Authority, Appropriation, and the Democratic Imagination: A Conversation with Homi Bhabha, Alondra Nelson, Charles Taylor, and Glenn Lowry
Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
Recent events have spurred heated conversations about how identity is represented and how images are used. Who has the authority to speak for whom? How is that authority acquired and arbitrated? How do these issues play out in the democratic imagination? Please join us for a conversation exploring how difference and dissent function in democracy. Participants include Homi K. Bhabha, Anne R. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature and Language and Director, Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University; Alondra Nelson, President, Social Science Research Council; and the distinguished philosopher Charles M. Taylor, Professor Emeritus, McGill University. The conversation is moderated by Glenn D. Lowry, Director, The Museum of Modern Art.
Homi K. Bhabha is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, director of the Mahindra Humanities Center, and senior advisor to the president and provost at Harvard University. He is the author of numerous works exploring postcolonial theory, cultural change and power, contemporary art, and cosmopolitanism, including Nation and Narration and The Location of Culture, the latter of which was reprinted as a Routledge Classic in 2004. His next book will be published by the University of Chicago Press.
Bhabha is a member of the Academic Committee for the Shanghai Power Station of Art and the Mobilising the Humanities Initiating Advisory Board (British Council), an advisor on the Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP) project at The Museum of Modern Art, a trustee of the UNESCO World Report on Cultural Diversity, and the Curator in Residence of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He holds honorary degrees from Université Paris 8, University College London, and the Free University Berlin. In 2012 he was conferred the Government of India’s Padma Bhushan Presidential Award in the field of literature and education, and he received the Humboldt Research Prize in 2015.
Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus, McGill University, is a leading public intellectual and a world-renowned philosopher. He is the winner of a number of prestigious prizes, including the Templeton, Kluge, and Berggruen prizes. Some of his recent books include Modern Social Imaginaries (2004), A Secular Age (2007), and The Language Animal (2016).
Alondra Nelson is professor of sociology at Columbia University, where she has served as the inaugural Dean of Social Science and the director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She was previously on the faculty of Yale University and received its Poorvu Award for interdisciplinary teaching excellence. She is president of the Social Science Research Council, an organization that has been dedicated to the advancement of social research for the public good for more than nine decades. A sociologist widely known for her work on the intersections of science, technology, and social inequality, her books include The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome, which is a finalist for the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction, and will soon be available in an Arabic translation, and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination, which was recognized with several awards and has been translated into French. Her publications also include Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History (with Keith Wailoo and Catherine Lee) and Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life (with Thuy Linh Tu).
Nelson is chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology and an elected member of the Sociological Research Association. Her research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. She has been a visiting fellow of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the Bayerische Amerika-Akademie, the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute at Harvard University, and the BIOS Centre at the London School of Economics. She has contributed to national policy discussions on inequality, and about the social implications of new technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data, direct-to-consumer genetics, and human gene editing. She is a member of the NSF-funded Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society, and of the World Economic Forum Network on Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and the Future of Trust. A member of the Board of Directors of the Data & Society Research Institute, she sits on the editorial boards of Social Studies of Science, Social Text, and Public Culture. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Washington Post, Salon, and Science, among other publications. She has been a commentator for a range of media outlets, including National Public Radio, PBS, National Geographic, and MSNBC.
Glenn D. Lowry became the sixth director of The Museum of Modern Art in 1995. Leading a staff of over 750, Mr. Lowry continues the Museum's legacy of enriching public life through exhibitions, educational programs, publications, and digital tools that challenge conventional ideas about modern and contemporary art and design, and initiatives that bring MoMA’s renowned collection and research to audiences worldwide.
Lowry lectures and writes in support of contemporary art, on the role of museums in society, and on other topics related to his research interests. He is a member of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s board of trustees, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a resident member of the American Philosophical Society. He also serves on the advisory council of the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and is a Trustee of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD). In 2004, the French government honored him with the title of Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Born in 1954 in New York City and raised in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Lowry is married to the former Susan Chambers, with whom he has three children. He received a BA (1976) magna cum laude from Williams College, an MA (1978) and a PhD (1982) in the history of art from Harvard University, and honorary degrees from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (2000), The College of William and Mary (2005), and Florida Southern College (2017).