Deparochializing Political Theory “Short Course” at APSA

You are warmly invited to participate in the upcoming short course, ‘Deparochializing Political Theory’, running the day before APSA begins. Details and link below!

To find short course info online:

To register: once logged in to myAPSA, click ‘Register for a short course’ in the 2014 APSA Annual Meeting window (SC5)

Deparochializing Political Theory: Teaching Chinese and Islamic/Arab Political Thought

Wednesday August 27, 1:30-5:30pm

APSA Annual Conference, Washington, DC (exact location TBA)


The aim of this short course is to provide practical guidance for those who wish to integrate non-western political theory into their university teaching, but are unsure about where to begin.  Two hours will be dedicated to Chinese political thought, led by Loubna El-Amine, and two hours will focus on Arab and Islamic political thought, led by Michaelle Browers. While some of the broader issues and questions related to comparative political theory will certainly be engaged, the main focus of this course will be on more applied matters such as identifying and dealing with common challenges related to the study of Chinese or Arab and Islamic political thought, and constructing reading lists, syllabi, assignments, and pedagogical strategies.


To give a hands-on sense of how a class on Chinese political thought might run, the first half of the course will simulate an undergraduate, introductory class on Chinese Political Thought. El-Amine will distribute short excerpts from early Confucian texts during the session, giving participants the chance to read them and then discuss them as students would, with the help of a few guiding questions and a short introduction to the historical context. Topics of discussion will include the method of argumentation deployed in the Confucian texts, the central concepts at play, and the political vision offered. Participants will be encouraged to draw comparisons to more familiar methods, concepts, and ideas from the Western tradition. The remainder of this session will be devoted to meta-issues about teaching Chinese political thought, and concerns and questions participants might have.


The second half of the course will open with discussion of issues related to delineating the scope of Arab and Islamic thought, since both ‘Arab’ and ‘Islamic’ constitute diverse areas of inquiry and there are considerable problems with presuming these areas in isolation from a presumed ‘center’ and from each other. Browers will share both a range of ‘complicating’ theories that she has found particularly useful when introducing such material, as well as pedagogical strategies developed to overcome some of the greatest obstacles in facilitating a deeper discussion and analysis of the topics and readings. We will then look at various actual syllabi and assignments for classes that focus specifically on Arab and/or Islamic political thought and for classes in which the study of texts from those traditions are integrated into broader topics. Additional syllabi will be solicited from short course participants for this purpose. Providing a ‘crash course’ of sorts, the discussion will be aimed at giving participants a sense of the concepts, debates, and historical events that form the basic terrain of Arab and Islamic political thought.   Along the way, we will critically examine the available translations of primary texts, the growing number of textbooks and readers, and various secondary sources in Arab and Islamic political thought.

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