Transversal Methods and Social Choreography: Pelin Tan

November 18, 2015 - November 19, 2015
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
The CUNY Graduate Center, Room C198

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Wednesday, November 18th, 6:30pm, Room C198: (Lecture) 
How do existing methodological structures choreograph the diverse outputs of social art practice and what tools have we developed to enact new transversal methods for instituting this practice? Furthermore, how can social art practice begin to be historicized as it interacts with disciplines of visual art, performance, and theater as well as uneven geographies and political conditions? Join in conversation with sociologist Pelin Tan as she presents her research in this area in conversation with James Gallery curator Katherine Carl and participants in the Social Choreography Working Group.

Thursday, November 19th, 4:00pm, James Gallery: (Discussion):
On November 19th, at 4:00pm in the James Gallery, Tan will lead a discussion centered on affective pedagogies as a methodology of social art practice within and outside of academia.

For the advance discussion readings, click on the titles:
1) “Decolonizing Architectural Education: Towards an Affective Pedagogy
2) “Affect as Method: Feelings, Aesthetics, and Affective Pedagogy
3) “Nomadic Education

11_social_choreography_pelin_tanPelin Tan is associate professor in architecture at Artuklu University, Mardin, Turkey. She is involved in research-based artistic and architectural projects that focus on urban conflict and territorial politics, gift economies, labor conditions, and mixed methods in research. Tan’s publications on architecture, urbanism and art include Arazi (Sternberg Press, CSPS, Berlin, 2015) and her recent chapter “Transversal Materialism” featured in 2000+: Urgencies of Architectural Theories (GSAPP, 2015). – See more at:

Organized by the Center for the Humanities and co-sponsored by the Social Choreography Mellon Seminar in Public Engagement and Collaborative Research in the Humanities, Center for Place, Culture and Politics.

Gulf Labor and Precarious Workers Rights

November 19, 2015
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
CUNY Graduate Center, Skylight Room

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gulf_labor_0What does Bertolt Brecht have to do with workers’ rights in Abu Dhabi? Although politically engaged art and theater takes many forms, the recent Precarious Workers Pageant at the Venice Biennale took a Brechtian approach as it pointed out the solidification of global capital in architecture in Abu Dhabi and the precarious state of migrant workers who are building these future cultural sites. The pageant’s street performance offered a new public commons fabricated out of the deconstructed architecture of the avant-garde museum. Join artists, scholars, and activists in conversation for an evening of discussion, debate, and propositions as part of the Social Choreography seminar at the Center for the Humanities and in tandem with the exhibition by Zoe Beloff at the James Gallery, “A World Redrawn: Eisenstein and Brecht in Hollywood.” Following the Precarious Workers Pageant video premier will be another New York premier: a presentation of The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor, edited by Andrew Ross and published by OR Books, with contributions by Sholette and other members of Gulf Labor.

Organized by the Center for the Humanities and co-sponsored by the Social Choreography Mellon Seminar in Public Engagement and Collaborative Research in the Humanities, Center for Place, Culture and Politics.

Gabriella Coleman: Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous

December 08, 2015
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
The CUNY Graduate Center, Room C197

Featuring a presentation by Gabriella Coleman on her book Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous (2015, Verso Books) and discussion with Alex Adbo and Ben Wizner from the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project.

9781781685839_Hacker__hoaxer-294b89cbd6b3950d9cdbfb0e39e66884Half a dozen years ago, anthropologist Gabriella Coleman set out to study the rise of this global phenomenon just as some of its members were turning to political protest and dangerous disruption (before Anonymous shot to fame as a key player in the battles over WikiLeaks, the Arab Spring, and Occupy Wall Street). She ended up becoming so closely connected to Anonymous that the tricky story of her inside-outside status as Anon confidante, interpreter, and erstwhile mouthpiece forms one of the themes of this witty and entirely engrossing book.

The narrative brims with details unearthed from within a notoriously mysterious subculture, whose semi-legendary tricksters – such as Topiary, tflow, Anachaos, and Sabu – emerge as complex, diverse, politically and culturally sophisticated people. Propelled by years of chats and encounters with a multitude of hackers, including imprisoned activist Jeremy Hammond and the double agent who helped put him away, Hector Monsegur, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy is filled with insights into the meaning of digital activism and little understood facets of culture in the Internet age, including the history of “trolling,” the ethics and metaphysics of hacking, and the origins and manifold meanings of “the lulz.”

Coleman-Square-max_221-11919af909222b28570cdcd74beea421Gabriella Coleman holds the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, she researches, writes, and teaches on computer hackers and digital activism. She is the author of Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of



Ben Wizner is director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, which is dedicated to protecting and expanding the First Amendment freedoms of expression, association, and inquiry; expanding the right to privacy and increasing the control that individuals have over their personal information; and ensuring that civil liberties are enhanced rather than compromised by new advances in science and technology.

Alex Abdo is a Staff Attorney in the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. Prior to joining SPT, Alex was an attorney with the National Security Project, where he was involved in the litigation of cases concerning the Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and the treatment of detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Navy brig in South Carolina.


Speaking Truth to Power: A Panel on Academic Freedoms and the War Against Kurds in Turkey

February 17, 2016
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
C203/C204/C205 The Graduate Center

Wednesday, February 17th
6:00-8:00 pm | Room C203/C204/C205

A panel discussion featuring David Harvey (The Graduate Center, CUNY) Nazan Üstündağ (Boğaziçi University), Aslı Iğsız (New York University), and Kamal Soleimani, moderated by Anthony Alessandrini (The Graduate Center, CUNY and Kingsborough Community College.

This event will be live streamed. Please visit:

*Co-sponsored by Middle Easter Studies Org (MESO); MEMEAC; Department of Anthropology


Following the June 2015 general elections, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) renewed the state’s forty-year-long war against Kurds. This move ended the peace negotiations that had been taking place between the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and the government since 2013. The resurgence of the war has led to increasing ultranationalist rhetoric in the media, public shaming of dissidents, and persecution of Kurdish and leftist politicians, further curtailing the already-limited political freedoms and basic rights in the country. Since August 16, 2015, the government has been imposing indefinite curfews in seven Kurdish-populated cities in Turkey. The curfews and clashes have resulted in the deaths of at least 198 civilians, while hundreds of thousands have been forced to migrate.

On January 10th, 1,128 academics released a peace petition condemning the Turkish state’s acts and declared that they “will not be a party to this crime.” The statement quickly went viral, mostly due to President Erdogan’s open targeting of the signatories by declaring them “traitors.” In less than two hours following Erdogan’s speech, the Turkish Higher Education Council announced that it would launch an investigation against those signatories who are affiliated with Turkish higher education and research institutions. Since then, academics who signed the petition have been publicly targeted, criminalized, and fired from their positions in universities. Despite increasing pressure from the government, media, and judiciary, the peace petition’s signatures had increased to 2,279 by January 20th.

This panel sheds light upon the ongoing attacks against academic freedoms and freedom of speech in Turkey. Perhaps more importantly, it also intends to publicize the current war in Kurdish cities and unmask the atrocities committed by the Turkish state — the original intent of the Turkish academics’ peace petition.

Organized by the Middle Eastern Studies Organization (MESO)
Co-Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Middle East & Middle Eastern American Center (MEMEAC).

Nazan Üstündağ is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boğaziçi University. She received her PhD from Indiana University. Her interests include theories of modernity and postcoloniality, feminist studies, ethnography of the state, state and violence and resistance. Currently, she is working on a book manuscript on how state violence has been inscribed on the things, spaces, bodies, as well as visual and written documents in and on Kurdistan. Besides her academic interests, she also writes in political journals and newspapers. She is a founding member of the Peace Parliament and Academics for Peace, as well as a member of Women for Peace.

David Harvey is a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY); Director of The Center for Place, Culture and Politics; and author of numerous books. Harvey earned his Ph.D. from Cambridge University, was formerly professor of geography at Johns Hopkins, a Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics, and Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at Oxford. His highly influential books include The New Imperialism; Paris, Capital of Modernity; Social Justice and the City; Limits to Capital; The Urbanization of Capital; The Condition of Postmodernity; Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference; Spaces of Hope; and Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography.


Aslı Iğsız is Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. Iğsız earned her PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan (2007). Her publications span a variety of issues that include the politics of memory; nation branding; liberal multiculturalism; alliance of civilizations and image wars; law, neoliberalism, and the Gezi Park Protests in Turkey. Her current book project, Humanism in Ruins: Liberal Multiculturalism, Memory, and the 1923 Greek-Turkish Population Exchange in Contemporary Turkey, examines the implications of diversity and cultural memory as a mode of humanism in the post-Cold War and the post 1980 military-coup era. Iğsız’s new project explores place branding, image, and discourses of civilization with regards to the Middle East.


Kamal Soleimani received his PhD from the department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University (2014). Until recently, he worked as an Assistant Professor at Mardin Artuklu University (MAU), Turkey. Soleimani was one of the 14 international scholars who were fired by the MAU administration. Soleimani’s book on Islam and nationalism in the Middle East will be out in April 2016.


Anthony Alessandrini is a Professor of English at Kingsborough Community College and the MA Program in Middle Eastern Studies at The CUNY Graduate Center, where he is also a member of the Committee on Globalization and Social Change. Alessandrini received his Ph.D. in English at Rutgers University (2000). He is the author of Frantz Fanon and the Future of Cultural Politics: Finding Something Different; the editor of Frantz Fanon: Critical Perspectives; and the co-editor of the JadMag special issue “Resistance Everywhere”: The Gezi Protests and Dissident Visions of Turkey. He is a member of the faculty of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, and is a Co-Editor of Jadaliyya E-Zine.


Policing the U.S. Empire: Race, Prison, and the War on Terror

February 23, 2016
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Room C201, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Tuesday, February 23rd
4:30–6:30 pm
Room C201

A discussion with Joshua M. Price (the State University of New York, Binghamton), Chase Madar (author and journalist), and Wadie Said (University of South Carolina).

Reception to follow.

Chase Madar is a former civil rights attorney and the author of The Passion of Chelsea Manning: The Story behind the Wikileaks Whistleblower (Verso). He writes about foreign affairs and domestic policing for the London Review of Books, Le Monde diplomatique, Al Jazeera, the National Interest, the Nation, the American Conservative, Jacobin, TomDispatch and the TLS. His translations of Verlaine’s Les Poètes maudits essay collection and Buñuel’s Exterminating Angel screenplay are published by Green Integer press. He is a member of the National Lawyers Guild.

Joshua Price teaches in the Sociology Department of the State University of New York at Binghamton. He is the author of two books, Prison and Social Death (Rutgers, 2015) and Structural Violence: Hidden Brutality in the Lives of Women (SUNY, 2012). He coedited the forthcoming Decarceration and Justice Disinvestment, which exams the recent drop in the prison population in New York State. He is also a translator and writes about the often-ambiguous role of translators and interpreters in imperial expansion, including the war on terror. He has been committed to anti-racist, anti-gender-violence organizing for the last twenty-five years, especially in movements that advocate for currently and formerly incarcerated people. For his work, the Broome/Tioga County NAACP has honored him as Citizen of the Year and the New York State Assembly has cited him for “Outstanding Commitment to the Civil Rights of New Yorkers.”

Wadie Said is Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he teaches courses in Criminal Law and Procedure, Human Rights, Immigration Law, and a seminar in Counterterrorism. He is the author of Crimes of Terror: The Legal and Political Implications of Federal Terrorism Prosecutions (Oxford 2015), the first academic study of the war on terror through an American criminal lens. He is the author of numerous legal articles on all aspects of the modern terrorism prosecution, including the material support ban, the use of informants, and sentencing, as well as other works on refugee and asylum law. Previously, he was an assistant federal public defender in Tampa, where he represented one of the defendants in United States v. al-Arian, a complex terrorism conspiracy case. Prior to joining the faculty at South Carolina, Prof. Said was a visiting assistant professor in the Law and Society Program at UC Santa Barbara.

Book Launch: The American Slave Coast

Book Launch: The American Slave Coast

March 08, 2016
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Room 9206/9207

Tuesday, March 8th
4:30–6:30 pm
Room 9206

A book launch for The American Slave Coast by Ned and Constance Sublette, featuring David Waldstreicher (The Graduate Center, CUNY) and Kellie Carter Jackson (Hunter College, CUNY), moderated by Julie Skurski (The Graduate Center, CUNY).
Reception to follow.

One of the best history books ever written about the United States.—Counterpunch, Dec. 31, 2015

In The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry, Ned and Constance Sublette offer a radical re-interpretation of American history. It’s brutal and uncompromising, and, for better or worse, it’s how we should understand the country. —Pacific Standard, Jan. 26, 2016

The American Slave Coast coverThe American Slave Coast offers a provocative vision of US history from earliest colonial times through emancipation that presents even the most familiar events and figures in a revealing new light.Authors Ned and Constance Sublette tell the brutal story of how the slavery industry made the reproductive labor of the people it referred to as “breeding women” essential to the young country’s expansion. Captive African Americans in the slave nation were not only laborers, but merchandise and collateral all at once. In a land without silver, gold, or trustworthy paper money, their children and their children’s children into perpetuity were used as human savings accounts that functioned as the basis of money and credit in a market premised on the continual expansion of slavery. Slaveowners collected interest in the form of newborns, who had a cash value at birth and whose mothers had no legal right to say no to forced mating.  This gripping narrative is driven by the power struggle between the elites of Virginia, the slave-raising “mother of slavery,” and South Carolina, the massive importer of Africans—a conflict that was central to American politics from the making of the Constitution through the debacle of the Confederacy.

Virginia slaveowners won a major victory when Thomas Jefferson’s 1808 prohibition of the African slave trade protected the domestic slave markets for slave-breeding. The interstate slave trade exploded in Mississippi during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, drove the US expansion into Texas, and powered attempts to take over Cuba and other parts of Latin America, until a disaffected South Carolina spearheaded the drive to secession and war, forcing the Virginians to secede or lose their slave-breeding industry.Filled with surprising facts, fascinating incidents, and startling portraits of the people who made, endured, and resisted the slave-breeding industry, The American Slave Coast culminates in the revolutionary Emancipation Proclamation, which at last decommissioned the capitalized womb and armed the African Americans to fight for their freedom

Ned Sublette is the author of Cuba and Its Music, The World that Made New Orleans, and The Year Before the Flood. Constance Sublette has published, as Constance Ash, three novels and edited the anthology Not of Woman Born.

Kellie Carter Jackson is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Hunter College, CUNY. Her research focuses on slavery and abolition, violent political discourse, historical film, and black women’s history. Her book manuscript is titled, Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence. She is also co-editing, Reconsidering Roots: The Phenomenon that Changed the Way We Understood American Slavery (UGA Press). Her essays have been featured in The Atlantic, Quartz, Transition Magazine, The Conversation, Boston’s NPR Blog Cognoscenti, and the AAIHS (African American Intellectual History Society) blog. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

David Waldstreicher is a historian of early and nineteenth-century America, with interests spanning political history, cultural history, slavery and antislavery, and print culture. He comes to the Graduate Center from Temple University, where he was a professor of history and coeditor of the Journal of the Early Republic. He previously taught at Bennington College, Yale University, and the University of Notre Dame. Waldstreicher is author of Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification (2009); Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery and the American Revolution (2004); and In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820 (1997).

Book Reading — Remembering Akbar: Inside the Iranian Revolution

Book Reading — Remembering Akbar: Inside the Iranian Revolution

April 07, 2016
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Graduate Center, Room 5109

Thursday, April 7th
4:30 to 6:30 pm
Room 5109

A reading and discussion of Remembering Akbar: Inside the Iranian Revolution by Behrooz Ghamari.

“Behrooz Ghamari’s extraordinary memoir is unlike anything I’ve read: he bears witness to the terrible suffering and the loss of so many in Iran’s infamous Evin Prison in the wake of the revolution; but he does so with tenderness, humor and dignity. This book wilil change the way you understand the world.” —Claire Messud, author of The Emperor’s Children and The Woman Upstairs

“With his keen sensibility and rich personal experience Ghamari has crafted an unforgettable book, charting a course through the bitterness of oppression and survival into a resonant form of resistance.” —Elias Khoury, author of Gate of the Sun and The Broken Mirrors: Sinalcol

Avenues of Social and Political Change: Five Years of Contention in the Middle East and North Africa

Avenues of Social and Political Change: Five Years of Contention in the Middle East and North Africa

April 08, 2016
8:30 am - 6:00 pm
Graduate Center, CUNY Room 5409

April 8, 2015 | 8:30am – 6:00pm | Room 5409

Key Note Speaker: Jillian Schwedler (Department of Political Science, Hunter College)

The conference is to be followed by a talk by Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi as part of the Anthropology Colloquium Series.

Five years after the eruption of mass protests across FlyerNorth Africa and the Middle East, citizens of these countries now live under contrasting conditions. While some countries, such as Tunisia, have made headway on the road to freedom and social justice, others, are embroiled in civil strife, like Syria, or are being crushed by the return of authoritarianism, like Egypt. Yet despite the zigzagging trajectory that these uprisings have thus far treaded, new channels and imaginings of social, political and economic change have opened up over the past five years. This conference will explore current possibilities that have been opened up through and in the aftermath of the grassroots uprisings that have swept through the region since 2011 and the sustained struggles for these arenas as well as the counter-efforts that have attempted to constrain and constrict them. Instead of succumbing to a choice between either presenting a triumphant narrative or emphasizing the democratic setbacks facing social movements, activists, and the population at large, this conference will attempt to reframe the question to ask what actual and concrete opportunities for economic, social and political transformation have unfolded beyond and despite of the historical and structural constraints that are in place.

Sponsors: Generous contributions have come from the Committee on Globalization and Social Change, the Middle East Studies Organization; as well as students in Anthropology, History, and MEMEAC and the DSC.


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