Religious Texts in the Anthropocene: A Conversation on Interdisciplinary Integration

On Friday January 10, the Humanities Research Center welcomes Professor Mark Larrimore from the New School, New York City to give a presentation on Religious Texts in the Anthropocene and to enter into a conversation with HRC Co-Director James Miller.

IB1046: Friday 10 January, 2-3pm

Professor Larrimore is Associate Professor of Religion at the New School, and author of two important books about contemporary religion and politics. Continue reading “Religious Texts in the Anthropocene: A Conversation on Interdisciplinary Integration”

Africa: Migration, Culture, Conflict

The Humanities Research Center at Duke Kunshan University is pleased to announce a three day event Africa: Migration, Culture & Conflict featuring three keynote scholars:

  • Fati Abubakar Gangaran, Duke University
  • Shamil Jeppie, University of Cape Town
  • Charles Piot, Duke University.

Wednesday 15 January, 7-9pm

Opening Reception and Photography Exhibition, “Bits of Borno,” with Fati Abubakar Gangaran.

Welcome by Professor Scott MacEachern, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

IB Lobby. Light refreshments provided.

Thursday 16 January, 6:30-8:30pm

Student Discussion Panel with keynote speakers hosted by the Society of Black Global Scholars: What Does It Mean to Be A Migrant?

Water Pavilion. Light refreshments provided.

Friday 17 January, 10am-2:30pm

Keynote Lectures in AB1087

10am: Shamil Jeppie, University of Cape Town

Introduced by Professor Selina Lai-Henderson

Writing, Timbuktu

The great Malian writer, Amadou Hampaté Bá, is reported to have said that, “In Africa, when an old man dies, it’s a library that burns.” But what happens when a library really disappears, especially in the world from which this writer has emerged? In recent years this has become an actuality in some places and remains a possibility in various parts of Africa as conflicts entail destruction of lives and things like books. This should take us back to the history of writing and books, in this case in West Africa. How and when did writing spread and libraries get formed? This talk will reflect on the question of writing as a technology and book learning and collecting as cultural forms of expression in the region around Timbuktu in West Africa.

11am: Coffee Break

11:30am: Fati Abubakar Gangaran, Duke University

Introduced by Professor Kaley Clements

Bruised, Not Broken

Since Boko Haram, literally meaning ‘Education is Forbidden,’ a terrorist group, launched  its first attack on a quiet morning in 2009 in Maiduguri, Borno State, North East Nigeria, there has been a media frenzy. From 2009 till date, there have been attacks, suicide bombing, abductions, silent killings. And mainstream media covered everything as ‘Breaking News’. There were no other stories besides the numbers, the blasts. The state is currently being plagued by the images of turmoil and despair with a total neglect of its resilience. Our hometown has been reduced to statistics: 20,000 died, 400,000 malnourished. We have become numbers. There are no faces to the conflict. No survivors. And it is as importance to document death as it is resilience. What is life like for the people left behind? What is like after the breaking news and bombs?

Bits of Borno is a photography project that chronicle the lives of people in the communities around Borno. It is the faces of the people who have survived Boko haram. An everyday life.  It is a story of a resilience people who are thriving in the midst of adversity. The project which has been ongoing for three years has also been documenting the humanitarian crisis in the state.

12:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm: Charles Piot, Duke University

Migration Stories: The US Visa Lottery and Global Citizenship

Introduced by Professor Jesse Olsavsky

More Togolese per capita apply for the US Diversity (Green Card) lottery than those from any other African country, with winners attempting to game the system by adding “spouses” and dependents to their dossiers.  The US consulate in Lomé knows this gaming is going on and constructs ever-more elaborate tests to attempt to decipher the authenticity of winners’ marriages and job profiles – and of their moral worth as citizens – tests that immediately circulate to those on the street. This presentation explores the cat-and-mouse game between street and embassy, situating it within the post-Cold War conjuncture – of ongoing crisis, of an eviscerated though-still-dictatorial state, of social death and the emptiness of citizenship under such conditions, of a sprawling transnational diaspora and the desires and longings it creates, of informationalism and its new technologies, of surveillance regimes and their travails, and of the way in which mobility/immobility and sovereignty are newly entangled and co-constitutive in the contemporary moment.

Keynote Speakers

Fati Abubakar Gangaran

Fati Abubakar Gangaran

Fati Abubakar Gangaran is a documentary photographer, photojournalist, public health humanitarian health worker from Nigeria was born and raised in Maiduguri, Borno State. She has a Bachelors degree in Nursing and a Masters degree in Public health and Health Promotion. She specializes in documenting cities, towns highlighting both the positives and negatives of each location. She focuses on health perspectives, using photography as a medium to highlight the problems at community level. She also has an interest in documenting cultures, conflict, urban poverty, rural development and humanitarian issues. She has a special interest in counter narratives for underrepresented communities. In 2015, she embarked on a personal project to showcase her hometown of Borno State, Nigeria at the time of Bokoharam. A project which has been titled ‘Bits of Borno’ on social media  has gained critical acclaim and has been published in media outlets including The New York Times, BBC, Reuters, CNN, Voice of America, Newsweek Europe, Africa is a Country blog, Nigerian newspapers such as ThisDay and the Blueprint. She has been commissioned to work with UNICEF, International Alert, Action Aid and more.

Shamil Jeppie

Shamil Jeppie

Shamil Jeppie received his PhD from Princeton University and is currently is Associate Professor of History at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He has worked on aspects of the social history of Cape Town and Durban, South Africa, and 19th-century Sudan. Shamil founded The Tombouctou Manuscripts Project in which he explored the formation of a culture of collecting in Timbuktu. He also led a National Research Foundation study group on history and the humanities in South Africa today. He has been the chairperson of the South-South Exchange Programme in the History of Development (Sephis), and is now the Director of HUMA, Institute for Humanities in Africa. Shamil serves on various platforms concerned with the development of the humanities, history and heritage in Africa and the global South.

Charles Piot

Charles Piot

Charles Piot is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, where he has a joint appointment in African and African American Studies.  His area of specialization is the political economy and cultural history of rural West Africa.  His first book, Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa (1999) attempted to re-theorize a classic out-of-the-way place as within the modern and global.  His second book, Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War(2010), explored shifts in Togolese political culture and sovereignty during the 1990s, a time when the NGOs and charismatic churches take over the bio-political, organizing social and political life in the absence of the state.  His recently-published book, The Fixer: Visa Lottery Chronicles, is about Togolese who apply for and attempt to game the US Diversity Visa lottery.

*Header photo, Eid, (c) Fati Abubakar

 

 

Hum/Animal: Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference Call for Papers

Duke Kunshan University is pleased to announce its second Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference from March 13-15, 2020. Distinguished keynote speakers will speak on the conference theme of hum/animal.

Students may present papers on all topics broadly within the humanities and interpretive social sciences; they need not relate to the conference theme.

Panels will be formed around themes based on the applications. Continue reading “Hum/Animal: Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference Call for Papers”

DKU Humanities Research Center Announces Three New Research Labs

Starting January 2020, Duke Kunshan University will be launching three new research labs. The labs will enhance the research capacity and profile of Duke Kunshan University, and provide opportunities for research training for students. Students will be able to sign up for these labs starting in January and gain first hand research experience working with DKU’s top faculty.  Continue reading “DKU Humanities Research Center Announces Three New Research Labs”

Report on Journey of the Universe Art Project

By Xiaoxi Zhu

About 100 members of the Duke Kunshan community have taken part in the university’s first mass-participation art project – an illuminated, nighttime campus procession along a route in the shape of the Big Dipper constellation.

The project was organized by student researchers in the Planetary Ethics and Artificial Intelligence Lab to coincide with a visit by filmmakers Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim on Oct. 10. Continue reading “Report on Journey of the Universe Art Project”

宇宙之旅和群众艺术项目

English

宇宙之旅是由来自耶鲁大学的Mary Evelyn Tucker和John Grim教授制作,一部获奖的纪录片和教育项目。融合了宇宙论、天文学、天体生物学、演化学,宇宙之旅以一种诗意和引人深思的视觉形式,娓娓道来从创世大爆炸至今的宇宙故事。宇宙之旅旨在使观众为孕育地球生命的宇宙历史感到惊叹,进而反思在面临气候变迁和环境铺害时,个体对于一切生命形态的责任。这部纪录片将于十月十日在创新楼的礼堂放映,并在放映前举行和制作者的问答环节。

在放映前,昆山杜克大学将迎来全球首演的群众艺术项目。由宇宙伦理和人工智能研究中心(Planetary Ethics and Artificial Intelligence Lab) 的学生研究员设计,并由大二学生Rudy Lu和Ryan Trombly筹划,这项艺术项目将回溯宇宙历史,并在昆山杜克大学的校园内以北斗七星的形式呈现从创世大爆炸至当代的七个阶段。

为了实现这项艺术项目,我们需要需要大约两百位学生拿着手机或其他的手电筒,以学生宿舍为起点,行经湖心亭和会议中心,最后抵达创新楼。本次游行象征着昆山杜克大学群体,与指向性的北斗和140亿年宇宙演化的一脉相承。在这个艺术项目中,八台相机和一台空拍机将会纪录北斗七星在昆山杜克校园内随着人流的形成过程。

The seven stars of the Big Dipper point towards Polaris 北斗七星指向北极星

北斗七星在中国文化和科学中有着极为重要的地位。北斗指向北极星,而北极星曾被认为是天绕行的极点。在中国神话中,北斗七星的拟人形象被称为斗母,是一位在道学传统中重要的女神。而在当代中国,北斗也是昆山杜克前校长刘经南博士的心血之作:中国GPS系统的名称。反映于历史、文化、神话、科学等领域,北斗依然持续为人类在宇宙无限的可能性里,指引了意义和方向。

journey of the universe qr code

若想参与这个艺术项目,请线上登记,并在十月十日周四下午六点十五分带着你的手机或其他的手电筒到学生宿舍前集合。

Journey of the Universe Film and Mass Participation Art Project

中文

Journey of the Universe is an award-winning one hour documentary film and education project produced by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim from Yale University. Uniting cosmology, astronomy, astrobiology and evolutionary theory, It narrates the story of the universe from the Big Bang to the present day in a visual, poetic and evocative manner. The film seeks to give the viewer a sense of wonder at the cosmic history that has enabled life on earth to develop, and a sense of responsibility toward all forms of life in the face of environmental devastation and climate change. The film will be shown in the IB auditorium on Thursday October 10, starting at 7pm, and there will be a Q and A with the film-makers afterwards.

Preceding the film will be the first world-premiere mass participation art project at DKU. Designed by student researchers in the Planetary Ethics and Artificial Intelligence Lab (PETAL) of the Humanities Research Center, and led by DKU sophomores Rudy Lu and Ryan Trombly, the art work will trace seven stages of the story of the universe, from the Big Bang to the present day, in the form of the constellation of the Big Dipper mapped out on the inner campus of DKU.

For this art project to occur, we need approximately two hundred DKU students, with their phone or other flashlights to process through the campus of DKU from the Student Residence Hall, via the Water Pavilion and the Conference Center to the Innovation Building. The phone-light procession will symbolize the unity of the DKU community with the guiding presence of the Big Dipper and with the 14 billion years of cosmic evolution that have brought us together to this place. The art project will be filmed by eight cameras and a drone that will capture the formation of the Big Dipper constellation on the DKU campus.

The seven stars of the Big Dipper point towards Polaris

The Big Dipper, known in Chinese as the seven stars of the northern dipper (Beidou qixing 北斗七星has great significance in Chinese culture and science. Beidou points towards Polaris, the northern point around which the heavens were thought to rotate. In Chinese mythology, the personification of the dipper is known as Doumu 斗姆, or Mother of the Dipper, an important goddess in Daoist religion. In modern China, Beidou is the name of the Chinese GPS system that was the life’s work of former DKU Chancellor Liu Jingnan. Through history, culture, mythology and science Beidou continues to provide orientation and meaning for human beings within a universe of immense possibility.

To participate in the art project, register online, and bring your phone or other flashlight to the student residence halls at 615pm on Thursday, October 10.

 

Call for Student Researchers and Artists: The Kunshan Digital Humanities Archive

The Kunshan Digital Humanities Archive (KDH) is a pilot project for the Humanities Research Center’s Computing in Arts and Humanities (CAH) Initiative. The pilot project, and the initiative as a whole, aim to foster the integration of computing, data, humanities and arts. Continue reading “Call for Student Researchers and Artists: The Kunshan Digital Humanities Archive”

Drawing Workshop With Edén Barrena

By Yinan DU

During the second weekend of the fall semester, DKU welcomed its first drawing workshop and it turned out to be a huge leap towards the growth of Arts and Humanities o n our campus. The Spanish visual artist Edén Barrena is invited to instruct this three-days’ drawing workshop. She is fully experienced in interpreting the world around us and able to transmit the message she perceived to the audiences through various media forms. This drawing workshop aimes to help students do their research profile by integrating the creative practice. Through working with Edén , students were given abundant chances to explore arts and themselves and they start to develope a new spectrum for communication: talking through arts. Continue reading “Drawing Workshop With Edén Barrena”

Call for Proposals: Humanities Labs at Duke Kunshan University

The Humanities Research Center (HRC) is soliciting proposals from faculty interested in hosting a humanities lab. Each lab will receive funding of up to $20,000 per year, to fund activities relevant to the lab’s theme. The labs will start in January 2020. Each lab will initially be funded for one year, with a possible renewal for a second or third year. Continue reading “Call for Proposals: Humanities Labs at Duke Kunshan University”