Non-citizen Asian and African migrants constitute a significant portion of the working classes in many parts of the Middle East, particularly in the countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council as well as Jordan and Lebanon. Primarily from South Asia, they fill low-wage temporary contract jobs in the construction, garment, and service sectors, including domestic labor in people’s homes. They are the labor behind the gravity-defying towers and the endless malls, luxury hotels, museums, university campuses, football stadiums, and other monuments to late capitalism that dot the oil-rich cities of the Arabian peninsula. As the Persian Gulf became the fulcrum of American military power in the region, a section of this migrant population also found service jobs in the rapidly expanding war economy, particularly on military bases—first in Iraq and Afghanistan, and soon across the wide expanse of the United States Central Command. Despite their significant contributions, the voices of migrant workers are all but absent from discussions about the Middle East —except, in recent years, as hapless victims of trafficking and abuse.
Anjali Kamat will discuss her research on this vast underclass of migrant workers and the challenges of reporting on their lives and struggles to organize for basic rights and live with a measure of dignity. She will screen the Emmy-nominated documentary she co-produced for Fault Lines: "America's War Workers"
Anjali Kamat is an award-winning journalist based in New York. A former correspondent and producer for Democracy Now! and Al Jazeera's current affairs documentary series Fault Lines, she has covered US foreign policy, corporate accountability, the Arab uprisings, and struggles for racial, economic, gender, and environmental justice in the United States and beyond. She is now writing a nonfiction book about South Asian migrant labor in the Middle East. Anjali is on the editorial committee of MERIP and has an MA in Near Eastern Studies from NYU and a post-graduate diploma in journalism from the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai, India.
This event is co-sponsored by Human Rights Project at Bard College and Center for Civic Engagement.
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (2013)
with Edgar Barens, University of Illinois, Chicago
Thursday, October 6, 2016 4:45 pm
Campus Center, Weis Cinema
Barens’ film portrays the final months of a terminally ill incarcerated man and the work of the hospice volunteers, themselves incarcerated men, who care for him. Prison Terminal draws on footage that Barens shot over a six-month period at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Ft. Madison. With its careful attention to the dynamics of aging and dying in a maximum-security prison, the film offers a revealing look into little-known aspects of American incarceration. Prison Terminal was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject Documentary in 2014.
After screening the film, which is about 40 minutes long, we will have commentary from both Edgar Barens and Allison McKim, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Bard.
Edgar Barens received his BFA in Film and Photography and MFA in Cinematography from Southern Illinois University. He is currently Social Documentary Developer in the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Sponsored by: Bard Prison Initiative; Center for Civic Engagement; Film and Electronic Arts Program; Human Rights Program; Sociology Program.
Visual Attention as Ethical Action: Tolstoy - Cézanne - Salgado
Thomas Pfau, Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English, Professor & Chair of Germanic Languages & Literatures, Duke Divinity School
Thursday, October 6, 2016 5 pm
This lecture will explore three case studies of visual attention and its ethical dimensions: a photograph by Sebastião Salgado; two paintings by Cézanne discussed by R. M. Rilke, and the harvesting scene opening Part III of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. In each instance, Thomas Pfau's focus will be on how the response elicited by a specific image triggers a distinctive ethical insight, a type of knowledge impossible to capture in propositional terms and achievable only through the medium of the image. The ethics of attention solicited by the image and subsequently articulated in writing involves empathy and, ultimately, demands a kind of participatory action on the part of the beholder. The lecture's overriding aim is to present attention as a form of knowledge neither "owned" nor "controlled" by the beholding subject but, on the contrary, transformative of the beholder.
Sponsored by: American Studies Program; German Studies Program; Hannah Arendt Center; Literature Program.
Director Kamar Ahmad Simon. Bangladesh, 2012, 90 minutes.
Thursday, October 13, 2016 3:10–4:40 pm
Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium An award-winning documentary film revealing the effects of climate change on the coastal village of Sutarkhali, Bangladesh in the wake of a cyclone induced tidal surge. The film's world premier was as the 'Curtain Opener' for the 55th DOK festival in Leipzig Germany in 2012. Screening is for ANTH/EUS 223 Conservation Anthropology.Sponsored by: Anthropology Program; Environmental and Urban Studies Program.
Professor Mar Gómez Glez "Teresa of Ávila’s Secrets"
Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582) is one of the most influential figuress of European history, a Spanish mystic nun who lived during the religious turmoil of the sixteen century. Through the lenses of the secret, her texts can be read in a new light. During this talk I will try to show that Teresa of Avila’s uses of secrecy illuminate important questions of the interior self and our relationship with the other.
Economics Seminar "Modern Families: Household Bargaining and Time Use in Same-Sex Households"
Thursday, October 20, 2016 4:30 pm
Michael E. Martell, Assistant Professor, Bard College Leanne Roncolato, Assistant Professor, Franklin and Marshall College
We compare how members of same-sex and different-sex households in the US allocate their time in activities related to housework, care labor, leisure and paid labor. Economic models of the household highlight the importance of relative earnings of household partners in determining the allocation of time use within households. We find that members of same-sex households, lesbians in particular, allocate their time differently than members of different sex households as their relative earnings potential changes. The varying responses to relative earnings potential highlight that the time use decisions of members of same-sex households are impacted by their distinct identities and preferences for equality. We suggest that the role of gender norms, identity and preferences are inadequately considered in economic theories of the household and suggest avenues for the development of more complete economic theories.
Michael Martell is an applied microeconomist with interests in the fields of labor, development, with special emphases on feminist theory and topics in inequality. He has previously taught at Franklin and Marshall College, Elizabethtown College, the University of Mary Washington and American University, where he earned his PhD.
Leanne Roncolato is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Franklin and Marshall College. She is a feminist economist with published work covering topics such as trade liberalization, informal employment, structural macroeconomics and time use in same-sex households. Her current projects include work on job quality of subway dancers in New York City and bargaining power in same-sex households.
Sponsored by: Economics Program; Levy Economics Institute; The Bard College Economic Club.
"In Poor Taste: Thoughts on Sugar, Labor, and the Special Commodity"
Anjuli Raza Kolb, Williams College
Thursday, October 20, 2016 6 pm
Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
This talk posits zombi as an immanent theory of labor, consumption, and the material itinerary of what we call taste. Beginning with an account of Marx’s special commodity, Professor Raza Kolb will explore how production and consumption crystallize into a set of signs pointing beyond allegories of monstrosity, and beyond a West Indian aesthetics bounded by capital in the age of empire and today.
Sponsored by: Africana Studies Program; American Studies Program; Experimental Humanities Program; Human Rights Program; LAIS Program.
Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II
A Lecture by Farah Jasmine Griffin
Monday, October 24, 2016 4:30 pm
Campus Center, Multipurpose Room Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies at Columbia University
"Her body in the air looked like an abstract sculpture," Griffin writes of Pearl Primus's dance in the 1840s.
"In her book “Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II,” Farah Jasmine Griffin, a professor at Columbia University, delves into a largely underexplored aspect of Harlem’s rich history: the years just before, during and immediately after World War II, a period of optimism, creativity and turmoil. Moreover, Griffin uses the lives of three female artists — the choreographer and dancer Pearl Primus, the writer Ann Petry and the composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams — as signposts through an era, in a work that paints the “greatest generation” in a much less flattering light than do the usual jingoistic accounts." ~The New York TimesSponsored by: Africana Studies Program; American Studies Program; Center for Civic Engagement; Dance Program; Difference and Media Project; Historical Studies Program; Literature Program.
Big Beards on the Small Screen: Shtisel (Israeli Television, 2013-2016)
Discussion & Snacks
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 7:45 pm
Olin, Room 102 Come watch Shtisel, an Israeli television drama series that follows the intersecting story-lines of a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish family living in the present-day Jerusalem, followed by comments from Yuval Elmelech (Sociology), Cecile Kuznitz (History), and Shai Secunda (Religion). Meet other Jewish Studies faculty and students, hear about spring courses, and enjoy a snack. Sponsored by: Hebrew; Historical Studies Program; Jewish Studies Program; Middle Eastern Studies Program; Religion Program; Sociology Program.
Retrofitting the American Dream: An Ethnography of Suburban Redesign
Rachel Heiman, The New School
Thursday, October 27, 2016 5 pm
Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
There has been much speculation about the future of the suburban American dream as volatile economic conditions, energy concerns, and climate change make the low-density landscape of single-family homes increasingly unviable. There has been a growing literature on architecture, planning, and policy efforts to reimagine automobile suburbs for a more sustainable future, yet here has been little ethnographic research that explores the transformation of sedimented ideals and ways of being as people’s everyday routines and familiar spaces shift amid efforts to retrofit the material and social landscape of suburbia. Drawing on fieldwork in South Jordan, Utah—one of the fastest growing suburbs in the United States due to the ongoing construction of Daybreak, a massive, master-planned, environmentally friendly, mixed-use transit-oriented community built on reclaimed land once used for mining activities—this talk asks: is a nascent “new normal” emerging out of the environmental limitations, “cruel optimism,” and segregationist design of the postwar American dream? Given that Daybreak was designed and first developed by a land development subsidiary of one of the largest mining companies in the world, this talk sheds light on the formation of new subjectivies and new regimes of governance at the intersection of sustainable urbanism, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and social justice concerns.
Sponsored by: Anthropology Program; Environmental and Urban Studies Program.
Gender and Migration in France and the United States
Nancy L. Green
Thursday, October 27, 2016 5 pm
Reem-Kayden Center Room 102
Over the last four decades, research has moved from the “discovery” of the history of immigration – initially seen largely as a story of male workers – to a “discovery” of female migrants. Closer attention to the gender composition of migration streams has become an increasingly important aspects of migration studies. Using the United States and France, two major historical sites of labor immigration, as examples, I will show how gender studies bring new questions – and answers – to the understanding of the history of migration. How have gender regimes in the countries of origin affected emigration and how has immigration affected gender relations?
Nancy Green is professor of history at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. She is the author of several books in French and English including Ready-to-Wear and Ready-to-Work: A Century of Industry and Immigrants in Paris and New York and The Other Americans in Paris : Businessmen, Countesses, Wayward Youth, 1880-1941. She recently also co-edited (with sociologist Roger Waldinger) the collection of essays, A century of Transnationalism: Immigrants and Their Homeland Connections.