2016-2017 Events

CCHS Distinguished Visiting Speaker

Digital Mapping as Humanities Practice

Mark Olson, Duke University

Thursday, September 15 @ 4pm, Bingham Humanities Bldg. Room 100

Digital mapping is a powerful and popular toolkit in digital humanities. Mark Olson will introduce a range of techniques and technologies that reflect the current state of the art. What kinds of humanities questions do these tools enable and sustain? Olson will invite discussion on some of the epistemological implications of mapping-as-method.

Mark Olson is Cordelia and William Laverack Family Assistant Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University. He teaches courses on media (new & old - theory, practice, & history) and medicine & visual culture. As a extension of his past work with the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media & Learning Initiative, he collaborates on the development of a new interdisciplinary project that connects the study of the material culture of art history, architecture and archaeology with new media modes of representation and visualization. Olson is the former Director of New Media & Information Technologies for HASTAC (Humanties, Arts, Sciences & Technology Advanced Collaboratory) and the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary & International Studies.
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Presented by the Commonwealth Center for the Humanities & Society

CCHS Presents:

The Value of Boredom

Andreas Elpidorou, Philosophy, 2016-17 CCHS Faculty Fellows

Thursday, October 27 @ 2:30pm, Bingham Humanities Bldg. Room 300

By presenting and synthesizing findings on the character of boredom, its relationship to self-regulation, and the role of emotions in well-being, Professor Elpidorou advances a novel theoretical account of the function of the state of boredom and argues for boredom's significance and importance in our everyday lives. Boredom should be understood as a functional emotion that is both informative and regulatory of one's behavior. Boredom informs one of the presence of an unsatisfactory situation and, at the same time, it motivates the pursuit of a new goal when the current goal ceases to be satisfactory, attractive, or meaningful. Boredom ultimately promotes both movement and the restoration of the perception that one's activities are meaningful and congruent with one's overall projects. As such, boredom has the capacity to contribute to our well-being.

Andreas Elpidorou is a 2016-17 CCHS Faculty Fellow. He specializes in the philosophical study of the mind and has written extensively on the character of consciousness, cognition, and emotions. In his written work, he strives to offer clear, precise, and critical explications of aspects of our mental lives that often remain hidden from us. He is currently writing a book on the metaphysics of consciousness entitled Consciousness and the Spell of Physicalism (Routledge, forthcoming). As a CCHS Faculty Fellow, he will be working on a project on boredom that aims to articulate boredom's nature and value. 


Global Humanities Distinguished Speaker

“The Brink of Freedom: Racial Capitalism and the Caste War of Yucatán”

David Kazanjian, University of Pennsylvania

Thursday, November 3 @ 3pm, Bingham Humanities Bldg. Room 100

In his new book The Brink of Freedom David Kazanjian revises nineteenth-century conceptions of freedom by examining the ways black settler colonists in Liberia and Mayan rebels in Yucatán imagined how to live freely. Focusing on colonial and early national Liberia and the Caste War of Yucatán, Kazanjian interprets letters from black settlers in apposition to letters and literature from Mayan rebels and their Creole antagonists.

In this talk, Kazanjian tracks the role the nineteenth-century Yucatán played in Cedric Robinson’s influential theory of racial capitalism. Drawing on Robinson’s own seemingly incidental reference in Black Marxism to Chilam Balam, a legendary Maya prophet, Kazanjian unsettles Robinson’s “red to black” narrative, which presumes that enslaved Afro-diasporans replaced exterminated indigenous people as the principle racialized labor force in the Americas. Kazanjian shows how the frequent appearance of the figure of Chilam Balam throughout the nineteenth-century—in Maya texts, in the archeological and anthropological research of Karl Hermann Berendt, and in the writings of Yucatec Creole intellectual Justo Sierra O’Reilly—indexes the complex articulations of African-descended people and indigenous people. Viewed from the perspective of the figure of Chilam Balam and the racialized dynamics of the Caste War conjuncture, Kazanjian argues for what Jack Forbes might have called a red-black theory of racial capitalism.

David Kazanjian is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Brink of Freedom: Improvising Life in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World (Duke) and The Colonizing Trick: National Culture and Imperial Citizenship in Early America (Minnesota), as well as co-editor of Loss: The Politics of Mourning (California) and The Aunt Lute Anthology of U.S. Women Writers, Vol. 1 (Aunt Lute Books). He has also published widely on the cultural politics of the Armenian diaspora, and is a member of the organizing collectives of Social Text and the Tepoztlán Institute for Transnational History of the Americas.

Presented by The Department of Comparative Humanities and the Commonwealth Center for the Humanities & Society

 CCHS Presents:

War Media: Drone Strikes and Killing in the Age of the Technical Image

Stephen Schneider, English

Thursday, November 10 @ 3pm, Bingham Humanities Bldg. Room 300

This talk asks the question: what does it mean to conduct war on screens?  By looking at the rise of drone strikes and the way that the drone apparatus is transforming how we understand war.  While drones are often seen as a means of killing at a distance, they might also be read as a media technology that looks to collapse distance and radically localize warfare.  To this end, drones weaponize our concept of vision and thereby threaten to change the ways that we have historically defined war.

Stephen Schneider is the author of You Can’t Padlock an Idea: Rhetorical Education at the Highlander Folk School, 1932-1961, and has published essays in College English, College Composition and Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, and Journal of Advanced Composition. His research focuses on the relationship between education and social movement rhetoric, and particularly on the question of how social movement participants develop and deploy collective rhetorical actions. His other research centers on the role of the public and the public sphere in rhetorical theory, and the ways in which our notions of the public intersect with both deliberative democracy and welfare state economics.

CCHS Distinguished Visiting Speaker

Liberal Democracy, An African Critique

Reginald Oduor, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Monday, November 28 @ 3pm, Bingham Humanities Bldg. Room 300

Reginald M.J. Oduor, Ph.D.,University of Nairobi, Kenya will present an African critique of liberal democracy. Despite the end of the Cold War and the ascendancy of liberal democracy, several Western scholars and political activists have pointed to its inherent weaknesses. Furthermore, while it is also often considered to be the panacea for Africa’s political instability, liberal democracy is actually alien to Africa, having arisen out of the peculiar social, economic and political developments in Western Europe. Drawing from Recent African scholarship, this paper advances the view that the imposition of liberal democracy on post-colonial African states has stifled the growth of models of democracy that draw from indigenous African political thought and that are therefore more in line with the worldviews of the vast proportion of the populations of these polities. This situation also amounts to the ongoing political subjugation of such populations and the inhibiting of healthy intercultural political dialogues on a global scale.

Reginald M.J. Oduor is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

Presented by the Commonwealth Center for the Humanities & Society

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