1st Module Assignment: The Exceptional State in Power (Due Oct. 16 at the start of class)
This assignment, which will involve additional research, can be on any one of the following three themes:
(1) Terror, violence, and the “exceptional” regime: While different (democratic) states allow different quantities of legally sanctioned violence within the framework of their constitutional structures (including the use of capital punishment), most constitutional governments at least publicly forswear the use of torture and murder (again, speaking of non-judicially sanctioned capital punishment). Your project should explore the theme of violence and the exceptional regime (regimes that come to power through extra-legal means), keeping in mind that the state always maintains its right to a monopoly over the use of (legally sanctioned) violence. What you will want to explore is the purpose of violence in the exceptional regime. You can look at this in a single example or multiple states. What does it mean to talk of “excessive” violence?
(2) The internationalization of the "dirty wars" regimes. Projects in this area can explore relations between two or more Southern Cone dictatorships (e.g. Chile and Argentina), Operación Condor, or the relationship between the United States and any particular Southern Cone dictatorship. The focus in this latter case should largely be on the relations between the dictatorship and the U.S. Government once the dictatorship has been established (i.e., rather than looking, for example, at U.S. policy toward the Allende government).
(3) Understanding regime objectives. Your projects in this area would explore the how these regimes, which usually seize power in order to resolve some form of state crisis (e.g., the challenge of popular movements, the threat of armed opponents, an irresolvable economic crisis, etc.), will be required to develop a rationale and program for rule once in power, and particularly if their stay in power stretches over some years. What is their ideology? What are splits or differences are evident among regime supporters? What are their objectives? These projects should attempt to understand the authoritarian states from their own perspective, not in the sense of justifying their operations, but attempting to understand exactly what they thought they were doing.
If you have a burning desire to study a different theme that still fits within the first third of the course, please see me.
You may take on this project either individually or as a group project. If a group project, it should involve between 2-3 people but no more (unless you receive explicit permission from me).
The format of the project is open — written projects can include traditional research papers but they can also take the form of a screenplay, a short story, a children’s book, etc. You can also present your project in a different media: a performance or video, photography or art work, etc. If you’re unclear about whether the format that you want to present in is appropriate, just contact me to discuss your ideas.
That said, here’s a word of warning on projects that use alternative forms of media: It is best not to chose a medium which you haven’t worked in before because you will spend all your time learning how to use the medium and not much time thinking about the basic analysis that should be the heart of your project. You may want to do a short documentary film, but if you have no experience with shooting or editing, you will spend most of your time learning that.
As with any research topic, begin with questions that you want to answer before deciding the best approach to answering them. Don’t begin with the media (“I’d like to do a video”) before you have a question or have thought about what would be the best way to answer it. I will insist on a tight relationship between form and the content: if not a traditional paper, you will need to explain (in your accompanying essay) why you chose the form that you did to get at answers to your questions.
If you choose to write a “standard” paper, it should be 6-8 pages in length; papers which accompany other non-written projects should be 3-4 pages in length, although they can be longer. Other written projects (a children’s book, a short story, etc.) should try to present a project which is of an appropriate length.
All projects, whether a standard written paper or in a different format, should include citations where appropriate or, in a non-standard project, a short annotated bibliography in which you describe those works consulted that had most of an impact on your project. In both cases, use the standard format for footnotes or for bibliography (if that is what you are presenting). Footnote style can be found at: http://www.oberlin.edu/faculty/svolk/citation.htm; bibliography at: http://library.osu.edu/sites/guides/chicagogd.php#bookone. Projects that use standard footnotes (or endnotes) do not need to include a bibliography.
Evaluations: For individual projects, you will be evaluated in a traditional way. For group projects, each group member will have to fill out a form (posted to Blackboard) in which you evaluate your own performance in the group as well as the performance of the other group members. Using input from this form, I will either assign everyone on the project the same grade or, if indicated, different grades.
You must all sign honor codes on your work. If you have any questions as to how the honor code applies to joint work, please raise them in class or ask me during office hours.
If you would like to present your project to the class, please let me know by Oct. 11 so that I can set aside the necessary time.
Any questions about your group, the nature of your project, of anything else, please ask me.
PROJECTS ARE DUE OCTOBER 16 AT THE START OF CLASS.