Symposium: Freedom and Entanglement Across the Black Atlantic

Symposium: Freedom and Entanglement Across the Black Atlantic

May 06, 2016
2:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Room 9204, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Friday, May 6
Rooms 9204 & 9205
The Graduate Center

I: Panel | 2:00-4:00pm

Vincent Brown (Harvard University)
“The Coromantee War and the Martial Geography of Atlantic Slavery”

David Kazanjian (University of Pennsylvania)
“The Brink of Freedom: Improvising Life in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World”

Moderated by Kelly Baker Josephs (York College, CUNY)

[Coffee Break]

II: Book Discussion | 4:30-6:30pm

Laurent Dubois (Duke University) in conversation with Vincent Brown (Harvard University), Duncan Faherty (The Graduate Center/Queens College, CUNY), and Kandia Crazy Horse (musician/performer/critic).

[Reception to Follow]

Migration & Mobility: Hagar Kotef and Audra Simpson

Migration & Mobility: Hagar Kotef and Audra Simpson

September 20, 2016
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Graduate Center, Room 5109

Hagar Kotef
“Home (and the ruins that remain): An inquiry into the desires of settler colonialism”

with a response by Audra Simpson

September 20th
4:30–6:30 pm
Room 5109

cozamia-color-migration-on-red1This talk examines the politics of “home” and the production of political belonging (both national and individual) amidst conditions of structural violence. Focusing on Israel/Palestine, Kotef seeks to understand how people develop attachments to spaces and places when these attachments themselves facilitate state violence. She will point to a work of memory through which violence becomes not invisible but rather banal, rendered an uncontested part of one’s political identity.

Hagar Kotef is Associate Professor of Political Theory and Comparative Political Thought in the Department of Politics and International Relations, SOAS, The University of London, and the author of Movement and the Ordering of Freedom (2015).

Audra Simpson is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. She is the author of Mohawk Interruptus (Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States) (2014).

Migration & Sovereignty: Aihwa Ong and Charles Piot

Migration & Sovereignty: Aihwa Ong and Charles Piot

October 20, 2016
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
CUNY Graduate Center, Skylight Room

A livestream feed for this event will be available HERE.
(Please note that the stream will only become active at the event start-time)

October 20th
2–4 pm
Skylight Room


Aihwa Ong “Liberal Enclaves: de- and re- territorializing immigrants”
Some have noted that the Brexit vote represents the re-territorialization of British citizenship by limiting the influx of foreigners. But even as liberal democracies place limits on poor aliens, they welcome the inflows of rich actors. In a world of global flows, both processes of de- and re-territorialization are in play in shaping the national milieu.  Liberal states favor the political exception in order to differentiate among national zones, overseas flows, and categories of (would-be) citizens. Such neoliberal policies of manifold representations have made London and New York de facto global havens for re-territorializing wealth and talent from emerging Asia.

Charles Piot: “Migration Stories: The US Visa Lottery and Global Citizenship” 
More Togolese per capita apply for the U.S. Diversity (Green Card) lottery than those from any other African country, with winners attempting to game the system by adding “spouses” and dependents to their dossiers.  The U.S. consulate in Lomé knows this gaming is going on and constructs ever-more elaborate tests to attempt to decipher the authenticity of winners’ marriages and job profiles – and of their moral worth as citizens – tests that immediately circulate to those on the street.  This presentation explores the cat-and-mouse game between street and embassy, situating it within the post-Cold War conjuncture – of ongoing crisis, of an eviscerated though still dictatorial state, of social death and the emptiness of citizenship under such conditions, of a sprawling transnational diaspora and the desires and longings it creates, of informationalism and its new technologies, of surveillance regimes and their travails, and of the way in which mobility/immobility and sovereignty are newly entangled and co-constitutive in the contemporary moment.

Aihwa Ong holds the Robert H. Lowie Distinguished Chair in Anthropology, and is Chair of the Group in Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty (2006) and Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life (2016).

Charles Piot is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, where he has a joint appointment in African and African American Studies. He is the author of Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa (1999) and Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War (2010).

Migration & the Law: Linda Bosniak

Migration & the Law: Linda Bosniak

November 10, 2016
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
The CUNY Graduate Center, Room C197

Linda Bosniak
“Amnesty Ethics”

November 10
Room C197

The idea of “amnesty” has come to structure many debates over irregular immigration. While amnesty’s meaning is usually treated as self-evident, the term in fact signifies in a variety of normative directions. Contestations over amnesty’s legitimacy and proper application serve as a powerful site for analyzing debates over accountability, fault and emancipation in immigration as well as in other political settings.


Linda Bosniak is Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University School of Law.  She is the author of the book The Citizen and the Alien: Dilemmas of Contemporary Membership, and of many articles and book chapters on the subjects of borders, citizenship, equality, territoriality and transnational migration. She spent the academic year 2015-2016, as a Member at the Institute For Advanced Study in Princeton in the School of Social Science, and continues there as a Visitor this year.  She is currently working on a book critically analyzing conceptions of immigrant justice in liberal national states. She has taught at Princeton University and at the University of Graz, and has been awarded fellowships through the Rockefeller Foundation and Princeton University.

Sanctuary: Social, Legal, and Historical Perspectives on an Activist Category

Sanctuary: Social, Legal, and Historical Perspectives on an Activist Category

December 08, 2016
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Barnard College, Julius S. Held Lecture Hall

In the weeks since the election, calls for sanctuary campuses have become central to the preemptive organizing to protect the rights of undocumented people and other vulnerable populations now at intensified risk. What does sanctuary mean in the contemporary United States? An idea with antecedents in medieval religious practice, a sanctuary, was most recently recuperated in the movement to protect Central American refugees in the 1980s and the contemporary idea of sanctuary cities. This interdisciplinary panel explores sanctuary’s legal, political, social, and historical connotations as well as its strategic uses. What could the designation of sanctuary spaces on university campuses mean for strategies of mobilization and resistance now and in the future?

*Register here.

Alexandra Délano Alonso, Assistant Professor of Global Studies, Co-director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School for Social Research
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University
Alyshia Gálvez, Associate Professor of Latin American, Latino and Puerto Rican Studies, Director of the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at CUNY, Lehman College, City University of New York
Elora Mukherjee, Associate Clinical Professor of Law; Director, Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, Columbia Law School
JC Salyer, Term Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of Sociology, Barnard College, Columbia University; Staff Attorney, Arab-American Family Support Center

The Camp and the City: A panel on Architectures of Refuge

The Camp and the City: A panel on Architectures of Refuge

February 22, 2017
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
CUNY Graduate Center, Skylight Room

Wednesday, February 22, 4:30-6:30
Skylight Room, The Graduate Center

Sean Anderson (Associate Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art, New York)

Keller Easterling (Professor, Yale School of Architecture)
Free Migration

Anooradha Siddiqi (Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow, New York University; Affiliated Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta and the British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi)
Field Notes for an Architectural History of Forced Migration

Response by David Joselit (Distinguished Professor, PhD Program in Art History, The Graduate Center)

This panel, which grows out the MoMA exhibition, “Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter,” curated by participant Sean Anderson will consider how ostensibly temporary refugee camps urbanize over time, and conversely how cities experiencing conflict fall into the condition of camps, or of informal settlements.


Sean Anderson is Associate Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art. A Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, he has degrees in architectural design and architectural history from Cornell University, an MArch from Princeton University, and a Ph.D in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has practiced as an architect and taught in Afghanistan, Australia, India, Italy, Morocco, Sri Lanka, and the U.A.E. His book Modern Architecture and its Representation in Colonial Eritrea was published by Routledge in 2015 and was shortlisted for the AIFC Bridge Prize in American Nonfiction.

Keller Easterling is an architect, writer and professor at Yale. Her most recent book, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso, 2014), examines global infrastructure as a medium of polity. Another recent book, Subtraction (Sternberg, 2014), considers building removal or how to put the development machine into reverse. Other books include: Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades (MIT, 2005) and Organization Space: Landscapes, Highways and Houses in America (MIT, 1999).  Her research and writing was included in the 2014 Venice Biennale, and she lectures and exhibits internationally.

Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi is Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in the Gallatin School for Individualized Study at New York University, and affiliated with the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and the British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi. Her historical and ethnographic research focuses on spatial politics, urbanisms, and modernist culture and discourses, with study based substantively in East Africa and South Asia. Her research is related to two separate book projects, Architecture of Humanitarianism: The Dadaab Refugee Camps and Emergency Urbanism in History, and Vocal Instruments: Minnette De Silva and an Asian Modern Architecture. She is the co-editor of the volume Spatial Violence. Siddiqi’s work has received support from the Fulbright Scholar Program, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the Social Science Research Council, the Graham Foundation, New York University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She received a Ph.D. in the History of Art and Archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, and practiced architecture in Bangalore, Philadelphia, and New York.

John Akomfrah: “Visualizing Migration”

John Akomfrah: “Visualizing Migration”

March 16, 2017
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
CUNY Graduate Center, Martin E. Segal Theatre

March 16, 4:30-6:30
Segal Theater

John Akomfrah is a widely respected artist and filmmaker, whose works are characterised by their investigations into memory, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics and often explore the experience of the African diaspora in Europe and the USA. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, which started in London in 1982 alongside the artists David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, who he still collaborates with today. Their first film, Handsworth Songs (1986) explored the events surrounding the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London through a charged combination of archive footage, still photos and newsreel. The film won several international prizes and established a multi-layered visual style that has become a recognisable motif of Akomfrah’s practice. Recent works include the three-screen installation The Unfinished Conversation (2012), a moving portrait of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall’s life and work; Peripeteia (2012), an imagined drama visualizing the lives of individuals included in two 16th century portraits by Albrecht Dürer and Mnemosyne (2010) which exposes the experience of migrants in the UK, questioning the notion of Britain as a promised land by revealing the realities of economic hardship and casual racism.

This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC).

Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel 

Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel 

March 30, 2017
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
CUNY Graduate Center, Skylight Room

Thursday March 30th, 6:30-8:30pm
The Skylight Room

Featuring Shiraz Grinbaum (member, Activestills Collective), Oren Ziv (co-founder and member, Activestills collective), Vered Maimon (Tel Aviv University, co-editor Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel), and Basel Alyazouri (member, Activestills collective). Moderated by Siona Wilson (College of Staten Island, the Graduate Center, CUNY).

A round-table discussion on the recently published book Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel  (Pluto Press, 2016). The book examines the decade-long work of the Activestills photography collective and the performative uses and roles of photographs in enabling and promoting human rights struggles in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Featuring members of the collective in conversation with scholars and photographers, the panel will discuss the complex and divided politics of visibility in the region, the reinvention of activist photography in the age of social media, and the group’s dual commitment to a practice of digital archiving and the material and affective uses of photography as protest.

*Co-sponsored by the Center for Humanities and the James Gallery

The Crisis in Venezuela: Understanding the Origins of the Present Moment

September 26, 2017
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
CUNY Graduate Center, Skylight Room

Tuesday, September 26, 5–7pm
Skylight Room (9100), The Graduate Center

Please join us for a presentation by Edgardo Lander (Central University of Venezuela) followed by a conversation with Naomi Schiller (Brooklyn College) and Alejandro Velasco (New York University), moderated by Julie Skurski (The Graduate Center, CUNY).

Please join us for a reception in room 5109 following the event.

Edgardo Lander is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) in Caracas, Venezuela who has long worked on social movements, global capitalism, and postcolonial theory. He helped organize the Social Forum meeting in Caracas in 2006, is a member of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s Working Group on Alternatives to Development , a member of the Political Ecology Working Group (Latin American Social Science Council), and is a fellow of the Transnational Institute’s New Politics group.  He is currently active in the Citizen’s Platform in Defense of the Constitution, which was created in response to the current crisis in Venezuela.  Published widely in academic journals and the press, he is the author and editor of books that include: Neoliberalismo, sociedad civil y democraciaEnsayos sobre América Latina y Venezuela, La colonialidad del saber: Eurocentrismo y ciencias sociales, perspectivas latinoamericanas,  and Promesas en su laberinto: cambios y continuidades en los gobiernos progresistas de América Latina.

Recent work by Edgardo Lander can be found on the Real News Network and Aporrea.


The People and the Poor

The People and the Poor

October 03, 2017
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Room 9204, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Tuesday, October 3, 5:30–7:30
Room 9207, The Graduate Center

Featuring presentations by Jason Frank (Cornell University) and Andreas Kalyvas (The New School for Social Research), followed by a conversation with with Susan Buck-Morss (The Graduate Center).


Jason Frank (Cornell University)
“The Living Sovereign: Democratic Theory and the Problem of Popular Manifestation”
Recent scholarship on popular sovereignty and constituent power has focused narrowly on juridical questions of constitution making and neglected problems of popular manifestation in periods of revolutionary transition. In The Sleeping Sovereign, to take one notable example, Richard Tuck traces the conceptual distinction between sovereignty and government as it is developed, first, in such canonical political theorists as Bodin, Hobbes, and Rousseau, and then implemented by the constitutional reforms of French Girondins (unsuccessfully) and American Federalists (successfully). The juridical focus of this scholarship prevents democratic theorists from engaging with the political dilemmas of popular manifestation—how popular will appears and becomes politically salient in periods of revolutionary change. The problem of manifestation raises theoretical issues that are aesthetic rather than juridical and that democratic theorists should more effectively integrate into their study of popular sovereignty and constituent power.

Andreas Kalyvas (The New School for Social Research)
“Democracy and the Poor: For a Radical Theory of Democracy”
The lecture examines the hypothesis of democracy as the politics of the poor, in an attempt to radically rethink the democratic experience and to capture its political singularity and defining traits.  To do so, this hypothesis, which claims an essential relation between democracy and the poor, that is, the poor as the differentia specifica of democracy, must be treated in three different but related registers: that of the question of the subject of democracy, the powers it possesses, and its normative principles and emancipatory aspirations.  Within this context, the question of sovereignty acquires a special significance and meaning to the degree that it is transversal to a plurality of democratic forms, such as plebeian sovereignty, proletarian democracy, federated councils, or communal assemblies.  For this reason, the institutional, legal, cultural, and symbolic innovations associated with the poor and their struggles against oligarchic power and the political rule of wealth are central for understanding the democratic project, its radical content and polemical character.  By way of conclusion, the hypothesis of the democracy of the poor, namely, democracy as the project of politicized and organized poverty, is brought to bear on the present in order to reflect on the generalized crisis of the liberal model of rule.


Jason Frank is the Robert J. Katz Chair of Government at Cornell University.  He is the author of Constituent Moments: Enacting the People in Postrevolutionary America (2010), Publius and Political Imagination (2013), and the editor of A Political Companion to Herman Melville (2013).  He is currently completing a book on the aesthetics of popular sovereignty, entitled The Democratic Sublime: Assembly and Aesthetics in the Age of Revolution (forthcoming Oxford UP).


Andreas Kalyvas is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics at The New School for Social Research and the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts.  Before joining the New School, he taught at Columbia University and the University of Michigan.  He has been a visiting research professor at the University of Barcelona, Spain, and has also taught in Germany, Poland, and South Africa.  He is the author of Democracy and the Politics of the Extraordinary: Weber, Schmitt, and Arendt(Cambridge UP 2008) and the co-author of Liberal Beginnings: Making a Republic for the Moderns(Cambridge UP 2008). He is currently completing a book manuscript entitled, Tyranny Legalized: Republicanism, Dictatorship, and the Enemy Within.  Kalyvas is a chief co-editor of Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory.

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