The series, “Film for Thought,” is part of the Center for Ideas and Society’s Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies project. This two-year project will investigate issues surrounding economic inequality, access to higher education, religious identity and intolerance, and omitted or erased histories.
As the debut film in the series, “Daughters of the Dust” is co-sponsored by the UCR Speculative Fiction and Cultures of Science program. The screening will be hosted at the Culver Center of the Arts, 3824 Main St., on Friday, May 12, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 13, at 3 p.m. A panel discussion will follow the May 12 screening and will include: Jayna Brown, UCR associate professor of ethnic studies; Paulette Brown-Hinds, editor-in-chief of IE Voice; and moderator Derek Burrill, associate professor of media and cultural studies.
Three Scholars, all associated with the Center for Ideas & Society, win Fulbright Grants.
Heidi Brevik-Zender will hold the 2017-18 visiting professorship at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, where she will do research for a book project exposing the role of women in 19th century French architecture.
Anthropologist Derick Fay will return to South Africa, where he has conducted extensive field studies since 1998, to investigate the relationships between conservation, law, and resource rights represented in the 2012 trial of three fishermen arrested in Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve.
Political scientist Ajay Verghese will spend a year in India to determine if increasing socioeconomic development is causing a decline in religious belief but an increase in religious practice, a form of secularization that is distinct from the Western world.
AN INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN OSSMAN #MMTW
Excerpt from an interview with Susan Ossman, Artistic Director of the Moving Matters Traveling Workshop, by Allegra Laboratory:
Helen: What is the Moving Matters Traveling Workshop?
Susan: The MMTW is a collective of artists and scholars who develop art together based on their shared experience of living in several countries. The project started in 2013 at a seminar where anthropologists and artists developed “creative responses” to my book Moving Matters, Paths of Serial Migration. Since then we have met in changing locations to address topics related to migration and mobility from our perspectives as “serial migrants” in art, exhibitions and performances. The MMTW grows through a process of progressive “inhabitations.” Just like a serial migrant, it settles into one country after another. We have traveled to California, France, the Netherlands and Romania. Berlin is coming up in June.
Heidi Brevik-Zender (Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature) has been selected for a 2017-18 Fulbright US Scholar Award. She will hold the Fulbright-Scotland Visiting Professorship at University of Aberdeen, where she will be working on a book-length research project on women, architecture, and the built environment in France in the 19th century.
Learn more about Professor Brevik-Zender and her work at complitforlang.ucr.edu.
The Critical Studies Collective, a UC faculty and graduate student research initiative, received a substantial UCOP award to collaborate across five UCs to develop curricula, symposia, and a website, all devoted to Critical Refugee Studies. UCR’s Lan Duong (Media and Cultural Studies), founding member and co-organizer of the collective, hosted theTowards a Critical Refugee Studies Symposium with support from the Center for Ideas and Society in 2016. Members of the collective are also currently organizing an anthology of key papers.
Ajay Verghese, an Assistant Professor of Political Science and current Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at UC Riverside, has received a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award to fund nine months of research in India. Dr. Verghese will be studying how globalization and modernization are impacting religious communities and identity in contemporary India.
Learn more about Professor Verghese and his work at politicalscience.ucr.edu.
Plan to attend the second annual Digital Humanities Infrastructure Symposium, February 23-24! The digital humanities represent the cutting edge of humanities research and instruction, but they also represent a fundamental shift in the paradigm of humanities, from the model of the lone scholar to that of the interconnected team; and from the model of the durable paper publication to that of the digital, ephemeral product. Since the infrastructure (including staff, resources, and services) necessary to support these new models are very different from those required by the old models, academic partners are being challenged to evolve rapidly to support those scholars, in ways that are efficient and sustainable.
UCR Today article by Mojgan Sherkat on this year’s Emory Elliott Book Award winner, Professor Anthea Kraut
“It is truly an honor to be recognized in this way by my own colleagues at UCR,” Kraut said. “I’m also very fortunate in that I got to benefit from Emory’s mentorship while he was still with us, and I’m so moved to play a role in carrying on his formidable legacy.”
About the book
“Choreographing Copyright” is a new historical and cultural analysis of U.S. dance-makers’ investment in intellectual property rights. The book reconstructs efforts to win copyright protection for choreography and shows how dancers have embraced intellectual property rights as a means to both consolidate and contest racial and gender power.
Drawing on legal studies, critical race studies, gender studies, American dance history, and cultural studies of copyright, and through a series of case studies, Kraut offers fresh insight into the power dynamics of authorship and ownership in dance in the United States from the late 19th century to the early 21st century.
“Dr. Rudolph is an art historian whose research focuses on the art of Medieval Europe, with special attention to the role of visual expression in the articulation of intellectual and theological concepts, and their dissemination into the broader culture. As a medievalist, Rudolph’s work is lauded not only for its historical rigor, but also for its conceptual daring and theoretical sophistication. Rudolph is known to be a scholar who fearlessly asks the big questions. He also possesses the rare gift of being able to make complex and historically distant imagery clear and compelling to a twenty-first century audiences.”
UCR’s Rickerby Hinds has been nominated for a NAACP Theatre Award for Best Director on his play “Dreamscape.”
Dreamscape”, a riveting race-related, hip-hop production depicting the death of a 19-year-old young lady killed by a local police department and examined by a dispassionate County Coroner leads in Local nominations with six – Best Choreographer, Best Director, Best Female Lead, Best Male Lead, Best Playwright and Best Producer. Keena Ferguson’s exceptional one person show “Unbranded” follows with five nominations – Best Director, Best Lighting, Best Playwright, Best Sound, and Best One Person Show. Also with five nominations is Patricia Cuffie Jones’ “Love So Deep” for Best Lead Male and Best Lead Female plus a first-time ever in the history of the NAACP Theatre in which there is a 3-way tie for Best Supporting Female in the same production. Rounding out the local category with four nominations is the lively production of “Recorded in Hollywood”, performed at the Lillian Theatre – Best Musical Director, Best Ensemble and Best Director for Denise Dowse, a previous NAACP Theatre Award winner.
Jared Katz (UCR Anthropology PhD candidate) developed the Maya Music Project to help engage and educate summer school students in archaeology and ancient Mayan culture. The project was funded by the Center for Ideas and Society and the UC Public Scholars Program, a collaborate grant designed to support & develop community internships.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A yearlong exploration of ethnic futurisms at the University of California, Riverside concludes with a conference on Thursday, June 9, that will feature scholars of science fiction and fantasy literature and a SF filmmaker.
The all-day conference, “Narrating the Future,” will begin at 9:15 a.m. at the Center for Ideas and Society, located in College Building South. It is free and open to the public. Parking permits for Lot 6 may be purchased at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.
The event wraps up the yearlong Sawyer Seminar on Alternative Futurisms, a program of scholarly discussions, graduate-level courses, and public lectures, panels, readings, and performances funded by a prestigious $175,000 Sawyer Seminar grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It built on the success of a Latino science fiction conference UCR’s Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program presented in April 2014, an event believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
“The Sawyer Seminar on Alternative Futurisms has hosted an extremely fruitful year of conversations about speculative fiction and diversity, highlighting the dynamic and innovative work in the field by authors and other artists of color and holding a number of panel discussions among scholars of these fields,” said Sherryl Vint, professor of English and a co-principal investigator on the project. “Our events have explored how speculative fiction is a tool that can illuminate the ways that distinct experiences of colonialism, transnational flows of labor, and minority experiences of diaspora are shaped by a multitude of technosocial configurations.”
Artists, authors and scholars who visited UCR in the last year represent the cutting-edge of contemporary work in speculative fiction, she added.
“They bring new perspectives to well-known narratives of technological ‘progress’ and offer new stories to tell about how technology shapes our lives from the points of view that haven’t been sufficiently heard before. These events have seeded new conversations in the field, built bridges across various sites of study, and have achieved our goal of reorienting how one might approach the study of speculative fiction. We have begun to discover new futures might emerge through scholarship organized in new ways and look forward to continuing these conversations across the field of speculative fiction studies.”
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – What would you do when your, as Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire phrases it, “home is the mouth of a shark?” Artists, activists, and academics will gather to tackle that topic at the University of California, Riverside with a symposium on global displacement. The conference is called, “Toward a Critical Refugee Studies,” and will be held on Wednesday, May 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It will be held in Interdisciplinary 1113 and 1128. The event is free and open to the public.
Through panel discussions and performances, the conference seeks to further the emergence of Critical Refugee Studies as an academic discipline. The symposium will serve as a platform for discussing refugee populations and their histories, bringing together experts who will discuss and explore refugees originating from Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
“Existing literature on refugees often emphasizes a narrative arc that connects trauma and survival to economic and cultural assimilation,” said Lan Duong, associate professor in the media and cultural studies department at UCR, and the conference organizer. “Countering this narrative, the symposium will conceptualize the refugee not as an object of rescue, but as a site of social and political critique, whose emergence when traced would make visible the processes of colonization, war, and displacement.”
A portion of the conference will be moderated by author and critic Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose book “The Sympathizer” recently won a Pulitzer Prize. Nguyen is also the author of “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War.”
May 6-7 event is open to the community and concludes a two-year research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
By Bettye Miller on April 27, 2016
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A two-year research project exploring issues and benefits of diversity at the University of California, Riverside and in Southern California will conclude with a conference May 6-7 in downtown Riverside that is open to the public.
The Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Conference, sponsored by the UCR Center for Ideas and Society, will present research conducted by nearly 50 UCR faculty and graduate and undergraduate students. The public is invited to join the discussion, which will focus on these topics: “Beyond Diversity: Are We There Yet?”; “The Public Practice of Immigrant and Minority Religions in Southern California”; “Civic and Political Engagement”; and “Migration, Displacement & Movement.”
Activities will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, May, 6, and conclude at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. The event will be held in the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, located in UCR ARTSblock, 3824 Main St., Riverside. The conference is free and open to the public. Attendees may RSVP by emailing email@example.com with the subject line AIS Conference.
The research project, Advancing Intercultural Studies, was funded by a $208,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a two-year series of seminars that examined changing perceptions of ethnic, cultural and cosmopolitan identities, the practices of immigrant religions, and developments in civic and political engagement at UCR and in Southern California.
“This culminating conference of the Advancing Intercultural Studies project will, we hope, be of interest to educators, religious and political leaders, and all members of the Southern California community,” said Georgia Warnke, director of the Center for Ideas and Society and professor of political science. “Questions we will be addressing include: Does diversity in education mean simply accessibility or a rethinking of traditional forms of knowledge? How far does religious tolerance extend? What new forms is civic participation taking? How do immigration and migration feel to immigrants or migrants themselves? We hope both to engage and learn from the public in considering these issues.”
Keynote speakers will be John L. Jackson Jr., a filmmaker and dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and Gaye Theresa Johnson, who teaches at UCLA and is a housing and civil rights advocate for residents of L.A.’s Skid Row.
Jackson will discuss “Dissertations, Digitality, and Diversity: What Multi-Modal Scholarship Means for Academic Inclusivity” at 4 p.m. on May 6. He is the Richard Perry University Professor at Penn, and has produced a feature film, documentaries and short films that have screened at film festivals around the world. His most recent film, co-directed with Deborah A. Thomas in 2012, is “Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens,” which examines the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its Rastafarian community. Among his books are “Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem” (2013); “Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness” (2008); and “Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity” (2005). His work also explores how film and other non-traditional or multi-modal formats can be most effectively used in scholarly research projects.
Johnson will discuss “From Shared Pasts to Radical Futures: The Perils and the Promise of Coalitional Politics” at 11 a.m. on May 7. She is associate professor of African American Studies and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA, and is an activist with the Los Angeles Community Action Network , which presented her with its Freedom Now Award in 2013. She is the board president of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, and an advisory board member for the Goldin Institute and the Rosenberg Fund for Children. Johnson is the author of “Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles” (2013). She has two forthcoming books, “The Futures of Black Radicalism” (co-edited with Alex Lubin) and “Let’s Get Free: Musicians on Activism in the 21st Century.” She is also working on a book titled “These Walls Will Fall: Protest at the Intersection of Immigrant Detention and Mass Incarceration.”
Conference coming to UC Riverside, set for April 8-10
By Mojgan Sherkat on March 22, 2016
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – The University of California, Riverside is hosting the Show and Prove Hip Hop Studies conference, scheduled for Friday, April 8 to Sunday, April 10. The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Complimentary parking permits are available at the kiosk near the University Avenue entrance to campus. The themes for this year’s conference are “spirit” and “performance;” and are focused on cultivating the necessary and critical dialogues for the development of hip hop studies.
This is the first year Imani Kai Johnson, assistant professor of critical dance studies at UC Riverside, has coordinated the conference at UCR. She has organized the conference twice, in 2012 and 2014, during her time at New York University.
“As universities have adopted classes about hip hop, and an increasing amount of scholarship gets published, this series was created for those with a vested interest in the culture – including artists and practitioners, students, scholars, and community activists – to interrogate, complicate, and critically negotiate what it means to bring Hip Hop into the academy,” said Johnson.
Founded by Johnson, the conference is co-sponsored by the UCR dance department, Center for Ideas and Society, African Student Programs, UC Humanities Research Institute, and UCR’s history, gender and sexuality studies, ethnic studies and theater, film & digital production departments.
Conference events will be held at the ARTS and INTS buildings on the UCR campus, with evening performances at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts at 3834 Main Street, Riverside, CA.
For the full schedule, and detailed information, please go to the Show and Prove conference website.
The original play will be presented at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts on Feb. 16
By Mojgan Sherkat on February 12, 2016
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – Erith Jaffe-Berg, chair of the theatre, film and digital production department, will present an original play called “Sea Seed” on Feb. 16 at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts. The play was developed by members of the theater group the Son of Semele Ensemble and Jaffe-Berg, and inspired by Moving Matters Traveling Workshop (MMTW), an arts collective that has developed exhibitions, performances and participatory artworks.
Sponsored by the Center of Ideas and Society, the event is free and open to the public. The play begins at 8 p.m. at 3834 Main St., Riverside.
“‘Sea Seed’ explores the topic of repeated migration, or serial migration, and the experiences of those who have lived in several countries throughout their lives,” explained Jaffe-Berg.
The concept of serial migration was developed by Susan Ossman, an anthropology professor at UC Riverside, in her book, “Moving Matters: Paths of Serial Migration.” Ossman describes a serial migrant as one who travels between three or more countries, living in different languages and experiencing repeated patterns of movement and migration. The concept and book also sparked the creation of MMTW in Riverside in 2013.
One of England’s leading poets and current professor of poetry at Oxford Simon Armitage gave a reading followed by a book signing last Wednesday at INTS 1113. He read about 10 poems that spanned his career, from his early work in “Seeing Stars” to his translation of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” The crowd was decent sized, with about 40 people which included students as well as professors, many of whom were familiar with Armitage’s wide body of work. Overall, the entire event was intimate and inviting, with Armitage being very open to questions.
The first poem he read was titled “Thank You for Waiting” which was a wonderfully witty and sly poem, recited as if the narrator was a flight attendant. As Armitage began his reading, he invited us into his comic world. In between poems, Armitage would offer some background information on the poems, the frame of mind that he was in when he wrote them as well as various opinions he holds when it comes to poetry or politics. This background information really helped place his poems in context, and made his reading accessible for people who are very familiar with his work, as well as those who are not.
These tangents were always incredibly insightful, and made the reading more of a master class in poetry by one of its best practitioners, than a performance. One insight I found very interesting was when he introduced his third poem, “An Accommodation” by comparing it to song lyrics. He began, “Some people here consider song lyrics to be poetry, and talk about Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan as poets, but I’ve never thought so. Song lyrics aren’t poetry because even though they have the same fabric of language, and texture, poetry comes with its own little score that song lyrics don’t have because they always come with music.” I found this interesting, because many people, myself included, usually do not distinguish between the aesthetic pleasures that song lyrics give, as opposed to poems. His tangent ended up changing my own opinion on the subject.
The poems ranged from funny, to impressionistic, to celebratory. However, the last poem, titled “Columbine” was the most memorable. A moving pean to the victims of the Columbine shooting, Armitage’s poem narrates the event in the style of a news report. However, he replaces every mention of guns and bullets with the word “flowers.” The poetic inversion really highlighted the tragedy of the Columbine Massacre.
By Larry Gordon, LA Times
In an effort to promote scholarship in the humanities, the Huntington Library will subsidize the hiring of two professors at UC Riverside and host them as researchers for two years.
Plans being announced Wednesday describe the program as a way to help support the study of humanities at a time when some departments are facing cutbacks as more attention is paid to science and technology on college campuses.
Our 2014-15 Visiting Fellow, Marco Angella, has received a two-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the University of Pretoria for 2015-2017.
Congratulations to UCR’s Jose Medrano, Hispanic Studies, for being one of six students selected for the Humanists@Work graduate student advisory committee!
Humanists@Work is a UC-wide initiative geared towards UC Humanities and humanistic Social Science MAs and PhDs interested in careers outside/alongside the academy. Learn more
Two programs supported by the Center for Ideas and Society, Science Studies Coffee Hour and the upcoming Comics and Medicine Conference, have been featured in the UCR Magazine article “Colliding Worlds: When Art, Science and technology Meet at UC Riverside” By Michelle Woo. Read the following excepts with their mention:
Bonding Across Disciplines
Connections at UCR form through natural, open- ended conversation, which blooms through programs such as Science Studies Coffee Hour, an intimate forum where faculty, researchers and graduate students of all disciplines can delve into the areas of science, technology and medicine. The group — composed of scientists, science fiction writers and scholars of culture — has toured an artificial septic system in the Bourns College of Engineering, discussed new research on personhood and immunity, and read about innovations in rice production. “The world is becoming more and more techno-scientific, and we need new tools to grasp it, to make connections across the disciplines,” Dana Simmons, associate professor of history and a member of the group, says. “Scientists have deep technical expertise but may not be equipped to grasp the social impact or cultural factors shaping their research. Humanists understand social issues but may lack empirical knowledge. We want this to be a space for building new bridges.”
Helping People Understand the World
And art is able to do that like no other medium can. Juliet McMullin, an associate professor in the department of anthropology, examines how graphic novels about cancer not only illuminate the “ordinary, chronic, cruddy” life experiences of those with the disease, but they can also contribute to the nuances of discourses on health care inequalities. “Being able to see the imagery alongside the words allows the reader to pause and think more in-depth,” she says of the genre. This summer, McMullin will host the International Comics & Medicine Conference at the Culver Center of the Arts from July 16 to 18. This will explore the idea of space as a critical element in health care and comics.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The University of California, Riverside has been awarded a $500,000 grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a research and mentoring program for undergraduates aimed at increasing diversity among faculty in American universities.
The program, The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF), to which institutions are invited by the foundation to apply, is the centerpiece of Mellon Foundation initiatives to increase faculty diversity.
“We are excited about this opportunity, which will help us build on our commitment to diversity and to preparing underrepresented students for positions of leadership in California and the nation,” UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox said. “We share The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s commitment to improving the diversity of graduate students and faculty, and are also pleased that these fellowships will give even more of our undergraduates the chance to engage in research projects where they will work closely with faculty mentors.”
The four-year grant will fund research fellowships each academic year and for each of two summers for five juniors and five seniors. Students who enroll in selected Ph.D. programs within three years of completing a bachelor’s degree are eligible for some student loan repayment. Eligible fields of study are primarily in the humanities and selected sciences and social sciences.
Participating students will: be mentored by a UCR faculty member who will guide an in-depth research project; participate in a summer research program; receive coaching to develop the research and analytical writing skills necessary to be successful in graduate school; receive guidance in choosing a graduate school, completing applications, and preparing to take the GRE; have an opportunity to develop and teach a 2-unit course during their senior year, under faculty supervision; and continue to receive mentoring and other support while in graduate school.
The first five students, selected from this year’s sophomore class at UCR, will begin the program this summer. The online application is available here.
“The core of this fellowship program is research,” said Georgia Warnke, principal investigator on the grant and director of the Center for Ideas and Society, where the program will be housed. “It is a reflection of the increased recognition UCR is receiving for the quality and diversity of our student body. The program will help our students undertake rigorous research earlier than they might have otherwise, will socialize them to the life of an academic, and help them develop a network of support with MMUF participants at other universities.”
The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for UCR students who intend careers as professors, said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Steven Brint, a co-principal investigator on the grant.
“The program we have developed will provide the mentoring and research experiences that students need to be successful in the very best graduate programs in the country,” he explained. “During the application process, 12 of our students met with the Mellon program officers. After the meeting, the program officers told us that the students were as strong as those in any other institution with a Mellon Mays program already in place. I am quite sure that the impression our students made on the Mellon officials is the major reason why UCR received this prestigious grant. It is a recognition of the talent and potential of our students.”
The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program was established in 1988 at eight institutions and has grown to include nearly 50 colleges and universities. Participating institutions include UC Berkeley, UCLA, Brown, California Institute of Technology, Harvard, Duke, Oberlin College, Princeton, Rice, Smith College, Stanford, University of Southern California, a consortium of historically black colleges and universities, and three South African universities.
UC Riverside’s selection as an MMUF university recognizes the excellent work of the campus to add value and transform students’ lives, said Yolanda Moses, associate vice chancellor for diversity, excellence and equity and a co-principal investigator on the grant.
“When our students come to us they sometimes have a very narrow and limited understanding about what kinds of careers are open to them as graduates,” she said. “This wonderful fellowship will guide them through the academic and developmental processes of understanding what it means to be a professor and what the pathway is to get there. This is a tremendous opportunity for the students and for our university.”
UCR is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), a designation awarded to colleges and universities where Hispanic students comprise at least 25 percent of total enrollment. UCR is known nationally as an outstanding research university and as a university whose mission is explicitly linked to providing opportunities and educational success for underrepresented and first-generation college students. More than half of UCR students come from low-income households and receive Pell Grants and other needs-based scholarships and grants.
Pell Grant students also graduate at nearly the same rate as non-Pell students, as do first-generation students when compared to those whose parents attended college. UCR is one of three campuses in the country with graduation rates among African American students that exceed those of white students.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Scholars, artists and museum curators will examine sacred objects, rituals and visual culture of Latin America and Latinos in a conference at UC Riverside’s Culver Center of the Arts on Dec. 12-13.
The conference, “Objects of Devotion/Objetos de Devoción,” coincides with an exhibition by Mexican-British photographer Alinka Echeverría, whose photographic series “The Road to Tepeyac” captures pilgrims and the objects they carry on their backs to Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City to honor the Virgin Mary on her feast day.
“There’s something about these photos that has captured people’s imaginations,” said Jennifer Scheper Hughes, associate professor of history at UCR and co-organizer of the conference. “This conference picks up themes from Echeverría’s work about devotion, Latin American religion and sacred vision.”
The conference is free and open to the public. Registration is recommended and may be done online. The Culver Center is part of UCR ARTSblock, located in downtown Riverside in the 3800 block of Main Street. ARTSblock is a cultural complex composed of the Culver Center, the California Museum of Photography and Sweeney Art Gallery.
Conference sessions begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12, and conclude with a screening of “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago,” a 2013 documentary that follows six pilgrims ranging in age from 3 to 73 on a 500-mile pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. A discussion will follow with co-producer Annie O’Neil and UCR art history professor Conrad Rudolph, both of whom have made the pilgrimage.
On Saturday, Dec. 13, the first conference session begins at 9 a.m. The day concludes with the final screening of “Walking the Camino” at 7 p.m. A conversation about the film will follow. “Walking the Camino” also screens at 3 p.m.
The conference features the participation of three Latin American/Latina women artists: Echeverría, who speaks on Friday and Saturday, in Spanish; Alma López, a visual and public artist whose work has appeared in more than 100 exhibitions around the world; and Colombian artist Adriana Salazar, who builds kinetic sculptures.
During the two-day conference national and international scholars will present more than 30 papers addressing many dimensions of religious materiality in the Latin American and Latino context, such as: relics, devotional practice, pilgrimage and iconography, visual and votive culture, contemporary engagements with the Virgin of Guadalupe, transgressive saints, and sacred objects and materials of the pre-Hispanic period. Plenary sessions will include conversations with artists and national/international scholars. One conference session on Dec. 13 will be held in Spanish.
“It was important to us in planning this conference to highlight the connections between Latin America and U.S. Latino experiences,” explained Jennifer Nájera, associate professor of ethnic studies and co-organizer of the conference. “Latino immigrants and their children maintain, challenge, and infuse new meaning into their religious practices and iconographies.”
On Thursday, Dec. 11, Luis León, author of “The Political Spirituality of Cesar Chavez: Crossing Religious Borders” (University of California Press, November 2014), will discuss the life and beliefs of the late farmworker advocate and union activist in a pre-conference lecture at 4 p.m. At 7 p.m. Teatro Latino will present a staged reading of the Migdalia Cruz play “The Have-Little.” The one-act play is a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old girl growing up in a South Bronx tenement.
The Dec. 12 opening day of the conference coincides with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a religious observance that honors the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mexico’s patron saint, appeared to a poor Indian in Mexico City twice in 1531.
Hughes, who studies Latin American religious practice, said that Mexican and Mexican American religious practices are often stigmatized in the U.S. because of their strong visual component.
“The history of this country is rooted in Protestantism, which has traditionally been against iconography and the religious image,” she explained. “The Puritans did not have an image of what Jesus looked like. For them, the image of Jesus was a blinding light. That has sometimes led to disrespect for Mexican religious practices. The Mexican relationship to the Virgin Mary is very complex and nuanced, but has been disparaged as idolatry. We’re trying to explain that these are complex positionalities. An image can be holy. It is never just an icon. At one point it is God, it’s a painting, it’s a representation.”
Hughes said she was inspired by Alinka Echeverría’s images of people making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City. The photographer’s series of 300 images of people and objects they carry on their backs to the shrine, “The Road to Tepeyac,” has been exhibited all over the world. It will be on display at the California Museum of Photography through Jan. 24, 2015.
Echeverría was named International Photographer of the Year in 2012 by the Lucie Awards, won the HSBC Prize for Photography in 2011, and has been nominated for the Paul Huf and Prix Pictet Awards.
Her work has been widely exhibited internationally, including at Maison European de la Photographie,Paris, National Portrait Gallery, London, and as part of the Moscow Photobiennale. She earned her M.A. in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh in 2004, and studied photography at the International Center of Photography, New York.
View the conference schedule here.
Conference sponsors are: University of California Humanities Research Institute, and from UCR the Culver Center of the Arts, California Museum of Photography, the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, UC MEXUS (University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States), the Center for Ideas and Society, the UCR Tomás Rivera Chair, the Latin American Studies Program, and the departments of Ethnic Studies, History and History of Art.