Tues 2.01.11| Clamoring in Cairo

Over a million people took to the streets in Egypt to demand the ouster of a president who, until very recently, seemed unmovable. Sharif Kouddous describes the makeup of the protest movement. Hesham Sallam discusses Egypt's authoritarian state and the forces keeping Mubarak in power (for now). Gareth Porter dissects the US government's interests in the conflict. And Eva Galperin talks about Egypt's crackdown on internet activism, and whether it could happen in the US.

Mon 1.31.11| Private Power, Public Schools

Private foundations, including Bill Gates's, are pouring billions of dollars into market-based initiatives to remake our public schools. According to Joanne Barkan, the foundations have successfully shaped the national debate on education and have influenced, and in many cases effectively set, government policy. What hasn't been shown, Barkan points out, is that the "reforms" they're pushing actually work.

Wed 1.26.11| Imagined Community?

The term "community" is everywhere. It is used by those in power -- witness the "business community" -- and those with no power. But what does it actually mean? Should people on the left continue to claim it? Or is it too flawed a concept, with real political dangers attached? Anthropologist Gerald Creed talks about the history of "the community", the explosion of the term since the early 1990s, and why it is so ubiquitous.

Tues 1.25.11| Cancerous Rhetorics?

Metzl & Kirkland, eds., Against Health: How Health Became the New Morality NYU Press, 2010

S. Lochlann Jain, Injury: The Politics of Product Design and Safety Law in the United States Princeton U. Press, 2006


Clichés about hope and individual responsibility pervade popular-culture narratives about cancer in the US. Lochlann Jain critiques what she calls "the cultural management of cancer terror" and suggests alternative, more politically conscious ways of discussing disease. She also relates prevailing cancer rhetorics to notions of time, progress, and accumulation under capitalism.

Mon 1.24.11| Ecological Failure

Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed Viking Press, 2007



Why do some civilizations endure, while others implode? What role might the environment play in their survival or demise? Jared Diamond argues that much can be learned about our own future by looking at the trajectories of past societies and their relationship with nature. The controversial scholar has been criticized for environmental determinism, but his work is nothing if not thought-provoking.

Wed 1.19.11| Feminisms Apart

Van Dyke & McCammon, eds., Strategic Alliances: Coalition Building and Social Movements U. of Minnesota Press, 2010

Benita Roth, Separate Roads to Feminism Cambridge U. Press, 2003

Richard Lichtman's course at OLLI

US feminists in the 1960s and 70s did not build coalitions across racial and ethnic lines. Was that because women of color were put off by white feminist racism? Benita Roth rejects this argument; she contends that second wave feminists' adoption of a New Left ethos of "organizing one's own" militated against the formation of cross-racial coalitions.
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