Political violence and revolution may seem remote from many people's immediate experience. Sporadic media attention to dramatic events, such as the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, will not necessarily provide a useful interpretive framework. By taking a close look at some of these phenomena, including readings that offer first-hand perspectives of participants and insiders, we will attempt to go beyond stereotypes about the
'extremism' of those 'other' people. Students will gain insight into the dynamics of political violence and revolution, and also develop tools for critical and comparative political analysis.
This course focuses on theories and comparative analysis of political violence and revolution. We will pay special attention to 20th century rebellions and social revolutions, which have occurred in the Third World or periphery of the global system. The course will examine not only the dynamics of contesting state power, but also the transformation of social relations and redefinition of political participation which accompany these processes. Cases that will be explored in some detail include the 1949 revolution in China (with particular focus on the Cultural Revolution period of the 1960s and >70s); Mexico, focusing on the 1994 Zapatista rebellion and its lessons for the revolution that began in 1910; Nicaragua, where the 1979 Sandinista revolution marked a decade of unorthodox revolutionary movements in Central America that evolved into negotiated political transitions in the 1990s; and Colombia, where complex cycles of political violence have intensified in recent years.
Part I of the course will explore the concept of political violence, looking critically at the institutionalized forms of violence that may be built into the structures of states and societies (including the U.S.) and the international system. Part II examines theories of revolution, including various frameworks for explaining why, where, and when revolutions occur, and how societies respond to the organization of political violence. Part III scrutinizes the selected cases, focusing on the dilemmas involved in revolutionary change in each country. Drawing on this case material, Part IV takes a comparative approach to several recurring themes, including issues of equality and democracy, violence and world order, and the relation between armed struggle and non-violent social movements.
Course requirements: Students are required to do the assigned reading before each class, and come prepared to participate in discussion. Students are also expected to follow current political developments in the world. Good sources of international news include the daily New York Times; National Public Radio (WEMU, 89.1 FM, news on the hour), or the BBC news (broadcast on WUOM, 91.7 FM, 9:00-10:00 am Mon.-Fri.; or online at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/). You are also encouraged to explore alternatives to the mainstream media, for a variety of perspectives on issues relevant to political violence and revolution. Some web sites that may be of interest include:
There will be three exams during the semester (including the final). Academic dishonesty, defined in the Undergraduate Catalog, will be penalized. Exams will cover material from the readings and class. One short paper (10 pp.), toward the end of the semester, will apply some of the theoretical/comparative frameworks developed in the course to a case or cases of political violence or revolution. Occasional class assignments may include presentations, quizzes, or short written assignments. Late work will be reduced one letter grade per day, and missed exams or quizzes will receive a zero, unless there is a legitimate documented excuse.
Grades will be calculated as follows:
Exams (3 exams, 20% each) = 60%
Short paper (10 pp.) = 20%
Class participation, including attendance,
class assignments, surprise quizzes & presentations = 20%
Course readings are contained in a Reading Packet (selections marked with an
Mumia. Live from Death Row. N.Y.: Avon Books, 1996.
Bergquist, Charles, Ricardo Peñaranda, & Gonzalo Sánchez G., eds. Violence in Colombia 1990-2000: Waging War and Negotiating Peace. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2001.
Brentlinger, John. The Best of What We Are: Reflections on the Nicaraguan Revolution. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995.
Heng, Liang, & Judith Shapiro. Son of the Revolution. N.Y.: Vintage Books, 1984.
Johnson, Chalmers. Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. N.Y.: Henry Holt, 2000.
PART I: CONCEPTS OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE
T Jan. 8: MICRO & MACRO PERSPECTIVES
T Jan. 15 - *Farmer, Paul, AOn Suffering and Structural Violence: A View from
Below, in Arthur Kleinman, Veena Das, & Margaret Lock, eds., Social Suffering (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1997), pp. 261-83
- Abu-Jamal, pp. 186-8, xii-18
- *King, Jr., Martin Luther, ALetter from Birmingham Jail,@ in William F. Grover & Joseph G. Peschek, eds., Voices of Dissent: Critical Readings in American Politics, 3rd ed. (N.Y.: Addison-Wesley Longman, 1999), pp. 268-75
- *Malcolm X, AThe Ballot or the Bullet@ [excerpt from Malcolm X Speaks, 1965], in Manfred B. Steger & Nancy S. Lind, eds., Violence and its Alternatives (N.Y.: St. Martin=s Press, 1999), pp. 169-71
THE STATE AND STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE
T Jan. 22 - Abu-Jamal, pp. 19-111
- Bergquist et al., pp. xi-xxv, 39-52, 231-55
CYCLES OF VIOLENCE: ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES
T Jan. 29 - Abu-Jamal, pp. 115-65
- Bergquist et al., 1-38, 214-31
- Johnson, pp. ix-33
- *Hartman, Andrew, AThe Politicization of Terror,@ Z Magazine (Dec. 2001), pp. 25-31
- *Roy, Arundhati, AThe Algebra of Infinite Justice,@ The Progressive (Dec. 2001), pp. 28-30
PART II: THEORIZING ABOUT REVOLUTION
WHY REVOLUTION? STRUCTURE AND AGENCY
T Feb. 5 - *DeFronzo, James, ASocial Movements and Revolutions,@ in Revolutions & Revolutionary Movements, 2nd ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996), pp. 7-28
- *Marx, Karl, & Friedrich Engels, AManifesto of the Communist Party@ ; and Skocpol, Theda, & Ellen Kay Trimberger, ARevolutions: A Structural Analysis,@ in Goldstone, Jack A., ed., Revolutions: Theoretical, Comparative, and Historical Studies, 2nd ed. (Ft. Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1994), pp. 21-9, 64-70
- Brentlinger, pp. 1-68
EMPIRES, COLONIES, AND NATIONAL LIBERATION
T Feb. 12 - *Handelman, Howard, ARevolutionary Change,@ The Challenge of Third World Development, 2nd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000), pp. 155-81
- *Fanon, Frantz, The Wretched of the Earth, excerpts ; and Gandhi, Mohandas K. (Mahatma), various excerpts [1909-47] - not in reading packet, will be distributed
- Johnson, pp. 34-136
- Brentlinger, pp. 69-97
ORGANIZED VIOLENCE AND CIVIL SOCIETY
T Feb. 19 - Brentlinger, pp. 98-132, 153-96
- Bergquist et al., pp. 95-178, 261-9
** Exam #1 (1 hr., in class, Feb. 19) **
PART III: REVOLUTIONS IN THE REAL WORLD
ORIGINS AND UNFULFILLED PROMISES OF THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION
T Mar. 5 - *LaBotz, Dan, AFrom Mexican Revolution to One-Party State,@ in Democracy in Mexico: Peasant Rebellion and Political Reform (Boston: South End Press, 1995), pp. 43-63
- *Weinberg, Bill, Homage to Chiapas: The New Indigenous Struggles in Mexico (N.Y.: Verso, 2000), pp. 66-117
MAO AND THE CHINESE REVOLUTION
T Mar. 12 - *Dietrich, Craig, People=s China: A Brief History, 2nd ed. (N.Y.: Oxford Univ. Press, 1994), pp. 10-32
- Heng & Shapiro, pp. vii-60
CULTURAL REVOLUTION IN CHINA: VIOLENCE WITHOUT END?
T Mar. 19 - Heng & Shapiro, pp. 61-241
** Exam #2 (1 hr., in class, Mar. 19) **
NICARAGUA & COLOMBIA: REVOLUTION AND OTHER MEANS
T Mar. 26 - Brentlinger, pp. 197-284
- Bergquist et al., pp. 53-74
PART IV: RETHINKING REVOLUTION AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE
REVOLUTIONARY OUTCOMES: ISSUES OF EQUALITY AND DEMOCRACY
T Apr. 2 - Brentlinger, pp. 133-52, 285-346
- Abu-Jamal, pp. 169-85
- Heng & Shapiro, pp. 242-92
VIOLENCE AND WORLD ORDER
T Apr. 9 - Johnson, pp. 137-215
- Bergquist et al., pp. 75-94, 255-61, 269-73
** Paper due, Tuesday, Apr. 9 **
ALTERNATIVES TO VIOLENCE: LEARNING FROM HISTORY
T Apr. 16 - *Ackerman, Peter, & Jack Duvall, A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict (N.Y. St. Martin=s, 2000), pp. 457-91
- Bergquist et al., pp. 195-212
- Brentlinger, pp. 347-59
- Johnson, pp. 216-29
** FINAL EXAM : Tuesday, Apr. 23, 7:15-9:55 pm