Fall 2019

Ecologies of Remembrance: The Material Afterlives of Unidentified Death

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - Thursday, September 12, 2019

The news media around the Mediterranean are frequently dominated by the aftermath of maritime disasters in which dozens, sometimes hundreds of migrants die on the perilous crossing to southern Italy from North Africa. Whilst migrant death is a recurring subject in academic study and journalism, scarcely any research is carried out on the ground into the material and symbolic treatment of unidentified human remains. Yet the social afterlife of human remains is of immense importance in the case of migrant deaths because of the ways in which they bring into focus the webs of relations in which migrants are caught, bringing together transnational kinship networks, local landscapes, local communities and solidarity groups and wider political motivations and actions.

13/13 Seminar Series

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.


Monday, September 16, 2019

On Monday September 16th, Columbia University Libraries will be hosting a kick off event for a series of Wikipedia Edit-a-thon's this fall semester. There will be a panel and Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at the Butler Library. Edit-a-thon’s provide ways of editing one of our world’s most accessible knowledge systems through the creation of new pages, the editing of existing pages, or the translation of current pages into more languages. Our vision is to introduce the skills, expertise, and enthusiasm of our community at Columbia University to public scholarship.

How hard is it to remain within our comfort zones when we read and write? How does the writer’s gaze remain unwittingly locked by long-established conventions? As the world’s economic power bases have begun to shift away from Western nations of the past few decades, writers from non-Western conventions have begun to question the boundaries of literature, using rapidly changing social structures to propose a new relationship between reader and writer. Drawing from his new novel, We, the Survivors, Malaysian author Tash Aw discusses ideas of language, race, class and national identity with Mark Mazower.

During the quarter of a century after the Second World War, the United Kingdom designated thirty-two new towns across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Why, even before selling council houses or denationalising public industries, did Margaret Thatcher's government begin to privatise these new towns? By examining the most ambitious of these projects, Milton Keynes, Guy Ortolano recasts our understanding of British social democracy, arguing that the new towns comprised the spatial dimension of the welfare state. Following the Prime Minister's progress on a tour through Milton Keynes on 25 September 1979, Ortolano alights at successive stops to examine the broader histories of urban planning, modernist architecture, community development, international consulting, and municipal housing. Thatcher's journey reveals a dynamic social democracy during its decade of crisis, while also showing how public sector actors begrudgingly accommodated the alternative priorities of market liberalism.

“Banville and Ford, authors of many novels (The Book of Evidence, Independence Day), winners of many prizes (Booker, Pulitzer, Princess of Asturias, Prix Femina) and decades-long friends, engage in (it's hoped) a spirited, un-theoretical back 'n forth about the supposed pleasures of the text.”

CSER welcomes photographer & comedian Ryan RedCorn, member of the Osage tribe, owner of Buffalo Nickel Creative, and a member of the 1491s. Ryan and Tiffany Hale, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Religion at Barnard ask each other questions on the theme of photography, narrative, and representations of Native American people.

What is death? And what comes after? The end of life. The end of this life. Heaven. Nothingness. Ghosts, real and imagined. Such questions, and answers, have often been understood as quintessentially religious and quintessentially philosophical. They are also social, cultural, and political. Academic and affective.

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Nara B. Milanich

This symposium will explore the possibilities and constraints of narrative journalism as it is practiced today. Participants will reflect on issues central to this mode of journalism, which are nevertheless rarely scrutinized: choices of tone and structure, selection of themes, front stories, arguments, or central characters, and how to portray situations that don’t lend themselves to tidy conclusions. What's at stake in embracing the murky and indeterminate—the less immediately sympathetic protagonist, the not-so-easily resolved predicament—at a time when the demand for moral and political decisiveness, for clear-cut villains and victims, has grown acute? How to handle issues of translation not simply across languages but across sensibilities and worldviews? What are the implications of long-term, immersive reporting that resists the immediacy of the news cycle? We'll also be addressing the question of intervening—or not—in the lives of those we write about, particularly in the context of suffering or injustice. How, in our work, have we confronted the limits of journalistic "objectivity?” What to make of the entrenched notion that journalism and advocacy are distinct, even incompatible, endeavors? Have there been moments in our reporting when these lines have become blurred, perhaps necessarily or productively so?

Water, Sound, and Indigenous Film: Ushui

Thursday, October 10, 2019 - Friday, October 11, 2019

Ushui is about Sagas—women shamans—and their wisdom and relation to water; how to give birth and raise children, to sing to the spirits, and what to do when they turn against us like Shekuita, the bad thunder that destroyed the town of Kemakúmake. Produced by the Bunkuaneyuman Communications Collective of indigenous Wiwa people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia.

Book Parts: A Conference

Friday, October 11, 2019

Contributors to the forthcoming volume Book Parts (Oxford University Press) will each speak about the history and meaning of different “parts” of the modern book (such as endsheets, tables of contents, and footnotes) and the keynote speaker, Leah Price (English Department, Rutgers), will respond to the day's papers and the volume as a whole.

What distinguishes populism from run-of-the-mill democratic politics? And why should we be concerned by its rise? In Me the People, Nadia Urbinati argues that populism should be regarded as a new form of representative government, one based on a direct relationship between the leader and those the leader defines as the “good” or “right” people. Urbinati shows that, while populist governments remain importantly distinct from dictatorial or fascist regimes, their dependence on the will of the leader, along with their willingness to exclude the interests of those deemed outside the bounds of the “good” or “right” people, stretches constitutional democracy to its limits and opens a pathway to authoritarianism.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Stathis Gourgouris

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

The Theater of Change Forum

Friday, October 18, 2019 - Sunday, October 20, 2019

At a time when the United States faces growing inequality, mass incarceration, and broken immigration systems, public policies and politics are working against the active public engagement, collaboration, and trust required to build a just society. The Theater of Change is a groundbreaking methodology developed as a collaboration between the Broadway Advocacy Coalition and the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School. The process brings together high-level artists, law and policy students and experts, and directly impacted advocates to deepen connections and bridge gaps of disconnect and lack of understanding. Participants ultimately collaborate as equal partners and create arts-based performance pieces that have an engagement strategy to target specific areas and policies.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Sharon Marcus

Global Think-in: The Code of Capital

Monday, October 21, 2019

Global Think-ins are vehicles for generating new ideas and perspectives on issues of global concern.

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

The New Humanities Faculty Salons

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The New Humanities Faculty Salons are an opportunity to meet the six new faculty members joining Columbia during the 2019-20 school year.  They will share their new research over drinks and snacks, opening conversations across the wider Humanities community. 

Dialogues in Translation

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Karen Van Dyck, Xiaolu Guo, Kaiama L. Glover, and Zaid Jabri, all former fellows of Columbia’s Institute for Ideas and Imagination, will discuss their diverse practices of translation and transliteration, and the artistic and political consequences of living, working, and moving between languages. The conversation began in spring 2019 at the Institute in Paris around Karen Van Dyck’s research on translingual writing of the Greek Diaspora which addresses the multilingual lives of migrants as a resource for literature, translation and social policy. Various types of movement among places - diasporic, immigrant, exilic, cosmopolitan - imagine different forms of translation that emphasize diverse ways of moving among languages: diglossia, intralingualism, transliteration, homophony. Might such translingual collaborations offer alternative translation practices and solutions to the impasses of ethnocentrism? 

Theater of War

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - Thursday, November 7, 2019

Theater of War Productions works with leading film, theater, and television actors to present dramatic readings of seminal plays—from classical Greek tragedies to modern and contemporary works—followed by town hall-style discussions designed to confront social issues by drawing out raw and personal reactions to themes highlighted in the plays. The guided discussions underscore how the plays resonate with contemporary audiences and invite audience members to share their perspectives and experiences, and, helping to break down stigmas, foster empathy, compassion, and a deeper understanding of complex issues.

Women Mobilizing Memory: Book Launch

Friday, November 8, 2019

CSSD working group Women Mobilizing Memory will be celebrating the recent publication of their eponymous book Women Mobilizing Memory with a reception and brief presentations from some of the book’s contributors.

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

This graduate student workshop at Columbia University celebrates the publication of Alain Badiou’s major new work, The Immanence of Truths [L’Immanence des vérités (Paris: Fayard, 2018)], offering a unique, early glimpse of the work to an English-speaking audience. The workshop will include short introductory talks discussing different aspects of the book, which will be given by Jelica Sumic Riha, Norman Madarasz, and Jana Ndiaye Berankova. Introductory remarks will be followed by a discussion with students based on primary texts and excerpts from the unpublished translation of The Immanence of Truths.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Brendan O'Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi

Competing Truths: Art and the Objects of History after the Council of Trent

Friday, November 15, 2019 - Saturday, November 16, 2019

Competing Truths: Art and the Objects of History After the Council of Trent is a two-day symposium to be jointly held at the Italian Academy and the Frick Collection on November 15th & 16th, 2019. The event will bring together scholars and museum professionals in order to investigate how Italian art helped to formulate competing truths in the long aftermath of the Council of Trent, and how the strategies of that era continue to affect our understanding of historical truth today. Italian art of this period is often dismissed as propagandistic and derivative. This symposium instead fosters recent scholarship that shows the potency of art in shaping people’s beliefs during a time of deep political and spiritual divisions. Understanding how images and objects give shape to history and knowledge has never been more urgent. Thus, the aim of the symposium is not merely to advance scholarship, but to meet an acute contemporary need for perspective on how to navigate an era of competing truths.

As a set of disciplines, the humanities face the challenge of how to write about embodied experiences that resist easy verbal categorization such as illness, pain, and healing. The recent emergence of interdisciplinary frameworks such as narrative medicine has offered a set of methodological approaches to address these challenges. Conceptualizing a field of medical and health humanities offers a broad umbrella under which to study the influence of medico-scientific ideas and practices on society.  Whether by incorporating material culture such as medical artefacts, performing symptomatic readings of poems and novels, or excavating the implicit medical assumptions underlying auditory cultures, the approaches that emerge from a historiographical or interpretive framework are different from those coming from the physician’s black bag. The Explorations in the Medical Humanities Series explores the enigma of how what we write relates back to the experience of bodies in different stages of health and disease. Our speakers consider how the medical and health humanities build on and revise earlier notions of the “medical arts.”  At stake are the problems of representation and the interpretation of cultural products from the past and present through medical models, and the challenge of establishing a set of humanistic competencies (observation, attention, judgment, narrative, historical perspective, ethics, creativity) that can inform medical practice.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Gil Eyal

Southern Crossings: Composition and Collaboration: A conversation with composer Zaid Jabri, and librettists, Yvette Christiansë and Rosalind Morris

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Sarah Cole

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

Julie Livingston discusses her latest book, Self Devouring Growth: A Planetary Parable as Told from Southern Africa. This talk calls into question the common assumption that economic growth is a necessary basis of well-being. It does so by tracing out the collateral environmental effects of this disposition, revealing how our current climate, pollution, and extinction crises emerge out of the ways we have organized our global, national, and local economic systems around a desire for endless growth. The lecture unfolds a series of linked examples of fundamental needs (water, food, mobility, energy) that have been reworked around growth in the southern African nation of Botswana. It discusses how the systems to provide these needs become harnessed to growth and linked in a web of consumption that are part of a system of unfolding environmental catastrophes that threaten long-term harm and deprivation. Though the lecture will use Botswana, as an example to reveal the system, it will trace commodity chains that are global in their reach, and draw parallels in the US and elsewhere, to show that this growth machine is everywhere and it is unsustainable. It will draw on older histories, repositories of the imagination to consider other ways to organize our world. 

Transatlantic Crises of Democracies: Cultural Approaches

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - Thursday, December 12, 2019

This symposium is one of several discussions on the anxieties and existential challenges currently facing democratic societies hosted by members of the Global Humanities Institute on the Crises of Democracy, a project of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes.  Previous gatherings (including a weeklong summer school in Dubrovnik in summer 2019) have been held at the SOF/Heyman, Columbia’s Reid Hall in Paris, and Trinity College Dublin.  

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.


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