SOC 335
Nowheres Fall 2021
Division II
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Class Details

We live in a world of nation-states. The world map, according to journalist Joshua Keating, is “itself as an institution, an exclusive club of countries” that rarely accepts new members. Throughout the course, we question how countries conquered the world and became the taken-for-granted political unit. We do so, paradoxically, by looking at contemporary nations that do not appear on the world map. These include nations without statehood, such as Somaliland; those that span countries, including indigenous communities across the US and Canada; and nations that have lost their countries, such as Palestine and South Vietnam. By interrogating “nowheres,” we tease out what it means to be a country, and pinpoint when and why the definitions do not apply uniformly. Students will reflect on why the world map has been so remarkably static since the end of the Cold War. We will further probe the social, political, and human costs of the exceptions to this general rule. Students will raise questions and attempt answers to what our interconnected world means for “nowheres” looming on the horizon–nation-states that, as a result of climate change, will soon vanish.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 1414
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Thoughtful and consistent class participation, one 15- to 20-page research paper, several shorter writing assignments and drafts building up to the research paper, and class project to create a speculative digital atlas
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Anthropology and Sociology majors
Distributions: Division II

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