6-Lecture Series Addresses Conflicts in Democracies

Contact: Vincent Reda, 518-437-4985

Although modern forms of government now prevail in many areas of the world, the ideals of democracy are often deeply compromised. This semester at the University at Albany, six internationally recognized speakers-writers, scholars, policy experts, and labor organizers-will address cracks in democracy and the attempts to heal them in South Africa, Latin America, and the U.S. in the lecture series "Cultures of Conflict and Reconciliation."

The series, sponsored by UAlbany's Department of English and made possible by a grant from the Dibner Fund, begins Tuesday, Feb. 6. As with the other five lectures through May 1, it will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Chapel House on the Uptown Campus Perimeter Road. Barbara Harlow of the Department of English at the University of Texas, Austin, will deliver the first of two lectures on "South Africa: Beyond Apartheid."

Harlow, the author of Resistance Literature; Barred: Women, Writing, and Political Detention and After Lives: Legacies of Revolutionary Writing, will discuss "Women as Legitimate Targets" in South Africa. A reception will follow her talk.

Cultures of Conflict and Reconciliation speaks to the interdisciplinary work of the New Humanities, according to Rosemary Hennessy, professor of English and coordinator of the series. "The series will focus on cultural forms that are interlaced with these social crises within democracies and the practices of reconciliation that have been devised to redress them.

"The state plays a major role in mediating social conflict, at times by force-through arrests or warfare--or by negotiation-through commissions, treaties, or new governing structures. Both make use of and spawn narratives and rituals aimed at reconciling what have been at times massive, deep, and violent cracks in democracy. These conflicts are often played out in class, nationalist, religious, and racial terms. Reconciliation takes various shapes and employs a variety of cultural mechanisms."

A second lecture on South Africa after Apartheid, dealing with "AIDS, Witchcraft, and the Problem of Public Power in Post-Apartheid South Africa," will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Adam Ashforth, visiting associate professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study and a historian of the politics, and culture of South Africa, will deliver the talk. His recent book, Madumo, A Man Bewitched (University of Chicago Press), documents the struggle of a young Sowetan against the curse of witchcraft.

Other lectures in the series:

The U.S. in Latin America:

March 6 -- "Health and Safety Are Not a Request, They Are A Right!: Workers Speak Back to NAFTA." Speaker: Martha Ojeda, a labor organizer who led a wildcat strike of 5,000 workers at SONY in 1994, and now executive director of the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras.

March 20 -- "'Reconciliation' and 'Impunity' in Post-Pinochet Chile: The Struggle for Justice and Collective Memory After the Celebrated 'Neoliberal Revolution'" Speaker: Fernando Leiva, a Chilean political economist, and a new member of UAlbany's Department of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. His research focuses on how particular economic ideas and policies transform class and gender relations in economies undergoing sustained processes of internationalization.

Assessing State Power and the Meaning of Reconciliation in the U.S.:

April 17 -- "The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability." Speaker: Peter Kornbluh, director of the National Security Archive's Chile Documentation Project, led the campaign to declassify official documentation of U.S. government support for the Pinochet regime. He is the editor of Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba and author of the forthcoming book, The Pinochet File.

May 1 -- "Prison Intellectuals and the Limits of U.S. Democracy." Speaker: Joy James, professor of African American studies at Brown University. She is author of Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender & Race in US Culture and Transcending the Talented Tenth: Black Leaders and American Intellectuals; Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics. She is currently working with U.S. political prisoners on a book project.

For more University at Albany information, visit our World Wide Web site at http://www.Albany.edu.

January 26, 2001


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