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

The Authority of Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator

  • Lauren Kopajtic, Lecturer in Philosophy, Columbia University
  • Bernard E.  Harcourt, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, Columbia University

It has been claimed that Adam Smith, like David Hume, has a “reflective endorsement” account of morality. On such a view, our moral faculties and notions are justified insofar as they pass reflective scrutiny. But Smith’s moral philosophy, unlike Hume’s, is also peppered with references to God, to divine law, and to our being “set up” in a specific way so as to best attain what is good and useful for us. This language suggests that there is another strategy available for accounting for the normativity of morality, one that would align Smith with more traditional teleological accounts of human nature and theological accounts of morality: >>

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. >>