This discussion with Ashley Dawson, Eben Kirksey, Julie Livingstone, Anne McClintock, Rob Nixon, and Jovana Stokic will probe imaginative horizons to illuminate concrete sites of biocultural hope. This conversation will orbit around two freshly published books: Extinction: A Radical History by Ashley Dawson and Emergent Ecologies by Eben Kirksey. As other species are snuffed out, possible futures for humans look bleak. Can radical political transformation bring an end to the sixth mass extinction event? As some charismatic creatures are being saved in zoos, captive breeding facilities, and cryogenic banks, a multitude of others are disappearing as they are disregarded or actively targeted for destruction. How should we love in a time of extinction? What practices of care can keep those who we love in the world?
Ashley Dawson is professor of English at the College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center. His work examines the literature of migration, including movement from postcolonial nations such as Jamaica and Nigeria to the former imperial center and from rural areas to mega-cities of the global South like Lagos and Mumbai. He is the author of Mongrel Nation: Diasporic Culture and the Making of Postcolonial Britain, and co-editor of Democracy, the State, and the Struggle for Global Justice; Dangerous Professors: Academic Freedom and the National Security Campus; and Exceptional State: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the New Imperialism. At present Dawson is at work on a book about urban culture and imperialism and on a history of twentieth-century British literature. He is currently web co-editor of the journal Social Text.
As well as being a prize-winning, bestselling novelist, Siri Hustvedt is widely regarded as a leading thinker in the fields of neurology, feminism, art criticism and philosophy. She believes passionately that art and science are too often kept separate and that conversations across disciplines are vital to increasing our knowledge of the human mind and body, how they connect and how we think, feel and see.
The essays in this volume - all written between 2011 and 2015 - are in three parts. A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women brings together penetrating pieces on particular artists and writers such as Picasso, Kiefer and Susan Sontag as well as essays investigating the biases that affect how we judge art, literature, and the world in general. The Delusions of Certainty is an essay about the mind/body problem, showing how this age-old philosophical puzzle has shaped contemporary debates on many subjects and how every discipline is coloured by what lies beyond argument-desire, belief, and the imagination. The essays in the final section, What Are We? Lectures on the Human Condition, tackle such elusive neurological disorders as synesthesia and hysteria. Drawing on research in sociology, neurobiology, history, genetics, statistics, psychology and psychiatry, this section also contains a profound consideration of suicide and a towering reconsideration of Kierkegaard. Together they form an extremely stimulating, thoughtful, wide-ranging exploration of some of the fundamental questions about human beings and the human condition, delivered with Siri Hustvedt's customary lucidity, vivacity and infectiously questioning intelligence.
We were joined in London by Beth Noveck (@bethnoveck) who discussed her book "Smart Citizens, Smarter State: The Technologies of Expertise and the Future of Governing". Filmed in February 2016
ABOUT THE BOOK
Government "of the people, by the people, for the people" expresses an ideal that resonates in all democracies. Yet poll after poll reveals deep distrust of institutions that seem to have left "the people" out of the governing equation. Government bureaucracies that are supposed to solve critical problems on their own are a troublesome outgrowth of the professionalization of public life in the industrial age. They are especially ill-suited to confronting today's complex challenges.
Offering a far-reaching program for innovation, Smart Citizens, Smarter State suggests that public decision making could be more effective and legitimate if government were smarter—if our institutions knew how to use technology to leverage citizens' expertise. Just as individuals use only part of their brainpower to solve most problems, governing institutions make far too little use of the skills and experience of those inside and outside of government with scientific credentials, practical skills, and ground-level street smarts. New tools—what Beth Simone Noveck calls technologies of expertise—are making it possible to match the supply of citizen expertise to the demand for it in government.
Drawing on a wide range of academic disciplines and practical examples from her work as an adviser to governments on institutional innovation, Noveck explores how to create more open and collaborative institutions. In so doing, she puts forward a profound new vision for participatory democracy rooted not in the paltry act of occasional voting or the serendipity of crowdsourcing but in people's knowledge and know-how.
Annette Gordon-Reed and co-author Peter S. Onuf discuss "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination" with Melissa Block from NPR at the 2016 Library of Congress Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
Speaker Biography: Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of law and history at Harvard University, is one of the country's most distinguished presidential scholars. She received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in history for her book "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family." Her first book was the acclaimed "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy," which was described by The New Yorker as "brilliant." In "Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History," Gordon-Reed edited 12 original essays that delve into the impact of race on trials and American cultural history. Her most recent book, in collaboration with Peter S. Onuf, is "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination."
Speaker Biography: Peter S. Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and has taught at Columbia University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Southern Methodist University. In 2008, Onuf held the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth professor of American history chair at the University of Oxford. His books include "The Mind of Thomas Jefferson," "Nations, Markets and War: Modern History and the American Civil War," "Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood" and "The Origins of the Federal Republic: Jurisdictional Controversies in the United States, 1775-1787." His recent book, written in collaboration with Annette Gordon-Reed, "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination," uses careful analysis, painstaking research and vivid prose to develop a revealing character study which dispels many cliches and creates a portrait of Jefferson as he might have painted himself. Onuf also acts as a cohost for the radio show BackStory with the American History Guys.