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

Thursday Lecture Series: Ambivalence

Sacrificial Limbs: Ambivalence and Ethnography in Turkey’s Kurdish War - CANCELLED

The war-damaged bodies of disabled veterans are a ubiquitous but ambivalent presence in modern warring states. Ambivalent because the disabled veteran body embodies the horrors of war yet is often mobilized militaristically as an icon of sacrifice, thereby serving as an affective and ideological impetus for further bloodshed. Ambivalent also because it occupies both the center and the margins of normative masculinity, lionized through the masculine ethos of nationalism, while also being violently expelled from ableist forms of masculine privilege and public citizenship. Ambivalent, finally, because it inhabits an indeterminate space, a sort of “gray zone,” where the distinctions and boundaries between perpetrator and victim, sacred and profane, hero and abject get puzzlingly blurred. >>

Thursday Lecture Series: Ambivalence

How To Murder Your Tortoise - CANCELLED

You adore your Oriental carpet. Its glinting yellow and plum hues sing. But they are just a little too bright. One day, you hit on an ingenious idea involving your pet tortoise. You decide to encrust its shell with dazzling gems, so that when it crawls on your rug, it will dull the fabric's tints by contrast, finally making it easy on the eye. But something goes wrong. Your pet fails to cooperate, suddenly expiring under the weight of its new jewels. Instead of the perfect rug, you have a dead tortoise. This talk explores the dark side of collecting. In 2018, the World Health Organization classified Hoarding Disorder – or "extreme collecting" – as a global phenomenon. Enter the hoarder: an addict whose urge to accumulate verges on insanity. Yet the hoarder is only the latest incarnation of a figure who recurs throughout history: the obsessive collector driven not by sublime reason but a dangerous passion. Who are the mad collectors that came before the hoarder and what is the nature of their madness? >>

Thursday Lecture Series: Ambivalence

Epochal Shifts: The Death of the West, and the Future of Us All - CANCELLED

In this talk, I will interrogate the afterlives of imperialism in the language of epochal shift, and I will position the endpoint of this shift as the death of the West, its models of sovereignty, and its conventions of knowledge production.  I will probe aspects of this shift in relation to the project of anthropology, a discipline central to the solidification of Western ontological and epistemological categories.  New World colonization was foundational not merely to the construction of the dominance of the West, but also to the disciplines that would legitimate the hierarchies of humanity created in and through the new forms of production and labor organization that emerged with the development of plantation-based agriculture and settler colonialism.  The current challenge has to do, in part, with the resurgence of China on the global stage, and is also signaled by a new spatial and temporal organization of policing and control, and by new modalities of knowledge production that in turn produce new audiences and mandate new forms of accountability.  If we are witnessing the development of a new geopolitical condition, we must also develop new theoretical frames.  By reflecting on my current research in Jamaica, I will think through the challenges posed by the contemporary condition in a way that is also designed to exemplify a decolonial vision for knowledge production substantially informed by transnational black and queer feminist critique. >>

Thursday Lecture Series: Ambivalence

Ignorance as domination: Modes of imperial activity on Guahan - CANCELLED

Certainty, ideological clarity, and technoscientific method are often associated, at least popularly, with the sources of sovereign or imperial power.  Research on the years of imperial occupation of the island of Guahan in the western Pacific and, in particular, recent moves by the Pentagon to take further control of island resources reveals instead the role of ignorance or a variety of ignorances in producing the workings of power. >>