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

Photo of Professors Steve McKay and Miriam Greenberg seated in front of a blackboard

March 4, 2020 — Special Session with Miriam Greenberg and Steve McKay, “Who Gets to Live in the Left-Most City? The Politics of Housing in Santa Cruz”

Miriam Greenberg is Professor of Sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz. Her research links urban studies, cultural studies, and the study of place, politics, and the environment.  She is  author of Branding New York:  How a City in Crisis was Sold to the World (Routledge, 2008) and Crisis Cities: Disaster and Redevelopment in New York and New Orleans (Oxford, 2014), and co-editor of The City is the Factory: New Solidarities and Spatial Strategies in an Urban Age (Cornell, 2017) She has done a range of public-facing projects based in our region, including Critical Sustainabilites: Competing Discourses of Urban Development in California  and No Place Like Home – The Affordable Housing Crisis Study of Santa Cruz County.

Steve McKay is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the UCSC Center for Labor Studies.  His research has focused on labor, gender, migration, racial formation, and globalization.  He is currently working on a book, based on historical and multi-sited ethnographic research, focused on the rise and reproduction of ethno-national labor niches in contemporary global labor markets.  Steve is also working locally in the Santa Cruz area on a series of community-initiated student-engaged research (CISER) projects: Working for Dignity – the Low Wage Worker Study of Santa Cruz County; No Place Like Home – The Affordable Housting Crisis Study of SC County; and We Belong: Collaboration for Community-Engaged Research and Immigrant Justice.

Date/Time
March 4, 2020 | 1:30 – 3:00 PM
Free and open to the public

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

Fall 2019 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.

October 16
Sara Mameni, California Institute of the Arts
On the Terracene

October 23
Elizabeth Marcus, Stanford University
Law after Empire : L’Affaire de L’École de Droit de Beyrouth

October 30
Aishwary Kumar, UC Santa Cruz
What is Political Cruelty? An Archeology of the Liberalism of Fear

November 6
Katharyne Mitchell, UC Santa Cruz
Church Sanctuary and the Spatial Politics of the Sacred

November 13
David Biggs, UC Riverside
Archipelagic Vietnam: Rethinking Nationalism From the Shoreline

November 20
Anjali Arondekar, UC Santa Cruz
What More Remains: Sexuality, Slavery, Historiography

December 4
Ronaldo Wilson, UC Santa Cruz
The Quotidian Lucy and Other Constructions

Photo of Dr. Sara Mameni

October 16, 2019 — Sara Mameni, “On the Terracene”

This talk considers the Anthropocene from the perspective of artists working within areas devastated by the War on Terror. While the popularization of the concept of the Anthropocene dates to the early 2000s–the very moment of the declaration of the War on Terror–the two modes of imagining the geopolitics of the present have yet to be considered together. Mameni coins the term “Terracene” as an entry point into considering the condition of the planet under terror. 

Sara Mameni is the director of Aesthetics and Politics program and faculty in the school of Critical Studies at California Institute of the Arts. She received her PhD in Art History from University of California San Diego in 2015 and was a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz in 2016/2017. Her specialization is contemporary art in the Arab/Muslim world with a focus on queer of color theory. Her current research explores biopolitics, racial discourse in the Anthropocene, post-humanist aesthetics and the geo-ecological age of petroleum. 

Date/Time
October 16, 2019 | 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 Marcus

October 23, 2019 — Elizabeth Marcus, “Law after Empire : L’Affaire de L’École de Droit de Beyrouth”

This paper uncovers the forgotten history of the “affaire de l’école de droit,” an eight-year long local and international crisis over the languages of legal instruction in the years following the end of the French mandate in Lebanon. By reassembling the moment of transition, and recovering it from the grand, structural narratives of colonization and war that dominate scholarship on Lebanon, the affaire becomes crucial vista in an understanding of the diverse, contradictory and multi-layered experience of decolonization.

Elizabeth Marcus is a Mellon Fellow in the Scholars in the Humanities program at Stanford University and a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Leeds. She received her BA from the University of Oxford in Modern History and French, and completed her PhD in French and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in 2017. Elizabeth has taught in the Core Curriculum at Columbia University and at MIT as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Global Studies and Languages Department. Her research focuses on the literatures as well as the intellectual and cultural history of the Francophone and Arab world with a particular interest in the relationship between language and cultural politics, intellectual networks, and migration in the afterlife of the French Empire. Her current manuscript, Difference and Dissidence: Cultural Politics and the End of Empire in Lebanon, 1943-1975, uncovers the response of local actors to the unique period of transition Lebanon at the end of the French mandate to the beginning of the civil war in 1975. During her time as a British Academy Fellow, she will start her second project, Paris and the Global University: International Students and Cultural Internationalism at the Cité Universitaire, 1945-1975, which looks at how the Cité internationale Universitaire, a residential campus in the Parisian outskirts, became a crucible of left and right-wing transnational political and cultural activism during the Trente Glorieuses (1945-1975).

Date/Time
October 23, 2019 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

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

Photo of Professor Aishwary Kumar

October 30, 2019 — Aishwary Kumar, “What is Political Cruelty? An Archeology of the Liberalism of Fear”

Under what conditions might fear become a saturating phenomenon of liberal democracy and extreme violence cease to be even a moral crime? Is this silent war on the body and idea of the citizen on the constitutional theorist and moral philosopher B. R. Ambedkar’s mind when, in his revolutionary classic Annihilation of Caste (1936), he coins the phrase “armed neutrality?” In this lecture, building on a new constellation of thinkers in political theory, Kumar develops the fundamental insight that Ambedkar, Hannah Arendt, and Judith Shklar, in conceptually different ways and with radically different moral psychological consequences, offer on today’s insoluble democratic impasse: that the most catastrophic effect of social inequality is not merely a betrayal of our constitutional compact to justice but a weaponization of a new form of political cruelty. What is this new cruelty? And what kind of constitutional courage– a re-articulation of dignity–  might today be necessary to retrieve our freedom?

Aishwary Kumar is an intellectual historian and political theorist with interests in South Asian, European, and American political thought. His work spans a wide spectrum of issues in moral and political philosophy, constitutional theory and political justice, war and ethics, empire and liberalism, and the history of democratic thought and rights. Kumar’s first book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy (Stanford, 2015; Delhi, 2019), was listed by The Indian Express among the fifteen most important works on politics, morality, and law to be published anywhere that year. His essays have appeared, among other places, in Modern Intellectual History, Contemporary South Asia, Social History, Indian Economic and Social History Review, and Public Culture. He has also been featured on the radio shows Entitled Opinions and Philosophy Talk. Kumar is currently working on two related book-length studies. The first, titled “The Sovereign Void: Ambedkar’s Critique of Violence,” examines the genealogies of political freedom and war in Southern and Atlantic political thought, and their relation to notions of “force” across epistemological, theological, and secular traditions. The second, titled “The Gravity of Truth: Disenchantment, Disappointment, Democracy,” takes the Obama Presidency as its starting point to explore the place of moral and political judgment in the global constitutional imagination.

Date/Time
October 30, 2019 | 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

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