2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Political Economy and Technology: Robots, Racism and Revolution


Spring 2012 quarter

Anthony Zaragoza political economy
Fields of Study
African American studies, American studies, agriculture, community studies, cultural studies, economics, history, international studies, philosophy of science, political economy, political science and sociology
Preparatory for studies or careers in
education, labor, community and global justice, social services, history, law, nonprofit work, political economy and informed civic participation.

We might think of political economy as the study of who has what, why it's like that, how it came to be that way, and how to change it. At the same time, we might consider technology to be any tool or set of tools a person or group of people devises to solve a particular problem as they define it. With these broad definitions in mind, many questions emerge: Is technology neutral? Who is the economy for? What is the relationship between technology and the economy? What is the relationship between new productive forces and politics? What are the impacts of new practices or ideas on culture and society? Can these be considered technologies? This program is designed to look at these and other related questions. 

First, we will develop a working definition of technology. Over the course of the quarter we'll focus on technological development in both the scientific and social sense to further explore the relationship between political economy and technology. One area for our examination will be revolutions in productive technologies, from the agricultural and industrial revolutions to the computer and robotics revolution. Here we will examine early tools leading us up to more recent innovations such as Taylorism, Fordism, mechanization and automation. Another area, perhaps slightly less intuitive, will be the development of ideas such as the social construction of race and the evolution of racism as a technology used as a central tool in the political economic evolution of capitalism. Throughout the quarter an ongoing theme will be how people have reacted to such basic changes in the economic landscape and used technologies to organize to improve their situation or transform the world in which they find themselves.

Students will be expected to write summary-responses for each book and a final synthesis paper toward the end of the quarter. We will also have various small projects and hands-on workshops.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$100 for field trip costs.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
September 26th, 2011 This program is no longer offered.