Power and Resistance II

Advanced topics
Course Description: 

The course in the winter term focuses on the entanglement of relations of power, modes of fabricating subjects and subjectivities, modes of making a living and modes of resistance. The topics and readings have been selected with the purpose of offering students critical perspectives on the contemporary that are marginalised in the disciplines of political science, IR, and pubic admin. In particular, the course aims at destabilising everyday, commonsensical and dominant scholarly knowledge’s, and OUR experiences (in our everyday lives and in our scholarly work) related to power, truth, subjectivity, identity, freedom, ethics and so on. The course aims at disassembling dominant understandings of the present across different domains and to open them up to alternative modes of thinking and making the world, by injecting anxiety and uncertainty into dominant forms of engagement and expertise. Also, it aims at enabling participants to acquire in-depth knowledge of central themes, concerns, concepts, epistemologies, methodologies in power and resistance studies; to critically interrogate the differences, affinities, tensions, complementarities of these themes, concerns, concepts and so on; to critically assess their validity and effectiveness; to be able to perceive and analyse the often minute and imperceptible workings of power in all sorts of domains and practices that at first sight may seem to have little to do with relations of inequality, the governance by some of the conduct of others and states of unfreedom; and to critically reflect on the commensurability of these themes, concerns, concepts and so on with, or their applicability to, their own work and lives.


Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course the students will:

- be familiar with major themes, concerns, concepts, epistemologies, methodologies in contemporary power & resistance studies;

- have enlarged their conceptual and methodological repertoire for analysing relations of power and resistance;

- have acquired the intellectual means to detect and smoke out relations of power in the most unsuspecting places and spaces;

- be able to critically evaluate key (post-)Marxian and (post-)Foucaultian inflections in critical engagements with power and resistance;

- have learned to situate their own research in relation to the discussed themes, concerns, concepts and so on;


Each student will be assessed through a combination of seminar contributions, oral presentations and written work.

The final grade is made up of the following components:

  1. Seminar attendance and participation (20%). Attendance is mandatory, and all participants (for credit & for audit) are expected to come to seminars prepared to discuss the readings for that day.
  2. Each student has to do 2 oral seminar presentations. The presentations are supposed to last about 20-30 minutes. The presentations will identify and summarise the main arguments of the assigned texts before they launch into a critical assessment, including reviewing and comparatively evaluating the texts’ ontological, epistemological, social-theoretical and methodological assumptions; their standards of validity; the main strengths and weaknesses of the arguments/research; the problems in the literature to which they their respond; the situatedness of the author(s); the extra-discursive contexts of the texts; etc. (each presentation equals 25%)
  3. Each student teams up with another participant. The 2-person teams will each write a literature review(s) of 2,000-3000 words on one of the topics covered in class. The papers will zero in on a particular literature stream and critically discuss their main arguments, their differences, their respective strengths and weakness, etc. (30%).