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Immigration, environment and civil rights among lecture topics at U. of I.

Craig Chamberlain, News Editor
217-333-2894; cdchambe@illinois.edu


Released 1/22/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —Two hot topics, immigration and global warming, will get early attention this spring among a series of 14 talks and one symposium sponsored by the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Also among the diversity of topics on the CAS schedule: art history, the Cold War in the Middle East, civil rights history, the forgotten discipline of chronology, Islamic headscarves and gender equality in France, rebuilding communities after natural disasters, the evolutionary origin of religiousness, and designing tools to support creativity.

Most of the spring lectures are part of the CAS MillerComm series, begun in 1973 and supported with funds from the George A. Miller Endowment and several co-sponsoring campus units. The MillerComm lectures provide a forum for discourse on topics spanning the university’s many disciplines.

All CAS talks are free and open to the public.

The first lecture of the spring semester will take place Jan. 30 and is titled “Librarians and Readers in the South African Anti-Apartheid Struggle.” The speaker will be Archie Dick, a George A. Miller Endowment Professor at Illinois and a professor of information science at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Dick will discuss the political oppression and state censorship of the 1980s in South Africa, under which reading became a subversive act, and the unusual and constructive ways in which librarians and readers responded. His MillerComm talk begins at 4 p.m. in the Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana.

Subsequent lectures and other events:

• Jan. 31, “The New Immigrant Work Force: Unions, Community and the American Dream,” by Eliseo Medina, vice president of the Service Employees International Union.

As a leader in efforts to unionize recent immigrants, many of whom work in low-paying jobs, Medina will make the case for a more-constructive approach to immigrants and a more-inclusive national immigration policy. His talk, related to the CAS Initiative on Immigration, begins at 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana.

• Feb. 5, “Solidarities Across Borders: Gender, Race and Class in Post-Disaster Reconstruction,” a daylong symposium looking at how major natural disasters often expose “disasters” of gender, racial and class inequalities, and how solidarities emerge across those inequalities to rebuild communities and hope. The symposium, part of the CAS Initiative on Mega-Disasters, will be held on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

The morning session, from 9:30 to noon, will focus on the reconstructions after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and after hurricanes Andrew and Mitch.
Speaking during the session will be Fatima Burnad, from the Society for Rural Education and Development, in India; Juanita Mainster, from Centro Campesino Farmworker Center Inc., in Florida, and Yamilet Mejia, from the Women’s Network Against Violence, in Nicaragua.

The afternoon session, running from 1:30 to 3, will focus on Hurricane Katrina reconstruction. Speaking during that session will be Margaret Prescod from the Crossroads Women’s Center in New Orleans, Curtis Mohammad from Community Labor United and the People’s Hurricane Fund in New Orleans, Brenda Robineaux, principal chief of the Houma Nation in Louisiana and Beverly Wright from the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Xavier University of Louisiana. A discussion will follow at 3.

• Feb. 6, “Global, Local, and Personal: Understanding the History of Immigration to the United States in the Twentieth Century,” by Jim Barrett, a professor of history at Illinois, with comments from Augusto Espiritu, also a professor of history at Illinois.

Focusing on the mass immigration of the late 1800s and early 1900s, Barrett will discuss the many levels at which immigration was experienced, what it meant to be an “American,” and how people from diverse backgrounds made the transition.

His talk, related to the CAS Initiative on Immigration, begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

• Feb. 8, “From Science to Time to Vanity Fair: Global Warming Becomes a Hot Topic,” by Amy Gajda, professor of journalism and of law at Illinois. Using a May 2006 “green issue” of Vanity Fair magazine as a departure point, Gajda will look at the power of celebrity in the environmental movement and its effect on news coverage and public attention, past and present. Her talk, part of the CAS Initiative on Mega-Disasters, begins at 3:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

• Feb. 12, “Democracy and Captivity: W.E.B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells and ‘Neo-Slave Narratives’ on Anti-Black Violence and Policing,” by Joy James, McCoy Presidential Professor of African Studies at Williams College. James will discuss her feminist theory on the politics of civil-rights activists and writers DuBois and Wells, in particular revisiting DuBois’ concept of the talented tenth. Her MillerComm talk, also the annual W.E.B. DuBois Lecture, begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

• Feb. 21, “Jim Crow’s Last Stand: The Struggle for Racial Equality in the Suburban North,” by Thomas J. Sugrue, the Edmund J. and Louis W. Kahn Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Sugrue will examine the broader battle for equal access to housing in the years following World War II by focusing on the famous suburb of Levittown, Pennsylvania. His MillerComm lecture begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

• March 1, “Can the Law Protect the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?” by Robert A. Williams, the E. Thomas Sullivan Professor of Law at the University of Arizona. Williams will discuss how native peoples in numerous nations have sought to secure their rights, and whether domestic or international human-rights law provides the best means for doing so. His MillerComm talk begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

• March 6, “Visions of Time in Early Modern Europe,” by Anthony Grafton, professor of history at Princeton University.

 Grafton will look at the forgotten discipline of chronology, a popular area of scholarly inquiry in the late 1500s and early 1600s, to which great intellects such as Kepler and Newton devoted considerable ink and energy.

His MillerComm lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Plym Auditorium of Temple Hoyne Buell Hall, 611 E. Lorado Taft Drive, Champaign.

• March 9, “Cover Up: French Gender Equality and Islamic Headscarves,” by Joan Wallach Scott, the Harold F. Linder Professor of Social Science in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. Scott will discuss whether the French law banning Islamic headscarves in public schools is justified, and whether universal ideas of women’s emancipation and their effect on politics need to be re-examined. Her MillerComm talk, also part of the annual Graduate Symposium on Women’s and Gender History, begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

• March 30, “The Domestication of Wild Religions,” by Daniel C. Dennett, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Dennett, the author of “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon,” will discuss the evolutionary origin of the widespread human disposition toward religiousness. His MillerComm lecture, also the annual philosophy public lecture, begins at 4 p.m. in Room 112 of Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright St., Urbana.

• April 6, “Rethinking the Cold War in the Middle East,” by Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. Khalidi will discuss how the Middle East was strongly shaped by the Cold War, and the role that played in transforming the U.S. into a global power. His MillerComm talk begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

• April 18, “Accelerating Discovery and Innovation: Designing Creativity Support Tools,” by Ben Shneiderman, professor of computer science at the University of Maryland. Shneiderman will discuss efforts to develop improved software and user interfaces that empower diverse users in the sciences and arts to be more productive and more innovative.

 His MillerComm talk begins at 3 p.m. in Room 126 of the Library and Information Science building, 501 E. Daniel St., Champaign.

• April 19, “Cosmopolitan, Native, Vernacular: Toward a More Inclusive American Art History,” by Janet Catherine Berlo, a George A. Miller Endowment Professor at Illinois and professor in the departments of art and art history at the University of Rochester. Berlo will discuss how the study of more works of vernacular and Native American art, both historic and modern, can help American art history become a more global and inclusive enterprise. Her MillerComm lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum.

• April 20, “Imagining the New Media Encounter,” by Alan Liu, professor of English at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Liu will explore how cultures historically and in the present first encounter new media, and how they then remember and describe that encounter. His MillerComm talk begins at 4 p.m. in Room 314-B of the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.

To receive notification on individual events, call 217-333-6729 or e-mail cas@illinois.edu; indicate your preference for postal mail or e-mail.

Those interested in attending CAS lectures should note that occasionally a lecture must be canceled or rescheduled, and lectures may be added later in the semester. For additional information, or to confirm details prior to a lecture, check the events link on the CAS Web site.

Also, CAS now is making audio podcasts and streaming video of many of its presentations available the Web site, generally one to two weeks after the event.