In the seemingly quiet winter of 1976, a quiet marked by a global economic downturn that would transform the terrain of global capitalism, a retooling of U.S. militarism from the “quagmire” of war in Southeast Asia to the “law and order” policing of domestic space, and the emergent linking between the crises of resources and terrorism, French philosopher Michel Foucault took up the vital questions of the day with typical broad strokes: “If we look beneath peace, order, wealth, and authority, beneath the calm order of subordinations, beneath the State and State apparatuses, beneath the laws, and so on, will we hear and discover a sort of primitive and permanent war?”
While this was a critical turning point in the trajectory of his thinking, Foucault was approaching a question that had long been articulated in various other domains. Indeed, racialized, marginalized, and colonized communities had been posing precisely such a question in various iterations across the broad sweep of modernity. “Race, War, Culture” opens up precisely such a genealogy.
This course investigates cultural interventions into processes of comparative racialization that have both utilized and contested the analytical concept of war in its many social iterations. In doing so, the course will advance comparative approaches to what appear in the contemporary moment as new forms of racialization. Students will engage social, cultural, and political theory alongside critical culture work, treating both as methods for analysis and objects of analysis.
The course’s infrastructure is arrayed around three overlapping lines of critical inquiry:
- Frantz Fanon’s entanglement of anti-blackness, colonialism, and decolonization
- Michel Foucault’s investigations of sovereignty and biopower
- Stuart Hall’s Gramscian theorizations of race