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This is a shameless post to crowdsource a title (and, ultimately, correct terminology) for a purely hypothetical syllabus I’m putting together. The initial title was “Inequality then and now”, but it was pointed out that’s a misnomer as it brings to mind inequality based on a limited number of socio-economic factors.

Here’s what the class is actually about: It’s about women, children, slaves, ethnic minorities and non-heterosexual people in a specific ancient culture. The class also has a heavy comparative component, so we’ll be talking about those same groups in modern-day US.


There is a definite social justice bent/end goal to the class, and the culture I’m talking about thought women should stay inside the house and built their society on slavery, so I don’t want to use neutral terms like “difference”. However, part of the point of the class is to talk about (admittedly few) case-studies where individuals were able to make the most of their circumstances. Furthermore, talking about “marginalization” or “oppression” is tricky when a)these groups were actually the majority of the population and b)their concepts of what rights people should have were so different from ours. The class aims to both create an awareness of the intensely skewed power structures of the culture, but also to give an overview of what it was like to be a woman in that culture - ie, it’s not all about problems and struggles.

Can anyone think of good terms that I could work with? I’ll list all the options I’ve thought of and mostly swiftly abandoned - maybe some of them will spark an idea:

  • inequality
  • discrimination
  • the silent
  • marginalized
  • oppressed
  • difference
  • the Other
  • minorities
  • intersectionality (which will feature in the class)

While we’re at it, if anyone can recommend an accessible introduction/textbook/reader on social justice and inequality (in the modern world), I would love to hear your suggestions! Most of my information comes from the blogosphere or theory-heavy articles, but both I and definitely my students could benefit from a one-stop shop to put us all on the same page re: basic concepts, some history, main issues and approaches, etc.

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