Communication and Culture | Media, Politics, Power
C620 | 1172 | Mukherjee


Current convulsive shifts in American social justice programs,
specifically, affirmative action, immigration, and public welfare,
open up important questions about the historical and discursive
development of social justice as political ideal and cultural good.
Recent assaults on these programs offer us a useful moment to return
to cultural histories of specific social justice movements and the
ways in which their appeals have been variously articulated and
contained within the administrative apparatuses of the modern state.
In Foucauldian terms thus, social justice as an ethical and discursive
construct has both enabled and repressed tactics of state governance
and possibilities for critical interventions in state power.

This course seeks to engage questions about the state and its
subjects, about citizenship and cultural identity, and about public
policy and power with special attention to the linguistic, cultural,
and discursive life of the social justice concept. We will cover a
range of material drawn from critical race studies, state and cultural
theory, and the linguistic turn in public policy analysis to
interrogate the emergence, development, and decline of social justice
policies and programs. Weekly film screenings consider the role of
cinematic discourses and the work of independent filmmakers in the
course of our theoretical reconsiderations of the complex
articulations between social justice and the state.

A tentative list of required texts:
Avery Gordon and Christopher Newfield. Mapping Multiculturalism. U of
Minnesota Press, 1996.  Michael Rogin. Ronald Reagan, the Movie: And
Other Episodes in Political Demonology. U of California Press, 1987.
Michael Shapiro. Cinematic Political Thought: Narrating Race, Nation,
and Gender. New York U Press, 1999.
Stephen Steinberg. Turning Back: The Retreat from Racial Justice in
American Thought and Policy. Beacon Press, 1995.  Ronald Takaki. A
Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Bay Back Books,
1993.  Patricia Williams. The Alchemy of Race and Rights. Harvard U
Press, 1991.