Spring grad course: Constructions of Power and Knowledge: Gender, Race and Nation

School of Gender, Race & Nation Initiative Grad Course

Course Title: Constructions of Power and Knowledge:  Gender, Race and Nation

Course Number: CHLA 507

Course Overview: This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary graduate course seeks to identify and critically analyze how the concepts of gender, race, culture, class, sexuality, and nation are invested with power and forms of inequality.  We will examine the politics of the production of knowledge in personal lived experiences; institutions; cultural, economic and geopolitical structures; and literary, visual and multimedia representations.

Students will engage in the critique and displacement of dominant discourses through scholarship and research on intersectionality, theories of race and racism, Indigeneity, feminism, and queers of color. This course will examine critical concepts such as colonialism, diasporas, heteropatriarchy, heteronormativity, Indigeneity, migration, nationalism, racism, white supremacy, transnationalism, resistance, and self-determination.  This course will provide students with the opportunity to critically engage their theoretical frameworks, scholarship, and social justice initiatives, including community activism.


Course Objectives: In examining oppressive and transformative forms of power, students will:

1.     Identify key theoretical concepts related to power and knowledge;

2.     Develop an understanding of specific instances of power;

3.     Synthesize knowledge of oppressive, transformative, and self-determining forms of power and discourse in order to explain factors facilitating the exclusion and incorporation of difference in institutions and relationships;

4.     Problematize discourses of liberalism, diversity and multiculturalism;

5.     Demonstrate written and verbal facility with the analytical tools provided to interrogate power developed in the course;

6.     Reflect on implications of various theoretical frameworks for student’s own scholarship and activism.


Central discussions:  In lieu of a weekly syllabus, we are providing the central discussions around which the course will unfold and which will be addressed over the course of the term.

1) This course reviews the theoretical contexts that unite faculty and students in the School of Gender, Race, and Nation.  We will examine methods of knowledge production and review relevant scholarship across our programmatic disciplines.  Our central pursuit is to determine how intersections of nation-state/settler-nation, class, race, gender, and sexuality are manifested in acts of power and of discourse.

2) We will analyze the methods that resistance movements use to de-center, decolonize, and ultimately re-center individuals and communities in opposition to the dominant agents of power and discourse.  Critical interventions have occurred, are occurring, and will likely persist as formerly de-centered individuals push back against the traditional institutions and ideologies that have dominated global affairs for centuries.  Each student will be encouraged to bring personal insights and experiences to this collaborative enterprise.  From interdisciplinary perspectives, we will analyze SGRN scholarship that advocates and applies a variety of de-centering methodologies.

3) Certain communities have enacted resistance, ruptures, breaks, counter-hegemonies, counter-resistances, transformations, reclamations, and restorations over the years.  However, the existence of these “re-centered” communities often escapes the attention of individuals who would join.  We will examine how SGRN disciplines engage in scholarly activism in order to empower individuals seeking communitas in preference to (as opposed to other than or outside of) the historically dominant institutions of power, discourse, and knowledge production.


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