Upcoming Events

Thursday Lecture Series are open to Columbia faculty, students, and guests.
Special Events are open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Thursday Lecture Series

Kinaesthetic Communities: The Body, the Archive, and Multicultural America

  • Whitney Laemmli, Lecturer in History, Columbia University
  • Julie Crawford, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

In 1965, the American folklorist Alan Lomax set out on a mission: to view, code, catalogue, and preserve the totality of the world’s dance traditions. Believing that dance carried otherwise inaccessible information about social structures, work practices, and the history of human migration, Lomax and his collaborators gathered more than 250,000 feet of raw film footage and analyzed it using a new system of movement analysis. Lomax’s aims, however, went beyond the merely scientific.  >>

Thursday Lecture Series

The Empty Pavilion: Abstractions of Islam and Cold War Politics of Spirit

  • María González Pendás, Lecturer in Art History, Columbia University
  • Josef Sorett, Associate Professor of Religion and African-American Studies , Columbia University

Fought over technologies of mass destruction and space conquest, cultural diplomacy and geopolitical divides, the Cold War was also a conflict over religion, and more specifically a conflict where the “godless communism” of the East was set against the new rubric of nations “under God” in the West. The religious front was particularly apt for the Franquista regime then ruling over Spain, a regime looking to regain some of the political and economic legitimacy lost to its fascist pedigree. >>

Thursday Lecture Series

World in a Can: Spy Satellites and Military Preparedness, 1946–1986

  • Matthew Hersch, Visiting ACLS Fellow (2017-2018), Columbia University
  • Whitney Laemmli, Lecturer in History, Columbia University

Histories of the Cold War have connected America’s first spy satellites to the increasing inability of the United States to monitor the Soviet ballistic missile program during the late-1950s.  The technology of reconnaissance satellites, though, predates both the rockets necessary to loft them into orbit and the missiles the satellites later detected.  Advocates of spy satellites never viewed the technology simply as a solution to any single “intelligence gap,” but as a novel intelligence resource that would do what no previous technology could: photograph whole nations during peacetime.  Intended only as an “interim” technology until better platforms were invented, the first film-return spy satellites became a permanent fixture of national defense and helped define the parameters of the Nuclear Age. >>

Thursday Lecture Series

(Re)Making Political Subjects: Interrogating Gender Quotas and Women’s Representation in Angola

  • Selina Makana, IRWGS Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2020), Columbia University
  • Joelle M. Abi-Rached, Lecturer in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS), Columbia University

This talk examines how women in post-war Angola participate and are represented in electoral politics. Starting from the premise that the very idea of democratic politics is gendered, I argue that examining electoral politics, in particular the organization of political parties, campaigns and elections financing, from feminist and sociological perspectives can help explain the (limited) participation of women in national politics. >>

Thursday Lecture Series

The Problem of Slavery—and Poverty—in Western Culture

  • Christopher Florio, Lecturer in History, Columbia University
  • Jennifer Wenzel, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University

Slavery and poverty are monumental problems, but they are generally assumed to be separate problems.  This talk will suggest that we might better understand both problems by breaking down the divide between their histories.  Beginning in the era of classical antiquity, we will survey the extent to which the conditions of poverty and slavery have intermingled across the centuries.  In particular, we will examine how slavery long functioned as a regime for managing the problem of poverty in the western world, unpacking case studies ranging from the practice of debt bondage in ancient Rome to proposals for enslaving beggars in early modern England.  At last we will turn to the late eighteenth century in order to consider the Anglo-American age of slave emancipation anew: to trace how poverty’s central yet ambiguous place in debates over emancipation was the outcome of an imaginative revolution we have only begun to explore. >>