With Anya Bernstein (Harvard), Anton Vidokle (e-flux) and Adam Leeds (Slavic Languages).
As long as we have known death, we have dreamed of life without end. In The Future of Immortality, Anya Bernstein explores the contemporary Russian communities of visionaries and utopians who are pressing at the very limits of the human. The Future of Immortality profiles a diverse cast of characters, from the owners of a small cryonics outfit to scientists inaugurating the field of biogerontology, from grassroots neurotech enthusiasts to believers in the Cosmist ideas of the Russian Orthodox thinker Nikolai Fedorov. Bernstein puts their debates and polemics in the context of a long history of immortalist thought in Russia, with global implications that reach to Silicon Valley and beyond. If aging is a curable disease, do we have a moral obligation to end the suffering it causes? Could immortality be the foundation of a truly liberated utopian society extending beyond the confines of the earth—something that Russians, historically, have pondered more than most? If life without end requires radical genetic modification or separating consciousness from our biological selves, how does that affect what it means to be human?
A panel with Gerardo Marti (Davidson College), Wes Markofski (Carleton College), and Janelle Wong (University of Maryland).
Over the past several decades, the popular image of an evangelical Christian has become ever more rigid. From preaching personal salvation over hellfire and damnation, to pushing for conservative “family values,” to, most recently, lobbying for a certain vision of the US Supreme Court, the media has helped construct a very particular figure. But just how accurate is this understanding? What lies beneath the rhetoric of the mega-church congregation and a presidential “base?” In this panel discussion, leading experts in the social sciences present their research on “other evangelicals,” detailing the ways in which different configurations of theology, social engagement, race, sexuality, and other factors shape the evangelical fabric, and, by extension, the contested landscape of faith-based politics in America.
With Isabel Hofmeyr (University of the Witwatersrand and NYU).
This paper explores two functions of the Custom House: copyright and censorship. Drawing on southern African material, the paper explores the role of Customs on the colonial maritime boundary. The paper places the Custom House in the context of the ecology of the littoral and the port city, showing how these helped shaped the protocols and procedures of Customs officials and hence the way in which they formulated their hermeneutic strategies. The work is framed within a larger theoretical rubric, hydrocolonialism. For the purposes of this seminar series, the paper will highlight the ways in which the colonial maritime boundary offers an unusual and suggestive node for thinking about public religion.
With Nasrin Rahimieh, University of California, Irvine.
My experience of directing an Iranian studies center in southern California provided me with unique opportunities to work with members of the Iranian American community, cultural associations, and donors. The linguistic, ethnic, and religious diversities of the local Iranian community bode well for exploring the different facets of Iranian culture in a university setting. But the promise and potential were at times weighed down by an impulse to contain and/or disavow Islam as a constitutive part of Iranian cultural legacy and by other effects of diaspora. In my presentation I will explore the ramifications of tensions that at times risked derailing the mission of an academic center devoted to the study of Iran. Understanding the anxieties manifested at the intersection of the academy and the community could pave the way for more robust engagements with ideas of Iran in the US academy today.
With Abou Farman, The New School for Social Research
Part of a series of readings/performative lectures by Abou Farman and Leonor Caraballo featuring tumors, shamans, insects, and hydrogen protons. How can we make sense of the afterlife beyond the limits of a secular frame? And how can the afterlife help us make senses - literally, as in cultivate new modalities of sensing? We will explore these questions through a notion of synaesthetics reformulated from Susan Buck Morss by way of MRIs, smells, sounds, and blindfolds.