PRISM-Power, Resistance, Identities & Social Movements

Professor Ruth O’Brien

Office 5200.01 Hours: Tues. 5:30-6:30 PM

Course Description:

This course focuses on individual forms of socially constructed identity (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and humanness or bodies), intersectional forms of identity (e.g., gender and bodies), and collective forms of identity (e.g., citizen, worker or labor, and anarchist collectives or horizontal non-state civil movements, referred to as social movements in American politics).  

It explores how these identities affect power and resistance, as understood by social theorists and contemporary philosophers such as Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, and Judith Butler, who in turn draw upon Gilles Deleuze, Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Michel Foucault, Antonio Gramsci, Karl Marx, and G. W. F. Hegel, among others.

It examines the impact these ideas have by exploring the epistemology/ontology intersection.  It looks at how social theory helps social movements strategize.  It manifests Ideas in Action and (Re)Action.

This course is cross-listed with Urban Education, American Studies, and International Studies, and it is especially pertinent for M.A. students in Political Science, because it offers theories and then applications to help students exploring writing an M.A. thesis or capstone project.  

Several social movements will be explored as case studies.  First, we will consider the worldwide struggle to end political and social violence against women (including #MeTooism), and if/how it is having global impact. We will examine, for example, the Combahee River Collective — an organization of Black feminists who attained international reach by coining the term “identity politics” — and assess the movement’s global impact, as seen for instance in “Women’s Internationalism against Global Patriarchy,” by Dilar Dirik (and PM Press).  

Second, we will consider American school desegregation in urban education as a precursor to income inequality under neoliberalism — or, put more simply: How white flight meant the Democrats abandoned one of their main constituencies during and after the Great Society.  This is a historical case study from the 1970s.

Third, we will compare American and global counterinsurgency (right-wing vigilantism), juxtaposing liberal and illiberal states and civil societies, showing how it has increased violence against women and children in the United States (intimate-partner violence) and worldwide as a means of shutting up women, from honor killings to what I call neotribalism.  We will read John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

Each social movement, whether left or right — insurgency or counterinsurgency, horizontal or vertical — navigates juxtapositions that can save or harm or have a boomerang effect. 

This seminar is an American Politics course that helps students prepare for Social Movements, Political Parties and Interest Groups in the Elections and Behavioral Component of the American Politics field. It also helps students in American Political Thought since social movements and interest groups are vehicles of change that influence governance from the outside, whereas political parties reside both in and outside the government.  

Furthermore, social movements also operate on the level of discourse (or the creation of epistemology/ontology or public opinion) — what many call cultures, epistemes, beliefs, values, traditions, and ideologies.  For this reason, it is useful for students in American Political Thought (APT) and American Political Development (APD).


Three blogs — Idea Impact Strategy Position Papers (wordpress page or blog size between 300 and 700 worlds) = 1/3rd

Short Final Paper of 5 to 7 pages = 1/3rd

Seminar participation = 1/3rd weekly reading notes, and one or more class presentations

All are weighed equally.  

Seminar Community:

The class decides on what type of participatory structure we create, including bringing in outlines and sharing notes from the previous session.  I teach from a Paolo Frere, Pedagogy of the Oppressed perspective.  As the solo book series editor for both The Public Square and Heretical Thought books, I do not require you to purchase the books but will provide copies.


1. Tues. Jan. 29 Introduction

2. Tues. Feb. 5 Dominant Theories: Karl Marx & Alexis DeTocqueville

Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach (; Alexis de Tocqueville. The Old Regime and the French Revolution. New York: Anchor Books (1955) – Translated by Stuart Gilbert or any edition of Volume One Book 1, Book 3. Aglaia Kiarina Kordela, “Marx’s Update of Cultural Theory,” Cultural Critique, 65 (2007): 43-66.

Tues. Feb. 12 NO CLASSES

3. Tues. Feb. 19 Hegemony: Economies of Violence & Happy Slaves 

Machiavelli PRINCE 

G. W. F. Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, trans. T. M. Knox (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), 15, 18, 20, 30, 32, 39, 48, 53, 68, 162, 221, 241, 261 (Werke, 7:31, 39, 41, 72, 78, 99, 123-24, 142, 145, 183, 305, 409, 510); 

G.W. F. Hegel, The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree (New York: Dover Publications, 1956), 229-30, 254-55, 256, 262, 287, 300, 301, 309, 312, 315-16, 334, 339 (Werke, 12:282-83, 311, 313, 320, 349, 364, 366, 375, 379, 382-83, 403-4, 410). (pp references where Hegel analyzes forms of domination and work, distinguishing between classical slavery and medieval serfdom).

Antonio, Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, Edited and translated by

Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International, 1971) TBA.

4. Tues. Feb. 26 Foucault & Freedom

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison Trans. Alan

Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1977) TBA

Michel Foucault, “The Ethics of Care for the Self as a Practice of Freedom,” The Final

Foucault. Eds. James Bernauer and David Rasmussen (Cambridge: The MIT

Press, 1988), 1-20

5. Tues. March 5 Politics, Post Structuralism, and Political Culture

Stuart Hall, “Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms.” Media, Culture, and Society 2 (1980): 57.

Anne Norton, 95 Theses on Politics, Culture, & Method and The Flight from Reality in the Human Sciences

Kundai Chirindo, “Paradigmatic and Syntagmatic Approaches to the Obama Presidency: Rhetoric and Public Affairs 19 No. 3 (2016):49

Jeffrey Checkel, Jeffrey Friedman, Matthias Matthijs, and Rogers Smith, Roundtable on Ideational Turns in the Four Subdisciplines of Political Science,” Critical Review Vol. 28, Issue 2, (2016)


6. Tues. March 12 Ethics & Power

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, assembly Heretical Thought book (Oxford University Press, 2017), pp. 1-57.

Massimiliano Tomba, Insurgent Universality: An Alternative Legacy of Modernity Heretical Thought book (In production, permission of author, forthcoming August, 2019), Preface and Chapter 1.  


7. Tues. March 19 Feminism, Intersectionality, Cosmopolitanism, and Social Construction

Catherine Rottenberg, The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism, Heretical Thought (OUP, 2018). Preface, Chapter 1-2.

Gloria Anzaldua’s This Bridge Called my Back The Gloria Anzaldua Reader (Duke University Press, 2009), (Have PDF to send).


8. Tues. March 26 Race & Ethnic Identity Cultural Studies & Citizenship and Other “isms” & “immutable” categories

Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York: Vintage, 1974), Introduction. 

Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America (New York: W. W. Norton, 2005), Opening. 

Joan Wallach Scott The Veil (The Public Square Book, Princeton University Press, 2007), Preface and Opening.

Rogers M. Smith, Civic Ideals Conflicting Views of Citizenship in U.S. History  (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997); and Rogers M. Smith, “Beyond Tocqueville, Myrdal, and Hartz: The Multiple Traditions in America,” APSR 87 (1993): 549-66

Part IV. Theories of Freedom/Resistance

9. Tues. April 2 Foucault (Governmentality; Territorality)

Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977 TBA

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, assembly Heretical Thought book (Oxford University Press, 2017), Part IV. 

Catherine Rottenberg, The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism, Heretical Thought (Oxford University Press, 2018), Chapter 6.

10. Tues. April 9 Combahee River Collective

Dilar Dirik, “Women’s Internationalism against Global Patriarchy.” 

The Combahee River Collective

“A Black Feminist Statement.” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 42, no. 3 (2014): 271-280; 

Kristen A. Kolenz and Krista L. Benson and Judy Tzu-Chun Wu and Leslie Bow et. al. “Combahee River Collective Statement: A Fortieth Anniversary Retrospective, ”Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 38, no. 3 (2017): 164-189; Anne Enke. “Troubling Feminism, Troubling Race.” Reviews in American History 34, no. 4 (2006): 544-550.

Part V.  Ideas in (Re)Action, (Re)(In)sistance in Reality (Not Virtually)?  

11. Tues. April 16. Combahee River Collective compared to #metooism 

Fowlkes, Diane L. “Moving from Feminist Identity Politics to Coalition Politics through a Feminist Materialist Standpoint of Intersubjectivity in Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.” Hypatia 12, no. 2 (1997): 105-24; Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd, and Evelyn M. Simien. “Revisiting “What’s in a Name?”: Exploring the Contours of Africana Womanist Thought.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 27, no. 1 (2006): 67-89; Sarah Bracke. “The Unbearable Lightness of ‘Gender and Diversity’.” DiGeSt. Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies 1, no. 1 (2014): 41-50.


12. Tues. April 30. Desegregation and Income Inequality under Neoliberalism (these articles may be changed to reflect current student interest).

Michael Biggs, Michael, and Kenneth T. Andrews. “Protest Campaigns and Movement Success: Desegregating the U.S. South in the Early 1960s.” American Sociological Review 80, no. 2 (2015): 416-43; 

Natalie G. Adams, and James H. Adams. ““Hell No, We Won’t Go”: Protest and Resistance to School Desegregation.” In Just Trying to Have School: The Struggle for Desegregation in Mississippi, 167-87 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2018).

Daniel Martinez Hosang, “The Changing Valence of White Racial Innocence: Black-Brown Unity in the 1970s Los Angeles School Desegregation Struggles.” In Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition, edited by Kun Josh and Pulido Laura, 115-42. University of California Press, 2014; 

Michael J. Dumas, “Contesting White Accumulation in Seattle: Toward a Materialist Antiracist Analysis of School Desegregation.” In The Pursuit of Racial and Ethnic Equality in American Public Schools: Mendez, Brown, and Beyond, by Bowman Kristi L. and Ryan James E.  (Michigan State University Press, 2015), 291-312.

13. Tues. May 7  Remembering old Vigilantism Reading TBA

Nelson A. Pechard, “The Power Elite and Elite-Driven Countermovements: the Associated Farmers of California During the 1930s,” Sociological Forum, 10  no. 1 (1995): 21-49.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath,

14. Tues. May 14 Last Day of Classes

Resurgence of the New?  

Class Presentations


Michel Foucault, The Birth of BioPolitcs, Lectures at the College of France, 1978-79 

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. Kyoo Lee. “Rethinking with Patricia Hill Collins: A Note Toward Intersectionality as Interlocutory Interstitiality.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 26, no. 2 (2012): 466-473. (accessed December 7, 2018).

(New York: Penguin, 2004)

David Farrell Krell, “Bodies of Black Folk: From Kant and Hegel to Du Bois and Baldwin,” boundary 27 (2000): 103-34

Gretchen Ritter. “Silver Slippers and a Golden Cap:  Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Historical Memory in American PoliticsJournal of American Studies 31(1997): 171-202

Kenneth Stikkers, “An Outline of Methodological Afrocentrism, with Particular Application to the Thought of W.E. DuBois,” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 22 (2008) 40-49

James C. Davies, “Toward a Theory of Revolution,” American Sociological Review 27 (1962); 5-19

Cheryl Welch DeTocqueville (OUP 2001)

Donald E. Pease, “After the Tocqueville Revival; or, The Return of the Political,” Boundary 26 (1999): 87-114

Resources on Tocqueville 

 James Livingston, “’Marxism’ and the Politics of History: Reflections on the Work of Eugene D. Genovese,” Radical History Review 88 (2004): 30-48

Sheldon S. Wolin, Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political

Thought, (Enlarged Edition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).

Perry Anderson, “The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci,” New Left Review 100

(1975-76): 5–78

Sheldon Wolin, “Machiavelli and the Politics and Economy of Violence,” in Wolin, ed., Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (New York, 1960)

John McCormick, “Machiavellian Democracy: Controlling Elites with Ferocious Populism,” American Political Science Review 95 (June 2001): 297-314

Timohy J. Lukes, “Lionizing Machiavelli,” American Political Science Review, 95 (2001): 561-75

Mark Poster, Existential Marxism in Postwar France: From Sartre to Althusser (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975)

Michael S. Roth, Knowing and History: Appropriations of Hegel in Twentieth-Century France (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988)

Judith Butler, Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987)

Shadia B. Drury, Alexandre Kojève: The Roots of Postmodern Politics (Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1994)

Andrew Cole, “What Hegel’s Master/Slave Dialectic Really Mean,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 34 (2004): 577-610 

Benedetto Fontana, “The Democratic Philosopher: Rhetoric as Hegemony in Gramsci,” 23 Italian Culture (2005): 9-123  

Adamson, Walter L., Hegemony and Revolution: A Study of Antonio Gramsci’s Cultural

and Political Theory (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press (1980).

Anderson, Perry, “The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci,” New Left Review 100

(1976-77): 5–78

Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality. Vol. I & 2. New York: Vintage Books, 1978, &

Michel Foucault, “Technologies of the Self,” Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. Essential Works of

Foucault 1954-84. Vol. 1. Ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: New P, 1997), 223-51

Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?” The Foucault Reader Trans. Catherine Porter.

Ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon, 1984) 32-50

Brady Thomas Heiner, “The Passions of Michel Foucault,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 14 (2003): 22-52

Claire Colebrook, “The Sense of Space: On the Specificity of Affect in Deleuze and Guattari, Postmodern Culture 15 (2004):

Judith Butler, “Politics, Power and Ethics: A Discussion between Judith Butler and William Connolly,” Theory & Event 4 (2000):

Stephane Symons, “Deleuze and the Various Faces of the Outside,” Theory & Event 9 (2006)

Slavoj Žižek, “Organs without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences,” (New York:

Routledge, 2004)

Gilles Deleuze, “Kant: Synthesis and Time,” lecture of 14 March 1978 trans. Melissa McMahon on the web at 1/6/2004.

Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” Identity, Community, Culture,

Difference. Ed. Jonathon Rutherford (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1990).


Peter Hallward, “Deleuze and the ‘World without Others.’” Philosophy Today  (1997):


Nicholas Brown and Imre Szeman. “The Global Coliseum: On Empire: An

Interview with Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri,” Cultural Studies 16 

(2002): 177-92

Nicholas Brown and Imre Szeman “What is the Multitude? Questions for Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri” Cultural Studies 19 (2005): 372-87

Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice (Harvard University Press, 1993)

Susan Stanford Friedman, “Periodizing Modernism: Postcolonial Modernities and th Space/Time Borders of Modernist Studies,” Modernism/Modernity 13 (2006):425-43

Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (Routledge, 2008, 1990)

Lynn Huffer, “Foucault’s Ethical Ars Erotica,” SubStance 38 (2009): 125-47

Ian Hacking, The social construction of what? (Harvard University Press, 1999)

Allison Weir, “Home and Identity: In Memory of Iris Marion Young,” Hypatia 23 (2008)4-21

Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994)

Homi K. Bhabha, “Statement for the Critical Inquiry Board Symposium.” Critical Inquiry 30.2

(2003): 342-49.

Ernesto Laclau, “Can Immanence Explain Social Struggles?” Empire’s New Clothes: Reading Hardt and Negri Eds. Paul A. Passavant and Jodi Dean (New York: Routledge, 2004)

Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a

Radical Democratic Politic. Trans. Winston Moore and Paul Cammack.

(London: Verso, 1985)

Colleen M. Tremonte, and Linda Racioppi, “At the Interstices: Postcolonial Literary Studies Meets International Relations,” Pedagogy 8 (2008): 43-73

Tasleem J. Padamsee, “Culture in Connection: Re-Contextualizing Ideational Processes in the Analysis of Policy Development,” Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society 16 (2009): 413-45

Anne Norton, 95 Theses on Politics, Culture, & Method and The Flight from Reality in the Human Sciences

Anne Norton, “Seeing in the Dark,” Theory & Event 10 (2007) on Wolin and political theory.

Michael J. Shapiro, “After Kant: Re-thinking Hermeneutics and Aesthetics The Good Society 15 (2006) 7-10

Clifford Geertz, The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in New States. In The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 255-311

Anna Marie Smith, “Missing Poststructuralism, Missing Foucault: Butler and Fraser on Capitalisman the Regulation of Sexuality,” Social Text  19 (2001): 103-25 

Jenny Reardon, “Decoding Race and Human Difference in a Genomic Age,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 15 (2004): 38-65 

Carol Gould, Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Ned Curthoys, “The Émigré Sensibility of ‘World-Literature’: Historicizing Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers’ Cosmopolitican Intent,” Theory & Event 8 (2005):

Srimati Basu, “V Is for Veil, V Is for Ventriloquism: Global Feminisms in The Vagina Monologues,”

Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 31 (2010): 31-62 

recommended: Seyla Benhabib, The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002), intro or chapter 1.

Nancy J. Hirschmann, The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003), intro or chapter 1.

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition any edition

*pending revision

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