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PAST EVENTS

Spring 2017

Stacey Langwick, "A Politics of Habitability: Plants, Healing, and Sovereignty in a Toxic World"

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - 4:45pm

Toboggan Lodge, 38 Forest Home Drive
ICM New Conversations Series

STACEY LANGWICK
Associate Professor, Anthropology, Cornell University

These are toxic times. Perhaps nowhere are the stakes in the problematization of toxicity clearer than in Africa. The story of colonialism and postcolonialism might also be told as a story of the struggle over how to articulate and engage that which harms (Kiswahili, uchawi) and that which heals (uganga)—or more precisely, the relations that constitute remedy and those that facilitate toxin. These layered histories shape the question of what it means to live through toxicity. What is required to sustain, to endure, if not also to thrive? For Tanzanians, modern bodies bear complicated toxic loads not only because of the dumping of capitalism’s harmful byproducts, but also because of the very products that facilitate modern living (e.g., plastics, kerosene), agriculture (e.g., pesticides, chemical fertilizers), and health (e.g., antiretroviral, contraceptives). This double-bind has forged a new configuration of plant-based healing in Tanzania that includes both therapeutic foods and herbs. It is a re-imagining of the cosmopolitics of the pharmakon. This contemporary herbalism navigates the relations between remedy, poison, memory, and scapegoat through a commitment to return (rather than the logic of dosage). This is a form of therapy that belongs to the current moment: of AIDS, of industrial agriculture, of the epidemiological transition and the rise of noncommunicable diseases, of the pharmacologicalization of therapies, and of the transnationalization of health and health interventions. Tanzanian herbal producers and users are exploring what it means to create spaces of nourishment and to work across temporalities of healing today. What makes a place, a time, a body habitable? Following Tanzanian herbal producers as they align with food sovereignty movements, this talk will turn to gardens. These gardens are dense areas, thick with vital forces, where habitability arises as a space of potential and as an intimacy with the very forces that structure return and transformation. Tanzanian strivings for a habitable future rest in such ontologically complex relationships between plants and people.


Aziz Rana, "The Rise of the Constitution"

Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 4:45pm

Kaufmann Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall
ICM Lecture Series

AZIZ RANA
Professor, Cornell Law School

This talk, drawn from a book manuscript, explores how the Federal Constitution became a site of near unanimous public support in American life. It argues that the dominance and substantive meaning of constitutional veneration is actually a relatively recent development—the product of a series of interconnected political struggles between the American emergence onto the global stage with the Spanish-American War and World War I and the fallout of student and civil rights protest in the 1970s. In the process, the book raises a series of questions that have thus far been largely overlooked but that should be central to our conversations about the Constitution. How did our current consensus emerge? To what degree did such acceptance depend on the active suppression of alternatives? And what are the implications of this consensus and its history for contemporary political discourse and institutional possibilities? In engaging with these questions, Rana highlights how the Constitution became wedded to a very specific account of national purpose—one grounded in universal equality—which a century ago existed only at the margins of American politics. Indeed, the rise of modern constitutional veneration is ultimately a story of how the document became synonymous with a once highly embattled view of national identity and, through that process, effectively rose above meaningful political dissent.


Fall 2016

Michael Denning, "'A Noisy Heaven and a Syncopated Earth': The Transcolonial Reverberations of Vernacular Phonograph Music"

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 4:45pm

Kaufmann Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall
ICM Lecture Series

MICHAEL DENNING
William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of American Studies, Yale University

Reassessing the origins of our musical world, Denning’s presentation will explore the soundscape of "modern times," the musical and cultural revolution triggered by the worldwide recording of vernacular musics in the years between the development of electrical recording in 1925 and the outset of the Great Depression in the early 1930s. The musical styles and idioms etched onto shellac disks reverberated around the world, igniting the first great battle over popular music, becoming the soundtrack of decolonization, and remaking our musical ear.

Copies of Professor Denning's book, Noise Uprising: The Audiopolitics of a World Musical Revolution, will be available for sale at the lecture courtesy of Buffalo Street Books.


Film Screenings and Q&A with Jihan El-Tahri

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 4:30pm to Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 7:30pm

Multipurpose Room, Africana Studies & Research Center
ICM Film Series

JIHAN EL-TAHRI
Filmmaker and Author

Nasser (97 mins.)
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
4:30-7:30 p.m.
Film Screening and Q&A Session

Sadat (57 mins.)
Mubarak (58 mins.)
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
4:30-7:30 p.m.
Film Screening and Q&A Session


Souleymane Bachir Diagne, “On African Philosophy”

Monday, August 29, 2016 - 4:45pm

Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall
ICM Lecture Series

SOULEYMANE BACHIR DIAGNE
Professor, French; Philosophy, Columbia University

The phrase “African philosophy” has been an object of discussion and controversy, particularly in the so-called “francophone” region of the continent, as it poses the question of the possibility of critical thought in a context of orality. The lecture examines that question and insists on the significance of the tradition of written erudition in centers of learning and philosophy such as Timbuktu in the study of the intellectual history of Africa (the focus is on West Africa).

* Suggested reading for this event is The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa, chapter 1, “The Force of Living,” pp. 9-34. Available on the Codesria website.


Spring 2016

Workshop, "Jacques Derrida: A Figure of African Thought"

Saturday, April 23, 2016 - 9:15am

Hoyt Fuller Room, Africana Studies & Research Center, 310 Triphammer Road


Hala Halim - "Internationalist and Surrealist Inflections in Edwar al-Kharrat’s Resistant Literary Modernity"

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - 4:45pm

Kaufmann Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall
ICM Lecture Series

HALA HALIM
Associate Professor, Comparative Literature History; Middle Eastern Studies, New York University

Although criticism of Arabic literature has increasingly interrogated the Nahda thesis whereby the Arab world awakens into modernity at the hands of the West and witnesses a literary revival by dint of translation and borrowing genres from Europe, much scope remains to foreground challenges and alternative formulations. This presentation addresses the Egyptian novelist, poet, and critic Edwar al-Kharrat (1926-2015) to extrapolate his articulations of an Arab literary modernity resistant to Eurocentrism. Taking stock of both his literary and critical texts, the presentation treats the critically overlooked import of the internationalist and surrealist aspects of al-Kharrat’s project.


Eric Tagliacozzo - "How the Spice Trade Made the World Modern"

Monday, February 29, 2016 - 4:45pm

122 Rockefeller Hall, Cornell University
ICM Lecture Series


Fall 2015

Saida Hodžić, "Against Sovereign Violence: Feminist Activism and Law in Ghana"

Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 4:45pm

Toboggan Lodge, Cornell University
ICM New Conversations Series

SAIDA HODŽIĆ
Assistant Professor, Anthropology; Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Cornell University

This talk draws on Saida Hodžić’s forthcoming book, How Cutting Ended: An Ethnography of African Activism. By shedding light on how Ghanaian activists and civil servants both fetishize the law and reckon with its violence, this work invites attention to the ordinary and to practice as sites where feminist critiques of liberalism are both challenged and reinvigorated.


MANTHIA DIAWARA - "Négritude: A Dialogue between Senghor and Wole Soyinka"

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 - 4:45pm

Africana Studies and Research Center, Multipurpose Room

MANTHIA DIAWARA (via Skype)
Filmmaker, Africana Studies and Comparative Literature, New York University

4:45 p.m. Film Screening
5:45 p.m. Panel Discussion  

Salah M. Hassan (Moderator)
Africana Studies and Research Center and History of Art, Cornell University

Natalie Melas
Comparative Literature, Cornell University

Olúfémi Táíwò
Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University