Fall 2019 - POL 310 D100

Identity Politics (4)

Class Number: 7423

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    SECB 1013, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 16, 2019
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    AQ 3153, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Six lower division units in political science or permission of the department.



Examines the impact of identity politics on the dynamics and organization of political systems. Topics include the impact of ethnic, racial and/or religious diversity on modes of political representation, the formation of public policy, and the quest for political stability and national identity. Student with credit for POL 481 may not take this course for further credit.


In 1977, a black lesbian feminist organization called The Combahee River Collective introduced into political discourse the concept of identity politics, asserting that “…the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity.” The group’s overall aim was to challenge racism and sexism in the fight for a more inclusive and diverse form of socialist politics. Today, identity politics can be found across the political spectrum in a multiplicity of forms. Even mainstream politicians like Hillary Clinton speak the language of ‘privilege’ and ‘intersectionality.’ What happened? Where did identity politics come from and how has it transformed over time as a practice? How do identity based movements emerge, what are their strategic goals, and how do they affect political institutions and public policy? Drawing on the fields of Comparative Social Movements and Critical Political Theory, this course explores the various ways in which social movements and struggles grounded in identity operate in contemporary liberal democracies. The course consists of two parts. In the first part, we will explore the meaning of identity and how identities are formed and given political content. In the second part, we will engage more directly with the ways in which identity politics continues to unfold in contemporary societies. Our analysis will focus on case studies concerning specific identity categories such as race, gender, class, and nation. Special attention will be placed on how these categories interconnect.

There will be one 3-hour seminar and one one-tutorial each week.  Tutorials start in Week Two.


  • Critical Reflection Paper 20%
  • In-Class Test 20%
  • Critical Book Review 20%
  • Tutorial Participation 15%
  • Final Exam 25%



Students are to pick only one of the following texts, which they will use for their Critical Book Review assignment. All other readings will be posted on Canvas.

Ta-Nehisi Coates. Between The World and Me. New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2015.
ISBN: 9780812993547

Angela Y. Davis. Women, Race & Class. New York: Vintage, 1983.
ISBN: 9780394713519

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2017.
ISBN: 9781517903862

Sarah Ahmed. Living a Feminist Life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017.
ISBN: 9780822363194

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.
For details, see http://www.sfu.ca/politics/undergraduate/program/related_links.html and click on “Plagiarism and Intellectual Dishonesty” .

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html