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2010-11 Graduate Colloquium Awardees

Colloquium event organized by Coleman Nye and Pooja Rangan.Colloquium event organized by Coleman Nye and Pooja Rangan."Speculative Critique: The Politics of Theorizing Risk, Uncertainty, and Potential in a Biopolitical Age"
Coleman Nye (Anthropology); Pooja Rangan (Modern Culture and Media)

Scholars and practitioners working in diverse cultural domains have recently embraced a “speculative” model of politics for evaluating the risks and rewards of mobilizing the transformative potential that is argued to reside within the social body. The popularity of such models seems to be a symptom of the overwhelming tendency to move away from simplistic theoretical models of resistance toward more complex interrogations of the immanent conditions of economic and political change.  Frequently, speculative critique focuses on liminal figures (refugees, cancer victims, prisoners, queer individuals, the legally disenfranchised, indigenous people, animals) in order to argue the political possibility of uncertainty and invisibility under neoliberal conditions.  Colloquium participants will bring their work in anthropology, media theory, human rights, performance studies, law, queer theory, economics, and pop culture to bear on this problematic in collaboration with the work of scholars in the Brown and international academic community. Over the course of the year, we will invite 2 international scholars investigating the material limits and ideological stakes of speculative critique to give  a public lecture and to participate in a more intimate conversation in a separate workshop the following day. At the end of year, we will bring a 3rd international scholar to give the keynote address at a university-wide symposium where colloquium participants as well as interested Brown faculty.



“Violence, Language, and Ethics”
Qussay Al-Attabi; Ipek A. Celik; William Fysh; Bruno Penteado; Katherina Seligmann; Derek Wong (Comparative Literature)

This colloquium aims to provide a platform for debate on the evolving body of thought on various forms of violence in our social lives and their influence on literary production. The invited speakers will trace diverse philosophical, political and cultural genealogies from which to theorize the concept of violence, especially in its relation to matters of representation. We attempt to form an interdisciplinary dialogue where an alternative cultural theorization can be traced: an inquiry into violence not only as a visceral and immediate given or as a concept embedded in culture, but rather as an issue in need of sustained sociological and philosophical critique—in which notions of justice, law, and ethics are reevaluated against historical and literary contexts. Some questions that will be addressed are: What counts as violence, and who gets to define it? What visible and invisible forms does violence take? How does language/ literature respond to moments of historical crisis such as war and ethnic cleansing? What is the aesthetic and social value of violence in narrative? What questions does the aestheticisation of violence raise? When does representation itself become violent? What are the ethical issues around exhibiting images of suffering? How does literature invite ethical questions provoked by different forms of violence?


"Ancient Drama and the Performance of Political Ideologies: Voices from the Center and the Margins"
Adrianne LaFrance and Matthew Wellenbach (Classics)

It is nothing new to examine the Greek dramatic masterpieces of the 5th century BC against their tumultuous political backdrop; what is new, however, is to regard the performance of these dramas as the performance of the politics of the city on display for citizens and foreigners alike. It is also still relatively new to examine those politics of performance as the ideological construct of the city and the examiner; but one of the most innovative aspects of this colloquium will be an attempt to examine the politics of performance by trying to identify ideological differences between the ‘voices from the center’—i.e., between scholars trained in the mainstream of the reception of Classics in Western Europe and North America, and ‘voices from the margins’—which we define as that less well-known (to us) stream of scholars coming from elsewhere—countries on the ‘fringes’ of Europe, from the ‘East’, and from South America.

Our colloquium will consist of a series of workshops throughout the 2010-2011 academic year; the first of each term will serve as an organizational meeting, providing practical and theoretical grounding for the term. The remaining workshops will consist of a student-led dramatic performance of a play, followed by a lecture given by our international speakers that examines particular aspects of that same play. Additionally, our visiting scholars will offer a lecture, hosted by a department outside of Classics, that reverses the focus and examines Classical influences on cultures where the Greco-Roman heritage has not retained as strong a modern hold. Our intended speakers for the colloquium are:

  • Yasunori Kasai, Prof. of Law and Classics, Faculty of Letters, Otsuma University and Prof., Institute of Advanced Studies, Niigata University, Niigata, Japan.
  • Delfim Leao, Professor, Institute of Classical Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal.
  • Emiliano Buis, Senior Lecturer in Greek Language &Literature and Associate
  • Professor in Law, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Patricia Ybarra, Assistant Professor, Brown University, Dept. of Theater Arts & Performance Studies

Through these workshops, we will broaden our perspective on the ways in which classical texts are presented and ‘classical ideology’ perceived outside the usual western network and we will deliberate over the questions: coming as we do from such different cultural backgrounds, do we perceive texts and ideas differently? Are our foci and methods different? What can – and should – we learn from each other?


“Process and Product: An Interdisciplinary Colloquia Series”
Erin Kahle; Diana Dukhanova; Christopher Carr; Keren Klimovsk; Brittney Kondratiev (Slavic Languages)

This experimental colloquium series, generously sponsored by the Office of International Affairs and hosted by the graduate students of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, will provide a forum for young scholars in the humanities to initiate collaborative projects and an opportunity for the development of informal mentorship relationships between faculty and graduate students.  This series will be comprised of three types of events: four evenings featuring roundtable discussions focusing on processes and challenges of original research, followed by a lecture by a visiting professor; a week-long event featuring talks by alumnae of the area studies graduate programs at Brown University, as well as workshops focusing on the practical skills of archival and original research internationally and domestically; and a graduate student conference focusing on creative approaches to cross-cultural research.  Roundtable and lecture themes will include theater, art history and literature, specifically literature across national boundaries.  Featured speakers will include Alison Hilton (Georgetown University), Olga Partan (College of the Holy Cross), and Ethan Pollock (Brown University).  The overarching goal of this series is to explore joint interests across the disciplines outside the traditional class-based format and to emphasize the relevance of cross-disciplinary exchange.


“Archiving the Ephemeral”
Ian Russell (American Civilization) and Hollis Mickey (Theatre Arts and Performance Studies) 

A series of conversations and reading groups bringing students and faculty at Brown together with artists, researchers and professionals from a wide range of international and interdisciplinary perspectives, “Archiving the Ephemeral” will be a valuable discursive space for researchers and practitioners concerned and critically engaged with the authoritative agency of the archive in the arts and humanities. Exploring the “drive to archive” within contemporary arts and humanities practice, the colloquium will seek to question assumptions of the inherent value of the archive and look for alternative ways of understanding the archive as process rather than object. It will engage with theories and methods of collection and archiving, dissemination and dispersal, appearance and disappearance in academic and contemporary artists’ work. The program of conversations will culminate with a public conversation with artists Corin Hewitt, Chitra Ganesh and Miriam Ghani who will are being brought to Brown in April 2011 through the support of the Creative Arts Council.

Open to faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, the reading group will meet every two weeks during the Spring 2011 semester in the newly opened Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. Readings will be distributed and discussions facilitated through a group weblog.

“Archiving the Ephemeral” is supported by the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies and the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage.


“The Contingency of Violence: Torture, Terrorism, and Gender Violence in Conflict Zones”
Sara Mattiesen and Annette Rodriguez (American Civilization)

This series will examine how different forms of violence operate in the context of conflict zones.  By looking at iterations of torture, terrorism, and gender violence, we ask how violence deployed to ensure state security gets constituted as inevitable and necessary.  In order to illuminate how meanings assigned to different forms of violence contribute to this supposed inevitability, we want to examine these three themes alongside one another.  Doing so will also reveal how oftentimes these meanings come into contradiction.  By narrowing in on these contradictions, we hope to show how violence in conflict zones is actually not inevitable but contingent on particular interests and factors.  Ultimately, we hope that such an acknowledgment might begin discussion of how to better account for the particular forms and meanings violence takes on in conflict zones.


“Families Without Borders: How Migration, Globalization and the Law are Transforming the Home”
Heather R. Lee (American Civilization)

This colloquium “Families Without Borders: How Migration, Globalization, and the Law Are Transforming the Home” seeks to address this hole in academic and public thought by turning our attention to the ways the legal system regulates the family. In particular, it addresses how immigration law shapes the possibilities and experiences of family life for migrants between North America, South America, Asia and Europe. Migration is often a disruptive force in family life, usually with fathers or mothers leaving behind children and elderly relatives in pursuit of job prospects. In these cases, the receiving nation’s immigration laws typically act as barriers to the reconstitution of traditional families. Yet migrants adapt to these limitations.  “Families Without Borders” invites scholars, artists, writers, and activists to share their perspectives on how families are reconstituted within transnational contexts. These guests will discuss migrants’ strategies for redefining “family” within the constraints immigration law places upon traditional notions.


“Incuhabitations III and IV”
Amish Trivedi and Karen Lepri (Literary Arts )

Claire Donato and Adam Veal curated Incuhabitations I and II, which brought Caroline Bergvall and Rachel Zolf (along with Sandy Baldwin and Andrea Actis) to read at Brown University. The focus was on performance and innovation. For the 2010-11 school year, we would like to continue focus on innovation, but move more towards a focus on text, with an additional focus on the body and politics. The body has been the focus of the works of Aase Berg, a poet who lives in Sweden. In terms of politics, Chinese dissident Bei Dao has had an incredible eye for a poetics that leans towards topicality and political engagement. The objective of this colloquium would not only be to showcase international work, but also to focus on innovative work that focuses inward and towards topics that deal more with the self. Translation will also be within the realm of this colloquium series.