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 hold the following special sessions.

May 6
Thinking the Pandemic: Part I
With Chris Connery (UC Santa Cruz) and Massimiliano Tomba (UC Santa Cruz)

May 13
Thinking the Pandemic: Part II
With Anjali Arondekar (UC Santa Cruz) and Mayanthi Fernando (UC Santa Cruz)

May 20
World Without Clouds
With Steven Gonzalez (MIT), Jia Hui Lee (MIT), Luísa Reis-Castro (MIT), Gabrielle Robbins (MIT), Julianne Yip (Independent Scholar), and Donna Haraway (UC Santa Cruz)

May 27
Thinking Through Television in a Pandemic
With Lynne Joyrich (Brown University)

June 3
The Pandemic and the University to Come: A Collective Action
With Jody Greene (UC Santa Cruz)

A Renaissance-era painting depicting a town square filled with people selling or carrying goods

May 6, 2020 — Special Session — Thinking the Pandemic: Part I with Chris Connery and Massimiliano Tomba

A number of scholars have recently written about the current pandemic, taking up questions of sovereignty and biopolitics in different ways. We will read and discuss some short pieces by Alain Badiou, Bifo Berardi, Byung-Chul Han, and Bruno Latour. Chris Connery and Max Tomba will start the conversation off with presentations on some of the readings. Please do the readings beforehand.

May 6, 2020 | 12:00 PM

RSVP by 4pm Tuesday, May 5 to receive Zoom link and password.

On the Epidemic Situation” by Alain Badiou
Beyond the Breakdown” by Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi
We cannot surrender reason to the virus” by Byung-Chul Han
What protective measures can you think of so we don’t go back to the pre-crisis production model” by Bruno Latour

Photo of men in masks spraying a street in Hyderabad, India

May 13, 2020 — Special Session — Thinking the Pandemic: Part II with Anjali Arondekar and Mayanthi Fernando

We will continue to think about the current pandemic in relation to epidemic histories, states of uncertainty, and authoritarian power, with readings by Bishnupriya Ghosh, Carlo Caduff, and Siddharth Varadarajan. Anjali Arondekar and Mayanthi Fernando will start the conversation off with presentations on the readings. Email cult@ucsc.edu for the Ghosh and Caduff readings.

May 13, 2020 | 12:00 PM

RSVP by 4pm Tuesday, May 12 to receive Zoom link and password.


“The Costs of Living: Reflections on Global Health Crises” by Bishnupriya Ghosh
“In India, a Pandemic of Prejudice and Repression” by Siddharth Varadarajan
“What Went Wrong? Rebuilding the World after Corona” by Carlo Caduff

Photo by Sujeeth Potla

An illustration depicting clouds shaped like people

May 20, 2020 — Special Session — World Without Clouds

An experimental work by Steven Gonzalez (MIT), Jia Hui Lee (MIT), Luísa Reis-Castro (MIT), Gabrielle Robbins (MIT), and Julianne Yip (Independent Scholar)

Discussant: Donna Haraway, UC Santa Cruz

World Without Clouds is an experimental, multi-modal piece of speculative fiction filmed only with smartphone cameras. The story revolves around five anthropologists in the years 2045-50 who are trying to save clouds from going extinct. As climate change and authoritarian governments take over the Earth, these “salvage nephologists” invent an Ontology Machine to communicate with the last remaining clouds, hoping the clouds will “speak back” and offer a cloud-centered way to save clouds from dying out. The story draws inspiration from science fiction’s ability to experiment and make us aware of our epistemic limitations. The creators blend storytelling and academic scholarship in a way that refuses easy categorization into individual-authored research. They ask what kinds of new (cloud) formations might appear in the future. And they flirt—critically—with possible anthropological logics that are rooted in century-long practices of ethnographic documentation and salvation.

We will start on Zoom, then watch the 30-minute film synchronously on a separate site, and then reconvene on Zoom with the creators for a discussion. Donna Haraway will kick off the conversation.

May 20, 2020 | 12:15 PM

RSVP by 10 AM on Wednesday May 20th to receive Zoom link and password.

photo of a television with a distorted image of Donald Trump playing

May 27, 2020 — Special Session — Thinking Through Television in a Pandemic with Lynne Joyrich (Brown University)

In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are tuning into television (across streaming platforms, web series, and of course also pay, cable, and network TV) for news and information, comfort and company, narrative pleasure and imaginative stimulation—though also often getting misinformation, alienation, or discouragement.  How is TV working, producing ways of seeing, knowing, living, and feeling during this pandemic, and what are the implications of that?  How are we thinking through television in these unthinkable times?  Lynne Joyrich will take up these questions with some opening remarks, then open up to a group discussion.

Lynne Joyrich is Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University and a member of the Camera Obscura editorial collective. She is the author of Re-viewing Reception: Television, Gender, and Postmodern Culture and of articles on film, TV, and gender & sexuality studies that have appeared in such journals as Cinema Journal, Critical Inquiry, differences, and Journal of Visual Culture and such books as Logics of Television; New Media, Old MediaQueer TVMad Men, Mad World; and Unwatchable.

May 27, 2020 | 12:15 PM
Co-Sponsored by the Department of Film + Digital Media

RSVP by 10 AM on Wednesday, May 27th to receive Zoom link and password.


Photo of redwood trees

June 3, 2020 — Special Session — The Pandemic and the University to Come: A Collective Action with Jody Greene (UC Santa Cruz)

Following on this quarter’s series of conversations about the historical space opened by the current pandemic, we will come together in a collective, active exercise of imagining the university to come. Prior to the meeting, please respond to five questions about the future university you would like to participate in post-pandemic; the questions are versions of those from Bruno Latour’s essay discussed in early May. Each of you will suggest one practice you think should cease, one you think should continue, and one new practice that you would like to be part of the university of the future, as well as how to enable the kind of capacities needed to transition to these new activities. We will spend the colloquium working together to see where we agree and where we disagree, and to come up with something to hope for that might help and even guide us in the time to come.

Jody Greene came to UC Santa Cruz in 1998 and has served as Professor of Literature, Feminist Studies, and the History of Consciousness. Her research interests include seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British literature; non-dualist Western philosophy, especially the work of Spivak, Derrida, and Nancy; human rights and international law; queer studies; and the history of literary discourse and literary institutions. Her forthcoming collection, co-edited with Sharif Youssef, is The Hostile Takeover: Human Rights after Corporate Personhood. She is the recipient of the UCSC Humanities Division John Dizikes Teaching Award (2008), the Disability Resource Center Champion of Change Award (2018), and, twice, of the UCSC Academic Senate Excellence in Teaching Award (2001, 2014). In 2016 she was appointed the founding Director of the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL) and she now serves as UCSC’s first Associate Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning.

Please respond to the questions by 10AM on Wednesday, June 3.

Please also RSVP by 10AM on Wednesday, June 3 to receive Zoom link and password for the session.

Photo by Casey Horner

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.

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

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).

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

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).

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

Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz