UCL Institute of the Americas


AMER0045: States of Exception: US State-building through its Exceptional Geographies

Module convenor: Dr Nadia Hilliard

Module  Description

Using the metaphor of the 'state of exception,' this module explores the ways the US state has developed capacity by excluding specific groups of people while simultaneously exercising sovereignty over them. After an introduction to the political concept of the state of exception, the course covers four cases: the "Immigrant exception"; the "African American exception"; the 'Native American exception'; and the 'Insular exceptions.' In each case, the state has exercised power over non-citizen subjects, using geographical or legal "exceptions" to avoid the rule of law. The module will examine how the state developed specific capacities to maintain separate and exceptional conditions, including definitional capacities, coercive capacities (e.g., border control), and 'remote control' capacities (e.g., deportation regimes and guest-worker programs).

Assessment mode: a 4000-word essay.