The Power/Knowledge Pathway will prepare students to question whether relations of power condition how knowledge is produced and vice-versa. Students will reflect on the practices through which disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, arts, and sciences produce knowledge that supports, normalizes, or unsettles practices of power. Some examples include the way institutions like schools, hospitals, museums, the state, prisons, and the family commission and then use knowledge – including mapping, surveys, architecture, aesthetics, psychology, geological surveys, criminology, epidemiology, demographics, econometrics, ethnography, and quantitative analyses – to establish expertise, identify problems, and elaborate techniques with which to carry out interventions. The Pathway will therefore foreground how the disciplines can be mobilized to discipline, regulate, manage, include and exclude individuals and populations. It will also draw attention to the way interdisciplinary and anti-disciplinary fields such as area studies, queer studies, rhetoric, ethnic studies, and cultural studies have attempted to challenge canonical, Eurocentric, patriarchal, and hetero-normative ways of knowing.
While students will construct their own animating questions, some possible examples include:
- How is power produced, reproduced, and normalized?
- How do we establish what is normal and what is not normal?
- What makes a discipline a discipline? Is it an agreed-upon method, a set of canonical texts, or common assumptions?
- What are each discipline’s histories, methods, and conditions of knowledge production and contestation? • How do discourses of freedom produce un-freedom?
The thematic inquiry will consist of a four-credit course taught by a single faculty member. It will introduce students to the concepts of discipline, power, knowledge, subjectification, and normalization, as developed by Michel Foucault and his interlocutors. The course will consist of a carefully selected portion of Foucault’s theoretical writings paired with “case studies” so that students can see how the theoretical concepts infuse practices in social and cultural life, and then ask whether they correspond well and whether the theory has actual explanatory merit.
The Thematic Inquiry is also designed to allow for some flexibility so that any core member of the Pathway could potentially teach it by adjusting the pairings of theory and practice to their individual areas of expertise.
Suggested Global/Local Engagement
Each Pathway requires students to pursue purposeful engagement in a local or international context, such as study away, an internship, or community-based learning.