STS 262
Paper Trails Fall 2024
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed SOC 262 / GBST 262

Class Details

Long before the invention of the passport, states or state-like entities sought to document and manage populations and discipline bodies. This course invites students to critically reflect on documentation practices and systemic violence, particularly against racial, ethnic, sexual, and political minorities. Students will explore identity-making through documentary practices such as the three-generation life history, a biographical form that Soviet-allied countries used to reward loyalty and punish disloyalty. Labels, such as a criminal record or pre-existing health conditions, also trail or precede individuals their whole lives. Students will grapple with what happens when the paper trail goes cold–when identification documents are invalidated, birth certificates withheld, household registries purged, and archives destroyed. Students will explore the rise of surveillance and biometric data alongside the actors, technologies, and industries that try to circumvent them in places such as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and along the US-Mexico border. In this project-based course, students will exhume paper trails and imagine alternative ways to create, alter, and subvert them.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 1312
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: thoughtful and consistent class participation, facilitation of guest speakers, Special Collections visit, project memos, and final project and presentations
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Anthropology and sociology majors, Global Studies concentrators; Science and Technology Studies concentrators. If the course overenrolls, the instructor will send out a Google Form to make enrollment decisions.
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
SOC 262 Division II STS 262 Division II GBST 262 Division II
DPE Notes: In this course, students will interrogate some of the key documents that structure our lives and serve as tools for waging systemic violence against ethnic, racial, sexual, and political minorities. Students will synthesize and apply these lessons about bureaucratic documentation toward the benefit of a community partner.

Class Grid

Updated 12:40 pm

Course Catalog Search

(searches Title and Course Description only)



Start Time
End Time