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Events 2018-2019

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Fall 2018

Oct. 11 - Kafka's Last Trial

BEN BALINT

Kafka's Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy
Thursday, October 11, 2018
4:00-6:00pm
Literature Building, First Floor, Rm. 155 (deCertau)
UC San Diego
Free. No registration. Campus map. Visitor parking information.

When Franz Kafka died in 1924, his loyal friend and champion Max Brod could not bring himself to fulfil Kafka's last instruction: to burn his remaining manuscripts. Instead, Brod devoted the rest of his life to canonizing Kafka as the most prescient chronicler of the twentieth century. By betraying Kafka's last wish, Brod twice rescued his legacy - first from physical destruction, and then from obscurity. But that betrayal was also eventually to lead to an international legal battle over Kafka's legacy: as a writer in German, should his papers come to rest with those of the other great German writers, in the country where his three sisters died as victims of the Holocaust? Or, as Kafka was also a great Jewish writer, should they be considered part of the cultural inheritance of Israel, a state that did not exist at the time he died in 1924?

BEN BALINT taught literature, including Kafka, at the Bard College humanities programme at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. His first book, Running Commentary, was published by Public Affairs in 2010. His second book, Jerusalem: City of the Book, is co-authored with Merav Mack. His reviews and essays regularly appear in the Wall Street Journal, Die Zeit, Haaretz, the Weekly Standard, and the Claremont Review of Books. His translations of Hebrew poetry have appeared in the New Yorker and in Poetry International.

SPONSORS
Program for the Study of Religion; German Studies Program; Jewish Studies Program.

PROGRAM ORGANIZER
Babak Rahimi
Associate Professor, Literature Department
Director, Program for the Study of Religion and Third World Studies Program

Oct. 18 - Power of the Sacred

HANS JOAS

Power of the Sacred. An Alternative to the Narrative of Disenchantment
Thursday, October 18, 2018
12:30-1:50pm
Social Sciences Building, First Floor, SSB 101
UC San Diego
Free. No registration. Campus map. Visitor parking information.

HANS JOAS is Ernst Troeltsch Professor for the Sociology of Religion at Humboldt University, Berlin, and Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, where he also belongs to the Committee on Social Thought. Joas’ early work has focused primarily on the tradition of American Pragmatism, defending its philosophical interest and explicating its significance for social theory. In the last two decades the historical sociology of religion and of war have become dominant in his research.

Joas' books (in English) include H. Mead: A Contemporary Re-Examination of His Thought  (1985); Social Action and Human Nature (with Axel Honneth) (1988); Pragmatism and Social Theory (1993); The Creativity of Action (1996)The Genesis of Values (2000)War and Modernity (2003); ; Do We Need Religion? On the Experience of Self-Transcendence (2008); Social Theory:Twenty Introductory Lectures (with Wolfgang Knöbl) (2009); The Sacredness of the Person: A New Genealogy of Human Rights (2013)War in Social Thought: Hobbes to the Present (with Wolfgang Knöbl) (2013); and Faith as an Option: Possible Futures for Christianity (2014)

SPONSORS
Program for the Study of Religion; Department of Political Science; Department of Sociology; Third World Studies Program.

PROGRAM ORGANIZER
Babak Rahimi
Associate Professor, Literature Department
Director, Program for the Study of Religion and Third World Studies Program

Oct. 25 - The Legacy of Jerome Rothenberg

Rethinking Ethnopoetics: The Legacy of Jerome Rothenberg
Thursday, October 25, 2018
9:30am-4:30pm
Literature Building, First Floor, Rm. 155 (deCertau)
UC San Diego

Free. No registration. Campus map. Visitor parking information.

AGENDA

9:30-9:45am Babak Rahimi introduction

9:45am -11:30am Panel I
Michael Davidson
Ariel Resnikoff
Diane Rothenberg
Marcel de Lima (Skype)

12:30-1:00pm J Rothenberg keynote speech

1:00-1:15pm coffee break

1:15-3:15pm Panel 2
Bob Cancel
Amelia Glaser
Wai-lim Yip
Pierre Joris

SPONSORS
Program for the Study of Religion; Jewish Studies Program; Third World Studies Program.

PROGRAM ORGANIZER
Babak Rahimi
Associate Professor, Literature Department
Director, Program for the Study of Religion and Third World Studies Program

Nov. 7 - The Chinese Pursuit of Happiness

The Chinese Pursuit of Happiness:
Anxieties, Hopes, and Moral Tensions in Everyday Life

Richard Madsen, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, UCSD

Wednesday, November 7, 2018
10:00am-12:00pm
The Eleanor Roosevelt Room at the Price Center
UC San Diego

Free. No registration. Campus map. Visitor parking information.

What is happiness? How do people in China get it? What are the social obstacles to having it? And what does this tell us about contemporary China’s moral order? These are the big questions addressed by the research that produced the essays in a forthcoming book co-edited with Becky Hsu. Here, I provide a synthesis, a holistic but inevitably more speculative response.

There is no straightforward translation of English “happiness” into Chinese, and the variety of Chinese words for happiness, as discussed by Lang Chen, raises deep philosophical and historical issues that are being played out in the complexity of Chinese society today.

Popular understandings of happiness are manifest in ambivalent discourses about family and friendship in private life and social service and political reform in public life. These popular understandings are overlaid by a politically orthodox version promulgated by Xi Jinping’s writings on happiness in the China Dream.

Together this research reveals a morally pluralistic Chinese society characterized by multiple goods and multiple definitions of happiness. This condition is common in all complex modern societies and certainly in the United States. What may be distinctive about China is the level of dissonance and tension between the competing visions of the good life brought about by its “compressed modernity.” For the time being these tensions are contained within the integument of a powerful and intrusive state.

SPONSORS
Program for the Study of Religion; Faculty Group on Religion

PROGRAM ORGANIZER
Babak Rahimi
Associate Professor, Literature Department
Director, Program for the Study of Religion and Third World Studies Program

Nov. 26 - The Prosperity Gospel, Humanity, and the Problem of Judgment

Anthropology and Theology: 
The Prosperity Gospel, Humanity, and the Problem of Judgment

Joel Robbins, Sigrid Rausing Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge 

Monday, November 26, 2018
3:00pm-5:00pm
Social Sciences Bldg., Rm 105
UC San Diego

Free. No registration. Campus map. Visitor parking information.

This paper is part of a project that explores the possibility of fostering a conversation between anthropology and theology. It considers a form of Christianity – the Prosperity Gospel – that both disciplines struggle to find acceptable. Looking at recent anthropological research with Prosperity Gospel Christians, primarily in Africa, that tries to overcome this aversion, and at recent theological work that attempts to reach the same goal, I uncover areas of significant overlap and also of divergence between the two disciplines.  The divergence turns on the role of judgment in scholarly work.  Comparing the ways some theologians are trained in making judgments about the phenomena they study with the way anthropologists are trained to suspend them, I argue that in very general terms contemporary anthropologists might endeavor to learn from theologians how they might better ground the kinds of judgments they seem increasingly drawn toward making.  A surprising convergence between the two disciplines reveals itself in the way scholars from both sides tend to recoil from prosperity gospel models of the human being.  This finding leads me to conclude the paper with a comparative examination of the anthropologist Clifford Geertz’s and the theologian Wolfgang Pannenberg’s accounts of the nature of humanity.  I concluded by arguing that in relation both to judgment and the nature of humanity one can see that a dialogue between anthropology and theology can help both disciplines recognize and reconsider some of their most basic, taken for granted scholarly commitments.  

Joel Robbins is Sigrid Rausing Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. He has published works on the anthropology of values, ethics, cultural change, anthropological theory, and particularly contributed to developing the anthropology of Christianity. His book, “Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society” was awarded the J. I. Staley prize by the School for Advanced Research in 2011. He has been the editor of The Anthropology of Christianity book series published by the University of California Press.

SPONSORS
Program for the Study of Religion; Faculty Group on Religion

PROGRAM ORGANIZER
Babak Rahimi
Associate Professor, Literature Department
Director, Program for the Study of Religion and Third World Studies Program