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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Summer 2005

GOV F357M • Politics of Equal Rights

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
85475 MTWThF
11:30 AM-1:00 PM
BUR 136

Course Description

Course number may be repeated for credit when topics vary. Modern political claims are often framed in terms of equality and rights. This course examines the politics of two distinct sets of rights-based claims: indigenous rights and gay/lesbian rights. Indigenous rights claims present a challenge to the very legitimacy of the nation-state, itself; and, as this course will show, they problematize our very understanding of equality. We will explore the ways in which indigenous claims for rights and reparations have been reconciled, or not, with the nation-states claim to sovereignty. Gay and lesbian rights fundamentally challenge the basic tenets of traditional social orders, gender roles, and conceptions of family. We will explore the contentious politics that characterizes both of these sets of issues from a comparative perspective. Australia and New Zealand will serve as case studies for an exploration of the historical underpinnings and contemporary issues of indigenous rights politics. To those two cases, we will add Canada for our examination of the history and politics of gay and lesbian rights. Empirically, the course will address a number of important issues, for example: How have these groups been treated by their respective governments? How has membership in these groups been defined, and how have members of these groups sought to define themselves collectively? How have these groups mobilized for change? How were their strategies shaped by their institutional and political environment? What have been their objectives? What have they gained? Has there been a backlash? From a theoretical perspective, we will explore the contested meaning of equality, the efficacy of rights-based political strategies within liberal democratic political systems, and the role that ideas about minorities play in shaping larger discourses about national identity, state power, and society.

Grading Policy

Discussion-Response Papers: On two occasions (one during the first half of the semester and one during the second half of the semester), you will write a response (no less than 750 words and no more than 1,000 words) to the readings, which must be posted to the appropriate Discussion Board on Blackboard ( no later than 5:00 pm the day before the assigned readings are to be covered in class. These will be graded and together will count for 10% of your final grade. Exams: There will be two examinations, each worth 20% of your final grade. Essay Assignment: There will be a written essay assignment (3 pages, double-spaced, typed, with standard margins, black ink and 12-point/Times New Roman font) on a topic/question to be provided; it will be worth 20% of your final grade. Map Quiz: 10% of your final grade. Film Reviews: You are required to view two films and write a review (no less than 750 and no more than 1,000 words) of each film. Each film review is worth 10% of your final grade.


Course packet available at Abels on June 6.


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