April 11-12, 2013:
Migration and Sociopolitical Mobility in Africa and the African Diasporas: International Conference Honoring Edward A. Alpers
Conference in honor of distinguished UCLA History Professor Edward A. Alpers
Time: 8:30am - 5pm (April 11); 9am - 11am (April 12)
Location: 314 Royce Hall (April 11); Young Research Library Conference Center (April 12)
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Co-sponsored by Department of History, UCLA; James S. Coleman African Studies Center, UCLA; Mellon Post-Doctoral Program "Cultures in Transnational Perspectives," UCLA; G.E. Von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies, UCLA; Division of Undergraduate Studies, UCLA; Division of Social Sciences, UCLA; Professor Robin Kelley, UCLA; Center for the Study of Women, UCLA; Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor Scott Waugh, UCLA; College of Arts and Sciences, University of Kentucky.
March 8-9, 2013:
Global Ecologies: Nature/Narrative/Neoliberalism
Global Ecologies: Nature/Narrative/Neoliberalism stages an interdisciplinary conversation about globally relevant environmental issues such as neo-liberalism, militarism, waste dumping, deforestation, and food, land, and water sovereignty. Our conference will foreground international environmental issues and highlight the importance of how attention to narrative form is vital to understanding and enhancing the impact on public understandings of environmental crisis. We bring together scholars at UCLA and beyond who are concerned with how narrative forms have differently inflected the representation of non-human nature, and to raise questions about the challenges environmental storytelling poses for collaboration between the global North and the global South.
This two-day conference brings together scholars examining globalization and the environment in order to address the interdisciplinary implications of environmental study. Working in diverse fields such as African, Caribbean, Latin American, South Asian, and Pacific Island Studies, our participants will examine issues in environmental studies across a number of geographical and national contexts; those who have engaged critical questions about the role narrative can play in illuminating the links between the environmental concerns and the history of colonialism and globalization. Joan Martinez-Alier’s concept of the “environmentalism of the poor,” and Vandana Shiva’s model of “earth democracy” are central concepts animating the work of our participants.
Keynote speaker: Dr. Vandana Shiva
Location: 314 Royce Hall
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Co-sponsored by University of California Humanities Research Initiative (UCHRI), UCLA Center for the Study of Women, UCLA's Institute for the Environment and Sustainability, and the Canadian Studies Program with additional generous support from the UCLA Division of the Humanities, UCLA Division of the Social Sciences, the UCLA Department of English, and “Cultures in Transnational Perspective” UCLA Mellon Postdoctoral Program in the Humanities.
February 22-23, 2013:
"Inhumanities": 2013 UCLA Comparative Literature Graduate Students Conference
The term inhumanity is most often evoked as a moral condemnation, marking and redeeming the human. In contemporary global politics, inhumanities are acts of violence and brutality expelled from humanity’s realm, demanding and justifying humanity’s intervention. And yet, the human/inhuman divide is itself marked by violence; a history of slavery, colonialism, apartheid, and war have shown how definitions of the human and of humanism, be they conceptual, juridical or aesthetic, have underlined and participated in brutal forms of dehumanization.
Today, emergent technologies of necropolitics continue to render entire populations disposable. In scholarship of the past decades, anti-humanist deconstruction, manifest for example in Lyotard’s reclamation of the inhuman, has given way to post-humanist accounts of new forms of creative evolution, refusing to keep various species of organisms, technologies and matters apart, constructing new ontologies of ethical thinking beyond or apart from the human, and provoking the emergence of figures such as the cyborg, the homo sacer, the negated or affective subject, the planetary creature, ephemeral specters and vibrant matter, among others. Theory after the human often turns to biological and technological discourses, taking place conspicuously at the same moment as an institutional divestment of the Humanities.
At this time of disciplinary transition, this conference seeks to question the political and aesthetic currencies of various theories of the inhuman. We wish to reflect on inhumanities as conceptual, figurative, temporal, geo-political, or juridical moments in which the human is marked as an absence, suspended or negated, and at the same time, to consider the human’s persistence and resistance to these operations.
Plenary speakers include: Samera Esmeir (UC Berkeley), David T. Goldberg (UC Irvine), Marc Nichanian (Independent Scholar), Leela Gandhi (University of Chicago)
Time: February 22, 9am-5:30pm; February 23, 9am-6pm
Location: 306 Royce Hall
Co-sponsored by the Department of Comparative Literature, Department of English, Department of French and Francophone Studies, Department of History, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, School of Law, Campus Programs Committee, G.E. Von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies, Humanities Dean's Discretionary Fund, John Charles Hillis Chair of the Department of English, Mellon Postdoctoral Program "Cultures in Transnational Perspectives", Postcolonial Theory & Literary Studies Colloquium, and UCLA Graduate Students Association.
October 18, 2012:
Commerce with the Universe: Travel, Trade and the Afrasian Imagination
This talk will draw upon Desai’s forthcoming book on the Asian (Indian) presence in and connections with Africa. The book is primarily focused on the twentieth century, but it has an overarching frame that reaches to the twelfth century world of the Indian Ocean trade re-created by Amitav Ghosh in his book In an Antique Land. In addition to presenting a reading of Ghosh’s text which provides in many ways the theoretical anchor of his project, Professor Desai examines life narratives by Indian travelers to the interior of East Africa who wrote at the turn of the twentieth century, men of commerce who traveled between East Africa, India and other parts of the Indian Ocean, three narratives of Indians who were recruited by Julius Nyerere to serve in the project of Tanzanian socialism, and finally the canonical novel The Gunny Sack by M.G. Vassanji that in many ways provided a mythological map and charter for re-imagining the East African Asian experience after the Idi Amin expulsions.
Gaurav Desai is Associate Professor of English and has a joint appointment in the Program of African and African Diaspora Studies at Tulane University. Author of Subject to Colonialism: African Self-fashioning and the Colonial Library (Duke University Press, 2001) and editor of Teaching the African Novel (MLA, 2009) he has guest edited a volume of essays on “Culture and the Law” (South Atlantic Quarterly, 100.4, 2001), on "Actually Existing Colonialisms" (Journal of Contemporary Thought, 24, 2006), on “Asian African Literatures” (Research in African Literatures, 42.3, 2011), and co-edited a volume of essays on “Multi-Ethnic Literatures and the Idea of Social Justice” (MELUS, 28.1, Spring 2003). Postcolonialisms: An Anthology of Cultural Theory and Criticism (Rutgers University Press, 2005) which he co-edited with Supriya Nair has become a standard reference and classroom text since its publication. Among Desai's other publications are articles in edited collections and journals such as PMLA, Genders, Representations, Boundary2, Interventions, Research in African Literatures, African Studies Review and Cultural Critique. Recipient of a residential fellowship at the National Humanities Center in 2001, Desai has also been awarded a Rockefeller Foundation award for a residency at the Bellagio Center in Italy and an ACLS Burkhardt Fellowship for his research. In 2004, Desai was made a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. He has recently completed a book on narratives of Indian Ocean connections between Africa and India.
Speaker: Professor Gaurav Desai, Tulane University
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: 10383 Bunche Hall
For more information, contact the UCLA African Studies Center at 310-825-3686 or
Co-sponsored by the UCLA African Studies Center, Department of English, the Center for India and South Asia, and the Mellon Postdoctoral Program "Cultures in Transnational Perspectives."