Classes and Mentorship


Dr. Zhang welcomes students interested in areas related to her research for mentorship with independent research projects, undergraduate honor theses, MA theses, and PhD dissertations.


Winter 2020


Post-Socialist Transformations


Schedule TBA


Course description:

While the 20th century was marked by socialist revolutions and the Cold War, our current century is shaped by many post-socialist transformations all around the world. In this interdisciplinary course, we focus on Russia, China, and Tanzania to examine the living legacies of socialism in these countries, and the complex ways they are transforming in recent decades. We begin clarifying key concepts, such as capitalism, socialism and post- socialism. Then we study the process of privatization and commodification (that is, creating market relations) across various fields, and the social struggles associated with these transformations. These focus especially on (1) land, food, and farming; (2) labor, housing, and industries; and (3) culture, gender, and the environment. We draw upon readings in history, political economy, anthropology, geography, agrarian studies, development studies, gender studies, environmental studies, and other fields to study not only national politics and economics, but also the personal and cultural dimensions of these post-socialist transformations, and the social struggles and resistance associated with them.

The goals of this course are for students to learn about contemporary history, political economy, geography, and interdisciplinary social sciences from a global perspective; develop more nuanced understandings of modern political categories; improve reading and writing skills; and cultivate critical thinking on contemporary topics.

This upper-division elective course has no prerequisites, but students may benefit most if they already have a basic grasp of critical social theory, political economy, and some familiarity or strong interest in non-Western history.