Fall 2023 New Voices Series
A Series of Lunchtime Lectures by Up-and-Coming Humanities Scholars
The Newhouse Center is honored to present the New Voices Series, lunchtime talks on Tuesdays that will run through the fall.This series is in collaboration with our Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, and focuses on early career scholars who are pioneering new approaches to humanities-centered research and critical Ethnic Studies.
Lunch will be provided. Kindly RSVP here.
Each session will be simulcast over Zoom. Click the corresponding links below to register for hybrid attendance.
CANCELLED - Session #1: Tue. 9/26 @ 12:45p
"Apoco. No me digas. Ai...": Las Vecinas as Knowledge Brokers and Curanderas in Luis Alfaro's Electricidad
A Lecture by Maria Durán (Assistant Professor of LatinX Cultural Studies, Brandeis University)
In Electricidad, playwright Luis Alfaro colors the barrio with tragic Greek overtones and with a cleaning-obsessed, almost-omnipresent, chatty trio of vecinas. When Electricidad’s father is murdered by her own mother, Las Vecinas are first on the scene to spill the tea. More than a modern Chicanx Greek chorus, I contend Las Vecinas are pillars of socio-cultural knowledge in the East L.A. barrio, whose labor is focused around acquiring, creating, and negotiating knowledge pertaining to the community of which they are a part. Their acquisition and circulation of information—new, old, and sometimes even irrelevant—is vital for understanding the barrio’s structural logics, which include patriarchy, heteronormativity, masculinity, and violence. Las Vecinas practice everyday chisme to engage with these logics, interrogating and critiquing their longstanding existence in the community. Moreover, Las Vecinas’ chisme cannot be divorced from the repetitive sweeping they perform throughout the play. Given an interminable continuum of social ills, grievances, and acts of violence in the barrio, conveyed by many of the play’s characters, it is no surprise the sweeping never stops. Further scrutiny of Las Vecinas’ relentless efforts to clean the barrio, when paired with their participation in a swift limpia for Electricidad’s grief-stricken state of mind, positions Las Vecinas as contemporary curanderas who aim to safeguard both individual and collective well-being. The repetitive act of sweeping suggests a commitment to healing the barrio, akin to the barrida ritual of curanderismo. Though the play’s ending remains closed to the possibility of holistic healing, I maintain Las Vecinas are legitimate knowledge bearers who negotiate the many layers of malaise in the barrio. In these ways, I aim to offer a reading of Las Vecinas as critical figures beyond their dramatic function, which proffers hopeful visions of healing and survival in Electricidad even as violence prevails in the play’s denouement.
Session #2: Tue. 10/17 @ 12:45pm
Black Pregnancy and the Biological Porosity of Harm:The Impact of Epigenetics on Arguments for Reparations
A Lecture by Catherine Clune-Taylor (Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Princeton University)
Pregnancy is a very high-risk affair for Black gestators in the United States. Pregnant Black women and other folks of the highest socioeconomic status have equal or higher rates of infant mortality, low birth weight, hypertension, and excess weight than the lowest SES group of white women (Pamuk et al. 1998). For example, The rate of infant mortality for African American with college degrees or higher is about three times higher than that of white women with the same level of education, and well-educated African American women have worse infant mortality rates than white women without a high school education (California Newsreel 2008, 3–4). High rates of Black infant mortality and preterm birth have been associated with inheritable epigenetic effects of stress and have been pointed to as a biological effect of anti-Black racism on and within the bodies which it targets. For example, while African Women who immigrate to the United States have the same pre-term birth and infant mortality rates as white women, this is not the case for their daughters. After one generation of living in America, the rate of infant mortality and preterm birth for African immigrant women climbs to that of African American women (California Newsreel 2008, 4; David and Collins 2007, 1193; Kuzawa and Sweet 2009, 7). In this article, I consider what the epigenetic effects of racism might imply for arguments for reparations. Reparations arguments generally rely on identifying direct descendants of the specific harm (e.g., slavery, or the Tulsa Massacre or another particular race riot), in ways that preclude acknowledgement of harm to or repair for those Black folks who immigrated after slavery, yet are still subject to the effects of racism, socially, materially, and biologically. I argue that the epigenetic effects of harm, and particularly of anti-Black racism, as evident in embodied Black health disparities, introduces a notion of biological porosity into harm across generations, which may provide the foundation for a non-traditional and more inclusive argument for reparations.
Session #3: Tue. 11/7 @ 12:45pm
The Last Thanksgiving at Rutland Square: Reckoning with Displacement
A Lecture by Jovonna Jones (Assistant Professor of English; African and African Diaspora Studies, Boston College)
How can a photograph capture the loss of a lifeworld? Jones draws on personal photography, family records, and contemporary film to trace the story of her grandmother’s tenant fight and subsequent dislocation from Boston’s South End in the 1980s. Through her quest to recover a sense of Black place, Jones reckons with the limits of claims to space centered on property, ownership, and inheritance. She offers, instead, an ethic of presence to account for the social and structural wounds displacement produces.
Click here to pre-register for Zoom attendance.
Session #4: Tue. 12/5 @ 12:45pm
Justice, Inclusion, and Equity in Philosophy
A Lecture by Dwight K. Lewis, Jr. (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities)
Diversity and the concept of race are, or should be, central concerns both for philosophy and in our current political reality. Within academic philosophy and our global community, these concerns are expressed in the growing demand for the representation of marginalized folxs and ideas. By reattuning philosophy to these gaps in history, and by mitigating philosophy's continuous disengagement with particular concepts and folxs, we have the opportunity to broaden our epistemic scope and philosophical reflections. Furthermore, we could change the perspective of who can be a philosopher, what a philosopher looks like, and what is considered philosophical. The focal questions become: can we re-attune philosophy and society to these gaps in history and knowing? What can we do to mitigate philosophy's and society's continuous disengagement with particular concepts and people? How does this relate to the "public" in public university? Do public universities because of their position as "public" have an imperative to address these issues?
Click here to pre-register for Zoom attendance.