meditations on (of) a sovereign power

Today, I finished the second of my two classes on "sovereignty" for my World Politics course. A few highlights:

- The in-class exercise where I divided them into groups* and had them list characteristics of sovereignty worked rather well. The bit where I told them that our class was like a (domestic) sovereign with me as the sovereign power worked well too, especially as one of the students pointed out that I was not autonomous but had to answer to a higher authority--that of the department of SIS. So, the example (of the class as a sovereign state) wouldn't really work.

- After listing characteristics of sovereignty, we discussed Iraq and how domestic sovereignty was being "compromised" (their term). We also talked about how the invasion/occupation of Iraq was undertaken and the consequences to international sovereignty. Both these discussions went quite well with students ranging in their views to "War was a good idea" to "Well, we're there, we need to figure out what to do next" to "We are the United States, we can do whatever we want".

- Being told, "I want to write a paper on my mancrush, Henry Kissinger". Seriously.**

- Being given a paper with an elaborate drawing of "the Sovereign State of Petoria" by one of the students who then told me he'd like to found and run his own state and if I had any tips for such an endeavour.

- And a related story: One of my students was on the shuttle to the Metro yesterday. Contrary to the usual tactic of avoiding their instructor, this kid sat next to me and we discussed his interests in World Politics (cinema and IR), moving to Washington, going to university and so on. It was actually refreshing to have a student not avoid me (as is most students'--including mine--tendency!) but sit down and have a chat about stuff. Especially as this kid doesn't talk in class at all. It makes me realise that in many ways American kids are more trained in this "social interaction" business than I (and my non-American colleagues probably) have been. Even after all these years of being in academia, my tendency, when I see a professor I know, is to quickly leg it in the opposite direction.

* While I'd like to take credit for the idea, I actually nicked it off Weberman!

** I told the student that I really didn't need to know that and it was an image that will refuse to leave my head from now on.

*** It's a rather clever drawing. I wish I had a scanner to put it on Blackboard. E and I used to spend a lot of our time in one of our postgrad classes doing a similar exercise (drawing concepts out). I believe some of the results even made it to older posts on PTSD.

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