Postgraduate Module Descriptor

POLM168: From Oppression to Resistance: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class and Gender

This module descriptor refers to the 2021/2 academic year.


NQF Level7
Credits30 ECTS Value15
Term(s) and duration

This module will run during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Bice Maiguashca (Convenor)

Available via distance learning


There has been much talk in recent years about the spread of racism across Britain in the context of Brexit as well as about the entrenched nature of sexism (think gender pay gap) and classism (think about the accusation that our ‘political class’ is out of touch with ‘ordinary people’) in our cultural, economic and political institutions. And yet it is not always clear what media commentators, politicians and even academics mean when they talk about these forms of exclusion and, indeed, it sometimes feels as if these charges are being mobilised for political purposes either to demonise particulars constituencies as ‘Other’ or conversely, to deny the existence of one or all of these  injustices. All we have to do is recall the constant cry that ‘all Brexiteers are racist’ or that the Tory Party is ‘Islamophobic’ or that the Labour Party is ‘institutionally racist’.  And we don’t have to search hard before we find claims about the divisive role of ‘identity politics’ (read feminism, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ politics) given that we are now supposedly living in a post-class, post-race, post-feminist world, liberal world.

This module seeks to identify and develop conceptual resources to assess and respond (whether it be to defend, refute or complicate) these kinds of claims. More concretely, it aims to critically examine the overlapping workings of gender, race and class as both a site of oppression and resistance. To this end, we will investigate prevailing academic understandings of both concepts and subject them to critical scrutiny by listening to and learning from the self-understandings and experiences of those who are caught up in this nexus of power and social action. We will ask: how is gender, race and class defined and conceptualised as sites of unequal power in the academic literature? How do women, people of colour and people who identify as working class articulate their experiences of subjugation? What are these experiences? How do they resist them? And what can be learnt from these practices of resistance with respect to the nature and operation of subjugation and oppression?

In terms of the structure of the module, it is divided into two parts mapping onto the ‘politics of oppression’, on the one hand, and the ‘politics of resistance’, on the other. In each case we will explore the meaning and practice of this kind of politics; critically evaluate the strengths and limits of these two broad characterisations; and examine to what extent they are intertwined around salient theoretical, practical and ethical issues. Methodologically, this is an inter-disciplinary module which will draw on the insights of sociology, anthropology, literature, art and film. No pre-requisites or specialist knowledge required. 

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