Communication and Culture | Power And Violence: Political Systems in Ethnographic Perspective
C417 | 1178 | Jane Goodman


Different political systems are founded and maintained by varying
combinations of overt violence and more subtle workings of ideas and
ideologies.  Through cross-cultural case studies, the course will
examine how coercion, persuasion, consensus, and dissent operate in
and through the politics and performances of everyday life.  We will
ask: How does domination become internalized, such that people
willingly submit to it and actively reproduce it?  What are some of
the ways that opposition and dissent operate in the everyday lives of
ordinary people?  What constitutes resistance, and in what ways is it
connected to power?  What is violence, and how can we explain the
extreme forms that contemporary ethnic violence often assumes?  We
will focus on the communicative and performance-based processes -
poems, myths, stories, and other cultural forms of representation -
that figure in constructions of power.

Political systems we will explore include: kinship-based
organizations; nation-states and the construction of national
subjects; colonialisms in various forms; ethnic struggle, collective
violence, and genocide in the aftermath of empire.

The course also includes an introduction to ethnographic research
methods, culminating in an ethnographic project in the Bloomington
area on a subject that can be approached through course concepts.