Professor of Sociology
Her areas of interest are social and political theory, including feminist theory and queer theory, sociology of culture, and social movements.
On December 21, 2012 the Zapatistas again surprised a world whose eyes were on Mexico anticipating a historical rupture from one time into another, the Mayan prophecy of the end of the world. Forty thousand Zapatistas marched in total silence on four of the seven towns they had taken on the first day of their uprising January 1, 1994, 18 years before. They issued a brief communique: ?Can you hear it? It is the sound of their world ending, and ours surging anew,? thereby interpreting the Mayan prophecy in an unexpected, political manner. Since that date, the Zapatistas have issued a stream of communiques breaking nearly four years of silence, and again from Japan to Greece, Argentina to the US, groups of Zapatistas are forming or reforming to read and interpret these playful yet serious, poetic and sharply analytical missives from the mountains of the Southwest of Mexico. Why have so many found the Zapatista messages exciting? What have been and are the contributions of the Zapatistas to the contemporary historical turning point in world politics signaled by the Arab Spring, the European revolts against neoliberal austerity (Greece, Spain, England), the Latin American student movements (Chile, Columbia, Mexico), and even to the Occupy movements in the US?
This course will explore how women have been at the forefront of articulating a radical vision of politics and de-colonisation in the Global South, through a comparative exploration of feminisms in Latina American countries, such as Bolovia, and India. We will explore how far from being an 'imported' copy of Western feminism, or an 'alien' concept, feminism in these countries draws upon vibrant local legacies of women resisting colonialism, a flawed model of development and hetero-patriarchal oppression. Margaret Cerullo will draw upon her long association with and research into Latin America to lead students through an exploration of how Latin America has become the "turbulent center" of new movements, ideas, and practices, new subjectivities and challenges that are effectively de-centering Europe and the US as the site of knowledge production and political innovation. Uditi Sen will draw upon her own participation in queer and feminist movements in India and her research into Indian politics and history to illuminate how Indian feminists negotiate the double burden of 'traditional' and colonial patriarchies, and articulate radical new visions of azadi or liberation. We hope to bring into dialogue, through skype or actual visits, and through student engagement, feminists and feminisms from these two regions. Students are expected to spend six to eight hours every week in preparation for classes and in producing the required assignments.
Millions of people are living outside the borders of their home countries as expatriates, migrant workers or transnational managers of the global economic order, as refugees, displaced persons fleeing violence and persecution, and as people without papers. Bodies are thus a key part of the package of the multiple transborder flows of globalization, and they are produced, differentiated and understood through discourses of citizenship, national security, and universal human rights that are frequently at odds. The course will investigate critical questions about the relations of power at issue in technologies of citizenship, surveillance, exclusion and resistance in an effort to understand the condition of being out of place in a globalized yet still strongly territorial world of nation-states.
This course will take an interdisciplinary approach (historical, cultural and geopolitical) to study the complex and contested reality of Cuba. Why does this small island nation fascinate, annoy, inspire and disturb so much of the rest of the world? Displacing images of Cuba circulating in US popular and official culture, we examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have uniquely defined the Cuban nation. We propose to locate Cuba as part of the Caribbean (with its history of settler colonialism, old plantation economies and new tourist economies), 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 (with its long history of slavery, liberatory struggles and new articulations of Black identities). Finally, we will interrogate how Cuba should be understood in relation to the U.S., and to its own transnational 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 substantial research paper. This course is required for students wishing to study in the Hampshire in Havana semester program (open to all Five College students). The course will provide support for framing independent projects and applications for the Cuba Semester. Though conducted in English, some readings will be available in Spanish and English. Concurrent enrollment in a Spanish language class is recommended. .
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.
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.