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November 22, 2002

Passion and Paradox: Joan Cocks Considers the 'Terrible Beauty' of Nationalist Movements


Photo: Fred LeBlanc

Joan Cocks

As a political theorist, Joan Cocks is interested in the ways that people have understood and fought over freedom, equality, justice, community, and other ideals. But to assume that Cocks lives only in the realm of theory is to overlook the roots and applications of her work, which are firmly grounded in world events and her own experiences. During the 1960s and '70s, Cocks studied issues surrounding class, imperialism, and gender that were brought to the fore by the Vietnam War and the feminist movement. In the 1980s, Mount Holyoke students struggling with their cultural identity led her to develop a new course, Cultural Politics, and students interested in theory across disciplines inspired her to shape the College's Critical Social Thought Program. Recently, having joined a group opposed to construction of a Home Depot store in the small agricultural town of Hatfield, Massachusetts, Cocks has been helping to define and debate beneficial development, economic progress, and other concepts relevant to land use—the subject of her Memories of Development course. But for the past decade, world events and her own ethnic and national entanglements led Cocks to consider national identity, national self-determination, and nationalist violence, the topics of her most recent book, Passion and Paradox: Intellectuals Confront the National Question (Princeton University Press, 2002). more>

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Copyright © 2002 Mount Holyoke College. This page created by Don St. John and maintained by Office of Communications. Last modified on November 21, 2002.