Culture and Women’s Rights

Discipline: Comparative Politics
Instructor: Walsh
Credits: 3
Day: C
Start: 1355
End: 1510
Field Work: Day 1 - Marseille - Saturday, 3 August | France
Prerequisites: At least one course in comparative politics or women’s studies. Download Syllabus

This course explores conflicts over culture and women’s rights through a series of contemporary controversies prevalent in the Mediterranean region. Case studies include gender and the Arab Spring, genital cutting in North Africa, “honor killings” in Turkey, women and the workplace in Turkey and the US, the headscarf in Europe, and same sex marriage in France and Spain. Readings are drawn from a number of disciplines, including politics, anthropology, philosophy, and women’s studies.

Field Work

Country: France
Day: 1 - Marseille - Saturday, 3 August

France is famous for its lovers and sensuality, but gender and sexuality have recently roiled the country. Protests, marches, fiery denunciations, and even riots have accompanied discussions about gay marriage and the dress of Muslim women in France. This field lab will investigate the history and contemporary context for these controversies. Why are gender and sexuality such incendiary topics in France? What roles do immigration, Catholicism, and French Republicanism play in this debate? What reforms would you advocate in France to secure a more peaceful and just future? This field lab is designed to help students answer these questions. We will begin with a brief gathering on the ship to go over logistics and the key themes of the field lab assignment. We then depart for the new MuCEM  (Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerannée or Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations). We will have a Escorted tour for the special exhibit, “The Bazaar of Gender: Femininity and Masculinity in the Mediterranean.” Students will then have lunch on the museum grounds and afterwards, time to explore the permanent collection, and obtain additional information for their field lab projects. We will then regroup and depart for a meeting with two representatives from the Marseille branch of SOS homophobie to discuss the status of gay rights in France and the recent EuroPride Marseille celebration. Time permitting we will tour some local gay sites in Marseille before returning to the ship. Before the field lab students will be divided into groups. Each group will have the task of creating a multimedia presentation on culture and gender in the Mediterranean as it pertains to one of the following themes: the body, the nation, religion, the family, and the streets. During the field lab and during their port stay in France, students will take notes, pictures, make video and audio recordings, obtain pamphlets, postcards and other media related to their group’s assigned theme. Students will then work in their groups to discuss the materials and field lab, and create a powerpoint or imovie to present to the class.