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2012-2013 Environmental Studies Courses
Hunger and Excess: Histories, Politics, and Cultures of Food
Beliefs about food, foodmaking, and food consumption are practices that have historically indexed, identified, and mapped the contours of self, community, and nation. This course analyzes food issues through the lenses of culture and history. Histories of particular foods, including sugar, potatoes, coffee, and chocolate, are examined in order to reveal their crucial roles in social change, identity, class formation and conflict, nationalism, and the promotion of slavery. How were potatoes, famine, and the enforcement of free-trade ideology linked in 19th-century Anglo-Irish relations? How have episodic food riots, greeting perceived shortages and injustices in distribution, led to the constitution of new forms of sociability? What accounts for the birth of restaurants? How has the coming of the recipe book affected gender roles and domesticity? And how has the arrival of abundance brought changes to the human body, ideas, and ideals of normality? The course explores relationships between ideas of “nature” and the “natural” and ideas of natural diets, “locavorisms,” the “wild,” the raw, and the cooked. Through the lens of cultural studies and cultural anthropology, food production and consumption are revealed as a symbolic medium whose “travels” across continents, as well as into individual digestive systems, illuminate and map topographies of class, tastes, the forbidden, and the erotic. Food as a symbolic substance moves through fashion, contemporary art, and nutrition. How, for example, is the natural body imagined and modeled in the 21st century? Is it taboo to eat chocolate after yoga? What do the rules of kosher do? And how do food taboos in the natural-food movement resonate with the rules of kosher in the Old Testament?
Understanding Property: Cultural and Environmental Perspectives
Perhaps few issues are more contentious in the environmental arena than those surrounding struggles over rights to private, as well as common, property resources. What is property, and how is it made? Who makes property? How are property rights performed, publicized, and enforced? What is a commons, and what is common property? Debates over the “commons” implicate ideas of citizenship, community, the public good, justice, and governance. Controversies over public space and community gardens, genetic recombinant research and rights to the genome, North-South disputes over rights to biodiversity in the geographic South, as well as debates over property in the Middle East, form some of the hotly contested terrain of property rights and the commons, use and ownership. Property rights on a variety of scales, from the biomolecular to whole organs and organisms, from individual trees to whole ecosystems, are examined in varied geographic, biological, cultural, and historical contexts. This course is an introduction to ideas and cultures of property (private, public, and collective); debates, claims, and arguments over the commons; and the environmental and social consequences of different property regimes.
Dominance by Design: Machines, Security, and Landscapes of War
This course examines the ways in which ideas and practices of waging war—from World War II through the “War on Terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and ”the homeland”—are linked to emerging forms and networks of mediation, technological development, and the environment. What is the idea of “full-spectrum dominance,” and how has this fantasy become normalized in war games on the screen and in military planning? How have specific organisms provided sources for military weapons development? How have military technologies and installations affected environmental ecosystem functioning and human health “at home” and abroad? What is “America’s robot army,” and what implications may it have for the ways in which future wars will be fought and contested? What is biomimesis, and how is the intersection of engineering and biological sciences affecting the ways in which contemporary conflicts are fought and future conflicts are imagined? What intersections exist among emerging scientific knowledges, science fictions, and the ways in which war is imagined, planned, experienced, and conducted? What are “feral cities,” and how does this conception of urban life articulate with future plans for war? Scholarly books and articles, works of nonfiction and fiction, film, and Web sites will form the basis of this itinerary. Among the works studied are Der Derian’s Virtuous War: Mapping the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network; Graham’s Cities, War, and Terrorism: Toward an Urban Geopolitics; documents produced by the Project for the New American Century, a nongovernmental policy organization affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute; and Michael Adas’s Dominance by Design: Technological Imperatives and America’s Civilizing Mission.