IASH Fellows' Speaker Series for the Fall 2015 Semester

September 9, 2015

IASH Fellows' Speaker Series: Meet and greet

September 9, 2015, 12:00pm, IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)


September 16, 2015

IASH Fellows' Speaker Series: "Ranveer Singh's "Chichorapan": Habitus, Masculinity, and Stardom"

Presented by Praseeda Gopinath

In response to Bollywood star Ranveer Singh's fanboy historical tour of Bollywood, complete with performances, lip-synching, and mimicry at the recently held India Today Conclave 2015, a tweet dismissed Singh's presentation-performance as "chichorapan manifest." The word, gendered masculine, means many things: vulgar, depraved, trivial, shameful, of little consequence. Chichora, and its more euphemistic synonyms, has been routinely deployed against the newly-arrived Singh, who is a self-confessed outsider in the still nepotistic, though radically changing, Bollywood film industry. Whether it's in terms of his off-screen persona: his flamboyant fashions, his explicit repudiation of "bourgeois elitism" and "manners;" or his onscreen performances, noted for the display of his body, where he is invariably some sort of confidence artist, criminal, or "lower-class" young man, his brash, uninhibited persona has made him into a star whose presence cannot be ignored. He is a beloved subject of media headlines, both condemned and celebrated in equal measure. Singh's macho and affectionate flamboyance circulates as "low-class," "vulgar" and "genuine" and "progressive." This paper examines the contradictions inherent in Ranveer Singh's stardom as both caused by, and an effect of, the shifting habitus of the "neo-liberal" Indian middle classes; the transnational circuits of taste; the (trans)national structures of masculinity; and the changing generic terrain of Bollywood as it engages with the increasing influence of Western cinematic languages of realism.

September 16, 2015, 12:00pm, IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)



September 30, 2015

IASH Fellows' Speaker Series: "A Space to Develop: Mining and Indigenous Institution Building as Anti-Systemic Praxis in Guatemala"

Presented by Samantha Fox

Since the emergence of mineral extraction as a central avenue of economic development in Central America, indigenous peoples have struggled to exert control over the pace and progress of mining. Conflict surrounding the Marlin Mine in Guatemala has challenged indigenous institutions to maintain solidarity and cohesion in communities as the mine expands. While the goal is to close the mine, communities realize that the only way to successfully challenge transnational mining projects is to prevent them in the first place. In a situation where the mine is already producing minerals, indigenous communities in Guatemala are addressing the problems created by the mine as autonomous subjects. This presentation examines how transformations associated with mining are being confronted through the creation of institutions that parallel the state and reinforce autonomy.

September 30, 2015, 12:00pm, IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)



October 7, 2015

IASH Fellows' Speaker Series: "A Gauge of Our Faithfulness': Religion and the Politics of Immigration Reform"

Presented by Wendy Wall

Few developments since World War II have changed the face of American religion or American politics more than the Immigration Act of 1965. By rejecting the system of national origin quotas put in place in the 1920s and replacing it with a system that favored family reunification and skills, the act opened the door to millions of immigrants from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. By imposing for the first time a numerical ceiling on immigration from the Western Hemisphere, the act helped to sustain and generate illegal immigration. In both ways, the act forever changed the nation's demographic makeup and politics. It opened the door to millions of Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and adherents of other non-Judeo-Christian faiths. At the same time, since many of the new arrivals—from Korea, Nigeria, China, Ghana, the Philippines, Brazil and elsewhere—were evangelicals, the 1965 act contributed to what scholars have called the "de-Europeanization of American Christianity" and the "re-evangelization of America." It transformed vast arenas of American life, and fueled political debates over issues ranging from national unity and border control to educational policy and religion in the public sphere.

Given this, it is surprising how little attention scholars of either politics or religion have paid to the postwar politics of immigration reform. Those few who have addressed the issue have generally portrayed the 1965 act as the inevitable product of a postwar liberal consensus without exploring how any such consensus was forged or the nature of its fracture points and limitations. This talk attempts to recover that history, focusing particularly on the role of religious language, institutions, and issues.

October 7, 2015, 12:00pm, IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)



October 14, 2015

IASH Fellows' Speaker Series: "'We seek justice, not revenge': Catholicism and Transnational Human Rights Movements in Guatemala, 1968-1996"

Presented by Michael Cangemi

My project examines how and why the Catholic Church emerged a principal advocate for human rights in Guatemala between the 1960s and 1990s. I argue that the Church's transnational nature allowed it to offer a human rights model that was fundamentally different from either the United States or Soviet blocs' competing models. While the Cold War's political exigencies forced the U.S. and Soviet Union to present human rights models that respectively privileged political liberties and economic justice, the Church was able to incorporate both of these perspectives into its own unique human rights model. Ultimately, the Latin American Church's "option for the poor" complicated human rights discourse in Guatemala by challenging the country's rightist dictatorship, while imultaneously standing apart from Guatemala's extreme left by calling for a peaceful resolution to domestic political strife and violence.

October 14, 2015, 12:00pm, IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)



October 28, 2015

IASH Fellows' Speaker Series: Heart Deserts: Memory and Myth between Life and Death in Manafi al-Rabb and al-Khibaᵓ

Presented by Mary Youssef

This paper examines how two contemporary Egyptian novels, Ashraf al-Khamaysi's Manafi al-Rabb (2013) and Miral al-Ṭaḥawi's al-Khibaᵓ (1996), creatively use the desert leitmotif both as a narrative site and as a mythical center in which the figure of the Bedouin is either immortalized or annihilated.

October 28, 2015, 12:00pm, IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)



November 4, 2015

IASH Fellows' Speaker Series: "Progress and Moral Relativism"

Presented by Gary Santillanes

Many critics have claimed that moral relativism fails to adequately account for progress. In this paper I offer four prerequisites for a relativistic account of moral progress. After outlining and motivating these conditions I assess three accounts of moral progress offered by contemporary relativists. All fail to satisfy these prerequisites and thus fail as adequate responses to the problem of moral progress. I conclude by arguing that pessimism is not in order because the relativist has all the necessary tools to explain why we hold certain intuitions about moral progress and why these intuitions are misleading.

November 4, 2015, 12:00pm, IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)


November 11, 2015


IASH Fellows' Speaker Series: "Being Gone": Chris Burden's B.C. Mexico (1973)

Presented by Kevin Hatch

Mexico played an outsized role in the imaginations of many American artists associated with the avant-garde in the 1960s and '70s. For such artists, fantasies about Mexico were legion; indeed, what the Nobel Prize-winning novelist J. M. G. Le Clézio has written about the French poet, playwright, and interwar expatriate Antonin Artaud—"he pursued a vision so powerful that it seemed completely to erase the daily reality of Mexico"—applies as well to many of the postwar American artists who followed in Artaud's footsteps. Yet the engagement with Mexico for these artists was rarely simplistic, and never simple. In this paper, I focus on a single work created in 1973 by the Los Angeles-based performance and conceptual artist Chris Burden. In the work, titled B.C. Mexico, Burden piloted a kayak from Baja California to an uninhabited beach south where he remained for 11 days in isolation subsisting on water, while visitors to his Los Angeles gallery at the time found only a note on display referring to his absence. Burden said at the time that the work was about "being gone," yet it also conjured a notional "Mexico" that served during the work's duration as a conceptual foil to the US. B.C Mexico prompts crucial questions regarding the relay between Mexican and American artists in the expanded artistic field of the 1970s.

November 11, 2015, 12:00pm, IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)



November 18, 2015

IASH Fellows' Speaker Series: "The Killer Among Us": Serial Killing in Contemporary Puerto Rican Narrative"

Presented by Sandra Cananova-Vicaino

This presentation analyzes the gothic trope of the serial killer in two literary texts from Puerto Rico: El killer (2007) by Josué Montijo and "Guantes de látex" ["Latex Gloves"] (2008) by Francisco Font Acevedo. In both texts, the serial killers –both middle and uppermiddle class young white male– wander the dark and filthy neighborhoods of San Juan looking for their victims, drug addicts and prostitutes, respectively. In their wandering and serial killing, therefore, these Gothic monsters unravel the Socio-economical complications of contemporary Puerto Rican society: extreme poverty, violence and drug trafficking. By analyzing these texts as Caribbean Gothic fiction, I propose to challenge the image of San Juan as a tropical paradise. Instead, these texts reveal an urban geography plagued with all sorts of monsters living among us.

November 18, 2015, 12:00pm, IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)



December 2, 2015

IASH Fellows' Speaker Series: "Americanness, Caribbeanness and Creoleness in Lakshmi Persaud's Butterfly in the Wind and Sastra"

Presented by Robyn Cope

This lecture will demonstrate the ways in which Lakshmi Persaud's other (feminine and South Asian diasporic) perspective on cultural affiliations in everyday life in her novels Butterfly in the Wind (1990) and Sastra (1993) complicated the majority (masculinist and Afro-Caribbean) identity politics of In Praise of Creoleness (1989). My reading focuses on Persaud's depictions of food, cooking, and multiple generations of Indo-Trinidadian women. Furthermore, my project lies at the cutting edge of Caribbean scholarship, as it incorporates valuable and formerly marginalized perspectives on the geographic, ethnic, and temporal complexity of the Caribbean experience.

December 2, 12:00pm, IASH Conference Room (LN 1106)


Last Updated: 9/8/15