Intersections Spring 2008
March 2008: "Self, Selves, and Souls: An Exploration of Identity"
April 2008: "The Countryside of the City: Puerto Rican Culture in the 1950s"
May 2008: "... And Gladly Teche:" Academic Labor in the Neo-Liberal Economy"
"Self, Selves, and Souls: An Exploration of Identity"
Some say that our current era is one that is characterized by self-centered behaviors. We are the "me" generations. But what is this "self" we are supposed to be centering on? Is it given to us at birth? Do we have a hand in creating it? Is there a difference between "me" and "we"? Is this selfishness an historical oddity? The speakers in this joint lecture will begin with an investigation of our intuitive understanding of the modern Western self/soul. This exploration will include an historical description of the religious, scientific, psychological and technological sources of the modern concept of the self. We will then explore some eastern paradigms of the Self/self distinction by contemplating the core principle of Kashmis Shaivism, non-dual Vedanta and mahayana Buddhism, seeing how discussions of the Self as Consciousness, as universal/inclusive in addition to individual/separate and as karmically grounded in compassion and wisdom can contribute to our deeper understanding of inner and outer well being. To help anchor our discussion in lived reality, we will also present an ethnographic example from the Toba Batak culture of North Sumatra, where they self/soul is collectively constructed by the deity, by the community and by the individual. We will conclude with a general discussion between presenters and with the audience inviting a co-creative effort to connect our exploration of self-identity and a greater sense of onesness and collective harmony.
Andrew Causey is an artist and Professor of Anthropology and Cultural Studies at Columbia College Chicago.
Rami Gabriel is a musician and Professor in the Liberal Education Department of Columbia College Chicago where he teaches courses in Psychology and Philosophy.
Bill (Gorakh) Hayashi is a Professor of Humanities in the Liberal Education Department of Columbia College Chicago and a teacher of Siddha Yoga meditation. He is also a Life Coach focusing on concerns of creativity and Spirit.
"The Countryside of the City: Puerto Rican Culture in the 1950s"
Why is that "national" culture in Puerto Rico is most commonly attached to images and traditions from the countryside? Why is peasant music from the mountains - called jibaro music - considered national culture, and not, for example, a song by Menudo or a dance tune by Ricky Martin? This presentation will explore the 1950s in Puerto Rico, the moment when the island goes from a rural society to an urban, industrialized nation at breakneck speed, to look at the formation of a national culture based on rural images that emanate ironically from the city. Through the analysis of government-produced educational films (created to teach peasants how to be "modern" citizens), the danceable music of Cortijo y Su Combo (a popular, predominantly black band formed in working-class neighborhoods of San Juan) and the output of a generation of new "urban" writers, Professor Esterrich tackles the how and why of national culture formation.
Carmelo Esterrich is the Director of the Cultural Studies program at Columbia College Chicago, where he has been working since 1998. He teaches a variety of courses on Latin America and Post-Colonial Studies.
"... And Gladly Teche:" Academic Labor in the Neo-Liberal Economy"
Chaucer says of his Oxford clerk: "and gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche." But many scholars in this economy (70 percent nationwide, according to New York Times figures of college teachers) have lost the privilege of leisure and must teach continuously to make a living wage. Research and creative production are put aside to keep the pot boiling. Aside from the ruthless treatment of long-term, highly educated employees who are labeled "temporary," this approach to academic labor raises serious questions about institutional quality. Scholars, artists, and activists in Chicago have formed unions to resist the efforts of local institutions to cut back the costs of higher education. A panel of scholar-activists with contingency and the process of unionization as a step toward equity and quality in higher education.
Chris Thale teaches history at Columbia College Chicago. He is a member of the Part-Time Faculty Association at Columbia and the union's former Elections Secretary.
Joe Berry is a Visiting Labor Education Specialist at the University of Illinois. He is the author of Reclaiming the Ivory Tower and founder of the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, a tri-lateral (United States, Canada, and Mexico) organization of academics seeking to improve working conditions and salaries.
Pete Insley teaches in the Math and Science departments at Columbia College Chicago. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Part-Time Faculty Association at Columbia.
Janina Ciezadlo teaches Cultural and Gender Studies at Columbia College Chicago. She is the former President of the Part-Time Faculty Association at Columbia.
Part-time faculty from several local institutions will be on hand to widen the discussion. This event is part of the Critical Encounters series.