- Major technological changes such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data, virtual reality and the Internet of things have the potential to transform the nature of work, the structure of the economy, and life as we know it. Value is driven by the economics of networks and depends on the number of people already connected (the so-called network effect), leading to positive feedback mechanisms, winner-take-all dynamics, and dominance of the market by a single firm or technology. This natural tendency towards monopoly has led to the emergence of large behemoths that are uniquely positioned to record user activities and extract unprecedented volumes of data, while asserting governance and quasi-regulatory power over entire segments of the new digital economy. What kind of social and political order does a digital economy entail? ...
- The separation of church and state is often regarded as the hallmark of enlightened democracy, a guarantor of a secular order that protects freedom of conscience by rendering the state indifferent to questions of religious persuasion. While often regarded a neutral political model, secularism as we know it is actually the product of a unique historical confrontation between ecclesiastical and state sovereignty in early modern Europe. What are the characteristics of secularism, where did they come from, and to what extent are they transferable to other places? ...
- Walter Benjamin—as he became better acquainted with Marxism and began to self-identity as a convinced if somewhat idiosyncratic Communist—became one of the Western world’s preeminent philosophers of stuff. From toys to decorative design to clothes, materials, buildings, popular art and knick-knacks, Benjamin was persuaded that “detritus” was in fact the key to understanding history and the always pregnant, revolutionary possibilities of the present. ...
- How can we understand “East Asia” as a geographical category, as a subject of popular discourse, in particular, as an actor in the contemporary global economy? In this class, students will explore the pivotal transformations, imperialisms, economic conditions, and cultural discourses that have produced East Asia as a category of analysis. What are the histories, features, and particular experiences with capitalism that bind together places ranging from Japan to Korea to China? And what can the emergence of East Asia as a political and economic formation teach us about the nature of both politics and the world market? ...
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Faculty Writing: The Cloud Messenger, GOP priorities, and the wages of “Fear”
In Poetry, on the eve of September 11th, Anjuli Raza Kolb considers the ancient Sanskrit poem “The Cloud Messenger.” What kind of message does a wandering cloud convey–particularly one composed of vaporized steel, cement, glass, and human bodies? “[O]n the day the Towers fell, we did make a collective appeal to the sky, and loved […]