As The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research`s Winter 2016 term comes to an end, we want to thank all the students and faculty who have participated in BISR seminars in the past three months. Conversations have been lively, instructive, challenging, and we wouldn`t have it any other way. Looking ahead to Summer 2016, we`d like to highlight three of our upcoming courses, which will begin during the first week of May.
At a time when the United States has the world`s highest incarceration rate, and one in three African-American men can expect to spend some time in jail during his lifetime, Discipline, Punish, and Revolt: Foucault and Prison Abolitionism will scrutinize the contemporary prison industrial complex in light of Michel Foucault`s theoretical and activist work on the topic. Beginning with Discipline and Punish, students will read Foucault`s work alongside more recent scholars and ponder the following questions: How do prisons operate? What kind of disciplining techniques do they employ? What effect does the penal system have on civil society? What would it mean to abolish the penal system as we`ve come to know it?
Approaching our society from a different angle, The Politics of Infrastructure will critically examine the economic, political, and systemic role of infrastructure in the contemporary era by focusing on the complex logistical systems underpinning modern life and the ways in which they circulate power and allocate resources. What kind of norms do infrastructural systems encode and what happens when they break down? How do they intersect with our cultural and political ideas, as complex systems come to permeate our everyday lives? Readings will include selection from Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault and James Scott, along with contemporary scholars from science and technology studies.
Finally, in Edward Said: Culture and Empire, students will read the work of Edward Said, author of Orientalism (1978) and founding figure of post-colonial studies. The course will consider Said`s major works and trace their influence on post-colonial studies, political advocacy, the Israel/Palestine debate, and postmodern notions of the intellectual. Students will also study key figures, including Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, and Antonio Gramsci, who helped to shape Said`s particular vision of the relationship between knowledge production and colonial power, and will explore the method of contrapuntal reading he used to re-inscribe literary works into their imperial context.
Initial course readings will be sent out early next week and courses are filling up, so make sure to enroll soon to secure your spot. The second summer session will feature a number of other courses that are sure to be of interest, including Introduction to Political Islam, Risk: Finance and Neoliberalism, and Digital Embodiment. For a complete list of courses and more information, please click here.