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Brandeis SOC 119A - SYLLABUS

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WAR, TERRORISM, AND MASCULINITYBRANDEIS UNIVERSITY Gordon Fellman Department of Sociology Soc 119a, fall 2007-2008 WAR AND POSSIBILITIES OF PEACE Happiness lies in conquering one’s enemies, in driving them in front of oneself, in taking their property, in savoring their despair, in outraging their wives and daughters. Genghis Khan There are realms and regions of time. We cross From one to another, often unaware That our tomorrow may be a strange new year In which another system is the boss Sometimes, indeed, the past is no great loss; Time pushes us, without much wear and tear, Into a future that is much more fair, In which new gold is made from ancient dross. Could this be happening now? Could we have reached An invisible gate, beyond which lies true peace, Where ancient war, sudden as dawn, will cease, And granted us what we have long beseeched? For when we plant even the tiniest seed The past’s dethroned. The world is changed indeed. Kenneth Boulding ...But there come times—perhaps this is one of them—when we have to take ourselves more seriously or we die; when we have to pull back from the incantations, rhythms we’ve moved to thoughtlessly, and disenthrall ourselves, bestow ourselves to silence, or a severer listening... Adrienne Rich Successful politics is always “the art of the possible”. It is no less true, however, that the possible is often achieved only by reaching out towards the impossible which lies beyond it. Max Weber The problems we face today...are human-created problems which can be resolved through human effort, understanding and the development of a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share. The Dalai Lama2 Framework Until about fifteen years ago, the nuclear threat and the Cold War defined much of the consciousness of thoughtful people about war and possibilities of peace in the world. In the early 1980s, President Reagan declared that nuclear war might be necessary and that this country would survive it. Due to peace movements here and in Europe, Gorbachev’s decision to end Soviet domination of the former “satellites” in Eastern Europe, and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, the threat abated, even though it is in no way over. The US is now the only “superpower” in the world. Nationalism, ethnicity, terrorism, religion, and issues like size of government, welfare, “crime,” and “family values” are replacing the Cold War as loci of opposition and hatred in the world. Since Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism has been with the US in an unprecedented way. Is terrorism part of war? A form of war? Something other than war? A continuation of war? Can we understand its meaning and figure out how to move past it or are we doomed to eternal vigilance, frequent military actions to curb or stop terrorism, and chronic attacks from shadowy terrorist organizations and individuals? What uses does our government make of the terrorist threat and why? What lies behind terrorism and our government’s response to it? Are governments terrorists under certain circumstances? If so, why is that ignored so widely? Have war and violence always been part of human society, or are they historically limited and possible only under certain conditions? What of aggression and “human nature”? Is peace only a pipe-dream? Is ending terrorism, ad hoc and government, only a pipe-dream? Is there only one viable world view? In the field of peace studies, a distinction is made between “negative peace,” or absence of war, and “positive peace,” the end of structural conditions (such as imperialism, social class, racism, sexism, and environmental degradation) that promote violence on many levels and that prevent most people on our planet from living full and gratifying lives. Another useful distinction is between “war culture” and “peace culture.” The former refers to all cultural elements, material and otherwise, that assume and support the war paradigm, the assumption that war is a permanent part of human existence. “Peace culture” is all cultural elements, material and otherwise, that assume and support a peace paradigm, the assumption that war is not inevitable and that peace is possible. The course will consider the state of war in the world now and the reality of terrorism and will explore structural conditions that perpetuate misery and discontent and social psychological and gender issues that help explain the persistence of terrorism and war. It suggests that fundamental changes are possible in the ways societies are organized and in the ways conflicts are addressed. The basic method we will pursue is “paradigm shift analysis,” which will unfold in the course of the semester.3 Format of the course The class will meet as a whole twice a week for 80 minutes (Tuesday and Friday, 12:10-1:30). There will be a TA-led discussion section of an hour each week to examine course materials, reactions, etc. more fully than is possible in class. Students will have many options as to when to take this section. Lecture and discussion will be combined, and there will be some videos, an occasional guest speaker, and possibly a teach-in at the end. We will ordinarily examine the reading for the week and related topics. The class is asked to engage in “cooperative learning,” with students working in groups of two or more, to study, write, and prepare together. See below, for a fuller discussion of the problems and virtues of cooperative learning. Since it is not for us to create a plan for the future that will hold for all time, all the more surely what we contemporaries have to do is the uncompromising critical evaluation of all that exists, uncompromising in the sense that our criticism fears neither its own results nor the conflict with the powers that be. Karl Marx Written and other requirements. ALL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE, WRITTEN AND OTHERWISE, MUST BE COMPLETED IN ORDER TO PASS THE COURSE. 1) Response papers. These will be 3 of these during the semester. They are to be rather short (3-5 pages) and to deal with issues raised in the readings, class sessions, media, etc. What is expected in these papers and their due dates appears later in this syllabus. 2) Cooperative learning. We will try to create mutuality within our classroom


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