2021-22 Panels and Participants

Collage featuring a neon rainbow, the inside of a mushroom, a lit match facing an unlit match, and theater seats representing the 2021–2022 Critical Conversations' theme of Community.

Fall 2021

Collage featuring live coral, a closeup of an octopus tentacle, and tree trunks amid forest fire smoke, representing the 2021–2022 Critical Conversations Talk 01, entitled “Other Minds: Forming Community with Nonhuman Animals.”
Other Minds: Forming Community with Nonhuman Animals

October 6, 2021

Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Location: Sherman Function Hall

Video: This event was recorded.

We share this world with millions of species, many of which have complex social systems and high intelligence. Can these species’ communities inform how we approach global communal challenges, such as the degradation of the environment? What are the ethics and politics of forming multispecies communities, and can doing so help us develop a better world? This conversation will be oriented around the 2021 New Student Book Forum selection "Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness" by Peter Godfrey-Smith. In particular, we will explore the possibilities of building multispecies communities from the perspectives of philosophy, evolutionary biology, anthropology, neuroscience and literature.

Participants

Moderator

  • John Plotz, Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities
Collage featuring a crowd at a historic LGBTQ+ march and a neon rainbow, representing the 2021–2022 Critical Conversations Talk 01, entitled “The “Ins” and “Outs” of LGBTQ+ Community.”
The "Ins" and "Outs" of LGBTQ+ Community

October 19, 2021

Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Location: Sherman Function Hall

Video: This event was recorded.

What does it mean to live, imagine or dream gender and sexual freedom for all? What does community mean to LGBTQ — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people? Building on decades of activism led primarily by Black queer and transgender people, the LGBTQ Rights Movement was not borne out of a coherent sense of community, but out of fracture, inequality and disagreement. This history underscores the central conceptual challenge of community: that it is made — and experienced — as much by who is inside as who is left out. This conversation will focus on the limits and possibilities for queer and transgender community on a global scale, particularly how gender, race, class and nation complicate what community can and does mean.

Participants

Moderator

Spring 2022

Collage featuring a lit match facing an unlit match, the design from a Koran cover, and a Renaissance painting of praying hands, representing the 2021–2022 Critical Conversations Talk 03, entitled “Religious Community: Cohesion or Conflict?”
Religious Community: Cohesion or Conflict?

March 9, 2022

Time: 5:30-6:30 pm

Location: Sherman Function Hall

Video: This event was recorded.

Scholars have long reflected on the capacity of religion to serve as a vehicle for social cohesion, social conflict and social change. By expressing and reproducing common values, rituals and cultural traditions, religious communities can imbue human life with meaning and a sense of belonging. But what happens when these communities are implicated in social conflict, either because their dogmas and ideologies are inflexible, or because they use political and economic power to create or legitimize social hierarchies? This conversation will explore the roles of religious communities in perpetuating and/or combating social injustice, such as racism and antisemitism. We will also look at the dynamics of difference within these communities, particularly when public narratives assert unity at the expense of minority voices.

Participants

  • Wendy Cadge, Professor of Sociology and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanistic Social Sciences
  • Jonathan D. Sarna, University Professor and Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History

  • Derron Wallace, Assistant Professor, Education and Sociology

Moderator

  • Kristen Lucken, Chair, Religious Studies, Lecturer, International and Global Studies, Religious Studies, and Sociology
Collage featuring a neon sign reading, “Dance,” a row of theater seats, a fragment of a mural depicting Frida Kahlo, and an abstract closeup of a brush covered in paint, representing the 2021–2022 Critical Conversations Talk 04, entitled “Creative and Cultural Latinx Community Spaces.”
Creative and Cultural Latinx Community Spaces

March 22, 2022

Time: 5:30-6:30 pm

Location: Sherman Function Hall

Video: This event was recorded.

How do Latinx create cultural community spaces? How do these spaces intellectually, emotionally or spiritually nurture individuals? How do these spaces enable Latinx to pursue their interests, artistic expression and activism without fear of being questioned or silenced? This conversation will consider the vibrancy that cultural community spaces hold for Latinx and Latin Americans living in the U.S. Come learn how cultural community spaces foster new forms of affiliation and solidarity in local struggles for recognition among Latinx as we consider the visual arts, the performance arts, urban planning and public policy.

Participants

Moderator