Blog question #13

On p. 245 of the novel _Horizons_, Ahni Huang declares: "The only way to keep them safe is to be separate. A nation with the power to protect its own." Do you agree with her?

[Note that I am deliberately not giving any context for this quotation here. If you haven't read this far in the book yet, you won't understand what I'm asking. That's on purpose. You have to finish the book before you can blog about it!]


Blog question #12

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)." Do you agree?


Blog question #11

On p. 62, Todorov asks: "Did the Spaniards defeat the Indians by means of signs?" Well, did they?


Blog question #10

Continuing our "continuity and change" topic from last week, but this time in the sphere of political economy. The question is: have recent changes in the organization of the global political economy meant the end of the postwar "embedded liberal" order, or are they an example of "norm-governed change"?


Blog question #9

This question stems directly from our in-class activity today. I have posted photos of the whiteboard to the class BlackBoard site; feel free to consult them. Also feel free to look at any of the documents that your group did not look at specifically.

The question:

Overall, has US security policy in the past few decades been characterized by continuity or change? Both? Some combination of the two? In your answer please a) bear in mind the scholarly articles we are reading for this week, and b) use the four categories I posed as ways of structuring the discussion (self, other(s), strategy/tactics. and "security") as you see fit.


blog question #8

Building on our class simulation: given that there are a variety of arguments from different perspectives about how the U.S. should set domestic content rules for automobiles, how should we go about determining the answer to the question? How should the U.S. define the domestic content of automobiles, and why? Since we've spent two class sessions arguing from assigned points of view, we've elucidated some of the issues; now, taking the team assignments off, you have the opportunity to make your own, perhaps more thoughtful, argument.


Blog question #7

W. E. B. Du Bois introduces the notion of the "double consciousness" as part of his discussion of the experience of freed slaves and their descendants in the United States. How specific in applicability is this concept? Do other groups experience the same, or at least a similar, sort of of "double consciousness," either in the United States or elsewhere? Is Du Bois' concept helpful for an understanding of other societies and other experiences, beyond the United States?


Blog question #6

"Instead of convincing arguments -- arguments which, if a first truth is admitted, will compel belief in their conclusions in all rational minds, generally and technically, that is, by calculation -- we are once again investigating the nature of persuasion, the different ways of achieving assent in different, particular audiences." (John Shotter, "Rhetoric and the Recovery of Civil Society," p. 167)

Shotter does not draw this distinction lightly or by accident. Certainly his argument in the chapter is that we need more persuasion and less striving to be convincing (in the special and technical ways he defines both of those terms), at least in public life. Do you agree? Will such a move, from convincing to persuading, help to address the general problem that Shotter diagnoses, in which not everyone is able to participate fully in the shaping of our social lives together? And where does this leave scientific facts?

No bonus points for talking about alien contact scenarios, but if it makes sense to you, go for it :-)


Blog question #5

Much of our conversation in class today was about religious toleration, which is, after all, mainly what Locke's letter is about. But is Locke's argument applicable to other kinds of controversies? Specifically, think about members of the Flat Earth Society, who tend not to get hired in university Geography departments, or in any state government's map-making division. Should Locke's notion of tolerance be extended to members of the Flat Earth Society? Why, or why not?


blog question #4

Up to #4 already!

Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter 15: "Let us leave to one side, then, all discussions of imaginary rules and talk about practical realities." What does he mean by this? Do you agree with him?


Blog question #3

To ponder as you scheme and strategize your next move in Diplomatic Risk: what, in your view, is the most unrealistic element of this game? Is it a problem that it is unrealistic?


weekly reflection #1

Because my World Politics is posting a reflective post each week on their group blogs, I thought I'd post one here weekly as well.

It was a good week.

This was the first opening of a Fall semester since 2011 that I haven't been a full-time academic administrator. It was the first opening of a Fall semester since 2006 (!) that I wasn't at least a part-time academic administrator. So it's been a good many years since my only professional responsibilities at the beginning of the Fall semester were to my own classes and the students in them, plus the usual "here's this piece of writing that is due so I’d better work on finishing that" and "here's this manuscript I am supposed to review, better get on that too." (And not having the typical administrative run of fires to fight and trouble to shoot, this time around I was actually able to finish a writing commitment and review a couple of book proposals — yeah, there's still an outstanding article review or two, but those will happen shortly...)

Three specific things I got to do:

1) I actually had time to talk to colleagues about substantive issues this week. Scholarship, teaching, the stuff we as academics are supposed to be focused and focusing on...the stuff that, quite frankly, I was unable to be available for many unplanned conversations about over the past decade, and even when those conversations were planned, they were crammed into  the space between admin work.

2) I got to sit in on a colleague's class and contribute to the conversation, and will do so in another colleague’s class next week. That would have been basically impossible with the admin workload I was shouldering the last few years. Especially at the beginning of the semester, when the sh*tstorms get pretty intense.

3) The classroom the most amazing place around and it's a privilege to be able to spend time there, helping to shape the space in a way that encourages learning. My World Politics class discussed history and memory as they related to the slave trade and its legacies in the present — clearly an "international" issue insofar as notions of foreignness and inclusion/exclusion are inseparable from any robust account of international affairs. And we do ourselves a great disservice by not acknowledging that present-day "domestic" race relations have their roots in colonial dominion and cross-border trafficking. My research methodology class discussed causal and interpretive research styles, part one of a conversation we'll continue next week by mixing in philosophy of science concerns.

I had forgotten, I think, how much I missed being a "regular" academic. It's good to be able to remember.


Blog question #2

For the Labor Day week, when we have no Monday class...

At the end of the novel, Awiti comments:
No matter the destruction that ensues, I have learned no amount of vengeance can replace what I lost. There is no reparation great enough to substitute for what was stolen. Is there truly a cost for an altered destiny? There is nothing that can overturn the curse of a nation that was once blessed.
Do you agree with Awiti's final sentiments? Can she never find peace? Can we?


SISU-105.026 blog question #1

Here's the first weekly blog question: what is the greatest global challenge at the moment? (It should go without saying that I would like you to not just say what you think, but to provide some reasons for your position. But in case that doesn't go without saying, I am saying it now.)



This has been a dead space since 2012. The reason? I was Associate Dean, and had no time for blogging. Or regular semester teaching. That all changed when my term of service ended, and since I'm teaching two classes this semester, one of which features some group blogging, it's time to breathe some life back into these old bones and make the blog sing again. Or something like that.

And away we go.