Shahnaz Rouse

BA, Kinnaird College, Pakistan. MA, Punjab University, Pakistan. MS, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Special student, American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Academic specialization in historical sociology, with emphasis on the mass media, gender, and political economy. Author of Shifting Body Politics: Gender/Nation/State, 2004; co-editor, Situating Globalization: Views from Egypt, 2000; contributor to books and journals on South Asia and the Middle East. Visiting faculty, University of Hawaii at Manoa and American University in Cairo. Member, editorial advisory board, Contributions to Indian Sociology; past member, editorial committee, Middle East Research and Information Project. Past consultant to the Middle East and North Africa Program of the Social Science Research Council, as well as to the Population Council West Asia and North Africa Office (Cairo). Recipient of grants from Fulbright-Hays Foundation, Social Science Research Council, American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and Council on American Overseas Research Centers. SLC, 1987–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Sociology

Both Public and Private: The Social Construction of Family Life

Open , Seminar—Fall

Many of us take for granted the dichotomy between public and private life. The former is frequently understood as abstract, distant, and a key site of power; the latter, as the site of warmth, intimacy, and emotional sustenance. In this seminar, we will critically examine the assumptions underlying such idealized distinctions between public and private domains. Through such revisioning, it is hoped that we will better understand the public and private dimensions of the family, its complexity, and its historical variability. In particular, our analysis will enable us to critically examine notions that posit the inevitability of the nuclear, heterosexual family as a universal and “natural” institution. Relying primarily on the writings of Stephanie Coontz on the topic of the family, supplemented by relevant additional materials, we will take apart myths of the family to better understand both its discursive production and material reality across time and space. Specifically, we will look at the myriad ways in which personal and social reproduction occur; the relationship between distinct family forms and different systems of social organization and social movements; and the expression of gender, racial, and sexual relations in diverse historical settings. Throughout, we will be attentive to shifting boundaries between the private domain (often erroneously and transhistorically understood in familial terms) and public institutions and practices—from which, again erroneously, the latter is often set apart. Furthermore, the “private” domain of the family will be problematized as a site for the construction of identity and caring and, simultaneously, as a location that engenders compulsion and violence. In this latter context, we will examine how relations of domination and subordination are produced through the institution of the “family” and how resistance is generated to such dominant relations and constructions. The course will conclude with an examination of family forms in contemporary societies—single parent-, same sex-, and fictive kin-based—and of public struggles over these various forms.

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Gender and Nationalism(s)

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Open only to juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

Nationalism can be understood as a project simultaneously involving construction(s) of memory, history, and identity. In this seminar, we will identify the multiple and shifting dimensions of nationalism as a world historical phenomenon. Central to our focus will be the centrality and particular constructions of gender in different national projects. Attention will be paid to nationalism in its colonial and contemporary trajectories. Questions to be addressed include the following: What is the relationship between nationalism and identity? Which symbols/languages are called upon to produce a sense of self and collective identity? What are the various inclusions, exclusions, and silences that particular historically-constituted nationalisms involve? Is nationalism necessarily a positive force? If not, under what circumstances, in what ways, and for whom does it pose problems? What is the relationship of nationalism(s) to minorities and socially/politically marginalized groups? How is pluralism and difference constructed and treated? How do the same positions (e.g., issues of cultural authenticity and identity) take on a different meaning at diverse historical moments? How does the insider/outsider relationship alter in different periods and conceptualizations? Women have been interpellated and have participated within nationalist movements in a variety of ways. The dynamics and contradictions of such involvement will be analyzed closely. We will strive to explore the implications of these processes for women's sense of self, citizenship, and belonging at specific periods and over time. In the spring semester, we will turn our attention more specifically to performances of nationalism through institutional and popular cultural arrangements. Under the former category, we will look at issues of migration, immigration, and exile; public policy and international relations; war and conflict. In the arena of popular culture, we will examine the production of nationalism(s) through the mass media, sports, film, museums and exhibitions, and tourism. Conference work may include an examination of a specific nationalist movement, theoretical issues pertaining to nationalism(s), memory, identity, performances of nationalism(s) in popular culture and the mass media, and the interplay between institutional and everyday constructions of nationalism in specific settings.

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Propaganda: A History of Spin

Intermediate , Joint seminar—Spring

This seminar provides an interdisciplinary analysis of the phenomenon of mass persuasion in modern society. How does propaganda “work”? How should we characterize the individuals and institutions that shape and disseminate it? What are the specific languages and visual symbols that propagandists have typically used to affect mass audiences? How have both “democratic” and “authoritarian” societies sought to generate consent; and how, in turn, have individuals and social groups drawn the line between what is truth and what is propaganda? Although the manipulation of information for political ends has been intrinsic to human societies across history, this course focuses on the so-called “axial age of propaganda,” beginning with World War I, which saw the emergence of tightly organized, large-scale, government-sponsored propaganda efforts across Europe and the United States. The course will place special emphasis on the interwar period, when—amid the onset of totalitarian regimes in Europe—the very nature of “public opinion” and mass society were hotly debated by intellectuals and interpretive experts. This course will utilize a variety of case studies to explore the symbolic content of specific kinds of propaganda and the institutional milieux that produce it, paying attention to propaganda that both seeks to overthrow social structures as well as to maintain them. Finally, the course will consider the ubiquity of propaganda in contemporary society, focusing on the role of image-making professionals working in the spheres of political campaigning, advertising, and public relations. Specific case studies may include: The US Committee on Public Information during World War I, the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda, Stalinism and the Soviet Union, state control of culture under the Deutsche Demoktratische Republik (East Germany), McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist, ISIL, and Breitbart News and Trumpism.

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Graduate Courses

Women's History 2017-2018

Gender and Nationalisms

Graduate Seminar—Year

Nationalism can be understood as a project simultaneously involving construction(s) of memory, history, and identity. In this seminar, we will identify the multiple and shifting dimensions of nationalism as a world historical phenomenon. Central to our focus will be the centrality and particular constructions of gender in different national projects. Attention will be paid to nationalism in its colonial and contemporary trajectories. Questions to be addressed include the following: What is the relationship between nationalism and identity? Which symbols/languages are called upon to produce a sense of self and collective identity? What are the various inclusions, exclusions, and silences that particular historically constituted nationalisms involve? Is nationalism necessarily a positive force? If not, under what circumstances, in what ways, and for whom does it pose problems? What is the relationship of nationalism(s) to minorities and socially/politically marginalized groups? How is pluralism and difference constructed and treated? How do the same positions (e.g., issues of cultural authenticity and identity) take on a different meaning at diverse historical moments? How does the insider/outsider relationship alter in different periods and conceptualizations? Women have been interpellated and have participated within nationalist movements in a variety of ways. The dynamics and contradictions of such involvement will be analyzed closely. We will strive to explore the implications of these processes for women’s sense of self, citizenship, and belonging at specific periods and over time. In the spring semester, we will turn our attention more specifically to performances of nationalism through institutional and popular cultural arrangements. Under the former category, we will look at issues of migration, immigration, and exile; public policy and international relations; war and conflict. In the arena of popular culture, we will examine the production of nationalism(s) through the mass media, sports, film, museums and exhibitions, and tourism. Conference work may include an examination of a specific nationalist movement, theoretical issues pertaining to nationalism(s), memory, identity, performances of nationalism(s) in popular culture and the mass media, and the interplay between institutional and everyday constructions of nationalism in specific settings.

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Previous Courses

Changing Places: The Social/Spatial Dimensions of Urbanization

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

The concept of space will provide the thematic underpinning and serve as the point of departure for this course. Space can be viewed in a multiplicity of ways: in relation to the (human) body, social relations, and social structures, as well as the physical environment. In this seminar, we will examine the material (social, political, and economic) and metaphorical (symbolic and representational) dimensions of spatial configurations in urban settings. In our analysis, we will address the historical and shifting connotations of urban space and urban life, ranging from colonial to contemporary times. The seminar is designed to get us to think critically about how space is policed, negotiated, and contested—and the forms this takes at different historical moments. In addition to examining historically constituted spatial relations, we will also be attentive to the (re)theorization of spatial relations. In this regard, emphasis will be placed on representational practices and processes whereby social “space” is created, gendered, revisioned. “Space” here will be understood in terms of the construction of meanings that affect our use of, and relation to, both physical and social settings. Throughout, we will attempt to gauge the practices and processes whereby social space produces “insiders” and “outsiders” and is productive of separations between public and private domains. Particular attention will be paid to attempts by scholars and activists to open up space. The readings will not focus on one particular urban setting and are designed to encourage students to think through the relation between the political economy and the symbolic economy of urbanizaton. For conference work, students are welcome to focus on particular urban spaces; e.g., parks, monuments, everyday life in urban settings, and/or any number of related topics.

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First-Year Studies in Sociology: (Re)constructing the Social: Subject, Field, Text

Open , FYS

How does the setting up of a textile factory in Malaysia connect with life in the United States? What was the relationship of mothers to children in upper-class, 17th-century French households? How do our contemporary notions of leisure and luxury resemble, or do they, notions of peoples in other times and places regarding wealth and poverty? What is the relation between the local and the global, the individual and society, the self and “other(s)”? How is the self constructed? How do we connect biography and history, fiction and fact, objectivity and subjectivity, the social and the personal? These are some of the questions sociology and sociologists attempt to think through. In this seminar, we will ask how sociologists analyze and simultaneously create reality, what questions we ask, and what ways we use to explore our questions and arrive at our findings and conclusions. Through a perusal of comparative and historical materials, we will look critically at things that we take for granted; for example, the family, poverty, identity, travel and tourism, progress, science, and subjectivity. The objective of the seminar is to enable students to critically read sociological texts and also to become practitioners in “doing” sociology (something we are always and already involved in, albeit often unself-consciously). This last endeavor is designed to train students in how to undertake research and intended as a key tool in interrogating the relationship between the researcher and the researched, the field studied, and the (sociological) text.

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The (In)Security State: A Long History?

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Prior work in Sociology not essential. Students should have taken courses in one or more of the social sciences and/or history and have ability to engage with theoretical materials.

In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on the security state, heightened surveillance, the expansion of executive and coercive power, and the diminishment of individual freedoms and curtailment of human rights. In many instances, acts of violence by nonstate actors are provided as rationale and justification for these changes, and 9/11 is represented as the pivotal moment when “everything changed.” In this course, we will interrogate this claim. We will trace constructions of fear and the felt need for “security” and surveillance historically and examine the distinction between past concerns and practices and those in the present day. We will ask: How do race, class, and nationalism factor into past and present security concerns and attendant practices of surveillance? What institutional forms and practices have helped produce the security regime in particular periods and at the present moment? What is the relation between the public and private sector in producing or challenging and normalizing the (in)security state? How do domestic security concerns and fears link up with international security? What is the relationship between the security state and militarization, both within the United States and overseas? In this regard, how do militarization (abroad) and policing (at home) meet up? How do militarization and neo-liberalization intersect locally, nationally, and internationally? How is a culture of fear, security, and surveillance normalized? What are the implications of greater policing and militarization for the state-civil society nexus and for a politics of dissent? This course will enable students to think through and become astute analysts of statist practices and their imbrication with nonstate actors in the private domain, both as partners and as an alibi for greater policing. Bringing together local and global concerns, we will gain a deeper understanding of how the activities happening in the United States meet up with developments internationally.

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Changing Places: Social/Spatial Dimensions of Urbanization

Open , Seminar—Fall

The concept of space will provide the thematic underpinning and serve as the point of departure for this course. Space can be viewed in relation to the (human) body, social relations and social structures, and the physical environment. In this seminar, we will examine the material (social, political, and economic) and metaphorical (symbolic and representational) dimensions of spatial configurations in urban settings. In our analysis, we will address the historical and shifting connotations of urban space and urban life. Moving beyond the historical aspects of urbanization and its transformations, we will turn our attention to the (re)theorization of the very notion of spatial relations itself. Here, emphasis will be placed on representational practices and processes, whereby social “space” is created, gendered, revisioned. “Space” will no longer be seen simply as physical space but also in terms of the construction of meanings that affect our use of and relation to both physical and social settings. While economic factors will continue to be implicated and invoked in our analysis, we will move beyond the economic to extra-economic categories and constructs, such as notions of power, culture, and sexuality. The focus will also shift, as the semester proceeds, from macro-analyses to include an examination of everyday life. Through our exploration of these issues, we will attempt to gauge the practices and processes whereby social space is gendered, privatized, and sexualized and distinctions are established between “inside” and “outside” domains and between public and private realms. Particular attention will be paid to attempts by scholars and activists to open up space both theoretically and concretely. Although the theoretical/conceptual questions examined lend themselves to an analysis of any city, our focus in the course will be largely, although not exclusively, on New York City. Students should feel free, however, to extend the analysis to other places that are of interest to them. This applies particularly to conference work.

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Marx and Marxisms: Lineages and Contemporary Relevance

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Ideas of social movements and social change throughout the world in the 19th and 20th centuries were significantly informed by the ideas of one social thinker: Karl Marx. Even today, thinkers in the humanities and social sciences (including media and cultural studies), as well as social and political activists, continue to be engaged with Marx’s ghost. While many detractors would argue—following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War—that Marx’s thought is now irrelevant, others argue the opposite: that the current phase of globalization that we are presently in was, in fact, anticipated by Marx. In this seminar, through a close and in-depth study of Marx’s writings and those of others about him, we will examine the impact of Marx’s ideas on thinking about and practices of social change. The themes in Marx’s writings upon which we will focus include the following: his views on human nature, social structures and individual agency and subjectivity, alienation, religion and ideology, objectification and commodification, social class and power relations, and political economy, including globalization. Following our close scrutiny of Marx’s work in the fall, in the second semester we will study later thinkers whose work has been inspired by Marx and who carried his ideas further and/or addressed new questions in the light of developments since the historical period in which Marx was writing. Among the latter, we will include thinkers such as Gramsci, Barthes, and Williams who addressed questions of culture and hegemony; structuralists like Althusser who dealt with the state and ideology; socialist feminists interested in the relationship of class, gender, and sexuality; more recent thinkers interested in the relationship of space, class, and power, such as David Harvey and Dorren Massey; and current analysts of globalization. For conference, students may work on specific social thinkers in the Marxist tradition and/or examine political and social movements inspired by his analysis.

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Finding the Past in the Present

Shahnaz Rouse

Read about Shahnaz Rouse's course, "The (In)Security State: A Long History?" in Sarah Lawrence Magazine