May 11, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 16

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    Regional Worlds conference scheduled

    By Arthur Fournier
    News Office

    The 1999-2000 Regional Worlds program of the University’s Globalization Project will present the capstone conference of its three-year initiative on Thursday, May 18, and Friday, May 19. Edward Said, University Professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, will deliver the keynote address.

    Under the title Mobile Geographies, Plural Histories: New Paradigms in Area Studies, the two-day event at The Franke Institute for the Humanities will provide a forum for University faculty and their colleagues from participating institutions to discuss and evaluate emerging strategies for the revitalization of area studies.

    “This conference is intended to bring out a longstanding commitment to various forms of area studies at the University with more recent concerns about migration, boundaries and geographically dispersed identities,” said Arjun Appadurai, the Samuel N. Harper Professor in Anthropology and South Asian Languages & Civilizations and Director of the Globalization Project.

    “Our hope is that it will show that global studies and area studies are not at odds but are in fact both critical elements for a new dialogue about culture, identity and territory,” he continued.

    The first session of the conference, beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 18, will feature a roundtable discussion on the topic “Regional Worlds at the University Of Chicago: Prospect and Retrospect.” Session participants, who all have been integrally involved with the project during the last four years, are Appadurai; Jacqueline Bhabha, Director of the Human Rights Program and Executive Director of the Globalization Project; Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, Professor in Anthropology; Steven Collins, Professor and Chairman of South Asian Languages & Civilizations; Prasenjit Duara, Professor in History; Rashid Khalidi, Professor in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations and Director of the Center for International Studies; Alan Kolata, the Neukom Family Professor in Anthropology; Sheldon Pollock, the George V. Bobrinskoy Professor in South Asian Languages & Civilizations; and Xiaobing Tang, Associate Professor in East Asian Languages & Civilizations.

    With a series of presentations by distinguished scholars from the United States and England beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 19, the second day of the conference will shift its focus to current research dealing with geographies of process.

    Friday’s presenters include Michael Watts, professor of geography and director of the institute of international studies at the University of California at Berkeley, who will speak on “Geographies of Violence;” Dain Borges, associate professor of history at the University of California at San Diego, who will speak on “Stews, Skyscrapers, Echo Chambers, and Other Images of Caribbean National Cultures;” and Judy Ledgerwood, assistant professor of anthropology at Northern Illinois University, who will present “Imagining New Khmer Communities.”

    After a noon lunch break, Friday’s session will reconvene at 1 p.m. for two presentations dealing with themes of location, dislocation and voice. Robert Nixon, professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will deliver a talk titled “The Jerusalem of Africa.” Christopher Pinney, professor of anthropology at University College, London, will present “Pagodas and Sedition: The Long History of Diaspora.”

    Said’s address, “Humanism, the Cold War and After: The Shifting Context of Area Studies,” will take place at 5 p.m. in the third-floor lecture hall of Swift Hall, 1025 E. 58th St.

    “Intellectuals and the geographies of exile have a deep inner affinity,” said Appadurai, who pointed out that Said’s presence as the keynote speaker for the conference should be taken to signal that the social sciences and the humanities are natural partners in the endeavor to re-imagine the field.

    Those interested in exploring the pedagogical dimensions of the project will be encouraged to attend an additional session Saturday, May 20. For more information about Saturday’s session or the conference, call Vyjayanthi Rao, Coordinator of the Globalization Project, at (773) 834-4274 or send e-mail to regionalworlds@uchicago.edu.

    The Regional Worlds program Web site is at http://humanities.uchicago.edu/cis/globalization/rwp. People with a disability who believe they may need assistance may call The Franke Institute at (773) 702-8274 prior to the event.