Checking date: 26/04/2024

Course: 2024/2025

Culture and Power
Master in Cultural Theory and Critique (Plan: 356 - Estudio: 253)

Coordinating teacher: VELASCO ARIAS, GONZALO

Department assigned to the subject: Humanities: Philosophy, Language, Literature Theory Department

Type: Electives
ECTS Credits: 6.0 ECTS


Competences: To kow how to establish the relations between cultural fields and forms of social and political power To acquire the necessary conceptual tools and theories to establish the former relations To acquire the necessary conceptual tools and theories to establish to analyze the temporal and historical dimensions of the relations between culture and power To master the analysis and critical thinking about the current debates on cultural studies To know the most relevant bibliography To know how to achieve an interdisciplinar study To know how to use verbal and written methods of study and criticism To be able to write scholar papers and oral expositions
Skills and learning outcomes
Description of contents: programme
The critical conception of theory is intimately linked to an understanding of culture as a form of power. Although the relation of power to the production of truth can be traced back to the beginnings of early modernity with Thomas Hobbes, it is Marx's notion of ideology and Nietzsche's genealogical method that inaugurate this attitude of suspicion that goes beyond traditional methodical scepticism. Already in the 20th century, Gramsci's notion of ¿hegemony¿, its development in the Cultural Studies of the Birmingham School, as well as the disciplinary institutionalisation of decolonial studies normalised the critique of culture with emancipatory aims in the curriculum. Once these different theoretical practices have been consolidated into a shared habitus with a tradition of common texts and objects of research, it is worth taking a step back and asking some metatheoretical questions: is the exercise of critique in itself emancipatory, is its deployment and practice by ¿privileged¿ subjects and institutions genuinely transformative in motivation, or does it only serve to entrench ¿good consciences¿, who should be the subject of theory? Who should be the subject of critical theory? What degree of responsibility can be demanded of those who have not perpetrated any harm but are indirectly benefited by the structural nature of certain injustices? What can or should the subject implicated in structural injustices do? These questions are intended to point to what will be the main objective of this course: negatively, to stop assuming the suitability of privileged subjects as producers of critical theory, and to resize their role in a relational framework that includes the spectator and the damaged; positively, to abandon the merely critical habitus and incorporate a normative and pragmatic dimension to the critical analysis of culture: what can and what is preferable to do. To this end, the subject will follow an itinerary that will take as its premise the inherent relationship between privilege and a certain type of ignorance. From this presupposition, the aim will be to create the epistemic conditions for an ethics of privileged ignorance. The theoretical elements they will draw on will come from the epistemology of ignorance, feminist objectivism, the critique of white ignorance, the stanpoint theory debate, moral philosophy in its approach to reproachability for implicit biases, as well as the epistemology of virtue. Thus, although the approach of the course comes from a ¿continental¿ tradition of philosophy and theory, some of the tools to be used will come from epistemology and analytical moral philosophy, as well as from traditions of situated knowledge. The lecturer reserves the right to alter the order of some of the sessions or to extend a subject to more than one week if classroom work makes it necessary. The programme is conceived so that there is an argumentative continuity between themes, so that the distinction between themes and sessions can be blurred if it is justified and the group recognises the themes and shows an adequate follow-up of the proposal. The recommended bibliography is not required reading to follow the sessions. For this purpose, notes will be provided in draft format, or fragments of texts that can be worked on beforehand or during the session itself. 1st week Introduction to the course. Avatars of the critique of ideology in contemporary cultural theory. Forgetting the question of agency. Normative horizons of critique. Reading and discussion: Terry Eagleton (2019 [1997]). ¿What is ideology?¿, in Ideology. Barcelona: Paidós. Fernando Broncano (2019). Cultura es nombre de derrota. Salamanca: Delirio (Fragments). 2nd week Epistemic injustice and its variants. Epistemic injustice Pohlhaus Jr, Gaile. 2017. ¿Varieties of Epistemic Injustice.¿ In The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, edited by. Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus Jr., 13-26. New York: Routledge. Dotson, Kristie. 2011. ¿Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing.¿ Hypatia 26 (2): 236-57. Fricker, Miranda. 2016. ¿Epistemic Injustice and the Preservation of Ignorance.¿ In The Epistemic Dimensions of Ignorance, ed. by Rik Peels and Martijn Blaauw, 160-77. New York: Cambridge University Press. Medina, José. 2016. ¿Ignorance and Racial Insensitivity.¿ In The Epistemic Dimensions of Ignorance, edited by Rik Peels and Martijn Blaauw, 178-201. New York: Cambridge University Press. Medina, José. 2013. The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and Resistant Imaginations. New York: Oxford University Press. Dotson, Kristie. 2014. ¿Conceptualizing Epistemic Oppression.¿ Social Epistemology 28 (2): 115-38. Reading and discussion: Mills, Charles W. (2007). White Ignorance. In Shannon Sullivan & Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. Albany, NY: State Univ of New York Pr. pp. 11-38. Sullivan, S. (2006). ¿One. Ignorance and Habit", ¿Three. Seductive Habits of Racial Privilege", Revealing Whiteness. The Unconscious Habits of Racial Privilege. lf. Oxford University Press. To be consulted: Hunter, S., van der Westhuizen, C. (2022). Routledge Handbook of Critical Studies in Whiteness. London: Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Alcoff, L. (2006). ¿9. The Whiteness Question¿. In Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the SeRoutledge. Recommended reading: Mills, C. W. (2005). ¿Ideal Theory as Ideology. Hypatia, 20(3), 165-184. (2015) Decolonizing Western Political Philosophy, New Political Science, 37:1, 1-24, DOI: 10.1080/07393148.2014.995491 Eagleton T. ¿The Significance of Theory¿. 3rd week Privilege and ignorance. White ignorance as matrix. Masculine ignorance. Privilege and intersectionality. The critique of white feminism. Feminist objectivism and empiricism. Standpoint theory: Is identity the condition of possibility for critical thinking? Reading and discussion: bell hooks, ¿Theory as liberatory practice. Further reading: Collins, ¿Learning from the Outsider Within¿; Intemann, ¿25 Years of Feminist Empiricism and Standpoint Theory¿; Harding, ¿RETHINKING STANDPOINT EPISTEMOLOGY: WHAT IS ¿STRONG OBJECTIVITY?¿¿. Ortega, ¿Being Lovingly, Knowingly Ignorant¿. 4th week Reproachability and responsibility for structural injustices. The moral position of the subject involved. Group ignorance and reproachability (the case of male resentment). Reading and discussion: Rothberg, Mark (2019). Introduction. The Implicated Subject. Beyond Victims and Perpetrators. Stanford University Press. Young, I.M.. (2014). ¿Structure as the primary object of justice¿ [excerpts] and ¿The social connectedness model¿. In Responsibility for Justice. Madrid: Morata. On reproachability. For further reading. Fricker, ¿What's the Point of Blame?¿; Scaife et al., ¿To Blame?¿; Mason, ¿Moral Ignorance and Blameworthiness¿. Week 5 Figures of the unconscious commission of harm: implicit biases, perceptual habits, microaggressions. Readings: Excerpts will be selected to aid follow-up, but will primarily be the following-. Holroyd, ¿Responsibility for Implicit Bias¿; Holroyd and Kelly, ¿Implicit Bias, Character, and Control¿; Holroyd, ¿Oppressive Praise¿; Rini, The Ethics of Microaggression. Week 6 The Solitary Traps of Moral Introspection. Resentment and complacency. Alternative ways of accounting for oneself. Reading and discussion: Butler. Giving an account of oneself (selected). Ernaux, Annie (1999). Shame. Trans. by M. and B. Corral Corral. Barcelona: Tusquets. (2020). El lugar. Trans. by N. Gutierrez. Barcelona: Tusquets. Nelson, M. (2018). The Argonauts. Tres Puntos Ediciones. 7th week 14.03 (Epistemic-political) paradoxes of beautiful souls: good allies, epistemic exploitation, epistemic smothering, gashlightening, ontological expansiveness. The case of online lurking. Berenstain, ¿Epistemic Exploitation¿; Sullivan, Revealing whiteness; McKinnon, ¿Allies Behaving Badly Gaslighting as epistemic injustice¿. Hoagland, Sarah Lucia. 2007. ¿Denying Relationality: Epistemology and Ethics and Ignorance.¿ In Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, edited by Nancy Tuana and Shannon Sullivan, 95-118. Albany: State University of New York Press. Reading and discussion: Week 8 and Week 9 (Epistemic-political) paradoxes of beautiful souls: good allies, epistemic exploitation, epistemic smothering, gashlightening, ontological expansiveness. The case of online lurking. Reading and discussion: 10th week Virtues of epistemic justice 2. Reading and discussion: Lugones, Maria. 2003. Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition against Multiple Oppressions. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. Townley C. Toward a Revaluation of Ignorance. Hypatia. 2006;21(3):37-55. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.2006.tb01112.x Medina, José. 2013. The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and Resistant Imaginations. Imaginations. New York: Oxford University Press. 11th week The puzzle of moral and epistemic deference. Reading and discussion. 12th week Epistemic foundations of political solidarity. Reading and discussion. 13th week Joint action, responsive groups and group virtue. Trust and self-confidence as a condition of possibility. Reading and discussion. Squires, ¿Rethinking the Black Public Sphere¿; Fraser, ¿Rethinking the Public Sphere¿, 1990; Habgood-Coote, Ashton, and El Kassar, ¿Receptive Publics¿. 14th week Recap / Class recovery.
Learning activities and methodology
The subject will be based on a theoretical part and a practical part in which relevant texts related to the subject contents will be discussed. The lecturer will present the general contents and the associated texts. Each session will end with one of several problems and research questions. The lecturer will point which texts are recommended to delve into those questions and problems. In the first hour of the next session, one or two students, in turn, will explain what readings and what reflection work they have done on the problems indicated by the lecturer at the end of the previous session. In the second hour, the lecturer will introduce a new topic and a new problem. In this way, each session begins with a presentation of the students that serves to link with the previous session, and ends with the introduction of a new topic. Discussions will be held with students to check the degree of understanding of the content and to help resolve the questions raised. The students will make a report for each of the oral presentations made and will participate in the debates generated around the texts.
Assessment System
  • % end-of-term-examination 50
  • % of continuous assessment (assigments, laboratory, practicals...) 50
Calendar of Continuous assessment
Basic Bibliography
  • Brown, Wendy. Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire. Princeton University Press. 2006
  • Hlll Collins, Patricia. Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory. Duke University Press. 2019
  • Jaeggi, Rahel. Alienation. Columbia University Press. 2016
  • Jaeggi, Rahel. Critique of Forms of Life. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 2018
  • Kollers, Avery. A Moral Theory of Solidarity. Oxford University Press. 2016
  • Medina, J.. The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and the Social Imagination. Oxford University Press. 2016
  • Scholz, S. J.. Political Solidarity. The Pennsylvania University Press. 2008

The course syllabus may change due academic events or other reasons.