Daniel Laforest received his Ph.D. in Literature from the Université de Québec at Montréal in 2006. His project at the Center is entitled “The Extra-urban Problem in Contemporary North American Literature: Literary Subjectivities, Identity Questionings and the Experience of Remote Place at the time of Globalization.” It addresses the main imaginary configurations in contemporary North American literature that prefigure—or result from—the problematic habitability of extra-urban spaces. French Canadian and American contemporary literary works are at the heart of this project, Laforest writes, since “in the unique overlapping of the singular and the social offered by literature, we observe the constant apparition of new dispositions towards memory and the possibility for the self to construct its subjectivity in relation to different places.”

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.”