This course offers an introduction to the fundamental concepts and theories of comparative politics building on the countries and regions visited during the voyage. In this way, it enables students to grasp the often profound differences in political and social institutions in East Asian, South Asian, African and Western societies.
The first set of reading materials introduces the underlying concepts of sovereignty, authority, and power, of citizenry and state, of political and economic institutions and change, of identity and of development. The second, more substantial set of readings enables an analytical approach to the countries and regions visited, and in this way encourages students to engage with the cultures and societies encountered. Guided discussions in class are opportunities to compare and contrast political institutions and process across countries, as much to derive generalizations as to acknowledge and correctly interpret differences.
*Note: This class is delivered when lunch is served.
Field WorkCountry: Japan
Date: January 24, 2020
A visit to the former imperial palace in Kyoto, for centuries the capital of Japan, makes tangible the symbolic authority of the emperor while real power was in the hands of the Shogun. This history represents a fascinating case study in comparative government. Kyoto is also famous for its workshop clusters – highly specialized manufacture of all kinds define Japanese industry, and has received significant government support through the ages. Especially in the Meiji era, but also in post-war Japan, government-led industrialization was a key to the country’s success, and contrasts with industrial policy in other countries, in particular the U.S.
1. To understand divisions of government past & present
2. To explore the complicated connection between culture, religion & political power
3. To gain an appreciation for diverse levels of government intervention in industry