SIS 202: Spring 2008



Cultural Interactions in an Inderdependent World

Instructor: Professor Cabeiri Robinson
Email: cdr33@u.washington.edu

Office: 429 Thomson
Office Hours: Mondays 2:00-5:00P

Meeting Times and Locations

Lecture: MWF 11:30-12:20 Kane Hall 210

Sections: T/TH (times will vary)

CLUE Sessions: Mon/Thurs 6:30-8pm MGH 254

Coffee & open discussion: Friday 12:30-1 Suzzallo Library Cafe


Course Description

SIS 202 introduces a critical approach to understanding the relationship between culture and politics in the contemporary world.  Specifically, it examines how the systems of meaning and social organization we call ‘culture(s)’ organize the experiences, ideologies, and institutions of power which we call ‘politics’ at the local, national, and international level.   

This course examines the relationship between culture and politics by focusing on the problem of political violence and its relationship to society and culture in the post-WWII world.  The questions this course will address include:  In what ways are strategies of power produced through practices which are culturally organized?  How does power become internalized and personalized so that people actively reproduce it?  What does it mean to rule by fear rather than by consent or even coercion? What does it mean for a society to become ‘militarized’?  What are ‘cultures of terror’ and how are practices such as torture ‘modern’ political practices?   How do cultural expectations shape international recognition of conflicts as ‘war’, ‘civil insurgency’, or ‘terrorism’, and how do cultural expectations frame people and populations as ‘victims’, ‘refugees’, ‘perpetrators’ or ‘terrorists’?  What is the distinction between modern and postmodern warfare and how do their political cultures differ?

This course adopts an ethnographic perspective to examine these questions. By drawing on case studies from the US, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, we examine how the violent practices and logics of modern political rule have become a part of ‘normal’ interactions of everyday social and cultural life on a global scale.  At the end of the course, students will have learned the terms, concepts, and theories of socio-culturally informed studies of international political culture. They will have the ability to use ethnographic evidence and anthropological perspectives to participate in debates about the problem of contemporary political violence, and they will understand how employ social and cultural information in explanations of contemporary political problems.


Teaching Assistants

Office located in basement of Thompson, 35F

Joel Carlson: AA, AI carlsonj@u.washington.edu

Emily Morrison: AH, AJ morriea@u.washington.edu

Marianna Quenemoen: AB, AC mariq@u.washington.edu

Jennifer A Callaghan: AF, AGjenacal@u.washington.edu

Khatuna Giorgadze: AD, AE, giorgk@u.washington.edu

Other Helpful Links

Jackson School Writing Center
The writing center is open 9:45-3:15 Monday-Thursday and 9:45-1:15 on Fridays.  Students must sign up for appts, but they can also try dropping by the office in Gowen 105 

CLUE Writing Center is open 7:00 p.m. to Midnight, Sun - Thurs.

Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences

Oxford Reference: Politics and Social Sciences

Citation Help:  AAA Style Guide
"Using Sources" handout