ISI to Host Achebe Symposium


University of Massachusetts, Amherst

14-15 October 2015
Bernie Dallas Room, Goodell Hall

Full symposium schedule can be viewed here

On 18 February 1975, the great African writer Chinua Achebe presented a Chancellor’s Lecture at the University of Massachusetts, entitled ‘An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.’ The lecture was subsequently published in the Massachusetts Review, and since that time it has become celebrated and iconic: a remarkable moment both in literary criticism, and in a broader cultural assessment of how Africa has been perceived and represented in the Western world. In making his case, Achebe challenged the entire framework in which works of art would be judged, and in which the discussion of Africa would be sustained.

To mark the fortieth anniversary of this epic moment, as well as the fortieth anniversary of the Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series at the University of Massachusetts, the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute will host a symposium devoted to the impact of Achebe’s lecture and its continuing legacy. In this, our aim is twofold: first, to commemorate the event itself, and its significance; and second, to bring the discussion into the present by reconsidering both Achebe’s importance, and the shape of things today in terms of the issues he raised.

Panelists and speakers include NoViolet Bulawayo, Jules Chametzky, Johnnetta Cole, Achille Mbembe, Maaza Mengiste, Okey Ndibe, Caryl Phillips, Michael Thelwell, Esther Terry, and Chika Unigwe, among others.

Full details of the program will be forthcoming. If you plan on attending the symposium from out of town, we urge you to make hotel accommodations as soon as possible. The UMass Visitor's Guide includes a comprehensive list of area hotels and accommodations, and can be access here


ISI Cosponsored Events in April

As always, ISI is happy to cosponsor events in collaboration with other organizations on campus. This month, our cosponsored events include a number of interesting lectures and symposia:

  • A visit to UMass of Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika (Clemson University) on April 8, who will speak on diversity in public radio;
  • A public lecture by Dr. Victor Burgin, renowned conceptual artist and theorist, on April 9;
  • "Neurodiversity University," a symposium on neurodiversity and autism, with events on April 16 and April 24;
  • The "Five College Multicultural Theater Conference," taking place on April 17. 

Click "read more" below for more information about each of these events.

Professor Viviana Zelizer to Deliver Public Lecture on April 14

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute (ISI) is delighted to welcome prominent economic sociologist Viviana A. Zelizer, who will visit UMass from April 12-15 as part of the 2015 ISI Residency. Professor Zelizer will present a public lecture entitled “Valuing Intimacy: Does Money Corrupt?” on Tuesday, April 14 at 4:00 pm in Room 904-908 of the UMass Campus Center. In addition, during her stay at UMass, Professor Zelizer will interact with students and faculty across the disciplines. Events will include graduate seminars, classroom visits, and a meeting with this year’s ISI Faculty Fellows, who have been considering the topic of “Value” from various perspectives throughout the year.

ISI Cosponsors Conflict Transformation and Literature Series

ISI is a proud cosponsor of The Art of Conflict Transformation Event Series, whose two-day event "Conflict Transformation and Literature: Exploring Transformations of Conflict Across Boundaries of Language, Nation states, Time and Memory" will take place from November 12-13. The event is organized by former ISHA/ISI fellow Leah Wing, and features Dr. Marjorie Agosin in three different engagements.

The first, on Wednesday November 12 at 12:30 pm in Herter 601, is an interdisciplinary graduate student conversation titled "The Aesthetics of Social Justice Activism through Literature." The second is a reading and conversation titled "Weaving the Memories of OThers" in the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at November 12 at 4:30 pm. Dr. Agosin's UMass visit will conclude with "Human Rights and the Arts," a student conversation on November 13 in the Honors College, Elm 230, at 10:00 a.m.

Albie Sachs Delivers Remarkable Talk To Standing-Room Only Crowd

On September 10, Justice Albie Sachs delivered a remarkable talk to a standing-room only crowd in the new Integrative Learning Center building. Drawing from his life experiences of involvement in South Africa's ANC during the struggle against Apartheid, his exile in Mozambique, and his later appointment by Nelson Mandela to the Constitutional Court, Sachs kept the audience rapt with his storytelling as well as his dry wit.

The talk, titled 'The Value of Values: Lessons from the South African Transformation,' was directed at value and values which are at the heart of ISI's theme for the year. Sachs touched on issues that ranged from same-sex marriage and sexual equality, the death penalty, and revenge and vengeance.

During his visit to UMass and in addition to his talk, Sachs met with the current ISI fellows, conducted an interdisciplinary mixed graduate and undergraduate seminar. More photos from his visit can be found on our gallery

Albie Sachs To Give Lecture at UMass

Called "arguably the world's most famous judge" in The Guardian, the famed South African judge Albie Sachs will give a lecture on September 10 at Umass at 4 p.m. in the new Integrative Learning Center, room south 331. Sachs's lecture will be on "The Value of Values: Lessons from the South African Transformation" and will inaugurate this year's ISI theme, "Value."