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Spring 2014

Philip McMichael - "Historicizing the Land Grab: The Unfolding, and Unraveling, of the Global Food Regime"

Monday, February 10, 2014 - 4:45pm

165 McGraw Hall, Cornell University

PHILIP MCMICHAEL (International Professor & Chair, Development Sociology, Cornell University)

This lecture historicizes the current land grab through the lens of governance mechanisms overriding the WTO trade rules architecture of the late-20th century food regime. Emergent principles and partnerships of a restructuring food regime justify an intensifying commodification of land, labor and ecosystems, portending a final enclosure via a 'rational' planning of planetary resources in a quest for security. Such neoliberal mechanisms promote private power through public authority, reformulating the state system as an instrument of privatization and redefinition of land and territory in the face of growing counter-movements for food and land sovereignty.

Trained as a historical sociologist, Professor McMichael’s research examines capitalist modernity through the lens of agrarian questions, food regimes, agrarian/food sovereignty movements. This work centers the role of agri-food systems in the making of the modern world. He has worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) - most recently as a member of its Civil Society Mechanism, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty, and the international peasant coalition, La Vía Campesina. He has authored Settlers and the Agrarian Question(1984), Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective(2012), and Food Regimes and Agrarian Questions (2013), and recently edited Contesting Development: Critical Struggles for Social Change (2010). 

Lecture: American Muslims of Imagined and Re-Imagined Communities

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - 4:45pm to Thursday, March 13, 2014 - 10:00am

Kaufman Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall (March 12th)
Toboggan Lodge, Cornell University (March 13th)

Abdullahi An-Na’im (Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, School of Law, Emory University)

LECTURE:
AMERICAN MUSLIMS OF IMAGINED AND RE-IMAGINED COMMUNITIES

In this lecture, Professor An-Na’im will introduce the main themes of his book, What is an American Muslim? An American Muslim is a citizen of the United States who happens to be Muslim, but religious identity or lack of it among any community is irrelevant to the practice of citizenship. To be a Muslim by conviction and choice, which is the only way to be a Muslim at all, An-Na’im needs the state to be neutral regarding all religions or lack thereof. Being Muslim is one of multiple identities that he practices as a citizen of the United States, but citizenship is the only identity that all Americans share. Thus, there is no permanent minority or majority, whether religious or in any other marker or indicator of identity.  Self-perceptions of identity tend to shift and change as people constantly engage in tactical and strategic negotiation among their contingent and contested identities. As a citizen, An-Na’im demands his right to religious self-determination, which doesn’t exhaust who he is. He refuses being boxed into a religious communal identity because in fact he shares political, socio-economic, and other identity formations with all other citizens, often more with non-Muslims than with other Muslims. This leads him to revisit Benedict Anderson’s notion of imagined communities to call on all citizens, Muslims or not, to keep imagining and re-imagining their communal affiliations and the implications of such affiliations to the fundamental rights of all citizens. 

Enzo Traverso - "Marxism and Memory: from Teleology to Melancholy"

Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 4:45pm

Toboggan Lodge, Cornell University

ENZO TRAVERSO (Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities, Romance Studies, Cornell University)

At the beginning of the 1980s, the rise of memory in the field of the humanities coincided with the crisis of Marxism, a current of thought that had deeply shaped the historiography of the previous decades. Consequently, Marxism did not contribute to the “memorial moment” characteristic of the turn of the twenty-first century. The Marxist vision of history, nevertheless, included a memorial prescription: to select the events of the past in order to inscribe them into the future. It was a “strategic” memory of past revolutions, a future-oriented memory. Today, the end of real socialism has broken this dialectic between past and future, and the eclipse of utopias engendered by our “presentist” time has extinguished Marxist memory. The dialectical tension between the past as a “field of experience” and the future as a “horizon of expectation” (Koselleck) becomes a kind of mutilated, “negative dialectic.” In this context, a melancholic vision of history as remembrance (Eingedenken) of the vanquished—Walter Benjamin was its most significant interpreter—that had belonged to a marginal Marxist tradition suddenly reappears.

Jasbir K. Puar - "Disabled Diaspora, Rehabilitating State: The Queer Politics of Reproduction in Israel/Palestine"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 4:45pm

Toboggan Lodge, Cornell University

JASBIR K. PUAR (Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University; Fellow, Society for the Humanities, Cornell University)

This paper situates the intersections of sex, disability, and reproductive politics within the history of homonationalism in Israel/Palestine. I focus specifically on the use of disability—especially as the Israeli state was founded on a narrative of rehabilitating dispersed, traumatized diasporas into bodily health and national wholeness--as part of a biopolitical assemblage of control that instrumentalizes a spectrum of capacities and debilities for the use of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Thus I seek to rearticulate sexual rights and the debates on “pinkwashing” within biopolitical frames by linking them to the slow rise of disability rights platforms in Israel, the convergence of eugenic selective abortion practices on the one hand and the pro-natalist attitudes of the state, supported by its stellar Assisted Reproductive Technology industry, on the other, and the growing population of LGBT parents and families in Israel.