Sinan Anton, "Rescuing the Dead"
Webinar | April 1, 2021 Workshop | April 2, 2021
In this quarter keynote, Professor Sinan Antoon (New York University) shows that material and discursive resources and energies are dedicated (insufficiently and unequally) to rescue the living from harm, and to tend to their wounds. But what of the dead? What can we, the living, learn from the rituals and traditions of tending to the dead and to their wounds? Beyond the corporeal, encounters with the ghosts and memories of the dead raise crucial political questions about the ways in which humans inhabit this world. Al-Ma’arri cautioned us a millennium ago to “tread gently, for the soil of this earth is made of these corpses.” This talk will summon al-Ma’arri’s ghost, among others, to address these questions.
About the speaker | Sinan Antoon is an Iraqi-born poet, novelist, and scholar. He has published two collections of poetry and four novels. His most recent work is The Book of Collateral Damage (Yale University Press, 2019). His prize-winning translations include In the Presence of Absence by Mahmoud Darwish (Archipelago, 2011). Antoon’s scholarly works include The Poetics of the Obscene: Ibn al-Hajjaj and Sukhf (Palgrave, 2014). His op-eds have appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times and many pan-Arab newspapers. He is co-founder and co-editor of Jadaliyya and Associate Professor at New York University.
Moderators | Arzoo Osanloo, Cabeiri Robinson, Selim Kuru, and Cristian Capotescu.
Co-Sponsors | Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East Center, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
Keywords | Iraq War, body count, burial, rituals of caring for the dead, collateral damage.
Dean Spade, "Mutual Aid: Radical Care in Crisis Conditions," and Cristian Capotescu, "Echoes of the 'New Soviet Man': Humanity and the Ethics of Giving in Late Socialism"
Webinar | April 22, 2021 Workshop | April 23, 2021
Law professor Dean Spade and historian Cristian Capotescu talk about humanitarianism and mutual aid under conditions of crisis caused by capitalism and charity in a socialist context. In each talk, these scholars explore our theme Rethinking the Human by attending to what care means through practices that privilege equality, solidarity, shared suffering, and collective self-determination.
In “Mutual Aid: Radical Care in Crisis Conditions,” Dean Spade argues that humanitarianism, saviorism, and charity have been extensively critiqued as logics that undergird and legitimize war, colonialism, racialized-gendered control, and extraction. How do people organizing immediate survival support for each other in the face of crisis work together to resist these methods and build practices of solidarity and collective self-determination? In his talk “Echoes of the ‘New Soviet Man’: Humanity and the Ethics of Giving in Late Socialism” Cristian Capotescu shows how in the late 1980s, for many citizens of the former socialist bloc practicing and living socialism involved helping the less fortunate, the sick, and the poor through acts of giving. Such volunteer work and private assistance often invoked moral claims of a better life based on an ethics of shared suffering, dependency, and radical equality. This talk traces how socialist giving opened the possibility for ordinary people to enact notions of shared humanity in alternative ways that frequently eluded capitalist, Western modernity.
About the speakers | Dean Spade is Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law and author of Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next) (Verso, 2020). Cristian Capotescu is the Postdoctoral Scholar for the Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Humanitarianisms at the University of Washington. He completed his Ph.D. in History at the University of Michigan in 2020 and is currently working on his first book, Disasters and Solidarities: The Transnational Remaking of Crisis Socialism.
Moderators | Arzoo Osanloo, Cabeiri Robinson, Lynn Thomas, and Gözde Burcu Ege.
Co-Sponsors | Department of History, Ellison Center for Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies, Center for West European Studies.
Keywords | Mutual Aid, radical care, new social relations, social movements, socialism, charitable giving, ethics and authoritarianism, socialist humanity.
Nermeen Mouftah, "Sacrificial Skins: The Value of Pakistan’s Eid al-Azha Animal Hide Collection" & Juno Salazar Parreñas, "Empathy Beyond the Human in an Era of Inhumanity"
Webinar | May 6, 2021 Workshop | May 7, 2021
Rethinking humanitarianism and seeing beyond the human, Nermeen Mouftah and Juno Salazar Parreñas invite us to think about empathy beyond human relations and how human-animal relations are forged and tested in the service of humanitarian work. In each talk, these scholars explore our theme, Rethinking the Human, by attending to what a common humanity would be if we take into consideration our relations with non-humans and the environment.
Nermeen Mouftah explores in “Sacrificial Skins: The Value of Pakistan’s Eid al-Azha Animal Hide Collection” how in Pakistan, NGOs compete annually to collect and auction the animal skins of Eid al-Azha (Feast of the Sacrifice). This talk examines how the welfare branch of the Islamist party, Jama’at-i-Islami, invests in a risky fundraising ritual that animates the value of sacrifice in their humanitarian work. Juno Salazar Parreñas speaks on “Empathy Beyond the Human in an Era of Inhumanity”: species extinction and the fortressing of nation-state borders that deny the nature of people, who like many other earthly beings, move around the world. What empathies can emerge in this contemporary age that is dually characterized by inhumanity towards humans and humanitarianism towards animals?
About the speakers | Nermeen Mouftah is Assistant Professor of Religion at Butler University. Her ethnographic research examines the political and religious implications of Muslim social welfare practices. Juno Salazar Parreñas is Assistant Professor of Science & Technology Studies and Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Cornell University, and is the author of Decolonizing Extinction (Duke UP, 2018).
Moderators | Arzoo Osanloo, Cabeiri Robinson, Jenna Grant, Gözde Burcu Ege.
Co-Sponsors | African Studies Program, Middle East Center, Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, and Department of Anthropology.
Keywords | Muslim animal sacrifice, fundraising practices in Pakistan, post-humanism, animalization of racialized subjects, humanity.