In the first part, we will talk about the state and citizenship. The state has been conceptualized in different ways by different theorists. What is the state really? Why do states do what they do? We hear terms like "the straight state," "the welfare state," "the penal state," "the regulatory state," "the submerged state" - what do they mean? Who governs? How do they govern? Why do they govern the way they do? What are some of the peculiar characteristics of the American state?
We cannot really talk about the modern state without talking about the other key element of the polity: the citizens. What is citizenship? Who is a citizen? These questions have remained central to political and social thought, and become politically salient in the context of the recent elections. We will talk about the theory of citizenship; political and cultural fault lines of citizenship in diverse societies; politics of naturalization; political, civil, and social rights, and the relationship between sexuality and citizenship.
In the second part of the course, we will learn about neoliberalism, and how the state and democratic citizenship have transformed in the US in the neoliberal era. We will talk about increasing inequality, penalization, changing patterns of civic participation, and policy changes that have transformed the legal terrain within which democratic citizenship operates.
In the third part of the course, we will directly engage with contemporary politics, and ask how the political, economic and social transformations of the past few decades matter for electoral politics. What do voters want? How does voter ignorance impact on policies and electoral outcomes? What have been the trajectories of the left and conservative movements in the US? We are told that populist politics is on the rise in the US. What does populism mean? What varieties of it do we see in contemporary American politics? How about the salience of fear in American political discourse? How does fear work in contemporary American politics? How do politicians and fringe organizations mobilize and capitalize on racial and religious fears?