Upcoming Events

Thursday Lecture Series

The Day After Tomorrow: Revolutionary Spirit and its Lost Treasure

  • Naeem Mohaiemen (‘20 - Present), Lecturer in Anthropology and Institute for Comparative Literature & Society, Columbia University
  • David Scott, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

In "The Revolutionary Spirit and its Lost Treasure" (On Revolution, 1963) Hannah Arendt considered how to preserve that spirit after the uprising had transitioned to orderly nation building. The core of the spirit was, according to her, the possibility of starting anew, the possibility of action, and the position of being beginners in an enterprise. Paradoxically, the revolution eventually set up institutions that prevented widespread participation by all, as was possible during the upsurge of revolutionary action. As Arendt bitterly points out, the name "Soviet Union" remained as a nod to the popularity of the soviet system while the actuality was reduced to impotence. In such a situation, what remained for the revolutionary except to recall through memory and retelling the spirit of the beginning? Arendt considered poet René Char, whose poetry betrayed an anxiety about the arrival of liberation– for he knew that with the removal of a public role, he would have to withdraw from a space where he had found himself, ultimately repressing the treasure found during the time of liberatory struggle. Considering the melancholy that sets in after postcolonial nations’ actual experience of post-liberation, what modes of remembering are available for those navigating the crushing disappointment of the day after? >>

Thursday Lecture Series

Huamanquiquia: Making an Intercommunal Peasant Alliance against the Shining Path in Peru (1983-1992)

  • Renzo Aroni (‘20 - Present), Lecturer in CSER/Anthropology, Columbia University

Conventional views portray indigenous peasants as helpless victims of warring sides in armed conflicts. However, they are often resistant actors who switch support from one side to another to protect their community. This talk examines Peru’s internal armed conflict (1980-1992) between Maoist Shining Path insurgents and government forces from a micro-dynamic of wartime violence and resistance in the Andean village of Huamanquiquia. It asserts that the Shining Path’s brutal attack on peasant leaders and their community affairs was the breaking point in Huamanquiquia, prompting the switch in support from insurgency to counterinsurgency. This led Huamanquiquia, along with its neighboring communities, to organize a large multi-communal coalition, called the Pacto de Alianza entre Pueblos, to defend their communities against incursions by the Shining Path guerrillas. Although encouraged by the Peruvian state and its agents, but often on their own initiative, around a dozen peasant communities embraced this anti-guerrilla coalition from 1983 to 1992. This peasant coalition and the concomitant resistance–combined with the armed forces’ strategy–ultimately defeated the Shining Path in the early 1990s. >>

Thursday Lecture Series

Beyond Boundaries: Inspirations and Motherhood in African Women’s Music Creative Process

  • Ruth Opara (‘20 - Present), Lecturer in Music, Columbia University
  • Elaine Sisman, Chair of Music Humanities*, Music
    Columbia University

The African woman gets inspirations from her surroundings, experiences, and roles in society. She breathes nature and utilizes all its gifts in creating her arts; her experiences translate into songs, dances, clothing, and instrumentations. She consistently performs her motherly and mother figure roles by making them part of her creative process. The inspirations could come from far away land, but she responds and utilizes them as soon as they are “brought” into her environment. Her creativities align with time, space, and specific contexts; a song she creates when happy may differ from the one she creates when sad, within a short time. Hence, the conflicts, contradictions, and complexities that characterize the descriptions and analyses of the African woman’s creative experience. I examine the creative process of Obiwuruotu Women’s Dance Group, a group of married women musicians in Southeastern Nigeria, to reveal where they get inspiration to create music and how their creative process is centered around their roles as mothers and mother figures.   >>