Syllabus for Introduction to Comparative Politics



Syllabus for Introduction to Comparative Politics


Class Description

What is “the state” and why is it the primary unit of political identity in today’s world? Why are state leaders sometimes chosen with ballots and other times with bullets? Why do the vast majority of people in today’s world struggle under conditions of desperate poverty while a small elite enjoys extraordinary wealth and privilege? How much will “the state” continue to matter as the world becomes increasingly interconnected?
This course introduces you to historically informed and ethnographically grounded comparative political analysis as a way of addressing these and other urgent questions.
1) Historically informed, because we explore the key processes of state and market formation from which our present era has emerged, replete with paradoxes and promises.
2) Ethnographically grounded, because we take seriously the everyday lived experiences and agency of ordinary people as a way of understanding and evaluating large, impersonal structures like states, markets, and ideologies. And finally,
3)comparative political analysis, because we trace how the political world we inhabit today unfolds from the legacies of capitalism, colonialism, and the nation-state system, and manifests itself in a variety of regime types, economic systems, and political cultures that are often better understood when placed in comparison with one another. In short, this course aims to provide you with the material we must work with and confront if we wish to understand--and shape--the present and future of our deeply interconnected world.

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