Politics of Identity, Scale, and Nature
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Is identity intrinsic and pre-determined, or is it fluid and contingent? What defines identity? Is it some combination of language, food, culture, religion, geography, history, or common experience? If identity is fluid and contingent, what are the extrinsic factors that shape how identities evolve or change? How are particular notions of identity socially constructed, and how are they contested and negotiated? In this program we will explore the ways in which identities are shaped in various times and places, or at particular moments.
We will also examine the phenomenon of ‘identity politics’ and how it intersects with the ‘politics of scale’. In this vein, we will seek to understand how certain identity categories can be reified, such as at the scale of nation-state, while others, such as race and gender can be a terrain of struggle; how identity can be imagined at multiple scales, how one can ‘jump scale’; and the implications of these practices in contemporary politics and discourses. Examples to be explored include the spatial imaginary of the ‘Global South’ in global climate politics; racial politics in the United States focused on the ‘people of color’ identity; various forms of nationalism and practices of ‘othering’; the fluidity of identity categories in claims of cultural appropriation; and notions of purity or authenticity and hybridity in claims about identity.
Finally, we will critically examine identity construction in taken for granted environmental imaginaries including the anthropocene, overpopulation, invasive species, and pristine wilderness. We will examine how ideas of nature are socially constructed, yet have real material consequences for people, whether nature is set aside in national parks for preservation and recreation; or whether ecological boundaries are consolidated along mythical national boundaries, leading to fluid and contested yet reified ideas of who and what is native or invasive in particular geographical contexts.
This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:
Political Ecology, Critical Geopolitics, Environmental Studies
Class Size: 25
Scheduled for: Day
Located in: Olympia