Wed 8.26.15 | Race, Privilege, and Food Justice

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Food justice activists sometimes set up gardens in low-income communities. Margaret Ramírez studied a pair of food organizations in Seattle, including one led by Rev. Robert Jeffrey. Ramírez describes how the racial makeup of the staffers, the legacy of plantation slavery, and the gentrifying momentum created by "white spaces" affected what the two groups were able to accomplish.

Tues 8.25.15| The Making of American Capitalism

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While it may appear an inevitability, how did capitalism come to take hold in the US? Was slave production in the American South actually capitalist or something else? What was the nature of the Civil War and the emergence of sharecropping in the conflict's wake? Marxist sociologist Charles Post weighs in on these questions, which have been hotly debated for many years on the left, with significant consequences for how we see capitalism's permanence and the nature of racial oppression today.

Mon 8.24.15 | Hetero/Homo: A Fine Line?

Jane Ward, Not Gay: Sex between Straight White Men NYU Press, 2015

Jane Ward, Respectably Queer Vanderbilt U. Press, 2008

Feminist Pigs


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Straight folks, says Jane Ward, engage in a remarkable amount of homosexual sex. In her new book, Ward investigates and interprets same-sex contact between straight white men in a variety of settings, including the military and college fraternities. She also points to a double standard that denies males the sexual fluidity and flexibility routinely assigned to women.

Wed 8.19.15 | The Perils of Automation

Nicholas Carr, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us Norton, 2014






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We rely on automation in all aspects of our lives, from our jobs to our leisure activities. It's meant to save us time and labor and free us for other pursuits. But does automation make our lives better? Writer Nicholas Carr reflects on the darker side of automation, from mechanized warfare to deskilling on the job. He argues for a relationship between technology and work that does not leave us alienated, left in low paid jobs, or open to surveillance.

Tues 8.18.15 | Hollywood and the US Wartime State

Blanke and Steigerwald, eds., A Destiny of Choice? Rowman and Littlefield, 2015 (paper)

Ogletree and Sarat, eds., Punishment in Popular Culture NYU Press, 2015

Lary May, The Big Tomorrow: Hollywood and the Politics of the American Way U. of Chicago Press, 2000

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When the US goes to war, its leaders hope and expect Hollywood to make movies that promote war culture and national unity. However, in the wake of 9/11, a number of filmmakers challenged the values and ideology of the US wartime state. Lary May attributes this to the emergence of Hollywood as a global industry catering to foreign audiences.

Mon 8.17.15 | Overseeing Global Capitalism

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The defeat of the US working class was the requisite condition for the renewal of US empire, which -- as much as we keep willing it to decline -- maintains its key role as the guardian of global capitalism. So claim Marxist political economists Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch, who in their magnum opus trace the extension of the capitalist system around the globe with the US at the helm. They discuss the political implications of this history for radicals.

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