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ISI News   

Call for Applications 2013-2014: Emancipation

As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, it is appropriate that the ISI turns to the theme of ‘Emancipation’ for its 2013-2014 seminar. Yet in keeping with our traditions, we wish to explore the topic in broad, interdisciplinary, and multidirectional terms. The concept has been closely connected with notions of democracy, universal human rights, social and economic justice, gender and sexual equality, and the freedom from any constraint that might inhibit our capacity for self-determination. For the ISI seminar on emancipation, we would like to invite participants to explore issues and conceptions of human autonomy and freedom as inspired by your own interests, whether they be from historical, philosophical, sociological, psychological, anthropological, scientific, or cross-cultural angles. All fellows will receive a $1500 research allowance. Proposals for our year-long seminar should be sent by email to isi@umass.edu by Friday, March 1st, 2013. Learn more.

Inauguration of the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute

We are proud to announce that as of Fall 2012, the Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Humanities and Fine Arts (ISHA) has become the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute (ISI). The seminars, residencies, and events we have sponsored since 2001 will continue and be enhanced in the Institute, but our constitution and orientation will change to better address our needs as a truly interdisciplinary organization. We are grateful to the Provost and to the Deans of both the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences for their support, and also to the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences for supplementary funding. We look forward to an exciting year!

ISI Residency Fall 2012: Jean and John Comaroff

The ISI was delighted to host Jean and John Comaroff (October 23rd-25th) for our Fall Residency. Jean and John Comaroff are inspirational anthropologists whose work has influenced a generation of scholars interested in questions of identity and resistance in both colonial and postcolonial cultures in Africa and elsewhere. Writing both separately and together their recent work has ventured into the intersections of law and ethnicity as well as relations between the global north and south. For many years distinguished professors at the University of Chicago, Jean and John Comaroff are now at Harvard University as Professors of African and African American Studies and Oppenheimer Fellows in African Studies. Read more.

2012-2013 ISI Fellows Announced
“Engagement: The Challenge of Public Scholarship”

In its inaugural year the newly established Interdisciplinary Studies Institute (ISI) takes up the legacy of W.E. B. Du Bois for its first seminar entitled ‘Engagement: The Challenge of Public Scholarship’. Following in Du Bois’s footsteps, we’d like to consider what public engagement means to us today, in whatever fields we explore, whether in the humanities, arts, social sciences, or natural sciences. What does it mean to be an engaged scholar or artist? What lines do we cross over—or open up—when we transfer our spheres of learning and dissemination from the academic to the public? What examples do great public intellectuals and artists give us, what problems have they had to confront?

Learn more.

Intersections Intersected: The Photography of David Goldblatt

Thursday, February 3 - Sunday, May 1

University Gallery 


ISHA is a proud co-sponsor of “Intersections Intersected: The Photography of David Goldblatt” at the University Museum of Contemporary Art. David Goldblatt (b. South Africa, 1930) is one of the great photographers of our time. As both citizen and photographer, he was witness to apartheid’s infiltration into every aspect of South African life. The exhibition of over 100 photographs, taken by Goldblatt during the past 50 years, focuses on South Africa’s human landscape in the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.  Visit the Museum website to learn more.

Caryl Phillips 

ISHA Residency Spring 2010: Writing/Migration

In April 2010, the Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Humanities and Fine Arts welcomed the renowned writer Caryl Phillips for its inaugural residency in the ‘Beyond Borders’ residency program. The weeklong event, on the theme of ‘Writing/Migration’, took place from April 5th-9th 2010, with major funding from a College of Humanities and Fine Arts Visioning Grant.

Through Caryl Phillips’s examination of migration and exile in settings ranging from Africa, to Europe, to the new world, he has founded a body of work that is both relevant and timely as well as innovative in form and approach. He joined the University community in a full spectrum of activities, including a fiction reading, a lecture, a screening of one of his films, and a reading of one of his plays. All these events were free and open to the public. For more information see our Residency page.

Listen to Phillips’s Interview with WFCR

Phillips speaks about literature, education, and his life during an interview with WFCR’s Morning Edition host Bob Paquette.

Listen to the interview.

View Images from the Residency

View images from Caryl Phillips’s fiction reading, “Distant Shores,” the Annual ISHA Lecture, “Colour Me English,” and more.  Photographs of Caryl Phillips at ISHA public events courtesy Dennis Vandal.

See full album.


The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute is a forum for faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to engage with one another in a spirit of intellectual and creative adventure. We host seminars, residencies, and visiting speakers, and work with others to foster interdisciplinary work on campus. Welcome to the ISI.