Spring 2020 Colloquium Series

In light of the global pandemic and restrictions on in-person gatherings, Cultural Studies colloquia for the Spring quarter have been cancelled. We will try to organize alternate events and update accordingly.

Winter 2020 Colloquium Series

The Center for Cultural Studies hosts a Wednesday colloquium series featuring work by campus faculty and visitors. These informal sessions consist of a 40-45-minute presentation followed by discussion. We gather at noon, and presentations begin at 12:15. Please note: due to increased catering costs and in an effort to go green, the Center will henceforth provide only tea and cookies. Feel free to bring your own coffee and lunch, and please bring your own mug!

All events are in Humanities 1, Room 210 and are free and open to the public.

January 15
Savannah Shange, UC Santa Cruz
Abolition as Method: Anti-blackness, Anthropology, and Ethics

January 22
Carlos Motta, Artist
We the Enemy

January 29
Robert Nichols, University of Minnesota
Theft is Property! Dispossession and Critical Theory

February 5
Lukas Rieppel, Brown University
Locating the Central Asiatic Expedition

In solidarity with the graduate student strike, the following colloquia have been postponed or cancelled. Read a message from the Director about the strike and cancellations here. A special session on the housing crisis was held on March 4, 2020, in lieu of a colloquium.

February 12 
Michael Allan, University of Oregon
World Pictures/Global Visions

February 19 
Elizabeth Povinelli, Columbia University
The Axioms of Catastrophe: Coming and Ancestral Tactics

February 26
Dee Hibbert-Jones, UC Santa Cruz
Run With It

March 4
Joseph Blankholm, UC Santa Barbara
The Rituals of Secular Purification: Four Ways to Purify Religious Pollution

Special Session
March 4
Miriam Greenberg and Steve McKay, UC Santa Cruz
“Who Gets to Live in the Left-Most City? The Politics of Housing in Santa Cruz”

A photo of Savannah Shange

January 15, 2020 — Savannah Shange, “Abolition as Method: Anti-blackness, Anthropology and Ethics”

This talk draws on Shange’s recently published book, Progressive Dystopia, in which she argues that San Francisco is a site of social apocalypse for Black communities.  Given the momentum ‘abolition’ has as a political critique of prisons and policing, what does it offer us as scholars trying to apprehend the broad set of violences that compose the current moment?  Put another way, what does abolition demand of us?

Savannah Shange is an urban anthropologist who works at the intersections of race, place, sexuality, and the state. She is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz with research interests in circulated and lived forms of blackness, ethnographic ethics, Afro-pessimism, and queer of color critique.

Date/Time
January 15, 2020 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

Venue/Location
Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz

Still from Carlos Motta's video Legacy

January 22, 2020 — Carlos Motta, “We The Enemy”

In We The Enemy, Carlos Motta will present a series of recent and past works, including those exhibited at the Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery. Motta’s work documents the social conditions and political struggles of sexual, gender, and ethnic minority communities in order to challenge dominant and normative discourses through visibility and self-representation. As a historian of untold narratives and an archivist of repressed histories, Motta is committed to in-depth research on the struggles of post-colonial subjects and societies. His work manifests in a variety of mediums including video, installation, sculpture, drawing, web-based projects, performance, and symposia.

Carlos Motta (b. 1978) was born in Bogotá, Colombia and lives and works in New York City. Motta has been the subject of survey exhibitions including at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, Colombia,  Matucana 100, Santiago, Chile, and Röda Sten Konsthall, Göteborg, Sweden. His work is in the permanent collections of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Barcelona; and Museo de Arte de Banco de la República, Bogotá, among others.His solo exhibitions include Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo (2019); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2017); Pérez Art Museum, Miami (2016); Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (2016); PinchukArtCentre, Kiev (2015); Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico City (2013); New Museum, New York (2012); MoMA PS1, New York (2009); and Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2009). Motta participated in 32 Bienal de São Paulo (2016); X Gwangju Biennale (2014); and X Lyon Biennale (2010). His films have been screened at the Rotterdam Film Festival (2016, 2010); Toronto International Film Festival (2013); and Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur (2016); among others. Motta has been awarded the Vilcek Foundation’s Prize for Creative Promise (2017); the PinchukArtCentre’s Future Generation Art Prize (2014); and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008).

Date/Time
January 22, 2020 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

Venue/Location
Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz

selection from the cover of Robert Nichols book cover for "Theft is Death"

January 29, 2020 — Robert Nichols, “Theft is Property! Dispossession and Critical Theory”

In his recent publication, Theft is Property! (Duke 2020), Robert Nichols reconstructs the concept of dispossession as a means of examining how shifting configurations of law, property, race, and rights have functioned as modes of governance, both historically and in the present. Through close analysis of arguments by Indigenous scholars and activists from the nineteenth century to the present, Nichols argues that dispossession has come to name a unique recursive process whereby systematic theft is the mechanism by which property relations are generated. In so doing, this work also brings long-standing debates in anarchist, Black radical, feminist, Marxist, and postcolonial thought into direct conversation with the frequently overlooked intellectual contributions of Indigenous peoples.

Robert Nichols is an Associate Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities).

Date/Time
January 29, 2020 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

Venue/Location
Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz

a photo of two men excavating a bone from the ground

February 5, 2020 — Lukas Rieppel, “Locating the Central Asiatic Expedition”

During the 1920s, researchers from the New York natural history museum led by Roy Chapman Andrews spent nearly a decade exploring the Gobi Desert in Central Asia. But they were expelled from their base of operations in northern China when the Guomindang party created a new state in Nanjing. Whereas Chinese intellectuals accused American paleontologists of plundering their national heritage, Andrews argued that because dinosaur fossils predated the creation of China, they belonged equally to all mankind. I hope to use the ensuing controversy to motivate a critical discussion about knowledge production in a global context.

Lukas Rieppel is a historian of science and capitalism at Brown University. He recently published a book about dinosaurs, and he is starting a new project, tentatively entitled “The Ice Age: A Global History.”

Date/Time
February 5, 2020 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

Venue/Location
Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz

Co-sponsored by the Science and Justice Research Center

Photo of Dr. Michael Allan looking to the left of the camera

February 12, 2020 — CANCELLED — Michael Allan, “World Pictures/Global Visions”

Michael Allan’s colloquium talk has been cancelled. We will try to reschedule for Spring or Fall 2020.

Alongside discussions of worldliness, globalization, and planetarity, the talk will focus on a global network of camera operators working on behalf of the Lumière Brothers film company from 1896-1903. This microhistory of the transnational origins of early cinema will lead to questions about what it means to apprehend the world through the eyes of a camera.

Michael Allan is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Oregon, where he is also program faculty in Cinema Studies, Arabic, and Middle East Studies. He is the author of In the Shadow of World Literature: Sites of Reading in Colonial Egypt (Princeton, 2016) and serves as editor of Comparative Literature.

Date/Time
February 12, 2020 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

Venue/Location
Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz

A photo of Elizabeth Povinelli holding a bird

February 19, 2020 — CANCELLED — Elizabeth A. Povinelli, “The Axioms of Catastrophe: Coming and Ancestral Tactics”

Elizabeth Povinelli’s colloquium talk has been cancelled. We will try to reschedule for Spring or Fall 2020.

This talk examines four axioms of existence that have emerged and expanded in recent years across a large segment of critical theory; the stakes of understanding the historical conditions of these axioms; and their power to provide a foundation for remolding political concepts in the wake of geontopower. From one perspective the emergence of these axioms can be correlated to the current catastrophe of climatic and environmental collapse and industrial toxicity. This talks ask what sorts of catastrophes are foregrounded or occluded depending on how one understands the order and sources of these axioms and if one understands them as a coming catastrophe (l’catastrophe à venir) or as an ancestral one (l’catastrophe ancestral/histoire)?

Elizabeth A. Povinelli is an anthropologist and filmmaker. She is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, New York; Corresponding Fellow of the Australian Academy for the Humanities; and one of the founding members of the Karrabing Film Collective. Povinelli’s writing has focused on developing a critical theory of late liberalism that would support an anthropology of the otherwise. This potential theory has unfolded primarily from within a sustained relationship with Indigenous colleagues in north Australia and across five books, numerous essays, and six films with the Karrabing Film Collective. Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism was the 2017 recipient of the Lionel Trilling Book Award. Karrabing films were awarded the 2015 Visible Award and the 2015 Cinema Nova Award Best Short Fiction Film, Melbourne International Film Festival and have shown internationally including in the Berlinale, Sydney Biennale; MIFF, the Tate Modern, documenta-14, the Contour Biennale; MoMA-PS and numerous others.

Date/Time
February 19, 2020 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

Venue/Location
Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz

Photo by Marcel de Buck

A still from Dr. Dee Hibbert-Jones' animated film, "Last Day of Freedom," depicting a line drawing of a man speaking and a helicopter in the background

February 26, 2020 — CANCELLED — Dee Hibbert-Jones , “Run With It ”

Dee Hibbert-Jones’ colloquium talk has been cancelled. We will try to reschedule for Spring or Fall 2020.

Hibbert-Jones will discuss the challenges, politics and aesthetics in making her upcoming film Run With It, a feature documentary that is entirely animated.Made in collaboration with Nomi Talisman, the film tells the story of De’Jaun Correia, a young man on the Dean’s list at Morehouse college, who grew up mentored by his uncle Troy Davis, on death row.

 Professor Dee Hibbert-Jones is an Academy Award nominated, Emmy award winning filmmaker and visual artist who examines critical social issues through her animated documentary and fine art installations. In 2016 she  was awarded a United States Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust Award in recognition for their outstanding national commitment to civil rights and social justice; and a California Public Defenders Association Gideon Award by the California Public Defenders Association. Dee teaches art at UC Santa Cruz and is affiliate faculty in film, digital art new media and legal studies.

Date/Time
February 26, 2020 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

Venue/Location
Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz

Headshot of Dr. Joseph Blankholm wearing a sweater and a collared shirt

March 4, 2020 — CANCELLED — Joseph Blankholm, “The Rituals of Secular Purification: Four Ways to Purify Religious Pollution”

Joseph Blankholm’s colloquium talk has been cancelled. We will try to reschedule for Spring or Fall 2020.

Being secular means not being religious, but it also means participating in a religion-like tradition. This paradox shapes the everyday lives of secular people, as well as institutions that depend on categories like secular, spiritual, religious, and superstitious. Relying on years of ethnographic research among very secular people, this lecture describes four ways of producing the secular by purifying it of religious pollution. This approach shows how secular people become less religious and how religion and spirituality can be transformed and enabled to circulate in spaces that would otherwise prohibit them.

Joseph Blankholm is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His teaching and interdisciplinary research focus primarily on American religion, secularism, and secular people. Most recently, he has published on Karl Marx’s forgotten secularism, Saba Mahmood’s contribution to the study of religion, and the contradictory ways in which American law understands nonbelievers. He is currently finishing a manuscript on secular people’s religious ambivalence.

Date/Time
March 4, 2020 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

Venue/Location
Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz