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Political Revolutions

DPI-395, Fall 2016

Tuesdays/Thursdays, 11:45 am – 1:00 pm
Professor Leah Wright Rigueur Office: Taubman 454

Email: leah_wrightrigueur@hks.harvard.edu Office Hours: TBD & by appointment

Phone: 617-495-1462
Faculty Assistant: Gina Abbadessa (gina_abbadessa@hks.harvard.edu; 617-495-8217)

Course Description

This course examines the concept of “political revolutions,” or transformative shifts in the American political arena. Using the lens of race, this class offers an analysis of the origin, context and structure of urban riots, public rebellion, backlash and socio-political revolt in the United States. Using this broad theme of race, the course focuses on the ways in which the racial experiences and emotions of the nation’s citizens collide to produce different forms of resistance within the American political sphere.

Topics covered include race riots, urban uprisings, civil rights activism, racial and ethnic nationalism, economic revolts, international/transnational racialized movements, party realignment and polarization, and political rebellions of the left and the right. The course also assesses a diverse set of ideological institutions and political groups including, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party Movement, and the 2016 presidential election. Students will consider not only the “nuts and bolts” and structures of race and political transformations, they will also question how these intense processes and reactions have influenced political institutions and the development of policy in both the present and the past.
Course Expectations

This class is a seminar and as such, class participation is a vital, required part of this course. Students should come to class prepared and ready to contribute. Course attendance is mandatory, thus absences will have a detrimental impact on your grade. I also expect you to be engaged participants and listeners. I evaluate class participation based on quality, not quantity. If you have difficulty speaking in class, I encourage you to meet with me to discuss strategies for class participation. You may also boost your class participation grade by occasionally sending me links to articles or scholarly studies relevant to the course. These emails should include a brief analytical note explaining the significance of the piece and how it relates to the course and our in-class discussions.

Please bring your name cards with you to every class.
There is a course page for this class. Please make sure you have access to the site. Copies of the course documents and readings are posted on the site, as are all announcements, assignments, optional readings, and links to relevant websites, articles/studies. New content will be added regularly.
Please hand your assignments and papers in on time. A late paper will result in 1/3rd of a letter grade reduction (i.e. a B+ will become a B) for each day that that the paper is late. I do not grant assignment extensions.
Please show respect for your professor and your classmates. It is not courteous to arrive late to class or walk out of class early. Turn off your cell phone/smart phone will in class, or make sure it is on silent. I allow laptops in the classroom, but only for scholarly purposes. Inconsiderate and inappropriate use of laptops will result in a class-wide ban.
Every student must abide by the Harvard Kennedy’s School’s Academic Code. All work should be yours, and yours alone - plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated. You must properly quote, cite and reference all of your sources. I accept Chicago-style citations. For more information, please see the Kennedy School’s site on Academic Integrity.
It is the policy of the Harvard Kennedy School to provide reasonable accommodations to students with documented disabilities. Students, however, are responsible for contacting and registering with the Student Disability Coordinator, in addition to making requests known to me in a timely manner. More information about the Kennedy School’s policy can be found at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/degrees/life/disability-accommodation-and-access-services.
I strongly encourage you to meet with me outside of class, especially if you have questions about your performance in the course, the discussion, writing, or research. Feel free to stop by my office hours, or to schedule an appointment.
Course Assignments

  • Weekly analytical response papers are due on Tuesdays by 10:00am (300 words or roughly 2 pages, double-spaced). Your paper should critically engage some significant aspect of the required reading/materials. It does not need to respond to all of the assigned materials for the week. This response paper is your opportunity to grapple with your observations, questions, ideas and criticisms that are relevant to the course and subject matter. You may not collaborate on this assignment. Students may skip this assignment four times throughout the semester. Response papers will be scored on a scale of 0 – 4. A “0” indicates a failure to complete the assignment, while a “1” indicates a standard completion. A “2” indicates a satisfactory or good completion on the assignment, while a “3” indicates outstanding work. A “4” is reserved for a truly exceptional response.

  • Each student is responsible for doing one individual in-class oral presentation on the weekly readings and materials. These presentations will take place on Tuesdays unless otherwise noted. Your presentation should be analytical and run no longer than 12 minutes. It should be accompanied by 3 critical discussion questions for the entire class. These questions are due by 10:00am on the day of your presentation. You do not need to submit a response paper on the day of your presentation. Depending on the size of the class, you may have a co-presenter. In the event that this happens, you and your co-presenter may collaborate on the oral presentation, if you would like. However, each presenter must submit 3 distinct discussion questions of his or her own design. Each presenter will be evaluated individually.

  • At the midpoint of the semester, you will write one 4 – 6 page paper. The details of this assignment will be outlined and discussed early in the semester. The due date for this assignment is Friday October 21 at 5:00pm (tentative).

  • The last week of class for this semester (November 29 and December 1) will be devoted to oral presentations of final group projects. You will receive your group assignment by early October. You and your group members will determine the topic of your final project in consultation with me. As a group, you will also submit an accompanying paper or memo of 10 – 12 pages, summarizing the findings and conclusions of your group presentation. This paper/memo is due by December 15 at 5:00pm (tentative). We will discuss the details of the group presentations throughout the semester. Please note – while this is a group project, your work will be evaluated individually.


Class Participation – 10%

Individual Presentation – 20%

Response Papers – 20%

4 – 6 page paper – 25%

Group presentation and final paper – 25%

For details on my grading practices and expectations, please see the document at the end of this syllabus.

Required Texts

Texts are available for purchase at the Harvard Coop. You are free to rent, purchase, or borrow the books from other sources, if you prefer (HKS and Harvard libraries, Amazon, Alibris, etc.), but just make sure the book arrive in time for class use.

  1. Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit

  2. Leah Wright Rigueur, The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power

  3. **Charleston Syllabus, Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence, eds. Chad Williams, Kidada Williams, and Keisha Blaine (not required, but strongly recommended)

Class Schedule

(Please read all materials by Tuesday, unless otherwise specified)

Shopping Day: Tuesday August 30, 2016
Week 1: September 1

Course Introduction

No Assigned Readings

No Response Paper Due

Week 2: September 6 & 8 (No Class on Thursday September 8)

What is a “Political Revolution?”


Brian Purnell, “Why Race Riots Happen in US Cities,” AAIHS, May 1, 2015
Chapter XI in the Chicago Commission on Race Relations, The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot (1922)

Nancy McLean, “The Leo Frank Case Reconsidered: Gender and Sexual Politics in the Making of Reactionary Populism,” Journal of American History, Vol. 78, No. 3 (Dec., 1991): 917-948.

No Individual Presentation

No Response Paper Due

Week 3: September 13 & 15

The Roots of Racialized Conflict


Racial Attitudes of Presidential Candidates’ Supporters,” Reuters/Ipsos Polling, June 2016
Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, chapters 1 – 3
Mae M. Ngai, “The Architecture of Race in American Immigration Law: A Reexamination of the Immigration Act of 1924,” JAH, Vol. 86, No. 1 (Jun., 1999)

Khalil Gibran Muhammad, “Introduction,” The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (strongly recommended)

Week 4: September 20 & 22

Communities of Resistance


Ari Berman, “What the Supreme Court Doesn’t Understand About the Voting Rights Act,” The Nation, June 25, 2013
Mary Dudziak, “Brown as a Cold War Case,” Journal of American History, Vol. 91, No. 1 (Jun 2004)
Primary source documents on the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act
Adalberto Aguirre Jr. and Shoon Lio, “Spaces of Mobilization: The Asian American/Pacific Islander Struggle for Social Justice,” Social Justice, Vol. 35, No. 2 (2008)

Charleston Syllabus, pgs. 223 – 229, 237 – 239, 247-253, 262-268

Week 5: September 27 & 29

Backlash & Resistance


Sugrue, Origins, chapters 8-9
Short excerpt from Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative
Leah Wright Rigueur, The Loneliness of the Black Republican, chapters 1-2

Week 6: October 4 & 6

Domestic Disorder: Problems and Solutions


Ta-Nehesi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” The Atlantic (May 21, 2014)
Rigueur, Loneliness, chapters 3-4
Excerpts from Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1968)


Matt Taibbi, “Why Baltimore Blew Up,” Rolling Stone (May 27, 2015)
Kenneth O’Reilly, “The FBI and the Politics of the Riots, 1964 – 1968,” JAH, Vol. 75, No. 1 (Jun 1988)

Week 7: October 11 & 13

Racial Nationalism


Documentary: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (dir. Stanley Nelson, 2015)
Jeffrey Ogbar, “Yellow Power: The Formation of Asian-American Nationalism in the Age of Black Power, 1966 – 1975,” Souls (Summer 2001)
Jeffrey Ogbar, “Puerto Rico en mi Corazón: The Young Lords, Black Power and Puerto Rican Nationalism in the U.S., 1966-1972,” Centro Journal, Vol. XVII, No. 1 (Spring 2006)

Week 8: October 18 & 20

The Politics of Suburbia


Richard Nixon, “Silent Majority Speech,” November 3, 1969
Dennis A. Deslippe, “Do Whites Have Rights?”: White Detroit Policemen and “Reverse Discrimination” Protests in the 1970s,Journal of American History, Vol. 91, Is. 3
Thomas and Mary Edsall, Chain Reaction, chapter 6

Midpoint Paper Due on Friday October 21 by Noon

No response paper due

Week 9: October 25 & 27

Tangible Riots & Cultural Wars


Excerpt from To Rebuild is Not Enough: Final Report and Recommendations of the Assembly Special Committee on the Los Angeles Crisis (1992)
Newt Gingrich, “A Contract with America,” Speech (1994)
Chris Zepeda-Millán and Sophia J. Wallace, “Racialization in Times of Contention: How Social Movements Influence Latino Racial Identity,” Politics, Groups, and Identities Vol. 1, No. 4 (2013)
Leti Volpp, “The Citizen and the Terrorist,” UCLA Law Review, vol. 49, no. 5 (2001-2002): 1575-91.

Thomas Edsall and Mary Edsall, Chain Reaction, chapters 9-10

Premilla Nadasen “From Widow to ‘Welfare Queen’: Welfare and the Politics of Race,” Black Women, Gender and Families, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2007)

Week 10: November 1 & 3

Black Lives Matter & Police Reform


Juliana Menasce Horowitz and Gretchen Livingston, “How Americans View the Black Lives Matter Movement,” Pew Research Center, July 8, 2016
Excerpt from United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, “Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department” (2015)
Excerpt from Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
Please briefly review the following websites:

http://blacklivesmatter.com/ (“Who We Are” and “What We Believe”)

http://www.wetheprotesters.org/ (especially “Campaign Zero,” and “The Demands”)

Heather Ann Thompson, “Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline, and Transformation in Postwar American History,” Journal of American History, Vol. 97, No. 3 (2010)

Center for Policing Equity, “The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and Police Use of Force” (July 2016)
Review the following website: https://policy.m4bl.org/platform/

Week 11: November 8 & 10


Excerpts from Hillary Clinton, “Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech,” Democratic National Convention (July 2016)
Jon F. Hale, “The Making of the New Democrats,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 110, No. 2 (Summer 1995)
Excerpt from Bernie Sanders, “New Hampshire Primary Speech,” February 10, 2016
Excerpt from Barack Obama, “Presidential Acceptance Speech,” November 5, 2008
Excerpts from “The Split,” The New Republic Symposium, June 14, 2016

“Changing the Subject: A Bottom-Up Account of Occupy Wall Street in New York City” (2013)

Michelle Goldberg, “The Hillary Haters,” Slate, July 24, 2016
Donna Murch, “The Clintons’ War on Drugs: When Black Lives Didn’t Matter,” The New Republic, February 9, 2016

Week 12: November 15 & 17

The Trump Effect


Excerpts from Donald Trump, “Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech,” Republican National Convention (July 2016)
Chris Arnade, “What Do Donald Trump Voters Really Crave? Respect.The Guardian, July 30, 2016
Excerpts from the National Review, “Conservatives Against Trump,” Symposium, January 21, 2016.
Rigueur, Loneliness, chapter 7 and conclusion

Christopher Ingraham, “Two New Studies Find Racial Anxiety is the Biggest Driver of Support for Trump,” Washington Post, June 6, 2016.

Bradley Jones and Jocelyn Kiley, “More ‘Warmth’ for Trump among GOP Voters Concerned by Immigrants, Diversity,” Pew Research, June 2, 2016
Rigueur, Loneliness, chapters 5-6
Theda Skocpol, The Tea Party and the Remarking of Republican Conservatism

Week 13: November 22 & 24 (No Class on Thursday November 24)

Final Group Project – In-Class Preparation
No Assigned Readings

Week 14: November 29 & December 1

Final Group Presentations – Due In-Class
No Assigned Readings

No Individual Response Papers Due
Accompanying group paper/memo due by December 15 by 5:00pm


An A or A- thesis, paper, or exam is one that is good enough to be read aloud in a class. It is clearly written and well organized. It demonstrates that the writer has conducted a close and critical reading of texts, grappled with the issues raised in the course, synthesized the readings, discussions, and lectures, and formulated a perceptive, compelling, independent argument. The argument shows intellectual originality and creativity, is sensitive to historical context, is supported by a well-chosen variety of specific examples, and, in the case of a research paper, is built on a critical reading of primary material.

A B+ or B thesis, paper, or exam demonstrates many aspects of A-level work but falls short of it in either the organization and clarity of its writing, the formulation and presentation of its argument, or the quality of research.  Some papers or exams in this category are solid works containing flashes of insight into many of the issues raised in the course. Others give evidence of independent thought, but the argument is not presented clearly or convincingly.

A B- thesis, paper, or exam demonstrates a command of course or research material and understanding of historical context but provides a less than thorough defense of the writer's independent argument because of weaknesses in writing, argument, organization, or use of evidence. The paper may also suffer from poor mechanics – errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and citation format.

A C+, C, or C- thesis, paper, or exam offers little more than a mere a summary of ideas and information covered in the course, is insensitive to historical context, does not respond to the assignment adequately, suffers from frequent factual errors, unclear writing, poor organization, or inadequate primary research, or presents some combination of these problems. The paper may also suffer from errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and citation format.

Whereas the grading standards for written work between A and C- are concerned with the presentation of argument and evidence, a paper or exam that belongs to the D or F categories demonstrates inadequate command of course material.

A D thesis or paper demonstrates serious deficiencies or severe flaws in the student's command of course, research material, and writing mechanics.

An F thesis, paper, or exam demonstrates no competence in the course, research materials, or writing mechanics. It indicates a student's neglect or lack of effort in the course.

Class Participation

A student who receives an A for participation in discussion typically comes to every class with questions about the readings in mind. An ‘A’ discussant engages others about ideas, respects the opinions of others, and consistently elevates the level of discussion.

A student who receives a B for participation in discussion typically does not always come to class with questions about the readings in mind. A ‘B’ discussant waits passively for others to raise interesting issues. Some discussants in this category, while courteous and articulate, do not adequately listen to other participants or relate their comments to the direction of the conversation.

A student who receives a C for discussion attends regularly but typically is an infrequent or unwilling participant in discussion.

A student who fails to attend class regularly and is not adequately prepared for discussion risks the grade of D or F.

Wright Rigueur 2015

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