Fall 2006 Colloquium Series

Colloquium Series

In fall 2006, the Center for Cultural Studies will continue to host a Wednesday colloquium series, which features current cultural studies work by campus faculty and visitors. The sessions are informal, normally consisting of a 30-40 minute presentation followed by discussion. We gather at noon, with presentations beginning at 12:15. Participants are encouraged to bring their own lunches; the Center will provide coffee, tea, and cookies. 



October 4

Robin Blackburn
(Sociology, University of Essex and The New School)
The Haitian Revolution as an Episode in the History
of Philosophy

October 11
Sarah Jain
(Anthropology, Stanford University)
Life in Prognosis

October 18
Donna Jones
(English, UC Berkeley)
“The Rise of the Colored Masses”: The Place and Function of the Non-Western
World in Pessimistic Narratives of History

October 25
Yiman Wang
(Film and Digital Media,
UC Santa Cruz)
The Goddess, Hollywood “Before” and Hong Kong
“After”: The Disappearing Mother, Modernity, and
Coloniality in Triptych Melodrama

November 1
Mazyar Lotfalian
(Center for Cultural Studies, UC Santa Cruz)
Aesthetics and Politics in the Age of Islamism: The Transnational Circulation of Visual Culture

November 8
Noriko Aso
(History, UC Santa Cruz)
Reforming or Deforming the Public in Japanese
National Cultural Institutions

November 15
Martin Berger
(History of Art and Visual Culture, UC Santa Cruz)
Civil Rights Photography
and the Racial
Prerogatives of Whites


ROBIN BLACKBURN is Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex and Visiting Distinguished Professor at the New School in New York. Long associated with the New Left Review and related projects, he is one of our period’s most important scholars writing in the Marxist tradition, and one of the world’s foremost historians of new world slavery. He has also written on labor politics, student politics, welfare, finance, and the future of socialism; his collective work includes coauthored work with Perry Anderson, Alexander Cockburn, and others. His presentation 3) will argue that the great slave revolt in Saint Domingue in the 1790s led to the formulation of a far more radical rejection of racial slavery than had appeared in abolitionist thinking up to this point. “The success of the Haitian Revolution in 1804, and the frustration of Napoleon’s attempt to restore slavery,” Blackburn writes, “had large implications for the whole Atlantic world.”

SARAH JAIN is Assistant Professor in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at
Stanford University, and has recently published Injury: The Politics of Product Design and Safety in the United States (Princeton, 2006). A second book, Commodity Violence: The Politics of Automobility, is forthcoming from Duke in 2007. Her talk is from her manuscript-in-progress, A Cancer Elegy, which analyzes the ways that Americans are constituted in relation to, and then invited into, cultures of disease and risk. Jain’s talk, based on more than a year of ethnographic research, will examine how sense is made of time and statistics in cancer diagnosis. 

DONNA JONES is Assistant Professor of English at UC Berkeley. Her talk is drawn from her book project, “The Promise of European Decline: Race and Historical Pessimism in the Era of the Great War.” She writes, “Europe imagined its own decline and the ascent of the ‘colored world’ in the paranoid visions of a global revenge… In the minds of the colonized, the weakening of Europe produced a sliver of opportunity in which the questions of their own agency could be raised…On the part of the colonized, the space of crisis allowed them to set loose fantasies of freedom, control and power. And on the part of the colonizer, crisis allowed the free rein to imagine European subjectivity free from the yoke of a rational and administered social sphere.”

YIMAN WANG, Assistant Professor of Film and Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz, is interested in issues of representability and translation as played out in border-crossing and cross-temporal contexts, including the cultural politics of border-crossing film remakes. Her talk examines Wu Yonggang’s 1934 silent film, Shen Nu (The Goddess), as well as its Hollywood “before” (Henry King’s 1925 Stella Dallas) and Hong Kong “after” (Wu Yonggang’s 1938 self-remake, Rouge Tears). The talk explores how filmmaking and remaking in Shanghai and Hong Kong strategically negotiated with each other and with Hollywood, and how issues of gender, class, modernity and coloniality played out in the reception and recoding of the mother/fallen-woman melodrama.

MAZYAR LOTFALIAN, an anthropologist trained at Rice University, has taught most recently at Yale University. His work explores notions of subjectivity and mediation among Muslims in the context of the transnational resurgence of Islam. His 2004 book, Islam, Technoscientific Identities, and the Culture of Curiosity (University Press of America), focused on the contemporary intellectual undertaking of Muslims to rethink how science and technology are practiced in the Islamic world. It argued that Islam is always already mediated through institutions, intellectual and artistic circles, aesthetic discourses, and technological devices. His project at the Center will turn to the consideration of artistic productions of transnational Muslim artists. He writes, “In recent years, Islamic visual language has entered the world of artistic production. Traditionally recognized religious art such as calligraphy, miniature, and theatre performance are being mixed up with contemporary icons of identity politics such as gender, veil, and ethnicity, on the one hand, and the politics of the state such as democratic rule, nuclear proliferation, and human rights, on the other. In addition, new technologies that allow both delocalization and entextualization of these traditional forms are used to transform their context and meaning. I will talk about the nature of the link between aesthetics and politics through examples that illustrate the contemporary production of art in transnational circuits.”

NORIKO ASO is Assistant Professor of History at UC Santa Cruz. Her book project, “Public Properties: Crafts, Museums and Nation in Modern Japan,” addresses the shifting line between conceptions of “public” and “private” as played out through the museum form from the late nineteenth century through the end of the Second World War. Her talk traces the eruption of these issues in the very recent past. She discusses a 2005 skirmish between Japanese intellectuals and a government official about the recent privatization of national cultural institutions as an instance of current struggles over who and what best represents the cultural heritage of the Japanese.

MARTIN BERGER Martin Berger is Associate Professor of the History of Art and Visual Culture at UC Santa Cruz, and the author of Sight Unseen: Whiteness and American Visual Culture (California, 2005) and Man Made: Thomas Eakins and the Construction of Gilded Age Manhood (California, 2000). His talk examines a photographic essay published in Lifemagazine in May of 1963 devoted to the racial disturbances in Birmingham, arguing that the consistency with which Civil Rights photography captured white on black violence helped establish a violent-nonviolent binary as the test of white morality. By reducing historically specific struggles over segregationist policies, voting rights, and labor practices to white-on-black violence, Life decontextualized the struggle, encouraging its liberal readers to feel outrage at the violence, rather than to think through vexing issues posed by structural inequalities.