Professor of Sociology
Her areas of interest are social and political theory, including feminist theory and queer theory, sociology of culture, and social movements.
While many have criticized "postmodernism" as a-political, Judith Halberstam has argued that conventional radical politics is not postmodern enough, insofar as it accepts a stable relationship between representation and reality, foreclosing any space (in fantasy, in representation) for political rage and unsanctioned violence on the part of subordinate groups against their powerful oppressors. Troubling the relationship between fantasy, representation and the real, and empowering culture and the production of counter-realities to the dominant orders as sites and ground of resistance are hallmarks of postmodernism. So is the insistence that a materialist politics of redistribution cannot be separated from a "cultural" politics of recognition; and the view that complex identifications and differences productively undermine identity and identity politics; and that truth is a product not a ground of political struggle. The goal of this course is to trace the genealogies of these ideas as they have come to challenge the Left, while maintaining full affinities with a radical anti-capitalist project. We will read Harvey and Jameson, the Marxists most closely identified with exploring the contributions of postmodernism; Lyotard and Baudrillard, the "ex-Marxists" whose names are most associated with postmodernism; and consider the lineage Nietzsche, Foucault, Mbembe Butler. Depending on time, and class interest, we will also read Benjamin or Deleuze. In this way we will look at major ideas of unorthodox Marxist/postmodern thought, always alert to the ways these thinkers both suggest research strategies (ways of reading the social text) and political openings.
This course proposes an interdisciplinary approach that critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, cultural) for a study of the complex and contested reality of Cuba. Displacing images of Cuba circulating in US popular and official culture, we examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have defined the Cuban nation. We propose to locate Cuba as part of the Caribbean (with its history of plantation economies and slavery), as part of Latin America (linked by a shared history of Spanish conquest, problematic republicanism and revolutionary movements), and as part of the African diaspora. We will explore how Cuba can be understood in relation to the U.S., and to its own diasporas in Miami and elsewhere. The course will engage with primary texts, historiography, literature, film, and music to examine Cuba within these multiple frameworks. Students will complete frequent short response essays and a research project. This course is required for students wishing to study in the Hampshire in Cuba semester program (open to all Five College students), and will provide support for framing independent projects and applications for the Cuba Semester. Though conducted in English, many readings will be available in Spanish and English and papers may be submitted in either language. Concurrent enrollment in a Spanish language class is strongly recommended.
Today, newspapers speak of a decided tilt to the left in Latin America (Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, for example, all have presidents who affirm socialism). This was not the case twenty years ago, when, to everyone's astonishment, the Zapatistas rose in revolt in Chiapas. Surfacing the same day that NAFTA went into effect-January 1, 1994, they announced a different vision of Mexico's future. The actions and writings of the Zapatistas constitute an extraordinary case study in which many preoccupations converge: the economic, the political, indigenous rights, women's rights, civil society, cultural memory, and writing that is poetic and political. Focusing on the Zapatista revolt enables us to consider an example of "local" resistance to "global" designs, the ongoing challenge to neoliberal economics and to limited conceptions of "democracy" that condemn populations to invisibility, their cultural memory to oblivion, and their needs and knowledge to subaltern status. At heart, this course hopes to provide the unsettling (and promising) experience of viewing the world and ourselves from perspectives other than those we inherit and inhabit.