21.5.12

S/S/F Summer 2012: Contact

Here's a place to post social media stories relating to our viewing of the film Contact.

S/S/F Summer 2012: District 9

Here's a place to post social media stories relating to our viewing of the film District 9.

S/S/F Summer 2012: Serenity

Here's a place to post social media stories relating to our viewing of the film Serenity.

S/S/F Summer 2012: Blade Runner

Here's a place to post social media stories relating to our viewing of the film Blade Runner.

S/S/F Summer 2012: K-Pax

Here's a place to post social media stories relating to our viewing of the film K-PAX.

S/S/f Summer 2012: preliminary course outline

The preliminary outline for this course was posted here. The readings. films, and dates are all correct. The full syllabus, detailing the course assignments, will be e-mailed to students enrolled in the class.

S/S/F Summer 2012: Look to Windward

Here is a place for people to post their questions for the class discussion of Look to Windward as comments.

S/S/F Summer 2012: Embassytown

Here is a place for people to post their questions for the class discussion of Embassytown as comments.

S/S/F Summer 2012: Eifelheim

Here is a place for people to post their questions for the class discussion of Eifelheim as comments.

S/S/F Summer 2012: Dune

Here is a place for people to post their questions for the class discussion of Dune as comments.

S/S/F Summer 2012: Speaker for the Dead

Here is a place for people to post their questions for the class discussion of Speaker for the Dead as comments.

S/S/F Summer 2012: Ender's Game

Here is a place for people to post their questions for the class discussion of Ender's Game as comments.

5.12.11

2011 World Politics question #14

Because of the classroom simulation these past few days we've been focusing a lot on trade, but we should not forget the complexity of encounter we were discussing before this. The relatively or comparatively easy thing about trade and investment is that everyone is presumptively the same, in the sense of having the same basic interests: producing more efficiently, and profiting more absolutely. I cannot help but wonder what Todorov would think of this presumptive uniformity, however, and that inclines me to ask: why does Todorov dedicate his book to an anonymous Mayan woman devoured by dogs? Does her story, and the overall story that Todorov tells, have any relevance for a world in which interest groups strike deals in which everyone benefits, at least economically?

28.11.11

2011 World Politics question #13

On p. 250, Todorov writes: "'The man who finds his country sweet is only a raw beginner; the man for whom each country is as his own is already strong; but only the man for whom the whole world is as a foreign country is perfect' (I myself, a Bulgarian living in France, borrow this quotation from Edward Said, a Palestinian living in the United States, who himself found it in Erich Auerbach, a German exiled in Turkey)." Is this in fact the best way to avoid genocide in cross-cultural encounters?

22.11.11

2011 World Politics question #12

In class we spent a while talking about the ambiguities of Cortes' understanding of the native people he encountered, and the tensions between his instrumental use of people and his understanding of them. Another figure whose understanding Todorov highlights is La Malinche herself, so the question is: does she understand either the native people or the Spanish conquistadors better than others do? Does her position between the two worlds enable her to see each more clearly?

14.11.11

2011 World Politics question #11

The question that Naeem Inayatullah asks in his chapter -- do states have a right to be wealthy? -- inverts our usual order of things, in which it's right and proper to ask about states deserving security but the wealth of states seems more like a naturally-occuring fact. So for this week's blog I want you to wrestle with Inayatullah's question: do states have a right to wealth? Do individuals?

7.11.11

2011 World Politics question #10

In our class discussion today we identified three salient characteristics of "wealth":

1) to be wealthy is to have capacity that goes beyond that needed for mere survival.

2) at a minimum, wealth comes in two varieties: the possession of material objects, and the enjoying of love/esteem/respect that leads to happiness. These two varieties are related in complex ways, but they are not the same thing.

3) whether or not you are wealthy depends a great deal on the set of others to which you are comparing yourself.

Most of our discussion centered on interpersonal comparisons. What changes would have to be made to scale this up the the international or global level? Do these three characteristics translate well? Does wealth require something else at the international or global level?

31.10.11

2011 World Politics question #9

According to various news outlets, and the United Nations, the 7 billionth person on the earth at the present time was born today. Is this a security issue? Discuss. Be clear what you mean by "security" in your answer.