2016-17 Events


Is Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's Finance Minister, as Dangerous to the EU as Donald Trump?" 

with Andrew Martin, a political scientist with the Center for European Studies and a research associate at Harvard University

Thursday, April 27, 2017 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.


Schaeuble event

The defining feature of German economic policy is a rule that government budgets must be balanced on an annual basis within very narrow limits. This balanced budget objective is captured in the expression "schwarze Null," or black zero. It is not only inscribed in Germany's constitution but also, at Germany's insistence, in the rules governing fiscal policy in the European Union's member states. It has been increasingly criticized not only by international economic bodies like the IMF and OECD but also European institutions like the European Central Bank and European Commission, and even some German politicians and economists, albeit a minority.  According to these critics, its operation in both Germany and throughout the EU has severely retarded Europe's recovery from the financial crisis and inflicted great economic and social costs on large portions of Europe's population. 

I think these critics are right. But if so, why does Germany continue to insist on adherence to the rule? I'll explore the two most widely advanced answers to the question after briefly describing the rule and how it operates in the context of the euro area's unique institutional structure.  One of the answers points to the dominance of ordoliberal ideas in German economic thought.  The other points to the importance of the export manufacturing sector's interests in German policy. A third answer stresses the moral virtue assigned to parsimony in German culture, where Schuld is the German word for both debt and guilt.  While this is a staple of German political discourse, it does not seem as plausible an explanation of German economic policy as economic ideas or economic interests, or both, so I'll focus on those two explanations.

Andrew Martin is an Affiliate of the Center for European Studies and Faculty of Arts and Sciences Research Associate at Harvard University. A political scientist,  he specializes in the comparative politics of economic policy, with a focus on macroeconomic policy, social policy, and labor. Much of his work has been on Sweden and more recently the European Union, including volumes co-edited with Brandeis Emeritus Professor George Ross. His most recent publication is European Social Models from Crisis to Crisis: Employment and Inequality in the Era of Moneary Integration, co-edited with Jon Erik Dølvik.  Among his contributions to the book are a chapter on "Eurozone Economic Governance" and a co-authored chapter on the "Transformation of the German Social Model." He received his Ph.D at Columbia and taught there before holding research and teaching positions at the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress, MIT, UMass (Amherst), Boston, Brandeis, Carleton (Ottawa) and Harvard Universities.


Jewish Life in Germany and European Union: an activist perspective
with Benny Fischer

Thursday, April 20, 2017, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Fischer event
Benny Fischer serves as the president of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) and is a former president of and Jüdische Studierendenunion Deutschland (JSUD). He organizes against antisemitism, antigypsyism, and Islamophobia. He has co-sponsored a Jewish call to action in response to the ongoing refugee crisis. In his EUJS role, he has spoken on Jewish student concerns at the European Union and the United Nations.


"Brexit and Britain's Future in Europe" 

with Harriet Cross, Britain's Consul General to New England

Thursday, April 6, 2017, 12:00 - 2:00 pm
Faculty Club Lounge

Brexit event

Harriet’s most recent posting was as Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Sana’a, though due to the conflict in Yemen, she spent much time in Saudi Arabia. In her diplomatic career Harriet has served as Second Secretary at the British Embassy in Morocco, and as First Secretary at the UK Mission to the UN in New York. She has also worked in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London (covering EU relations, and human rights policy). During her career Harriet has taken time out from diplomacy to work as an International Policy Advisor for the UK’s National Crime Squad; and in the International Relations Department at the University of York. Harriet received a First Class honours degree from the University of Warwick in Politics with French. 

Creating Spaces of Dialogue through Public Art:
A case of Manaf Halbouni's installation in Dresden

Tuesday, April 4th 2017, 12-2pm
Faculty Club

Manaf Halbouni Public Art

Art has always been intertwined with political expression, but can art in public spaces provoke even more thought and dialogue? Artist Manaf Halbouni has displayed his powerful pieces of art in public spaces in order to make those inhabiting those spaces on a daily basis think outside of their bubble. His recent work in Dresden has provoked some contreversey, and certainly many conversations. 

 A reading and conversation with Esther Dischereit
“Havel, Dogs, Cats, Tulips – Talking Garz”

(in English and German)

Thursday, March 23, 2017 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Mandel 303 Reading Room

Esther Dischereit

We, eight young writers, travelled to the small village of Garz, an hour-and- a-half drive northwest of Berlin, on the river Havel. We talked to more than 60 people of different ages and professions, and wrote down what we heard: about the LPG (Agricultural Association, former GDR), the fish in the freezer, Russian women and Polish people, the life right after World War II, during the GDR and after 1989, when the Wall came down. Talking Garz presents a vivid picture of the villagers, of how they got along at different times, and of how they make their living today.

Cosponsored by International and Global Studies. 


A memoir reading and conversation with Holocaust survivors Michael Gruenbaum and Michael Kraus

Thursday, March 16, 2017 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Mandel Reading Room 303

Kraus and Gruenbaum

Michael Gruenbaum and Michael Kraus both survived  the Holocaust as children and both published their accounts of that experience in English and in German.  In his book “Somewhere There is Still a Sun,” Michael Gruenbaum‘s talks about his experiences as a teenager during the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia  (1939-1945), including his internment in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Michael Kraus first wrote down his account of being in the concentration and death camps right after the war, when he was 15, but did not publish it until recently. The book Drawing the Holocaust: A Teenager's Memory of Terezin, Birkenau, and Mauthausen is now available in English.

Writing the Unwitnessable Past into the Present

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017, 12-1:30pm
Rabb 119 Dubois lounge

Visiting poet, Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, gave a lecture on writing trauma and baring witness to history and then opened it up to a discussion on her writing process.

Adorno infamously said, “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” so what should poets do? How do we write about an unwitnessable and unwitnessed traumatic past? What can contemporary poetry tell us about this past? How can it bring history into conversation with the present moment and serve as a necessary response to the animosity espoused by current administration and its contribution to the influx of hate crimes and anti-Semitism, within the US and abroad?

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach discussed how her poems hover around trauma and absence—ranging from ancestral histories to her experience of immigration and her travels around the death sites in Poland as a descendent of a USSR Holocaust survivor.

An Evening of Poetry with Julia Kolchinsky

Monday, March 6th, 2017, 7:00-8:30pm
Mandel 303 Reading Room

We hosted an evening of poetry read by esteemed poet Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach. Julia is a finalist in the 2015 Narrative 30 Below Contest, the author of The Bear Who Ate the Stars, and winner of the 2014 Uppercut Chapbook Award. She holds an MFA from the University of Oregon and is working toward a PhD in the University of Pennsylvania’s comparative literature program where her research focuses on contemporary American poetry related to the Holocaust. As a Jewish refugee from Ukraine, she is exploring the lyric rendering of trauma by Russian emigrants in contemporary American poetry. 

The Worldwide Refugee Crisis
with Linda Rabben

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 12-2pm

 Refugee Crisis

Linda Rabben is an author, human rights activist and associate research professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland. She has a long experience with Brazil and has worked for Amnesty International, the Rainforest Foundation, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and other NGOs on human rights, migration, environmental and international development issues. Since the late 1990s she has published eight books about human rights, including Fierce Legion of Friends: A History of Human Rights Campaigns and Campaigners. Her new book, Sanctuary and Asylum: A Social and Political History, was published in September 2016 by the University of Washington Press.

Cosponsored by

International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life
Masters Program in Coexistence and Conflict
Department of Anthropology


Standing Up for Your Values:  The “White Rose” Student Resistance against Hitler (1942-43)

Tuesday, January 17 - Friday, February 3, 2017
Normal Building Hours (8am-9pm)
Located in Golding hall

Brandeis University is proud to host The White Rose, an inspiring exhibition depicting the student resistance against Hitler in Munich during 1942-43. The traveling exhibit was created by The White Rose Foundation and is being offered in collaboration with the Consul General of Germany to New England.

Students and faculty of Brandeis University as well as the greater Boston community are invited to experience the exhibition and learn about “Leaflets of the White Rose”, a series of student-created papers calling for passive resistance and the immediate termination of the war, the individuals of the White Rose movement, their paths to resistance, actions and persecution by the Nazi regime.


A conversation with German Consul General Ralf Horlemann and Rabbi Joseph Polak about ‘The White Rose” and Boston Rabbis’ trip to Germany

The White Rose

Tuesday January 24th 2017, 6:00pm
Mandel 303 

Join Rabbi Joseph Polak and German Consul General Ralf Horlemann for a conversation on youth opposition to Hitler and The White Rose revolt, followed by a walk through the exhibit. On this occasion, Rabbi Polak and Consul General Horlemann will also reflect on the development of Jewish life in Germany and last year’s visit of 12 Boston rabbis to Germany, organized by the German Consulate in Boston. 

Refreshments will be provided. 
Cosponsored by CAASE: the Coalition Against Anti-Semitism in Europe
Admission is free. Please contact cgees@brandeis.edu if you have questions about attendance.


 DEIS Impact Activist Lab: Arts and the Refugee Situation

DEIS Impact

Friday, January 27, 2017 10:20-3pm
Alumni Lounge, Usdan

H.G. Adler as Modernist Historiographer in North America

with Prof. Julia Creet

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 12-2pm
Olin-Sang 207 at Brandeis University

A survivor of Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald, H.G. Adler was one of a small number of German-speaking Jews to write extensively about his experience, producing a vast and complex Gesamtkunstwerk. He remained little known in North America until the translation of The Journey in 2009, the first of a trilogy of novels. This talk will discuss the history of Adler’s reception in North America as a modernist historiographer where the integration of the biographical, the historical and the literary becomes not just a question of the genre of a work (is the trilogy modernist allegory or grounded in the historical?) but also a quality of its history of publication and reception. 

Julia Creet is an Associate Professor of English at York University in Toronto where she teaches memory studies, literary nonfiction and satire. She is the editor (with Sara Horowitz and Amira Dan) of H.G. Adler: Life, Literature, Legacy (Northwestern UP, 2016), winner of the Jewish Thought and Culture Award from the Canadian Jewish Literary Awards, and editor (with Andreas Kitzmann) of Memory and Migration—multidisciplinary approaches to memory studies (University of Toronto Press 2011). She is also the director and producer of MUM: A Story of Silence (38 min 2008), a documentary about a Holocaust survivor who tried to forget and Data Mining the Deceased: Ancestry and the Business of Family (56 mins 2016, HD), a documentary about the industry of family history, which will be broadcast on TVO in the spring of 2017.

After Brexit and Trump: What's Next? Lessons from History


Monday, December 5, 2016 12-2pm
Faculty Club Lounge
As the world grapples with the Brexit and Trump phenomena and anticipates possible further populist surprises in Europe in 2017, we invite you to hear from faculty experts what lessons could be drawn from history both in Europe and in the United States. 
Eva Marlene Hausteiner,currently John F.Kennedy Memorial Fellow, Center for European Studies, Harvard University
Paul Jankowski, Raymond Ginger Professor of History, Brandeis University
Ryan LaRochelle, Lecturer in Politics, Brandeis University

Human Rights and Refugees in Europe Today

with Bruce Leimsidor

Friday, December 2, 12:00-2:00pm

Faculty Club Lounge at Brandeis University

For the past few years Europe, and more specifically Germany, has been struggling with a migration crisis that has shaken the foundations of the European Union, endangering a union that has brought an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity to the region for which it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. The current crisis has put to serious question principles of tolerance and human rights that, since World War II, have been thought to constitute essential European values.  Even elements of international, European, and national law have, in response to the crisis, received new and highly controversial interpretations. While many of the problems occasioned by this migration have been caused by the size and nature of the migration itself, an equal responsibility must be placed on how European institutions have responded to its challenges.  While xenophobic parties have exploited the crisis, the ability even of institutions and governments relatively positive toward the migration to represent and manage the influx has been limited, turning the noblest of intentions at times into perplexing conundrums.  This presentation will explore both the complexities and possible resolutions to the crisis.

Bruce Leimsidor currently teaches European asylum law at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice. He has been concurrently counselor for asylum affairs in the Venice municipality’s program for asylum seekers. Prior to his positions in Venice, he was a senior resettlement expert at UNHCR’s central resource center in Nairobi, Kenya, covering east and central Africa. He has also served as director of the US State Department’s Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) in Vienna, Austria, the central office covering US refugee admissions through Central Europe, and was the director of the Central European office of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). He has taught at the American University, Paris; Oberlin College; Occidental College; and Indiana University. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College and holds an advanced degree from Princeton University.
Co-sponsored by the American Council on Germany.

Trump and Climate Change

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
In the Marrakech Action Proclamation over 190 countries from around the world reconfirmed their commitment to solidarity in the fight against climate change calling for "the highest political commitment to combat climate change, as a matter of urgent priority".  At the same time the United States as one of the world's biggest polluters per capita elected a climate denier as president. President-elect Donald J.Trump rejects the scientific evidence on climate change (link to relevant tweets). He has called climate change a "hoax perpetrated by the Chinese"  and vowed to dismantle the Paris Agreement within his first 100 days in office. One of his first appointments has been that of climate denier Myron Ebell to head the transition at the EPA.
Panelists include:
Charles Chester, Lecturer in Environmental Studies at Brandeis University and Adjunct Assistant Professor of International Environmental Policy at the Fletcher School of Tufts University 
Abbie Goldberg'18, student activist with Brandeis Climate Justice
Warren Leon, Adjunct Professor, Brandeis International Business School
Henrik Selin, Associate Professor of International Relations at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University
Moderator: Sabine von Mering, Director, CGES
Co-sponsored by Brandeis Climate Justice


Remembering Kristallnacht in 2016
Brandeis student panel 

Thursday, November 10, 6:00-7:30pm

On November 9, 1938 the Nazis orchestrated systematic arson attacks on Jewish synagogues all over Germany and vandalized thousands of Jewish homes and businesses. The following day tens of thousands of Jewish men were marched through the streets and taken to concentration camps. Several hundred people died. It is remembered as the beginning of the Holocaust in Germany.

How do we commemorate Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass? We are the last generation that has the privilege of knowing Holocaust survivors, and are left struggling to preserve their lived experience.

How does the Brandeis community carry the shared memory of the Holocaust?

We invite students from all backgrounds to share our space of Holocaust remembrance and reflect on Holocaust remembrance in different cultures and communities. Though this event will primarily be a discussion, we welcome written pieces, poetry, and other expressive forms.

The Center for German and European Studies is joined by CAASE: the Coalition Against Anti-Semitism in Europe, Hillel, and NETWORK: the North American Union of Jewish Students in co-sponsoring this event.

Policing of Minorities and the Refugee Situation in the European Union

Policing minorities
with Joachim Kersten
Monday, November 7, 2016 12:00-2:00pm
International Lounge, Brandeis University

The presentation looks at the difficult issue of minority policing in the European Union. Recent EU research findings indicate the necessity of independent police oversight. The ongoing refugee crisis has substantially complicated the issues. In particular, the New Year's Eve attacks by cliques of young Maghreb 'refugees' in Cologne and elsewhere has affected the political climate, and furthered voters' move to right-wing populist 'protest' parties.

Joachim Kersten is Senior Research Professor at the Hochschule der Polizei [Police Academy] in Muenster, Germany. He completed his doctorate in Sociology at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, and his Habilitation at the University of Konstanz. His most recent publications include the co-edited volume Strengthening democratic processes - Police oversight through Restorative Justice in Austria, Hungary and Germany (2015).

Martyrs on Stage: The Lure of Religious Fundamentalism-Discussion

Martyrs poster

Thursday, November 3, 5:00-6:30pm
Merrick Theater, Spingold, Brandeis University

Self-radicalizing young people, extremism, colliding values of secular democracy and religious identity -- the constant and unsettling topics filling our news feed.  Can art address these volatile issues? How is our society responding to the challenges?  Upcoming Department of Theater Arts production of Marius von Mayenburg's provocative new play MARTYR looks at a German teenager's embrace of Christian fundamentalism.  

The panelists:
Clémentine Fauré-Bellaïche is a former student at the École normale supérieure (Ulm) and an agrégée de lettres modernes. She holds a Phd in French Literature from Yale University. She is Assistant Professor in French and Francophone Studies at Brandeis University, where she specializes in 20th- and 21st-century French literature. She is currently writing a book tentatively entitled “L’Air protestant”: André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, Roland Barthes, and The Religion of Literary Modernism.

Cynthia Cohen is Director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts, and Acting Director of the Ethics Center for the 2016-17 academic year. She holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of New Hampshire and a master's degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition, Dr. Cohen has worked as a dialogue facilitator with communities in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Central America and the United States. Prior to her tenure at Brandeis, she directed a community-based, anti-racist oral history center in the Boston area. She directed the Brandeis University/Theatre Without Borders collaboration Acting Together, co-edited the Acting Together on the World Stage anthology and co-created the related documentary andtoolkit. She directs ReCAST, Inc., a non-profit organization partnering with Brandeis and New Village Press on the dissemination of Acting Together resources. Cohen has written extensively on the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of peacebuilding, including the chapters "Creative Approaches to Reconciliation" and "Engaging with the Arts to Promote Coexistence," and an online book "Working With Integrity: A Guidebook for Peacebuilders Asking Ethical Questions." 

Alexander Görlach is best known as the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of the debate magazine The European. Founded in 2009 it aims to debate current and pressing issues from all societal ankles. Prior to that Alex worked for German Television (ZDF) where he served also in the studios in New York and London. Alex also wrote for several national newspapers and served as head of the online department of the political magazine Cicero. His op-eds appeared in American, Italian, French, Danish, Greek and Austrian media outlets. Alex holds two PhDs, one in comparative religion, the other one in linguistics. In both studies he is examining the political and societal consequences of the encounter of Western and Muslim cultures. His studies brought him to Al Azhar University in Cairo, the Faculty of Theology in Ankara and the Pontifical University Gregoriana in Rome. Alexander Goerlach is currently serving as Visiting Scholar at the Center for European Studies at Harvard, prior he was in the same affiliation at Divinity School of Harvard University to go on this academic path. He is working on how religious identities are the core for understanding many contemporary global conflicts.  He also served as a J.F.Kennedy Fellow at at Harvard, giving a series of lectures on debates in Germany and their influence on Europe. Alex had serval teaching assignments, including at Freie Universität Berlin.  

David Siddhartha Patel is Senior Research Fellow in the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University.  Prior to joining the Center, Patel was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University. He received his B.A. from Duke University in economics and political science and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in political science. Patel’s research focuses on social order, religious authority, and identity in the contemporary Middle East. He conducted independent field research in post-Saddam Iraq on the role of mosques and clerical networks in generating order after state collapse. He has also conducted comparative research on the transnational spread of protests during the so-called Arab Spring and on changes in the support base of Islamist movements. He studied Arabic in Lebanon, Yemen, Morocco, and Jordan. Patel’s book titled, “Islam, Information and Social Order: The Strategic Role of Religion in Muslim Societies” is being prepared for publication by Cornell University Press.

Is the Crisis of Democracy an Invention? 

Crisi of democracy

Wednesday, November 2, 12:00-2:00pm
in Mandel Humanities Center, Reading Room (303)

The rise of right-wing extremist political parties over the past few years and this year's Brexit decision as well as the tea party and Trump phenomenon in the US have given rise to the question whether our Western democracies are in crisis. However, as significant these developments may be they fall short of a fundamental crisis-of-democracy if the question is asked systematically. In analyzing the three fundamental democratic levels of participation, representation, and governance Wolfgang Merkel (Berlin Science Center & Humboldt University) aims at providing a more comprehensive answer to the state of our democracies at the beginning of the 21st century. 

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Merkel is Director of the “Democracy and Democratization” research program at the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB) and Professor of Political Science at the Humboldt University Berlin. He is a member of a number of key bodies, including the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and HumanitiesHe is also a non-party member of the Basic Values Commission of the Executive Committee of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). His most recent publications include Demokratie und Krise. Zum schwierigen Verhältnis zwischen Theorie und Empirie (ed., 2015) [Democracy and Crisis. About the Difficult Relationship between Theory and Empiricism]; Handbuch Transformationsforschung (2015, together with Raj Kollmorgen and Hans-Jürgen Wagener) forthcoming as Handbook of Transformation with OUP); The Future of Representative Democracy, CUP (2011, together with Sonia Alonso and John Keane); Systemtransformation (2010); Social Democracy in Power. The Capacity to Reform (2008), which has been translated into German, Chinese and Vietnamese; the 2-volume Defekte Demokratie (2003, 2006); and more than 200 journal articles on such subjects as democracy and democratization, 21st-century dictatorships, political parties, comparative public policy, the future of social democracy, welfare states and social justice.

None Shall Escape (1944)


35mm Screening + Q&A with Brandeis Prof. Thomas Doherty

Tuesday, November 1, 7:00pm
in Wasserman Cinematheque, Sachar Building, Brandeis University 
Co-sponsored by the National Center for Jewish Filmthe American Studies Program, the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry
Free screening. Advance tickets required.

Join us for a rare screening in 35mm of a one-of-a-kind film: The only Hollywood film made during World War II to depict the events later know as the Holocaust. 

Released in January 1944, the film projects forward to a postwar reckoning in which a United Nations Tribunal conducts a trial for a Nazi war criminal (Alexander Knox, in his screen debut), who is charged with the round up, deportation, and murder of a group of Polish Jews. His twisted path is traced in flashback from 1919 onward. Directed by Hungarian émigré Andre de Toth, shot by ace cinematographer Lee Garmes, and scripted by future member of the Blacklisted Hollywood Ten, Lester Cole, the film also stars Marsha Hunt, Henry Travers, and Richard Crane. (Columbia Pictures. 85 min. B&W) See Image attached. 

Die Ganze Welt --The Whole World

campusweek poster

Read by renowned Boston-area Actors: Tom Kee*, Maureen Keiller*, Craig Mathers*, and Deborah Martin.*
Followed by a discussion with German dramatists.
Wednesday, October 26 at 8:00pm
Merrick Theater, Spingold, Brandeis University
God of Carnage meets Beckett. From the playwright who brought you A Little Calm Before the Storm and I'm Just Like, I Love Apples, award winning playwright Theresia Walser pairs up with her writing and real life partner, Karl-Heinz Ott, to bring you this hilarious and absurd dark comedy which redefines kitchen drama by literally turning everything in this kitchen upside down. 
*=Actors' Equity Association Member

The German Energiewende to Renewables 


with Craig Morris [via skype]
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
While politicians in the US are still debating whether climate change is actually happening, German citizens convinced their politicians to pass laws that would allow them to make their own energy even when it hurt utility companies to do so. From the origins of the Energiewende movement to the shut down of nuclear power plants Germany has witnessed a dramatic increase in people power: Community control over solar and wind farms, efficiency, local heat supply, walkable cities...In their new book about this "power shift", Craig Morris and Arne Jungjohann explain what made it possible.
Born in the United States, Craig Morris has been living in Germany since 1992. In 2002, he founded Petite Planète, a translation and documentation service focusing on IT and renewables. He is the author of the book Energy Switch (2006) along with numerous articles in both English and German on energy technologies and policies. He writes every workday at Renewables International – and he is a frequent contributor to the Energiewende Blog. He is the co-author (with Arne Jungjohann) of Energy Democracy: Germany's Energiewende to Renewables (2016). 

Merchants of Doubt Screening

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Brandeis Faculty Against the Climate Threat (FACT) invites the entire Brandeis Community to attend
a screening of the documentary film Merchants of Doubt (2014)

Followed by a discussion with author and Harvard Professor of the History of Science Naomi Oreskes in person. 

The film is based on Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway's 2010 book Merchants of Doubt: How A Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

2014 was the hottest year on record. 2015 beat that record “by a mile”. 2016 is on track to beating the record yet again. Climate Scientists agree: We must urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Then why aren’t we doing it? Merchants of Doubt has an answer.


 Literature as Cultural Ecology

Literature and Ecology poster

Monday, October 10th 2016

Cultural ecology is a new direction in recent ecocriticism and the environmental humanities which is grounded, on the one hand, in a general theory of cultural ecology as a field of transdisciplinary studies that has gained considerable visibility in recent ecological thought. On the other hand, it adapts, translates, and integrates these insights from various disciplines into a more specific theory of literature itself as a medium of cultural ecology. Between an anthropocentric cultural studies perspective, in which nature is dematerialized into a discursive human construct, and a radical ecocentrism, in which cultural processes are basically subsumed under naturalist assumptions, cultural ecology looks at the interaction and living interrelationship between culture and nature, without reducing one to the other. Literature is seen as a cultural form in which this living interrelationship is explored in specifically productive ways, providing a site of critical self-reflection of modern civilization as well as a source of creative cultural self-renewal. This is not merely a question of thematic orientation or content but of the aesthetic processes staged in imaginative texts, which in this sense can be described as functioning like an ecological force within the larger system of cultural discourses. Literature is described as a transformative force of language and discourse, which combines civilizational critique with cultural self-renewal in ways that turn literary texts into forms of sustainable textuality.

Hubert Zapf is Professor and Chair of American Literature at the University of Augsburg, Germany. His main areas of research are Cultural Ecology, English and American Literature, Literary and Cultural History and Theory. He is co-editor of Anglia: Journal of English Philology, of the Anglia Book Series, of the Handbooks of English and American Studies (DeGruyter), and of the book series Text und Theorie (Königshausen & Neumann). His publications include Kurze Geschichte der angloamerikanischen Literaturtheorie, UTB, 2nd ed. 1996; Literatur als kulturelle Ökologie, Niemeyer, 2002; Amerikanische Literaturgeschichte (ed.), Metzler, 3rd ed. 2010; American Studies Today: New Research Agendas (co-ed.), Winter, 2014; Literature and Science (ed.), Special Issue of Anglia 2015; Handbook of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology (ed.), De Gruyter, 2016; Literature as Cultural Ecology: Sustainable Texts, Bloomsbury, 2016; Zones of Focused Ambiguity in Siri Hustvedt’s Works: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (co-ed.), De Gruyter, 2016; “Ecological Thought in Europe and Germany,” Cambridge Global History of Literature and Environment, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming. 

Co-sponsored by the Department of English, and the American Studies Program.

An Attempt to Deconstruct Angela Merkel’s Response to the Euro-Crisis, 2009-2014

Merkel Poster

Friday, October 7th 2016ncheon discussion with Joyce Mushaben.

At the outset of the 2008 global financial crisis, Germany’s first female Chancellor  invoked the iconic figure of the Swabian  housewife to justify her demand that deeply indebted EU member states accept austerity packages forcing them to “live within their means.”  Although women drive many national economies via their roles as primary consumers, household managers and wage-earners, they have been curiously absent from supranational negotiations determining the parameters of Euro stabilization packages and austerity programs over the last seven years.  What began as a Wall-Street  fiasco quickly morphed into a European banking crisis, followed by mounting sovereign debt across the common-currency states and an existential threat to the Euro itself. Each phase found Merkel adhering tenaciously to an austerity-driven response that not only contradicted Germany’s historical experiences with economic restructuring  but also her personal tendency to respond flexibly to major crises ranging from the Fukushima melt-down to the influx of millions of Mid-Eastern and  North African refugees since 2014.  This talk will explore contextual factors that shaped Merkel’s atypical insistence on “ordoliberal” rules that not only undermined the historical Franco-German alliance driving European integration but also produced other gendered paradoxes that have exacerbated the EU’s so-called “democratic deficit.” It argues that her usual ability to  “learn faster than other people think” was impeded, in large part,  by her need to hold together the diverging party-political coalitions governing each stage of the crisis.

Joyce Marie Mushaben is a Curators’ Professor of Comparative Politics and former Director of the Institute for Women's & Gender Studies (2002-2005). Fluent in German, her teaching centers on comparative public policy, the European Union, women's leadership, citizenship, immigration, mega-cities and sustainability issues. Her research covers new social movements, youth protest, German unification and identities, gender, ethnicity and welfare issues,  EU migration and integration studies.Her books/monographs include Identity without a Hinterland? Continuity and Change in National Consciousness in the German Democratic Republic, 1949-1989 (1993); From Post-War to Post-Wall Generations: Changing Attitudes towards the National Question and NATO in the Federal Republic of Germany (1998); The Changing Faces of Citizenship: Integration and Mobilization among Ethnic Minorities in Germany (2008); and, Gendering the European Union: New Responses to Old Democratic Deficits (co-edited  with Gabriele Abels, 2012). Her latest book focuses on Becoming Madam Chancellor: Angela Merkel and the Berlin Republic (forthcoming 2016).

Beyond Xenophobia

Beyond Xenophobia poster


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

As we watch developments in the EU and US unfold, the unsettling feeling that our societies are unraveling is unavoidable. Social Theorist Armin Nassehi is professor at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and editor of Kursbuch, one of Germany’s leading intellectual magazines. An outspoken intellectual in the German media and cited as “among the most thoughtful intellectual voices in Germany today” (New York Review of Books), Nassehi analyzes the current populist tendencies. Whether it’s elite bashing or xenophobic voices, he tries to make sense of the underlying causes while suggesting an urgent need to develop new narratives as a basis for building stronger democratic systems.

Armin Nassehi has been editor of the magazine Kursbuch since 2012. Since 2014 he has been serving as director of the Institute of sociology at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, where he has chaired the Department of Sociology since 1998. Among his most recent works are Die letzte Stunde der Wahrheit (i.e. truth’s final hour, 2015) and Gesellschaft der Gegenwarten: Studien zur Theorie der modernen Gesellschaft II (i.e. a society of presents: studies on the theory of contemporary society II, 2011).

The Nazi Hunters

The Nazi Hunters poster

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Author Andrew Nagorski joined us for a discussion about his latest book “The Nazi Hunters,” which delves into the history of Nazi perpetrators fleeing prosecution and the small team that tracked them down around the globe. Nagorski spent three decades as a foreign correspondent and editor of Newsweek.  He has been the Vice President and Director of Public Policy at the EastWest Institute, an international affairs think tank. 

Stolen Girls: Inside Boko Haram

A conversation with Wolfgang Bauer, moderated by Professor Carina Ray (AAAS)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

In April 2014 militants associated with the Boko Haram terrorist group attacked the village of Chibok in Northeast Nigeria and kidnapped 276 female students from the local boarding school. People reacted with horror around the world. With the hashtag 'Bring Back Our Girls' Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai and others expressed their dismay. The kidnapping is no isolated case. Thousands of women and children are held by the terrorist organization to this day. In July 2015 German investigative journalist Wolfgang Bauer spent two weeks interviewing girls who were able to escape. His book will be coming out in English in February: Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their StoryRead more here.

Wolfgang Bauer is an investigative journalist who works for the German weekly DIE ZEIT. For his reportage he has been awarded the Katholischer Medienpreis and the Prix Bayeux-Calvados des Correspondants de Guerre as well as other distinctions. His most recent work, Über das Meer. Mit Syrern auf der Flucht nach Europa (English edition: Crossing the Sea: With Syrians on the Exodus to Europe) was published by Suhrkamp Verlag. The book has been translated into Czech, English and French, supported in part by the Goethe-Institut. An Arabic translation is in preparation.

Carina Ray is Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies at Brandeis University. She is a historian of Africa and the Black Atlantic world with primary research and teaching interests in race and sexuality; comparative colonialisms and nationalisms; migration and maritime histories; and the relationship between race, ethnicity, and political power. Her current research explores the development of indigenous ideas about blackness and the black body in precolonial and colonial Ghana within local, regional, and transnational networks of exchange and knowledge production. Her most recent book Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana was published by Ohio University Press in 2015. Read more about it here.

Co-sponsored with the Goethe-Institut Boston and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Join Wolfgang Bauer and the Director of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University Florence Graves on Thursday evening at 7pm at the Goethe Institut, 170 Beacon Street in Boston for a discussion of the Fate of Syrian Refugees.

Turkey’s Role in Europe Today

Turkey poster

Monday, September 19, 2016

In March 2016, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her EU partners agreed to make a deal with Turkey: The EU would pay 6 Billion Euros and eventually offer Turks visa-free travel. In exchange Turkey would prevent Syrian refugees from crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Greece. But Turkey, already home to over three million Syrian refugees, is itself increasingly the target of terrorist attacks and domestic unrest. As a result, the EU has been dragging its feet, and Turkey is threatening to cancel the deal. German-Turkish relations were further strained after the German Bundestag passed a resolution qualifying the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a genocide, something the Turkish government has yet to claim responsibility for.