State and Culture

Course Level: 
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Academic Year: 
US Credits: 
ECTS Credits: 
Course Code: 
Course Description: 


How and when did culture become an object of public policies and political concern? How has this concern transformed through the time and space of modernity? Is the politicization of culture in the conditions of global modernity best explained as a product of imperialism and racial domination, nationalism, commodification, class power, inter-state relations, bureaucratic growth and “rationalization”, field dynamics, political ritual, or organizational differentiation? What is the difference between authoritarian and liberal cultural policies, if there is any at all? What does populism do to the cultural field as we know it? What is neoliberalism’s  impact with the intense privatization, commodification, marketization, dematerialization, and quantification it imposes on cultural products and labor? What happens of schools, museums, concert halls, art markets, historic districts, cultural centers, heritage sites, national and local identities, art funding—among many other objects of modern political/cultural concern—in such context? Finally, can we learn from the pandemic about the new politics of culture under global neoliberalism?

The syllabus is organized according to key definitions and concepts of the state elaborated by historical sociologists, political theorists and political economists.  

Learning Outcomes: 

--Substantive knowledge of the main paradigms in state theory and of issues of governance as they pertain to power and knowledge production, its uses and consequences; sociological approaches to expertise in political context; policy and political issues raised by the use of expertise in the context of economic and political globalization.

--Portable skills: Interdisciplinary approach to political issues and issues of knowledge production; researching and writing about the knowledge-power nexus in a way that relates the micro-level of specific everyday life and practices (bureaucratic, scientific, cognitive) and the macro-level of aggregated effects and structures (strandardization and homogenization, globalization, domination).


1.    Participation (40%) This grade includes attendance to all sessions. One unjustified absence might not affect the participation grade. More than one unjustified absence precludes the awarding of a passing grade for the entire class. An absence is only justified by a serious, medical, legal or otherwise life-threatening cause that may be documented. Conferencing and other research-related activities are not acceptable reasons for missing class.

Participation is evaluated through attendance, preparedness as displayed in writing (on Moodle Forum, Perusall)  and orally in sessions.

In addition, each student is responsible for a double-session. This involves introducing the readings; outlining discussion points; and leading the discussion (with my help if needed).

2.    Final assignment (60%): 3000-5000 word essay or research paper addressing the theme of the course. The paper should feature a case analysis supported by adequate theoretical work. You may elect to produce a theoretically driven paper instead—to be discussed with me and the class (see dates below). The final paper has to address the basic question asked in this class: which kind of state begets which kind of cultural forms? And vice-versa.

Student projects will be discussed in groups and in the class. A project is due by week 4 (working title+draft abstract). A draft of the paper, including an outline, is due by Week 7 (Reading/writing/thinking week).