). By looking at economies, as well as polities, and cultures, as deeply relational domains, the class attempts to de-essentialize these categories and to re-theorize them by embracing the complexity, hybridity, and multiplicity not only of social formations, technologies and organizations of power, forms of agency, individualities and collectivities but also of the forms and practices of mediation and articulation, constituting contemporary economic—and political and cultural--realities.

We do not intend to offer a linear narrative of intellectual progress and transcendence, but rather, a nonlinear and relational logic of reading that will enable us to think about the different ways in which economies and globalization (as spatio-temporal modes of being-in-the-world-together)–and with those, nature, knowledge, and value—have been and are being constituted as having particular sorts of existences and effects.

The course will be organized in four sections:
1. Modernity as an enlightenment project. Is there a dominant “euro-modernity?; the construction of “the economy” and the “national” economy; (neo)classical and Marxist theories; globalization as modernity writ large.
2. Modernities in struggle: multiple modernities and economies; economics and constructionism; difference and contestations among modernities and economies.
3. Modernities and relationalities: re-theorizing the economy and globalization from varying perspectives of relationality: e.g., embeddedness, contextuality, articulation, complexity, spatiality (scale), networks, assemblages and immanence.
4. Place and practice: locating knowledge (and the academy) in a post-enlightenment world; re-theorizing social totalities; reconceptualizing globalization as a pluriverse of modernities.



Professor ________________
1-credit graduate seminar (SOCI 950, section 7)
Fall 2008

This one-credit seminar will attempt to produce a jointly written theory
paper in the spirit of the seminar on "Celebrity Status" in Spring 2005,
whose paper was published in Sociological Theory in December 2007. The
subject this time is the concept of "powerblindness," which I
provisionally define as the inability of people in positions of
privilege to notice the operation of privilege as acutely as people who
are subjected to it. This concept is intended to join the debate between
theorists such as Michel Foucault who consider power and knowledge to go
hand in hand, and theorists such as Patricia Hill Collins who consider
subordinates to have a clearer view of the "matrix of domination" in
which they live. The class will review these theoretical positions and
then explore existing evidence for and against the existence of
powerblindness in multiple domains of social life. Each student will be
responsible for one of these domains, to be determined in the first
three class sessions. The course will meet every other week for
approximately two hours, at a time to be determined jointly by
participants. Assignments will include reading notes on each reading, a
presentation to the class on the domain each student is covering, and a
final paper that will comprise one portion of the collective research paper.




What's Beef? -- "Ha ha ha ha ha"

Postmaster General

Dear Author:

Thank you for allowing storySouth to consider your work. We have read it
carefully, but must decline to publish.

We regret that the volume of submissions we receive and the small size of
our staff prevent us from giving a more personal response.

We especially apologize for the long wait many of our authors have
experienced recently. Our staff is in a period of transition, and that
has made timely deliberations on manuscripts more difficult than usual.

We wish you the best in placing your work elsewhere.

Dan Albergotti
Poetry Editor, storySouth

> short story submission, thanks for reading:
> little lies / twin islets
> looking into the second stage flip flops with socks dork with glasses
> and earphones, cutter chasing the obese, cutter chasing the middle-aged
> white woman who takes good care of her figure, inl chasing the educated
> minorities, boob jobs ascending, becoming no more educated than when
> they began, living in a prison but they don't know it. executioners
> rising and descending, missed their cue i suppose, all because the
> executed was hidden quite well (you might miss her), his supervisor
> rises to see what's going on, everyone is taking risks, leaving with
> the empty green bag, her sunglasses on top of her head, fake tits
> descends safely making the way for the wrecking crew and the chop shop
> everyone gets new gear i can't hang with her, the email always beling a
> kiss redhead knows, the supervisor has given up and the whole thing has
> turned round on itself people are happy again bless them i suppose it
> was only life.
> repetition, beret coming down, followed by white male bourgeoisie, then
> frat boy, pink bag ascends, the intelligence coming down in backpacks
> and plastic shopping bags, ducks way out in the corner of my eye, inls
> not nearly in so much of a rush as the first time around, the cops know
> on this second go-through what i am up to they are on their cell phone,
> the executed descends again unnoticed, the supervisor trundles back up
> the stairs, finding nothing but smiles all around there is a lie
> enclosed in the failed execution it is the lie that we abide by so that
> the world is not overdetermined, sunglasses again on the top of the
> head how little light and then back into a state of intelligence, the
> gains from the fire sale less impressive this time, the green bag
> becomes a little lighter, looking around, eventually the thing is
> exhausted and i have been found out that's ok there is still time.
> 3rd cycle: pink shirt, black, this time the supervisor is so old he can
> barely ascend, he stares at me directly, knows exactly who i am and how
> i have participated in this lie, if i stay any longer the white leave
> in clothes of dark trying to avoid the execution the green leaves
> dressed as a man, no longer primitive, tries to avert the apocalypse
> this time by learning all possible noble lies, becoming a man in the
> world of laws and fathers, but it is no matter, she still wears red
> pants and dies all the same, her green blood trickling behind blonde
> hair her ear betraying everything the executioner finally satisfied.
> dead, beyond the river styx, the trannie, the one who thought she could
> learns all the ways and that would be enough the supervisor is in a
> congratulatory mood, he brings his friend to inspect her body which she
> voluntarily displays, pulling her hair back to show the wound. the
> world is fascinated, people from the world over come to inspect the
> body. and so it begins again. this is what the world has been waiting
> for. for the holder of the noble lies to give up her ghost so that the
> process of knowledge and education could begin again. the abyss stares
> at me and so i do not hold its gaze. instead a yellow pen is carried in
> the mouth, the next one, forever young red and white, symptomatic of
> that abyss, beautiful knowing how to wear green even before her time,
> the men learning to be quick to avoid the killing, thinking better of
> it, hatted, glasses and jackets, while she is biting her lip in the
> world beyond, limping her best still to ascend, never suspecting him, i
> am now within the prison house it was inevitable, you stay too long and
> you can only take the walkways back no bridges and suddenly they are
> looking at you as at a fresh piece of meat as if you will be the next
> to die so that they can take what they want ding in the three, the most
> intelligent man trading everything for a new book oh yes she knows it
> it is obvious don't be scared green motherfuckers surrounding me
> wanting to take me down into their filth will i will i keep my head
> above the sea now the sunglasses are on the light is at its most
> blinding position and she holds the rifle directly above me all i can
> see are her legs she has learned how to annihilate me so that i might
> die with her taking life two steps at a time too quick i might say at
> that rate i may be able to evade her and her hachet men. i have
> evidently crossed over now it is no longer the woman who is up for
> execution but me the man holding something some lie that is found to be
> attractive i look to my computer to try to find a pathway out they are
> looking at the same thing i am looking at their intelligence has grown
> they can disguise their looks very well perhaps i will get out of here
> perhaps not they keep on bringing in more and more people the squirrel
> tail moving quickly in heat i made my case and now i wait for the
> verdict. the two sides converse. my lawyer seems to say something
> satisfactory: if i remember the dead, i will live.