Associate Professor of Philosophy and Political Theory
Falguni A. Sheth, associate professor of philosophy and political theory, holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy. She works in the areas of continental philosophy, political philosophy and legal theory, critical race theory and philosophy of race, post-colonial, theory, and sub-altern and gender studies.
Sheth has published numerous articles and two books, Race, Liberalism, and Economics (coedited, U. Michigan Press, 2004) and Toward a Political Philosophy of Race (SUNY Press, 2009). Her most recent book argues that racial divisions are fundamental to polities, and argues this point through the examples by exploring the situation of Muslims and Arabs, the caste system, the practice of veiling, and the history of liberalism.
Professor Sheth's current research is philosophy of race and political philosophy; specifically, in exploring diasporic subjects and the dynamics of intragroup and transnational political identities; the nature of political obligations to those inside and outside the polity; the emergence and legal construction of Punjabi-Mexicans at the turn of the 20th century; and the metaphysics of misrecognition. Sheth has served on the Immigrant Rights Commission of San Francisco; Hampshire College's Board of Trustees, and is an organizer of the California Roundtable for Philosophy and Race.
How do we know who is a terrorist? A good Muslim? A bad Arab? a criminal? A (bad) immigrant v. a cosmopolitan citizen? Do persons make decisions about their identities or are they "produced" in ways beyond their control? Can one's racial, ethnic, gendered self-recognition be publicized in ways that they like, or will that identity necessarily be misrecognized and reappropriated? In this course, we will look at a range of writings on how groups, cultures, and identities are created within political and legal contests. Readings may include legal statutes, case studies, ethnic histories, and texts by Foucault, Butler, W. Brown, N.T Saito, D. Carbado, K. Johnson, K. Crenshaw, C. Taylor, N. Fraser, Alcoff, Ortega, among others.
This course will examine the production of legal "others," through state policing of various kinds of borders, spatial as well as virtual, and including the creation of rightless and stateless populations. We will critique court opinions and statutes that attempt to define, regulate, contain, discipline and exclude (non)persons such as the undocumented worker/migrant, the refugee, the queer, the racialized and the "terrorist." Examples of this are US-led drone wars, extrajudicial state killings and extraordinary renditions of individuals, as well as discourses of the "guest-worker," the "illegal alien," the "enemy combatant," and the "insurgent." Readings in legal and political theory will help us deepen our understanding and help us develop critical stances.
We question, attempt to define and discuss different notions, and generally reflect upon what it means to lead a good life. Readings include the following: Sophocles, Antigone; The Trial and Death of Socrates (containing the following works by Plato: Euthyphro; Apology; Crito; Phaedo ); John Locke, Two Treatises of Government;Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract and the Discourses; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland; Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
This course will focus on one contemporary political or social or moral issue throughout the course of the entire semester, and explore it through a range of philosophical and other interdisciplinary readings. Examples of issues that might be treated include solitary confinement, imprisonment, torture, reproductive rights, the death penalty, extraordinary rendition, statelessness, immigration, NSA surveillance, complicity, terrorism, Islamophobia, domestic violence, etc. Students are expected to have taken at least 2 entire courses in philosophy or political theory, and participate through class presentations, active news reading, and outside research.
SS 272 Global War on Terror The events following the attacks of September 11, 2001 were as shocking as the events of the actual day. The U.S. Attorney General's office created a new architecture for the way we treat suspected terrorists: Numerous anti-terrorism, surveillance, communications laws, material support statutes, and immigration restrictions, were passed. Various constitutional protections thought to be extended to all persons alike--citizens, legal residents, visitors, undocumented residents-were restricted. Is this framework an unprecedented response to a dangerous new world in which technology can be used remotely, religion functions as a commitment to certain modes of politics, and the government is trying to protect the safety of its citizens? What kinds of new paradigms does the War on Terror breed for us? Can we find this framework in other moments in history? In this course, we will read a range of historical, political, and theoretical materials in order to answer this question. Prefer that enrolled students have had one course in political philosophy, ethics, or legal or social theory.
Political Philosophy in the twentieth century features a reaction to the dominant liberalism of the 16th to the 19th centuries. At its heart, lie challenges to notions of subjectivity, borders, sovereignty, and membership. These challenges range from philosophers on the far left to the far right, and are core to the issues that we face today internationally as well as in the U.S. Is it the case, for example,that human rights should be restricted to those who are legalcitizens of a country? Can we agree that certain human beings should not receive protection from torture or excessively rough treatment? What are the conditions by which someone can be protected under the law? Should we accept that "freedom at home and abroad" will cost us millions of human lives, or don't the ends justify the means? Is cosmopolitanism an acceptable alternative to liberalism, or does it privilege those who already have? In this course, we will examine these questions, among others which are so relevant to contemporary politics.
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Amherst, MA 01002