• Citron Public Lecture 

2016-2017 ISI 'Trespassing' Residency: Daniel Kanstroom, March 20-24

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute (ISI) is delighted to welcome Daniel Kanstroom as our distinguished Resident for 2016-17. He will visit the UMass Amherst campus from March 21-24, as part of the ISI’s 2016-17 theme, ‘Trespassing.’ On March 22, Professor Kanstroom will deliver a public lecture entitled ‘Global Deportation: The Rise of a Dangerous New Phenomenon’ (Old Chapel Great Hall, 4.30 pm), and during the week he will also engage with faculty, graduate students, and the local community. 

ISI Sponsors Di Maio Lecture

On February 15, Professor Alessandra Di Maio will give a lecture at 4:30 p.m. in Herter 601. Her talk, "AfroItalia: Voices and Images Across the Mediterranean," is related to her most recently edited poetry collection, Migrazioni/Migrations, and addresses the migrations, connections, and--in connection with this year's ISI theme--trespassings that have marked the relationship between Italy and the African continent. The recent arrival in Italy of migrants from Africa, while sparking controversy and igniting a heated debate on immigration to the EU, has urged Italians to reconsider their historical connections with the African continent and assess new cultural relationships. Among the first communities who crossed the Mediterranean and found a new home in Italy are Nigerians. In Migrazioni/Migrations, renowned Italian and Nigerian poets, headed by Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, join their voices in telling the choral story of how Africa and Italy have always been united by a common sea and a shared experience of migration.

ISI Cosponsors Stewart Motha Workshop

The ISI is excited to cosponsor a workshop, open to UMass graduate students and faculty, led by Stewart Motha on February 13. The interdisciplinary workshop with Professor Motha will explore how memory and belonging can be studied from the perspectives of post-colonial studies and critical legal studies. A pre-circulated text drawn from Professor Motha’s book Archiving Sovereignty (forthcoming with University of Michigan Press) will form the basis for discussion. Reworking the notion of the ‘archive’, Motha explores the memorial and ‘as if’ function of modern law as it is elaborated through juridical case studies, and literary and other artistic works drawn from Australia, South Africa, and the Indian Ocean region. The workshop will be of interest to doctoral students and faculty studying topics that touch on sovereign violence, history, interpretation and language. The seminar is capped at twenty; if you are interested in attending, please write to isi@umass.edu to reserve a spot.

In addition to this workshop, Professor Motha will give a public lecture at Amherst College at 4:30pm on Tues, Feb. 14 titled “Redundant Refugees.”
 

2017-2018 Faculty Seminar Application Call: Dissent

  

As we move from the Obama era into a new phase in the United States, the question of dissent is likely to gain ever greater prominence. What will assent and dissent mean in this period, and how will they be exercised? The dynamic of the last presidential election was itself propelled by dissent against standard narratives on the part of specific sectors of the public. How then will dissent be conceived and organized going forward, whether this relates to the Black Lives Matter movement, women’s rights, gay and transgender rights, migrant and immigrant rights, human rights, labor rights, education, health and other areas of stress and vulnerability? In an era in which Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia are renascent, questions of solidarity and dissent are likely to take on increasing importance. Where scientific consensus—for example on climate change—is under threat, there may for once be a paradoxical overlap between consensus and dissent. Where ‘truth’ itself has become a malleable political commodity, a matter of performance and simulacrum rather than fact, how will we tie dissent to notions of evidence and truth? How will evidence and truth be legitimated?

The political looms large in this call for applications, therefore. Quite possibly there will be moments of anticipation or inspiration from previous eras, whether the period of the Vietnam War, the civil rights struggle, or struggles for gender and sexual equality. At the same time, we might benefit from comparative approaches. How has dissent been organized and theorized in other times and places, or within specific cultures? Are there test cases we can study, whether in China, Russia, the former Soviet bloc, South Africa, Cuba or the Arab Spring? What are the options for national or transnational links? How is dissent in the personal sphere tied to the collective? Not despite but because of the serious issues, does comedy—and its history—offer a platform for dissent?

Tracy Appointed Distinguished Professor

Steven Tracy, ISI 2012-2013 'Engagement: the Challenge of Public Scholarship' fellow, was appointed Distinguished Professor in the Afro-American Studies department. A member of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies since 1995, Tracy is the leading authority on intersections between African-American literature and blues music. In addition to his books, Langston Hughes and the Blues and Going to Cincinnati: A History of the Blues in The Queen City and A Brush with the Blues, and Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature, Tracy has published more than 75 book chapters and articles. 

In addition to his scholarship, Tracy is played with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and opened for artists such as BB. King and Muddy Waters. 

James Young Discusses Stages of Memory

'Public Thought, Public Art, Public Effect' ISI fellow James Young will give a talk at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies on November 16 at 4:30 p.m. on his new book, The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial  Art, Loss, and the Spaces Between. Young is the founding director of the Institute and Emeritus Distinguished Professor of English and Judaic and Near Eastern Studies. The event is sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Press. 

Max Page to discuss new book, Bending the Future

Former ISI 'Transformations' fellow Max Page and Marla Miller will discuss their new book, Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States at the Jones Library at 7 p.m. on November 14. Their book is a collection of essays examining the current state and future prospects of the National Historic Preservation Act, and the event is sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Press.

Kawar to give talk on Legal Activism and Deportation Resistance

Current ISI 'Trespassing' fellow, Leila Kawar (Political Science and Legal Studies), will be talking on “Legal Activism and Deportation Resistance: Comparative and Historical Perspectives,” in room 423 in Tobin Hall on November 16, from 4-6 p.m. Professor Kawar’s research examines the politics of legal expertise, at both the national and international levels, with a focus on questions relating to migration, citizenship, and labor. Her book, Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France (Cambridge U Press, 2015) received the Law and Society Association's Herbert Jacob Book Award for best book in law and society in 2016 and also the APSA Migration and Citizenship Section award of Best Book in 2016. Her talk i s part of the Resistance Studies Initiative Fall Speaker Series.