Fall 2010

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

Spring 2020 Thursday Lecture Series "Ambivalence:"
This lecture series will offer a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives on the question of ambivalence as it relates to affects and operations of the aesthetic, modes of political action, forms of belonging, regimes of governance.

Ambivalence is often conceived in terms of absence or aporia. But at a time of polarization in contemporary thought, conventional perspectives on political action as grounded solely in either true belief or cynical rationalism fail to explain the many contradictions found within social organization and orders. Likewise, the sovereign “decisiveness” often attributed to political and economic configurations of power has long relied on shifting, swaying, often internally incoherent strategies of domination and dispossession. Rather than approach ambivalence as an absence, we propose to think of it as a form of agency that accounts for the varying, conflicting desires and demands that position subjects. Do ambivalence, contradiction, and alternation entail resources or risks for states, markets, or revolutionary movements? What changes if we think of ambivalence not solely as an affective experience on the level of the individual, but as a structure of feeling which is central to (post-)modernity? How might ambivalence characterize attitudes towards cultural objects and performances, as well as to aesthetic operations themselves? How could adopting ambivalence as an analytical position lead to new insights into processes of dispossession, reclamation or structural change? 

Thursday Lecture Series: Violence and Critique

The Prison, Welfare, and Labor Market Nexus: A Gendered Analysis of the Violence of Incarceration

  • Kristin Bumiller, George Daniel Olds Professor in Economic and Social Institutions, Amherst College

Professor Bumiller’s talk examined the gendered dimension of ex-prisoner issues, in particular, the ways that ex-prisoners’ concerns, including employment, discrimination, and even activism, are fundamentally shaped by their intersections with gender.  >>

Thursday Lecture Series: Violence and Critique

The Invention of Islamic Fundamentalism

  • David Harrington Watt, Professor of History, Temple University

Operating between the registers of cultural, intellectual, and religious history, Professor Watt explored the processes through which, over the course of the twentieth century, “fundamentalism” metastasized from a parochial condition of American Protestantism to a purported global phenomenon marked as being a problem: dangerous, authoritarian, and worthy of concerted scrutiny. >>