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The Humanities Center Lectures, 2010-11:
Identities in Conflict: The Recognition of Migrants

Leo Chavez, September 28; Constructing Latinos as a Threat to the Nation

George Yudice, November 4; Migration and Interculturality

Nancy Foner, November 30; How Exceptional is New York as an Immigrant City?

John Eakin, February 15; Identity Equipment: Technology, Memory, Narrative. 

Mieke Bal, March 1; Video, Migration and Heterotemporality

Jennifer Gully, March 23; Languages in Conflict: Migrants and the Monolingual Nation-state

Ali Behdad, April 7; Moslem Immigrants, Inhospitable Europeans

Riva Kastoryano, April 11; Limits to the Negotiation of Identities

Leo Chavez, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine
Constructing Latinos as a Threat to the Nation
Tuesday, September 28; 4:30 PM
Location: Gregg Hall (Porter Hall 100)

Abstract: The nation embroiled in an often vitriolic debate over immigration reform, and tensions mount in states such as Arizona, where controlling immigration has become a local undertaking.  This talk examines how media and public discourse construct Mexican and other Latin American immigrants and their U.S.-born children as a threat to the United States, focusing on the narratives of invasion, reconquest, and more recently, national security.  It examines how these ideas become repeated and elaborated upon over time so that, in essence, they become “true.”  Representations are, as Foucault suggests, embedded in a discursive regime, by which is meant that these authors and these representations do not exist in isolation.  They can be found in works of a number of authors and various media, often self-referencing, that constructs knowledge and truth about Latinos.  The principal, but not only, media focused on here are U.S. national magazine covers (visual images) and their accompanying articles (discursive representations) in the post-1965 era.  After elaborating the discourse of threat that in public discourse about Latino immigrants and their U.S.-born offspring, this talk provides empirical evidence that undermines the truth-claims of this discourse.  The talk concludes by noting that discourses of fear distract us from understanding processes of culture change and cultural hybridity that are occurring in society’s experiencing large-scale immigration.

George Yudice, Professor of Modern Languages, University of Miami
Title: Migration and Interculturality
Thursday, November 4; 4:30 PM
Location: Gregg Hall (Porter Hall 100)

   Given the hard reality of anti-migrant sentiment that rears its head in Europe and the U.S., I would like to focus this talk less on migrant identity (which is the topic of the series organized by the Humanities Center) than on the conflict over migrants in Europe and the US. Until recently, the integration of migrants in several European societies (especially the UK, the Netherlands and Spain) focused on interculturality (the mutually agreed upon interaction of various groups with the aim of beneficial coexistence for all), but currently, with attacks on migrants throughout Europe, the expulsion of the Roma from France, the relative success of anti-migrant parties, even in historically social-democratic countries like Sweden, and the reaction against Islam, interculturality seems to be on the back burner.
  The most interesting European discussions for me are those that seek to foster interculturality vis-à-vis the Anglo-American multicultural model and the French republican model of “universal” citizenship. In the US, where multiculturalism is the “progressive” preferred mode of thinking about identity, 911 seems to have brought about a sea change. I also feel that the debates on multiculturalism and interculturality have pretty much gone as far as the political realities will let them go. The immigrant activism of a few years ago seemed to grab the limelight for a moment, but it seems that in the current climate the tea-partiers are getting all the coverage and that that migrant activism has less public sphere traction.
  Nevertheless, and given these qualifications, I would like to raise the issue of interculturality, supplementing it with other issues that interest me. For example, the question of Latinoness, the point at which Latin American migrants become Latinos, and also the point at which Latinos may become something else, particularly those who by the third generation are English dominant, watch English-language TV, visit websites in English, etc. There is also the issue of intermarriage that raises questions about  how the hundreds of thousands or millions of partly Latino children and grandchildren will identify . There isn’t yet much hard data on these issues, although there are some studies. I have done work on the Spanish-language media in this regard and their quest to capture the English-dominant Latino audience (not something easy to do, especially in a increasingly non-television watching generation) is one possible means to maintaining this ethnic identity. But to what degree will third or fourth generation Latinos sympathize with Latin American migrants?

Nancy Foner, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, City University of New York
Title: How Exceptional is New York as an Immigrant City?
Tuesday, November 30; 4:30 PM
Location: Adamson Wing (Baker Hall 136A)

Abstract: New York's remarkable ethnic and racial diversity, its immigrant history, and institutions have combined to make it a receiving city that, in many ways, is like no other in the United States. The talk focuses on how recent immigration has transformed the social construction of race and ethnicity and the nature of intergroup relations in New York City in what might be called a particular "New York way."

John Eakin, Ruth N. Halls Professor Emeritus of English, Indiana University
Title: Identity Equipment: Technology, Memory, Narrative
Tuesday, February 15th; 4:30 PM
Location: Adamson Wing (Baker Hall 136A)

Abstract: We tell stories about our lives in bits and pieces every day. We do so not just because we take pleasure in talking about ourselves, but because we have been trained from an early age to participate in a systematic exchange of identity stories. To perform this identity work we draw on technology, memory, and narrative to say, write, and otherwise show who we are. Our identities are not given to us but made by us, using physical and social equipment that both enables and limits the persons we claim to be.

Mieke Bal, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Professor, University of Amsterdam
Title: Video, Migration and Heterotemporality
Tuesday, March 1; 4:30 PM
Location: Adamson Wing (Baker Hall 136A)

Abstract: While the moving image and migration were both phenomena of substantial currency and effect during the twentieth century, in the present moment, it appears that the visibility of video and migration is increasingly enhanced based respectively on the sheer volume and variety of populations on the move, and the pyramiding appeal and accessibility of video. In this lecture, I probe how video art can contribute to a better understanding of migratory culture through an analysis of a few video works relating to it. This approach primarily concerns the experience of time. Conversely, I will argue that migratory culture helps us to engage with video art on a different, more socially engaged level than might be obvious, also, particularly, in terms of temporality. I proceed in this oblique and dialogic manner because video, as an artistic medium can, arguably, provide an experiential understanding of what such a multitemporality means. The phenomenon itself I refer to as multi-temporality; the experience of it, heterochrony.

Co-sponsored by the Center for the Arts in Society, and the Humanities Center, University of Pittsburgh.  Support provided by a grant from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

Jennifer Gully, Humanities Center Fellow
Languages in Conflict: Migrants and the Monolingual Nation-state
Wednesday, March 23: 12:00 noon
Location: Baker Hall 154R

Abstract: For some time now, the “one country, one language” model has appeared as a normal state of affairs towards which one should strive. Less than a natural condition, the monolingual nature of the modern nation-state must be continually reproduced, and governments have contrived an elaborate linguistic infrastructure to spread and uphold the national language in all corners of their territories and all spheres of communication. Policies of language, education, and the media all work for the common goal of a monolingualism that is presented as conducive to democracy and efficient for business. In this talk, I will discuss the impact of recent migration to the Western nation-states on our prevailing concept of a single national language. Using examples from both traditional immigration destinations (the U.S.) and the newer receiving countries (primarily Germany), I trace some connections between language, immigration, and the law, directing my attention to instances in which symbolic borders such as those between languages attain material weight in the regulation of nation-state borders.

Ali Behdad, Professor and Chair, Department of English, UCLA
Moslem Immigrants, Inhospitable Europeans
Thursday, April 7th; 4:30 PM
Location: Giant Eagle Auditorium (Baker Hall A-51)

Abstract: In my talk, I will focus on the way Muslim immigrants are perceived and represented by politicians, academicians, political pundits, and journalists throughout Western Europe, representations that are simultaneously produced by and productive of inhospitable policies towards them. More specifically, my interest lies in the cultural and political implications of such views in the context of the everyday lives of Muslim immigrants, and in what this might mean for the prospect of harmonious co-existence. What do representations of Muslim immigrants reveal about the broader politics of immigration in Europe? How do these representations contribute to contemporary political debates about immigration ideologically? And how do these representations prevent Europeans to live harmoniously with their Muslim neighbors? 

Riva Kastoryano, SciencesPo, Director of Research, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France
Limits to the Negotiation of Identities
Monday, April 11th; 4:30 PM
Location: Gregg Hall (Porter Hall 100)

View our past events.





The Humanities Center welcomes 2010-11 Fellow, Jennifer Gully

The Humanities Center Lectures:
Identities in Conflict: The Recognition of Migrants

Faces of Migration: The Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival March 17-April 10, 2011



Humanities Departments:

   Modern Languages

College of Humanities and
Social Sciences

Center for the Arts in Society

The Center for the Advancement of Applied Ethics and Political Philosophy

Carnegie Mellon




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