Munroe Center for Social Inquiry


Each academic year, the Ruth and Lee Munroe Center for Social Inquiry continues the pursuit of interdisciplinary learning and public inquiry embodied by the lives and service of two of Pitzer’s most distinguished and beloved professors Robert “Lee” Munroe, research professor of anthropology, and the late Ruth Hagberg Munroe.

The Center sponsors a themed series of events, including lectures, seminars, panel discussions, exhibitions, screenings, and performances.

The theme for the 2014-15 academic year is Virus: Mindless, Efficient and without Morals.

“A virus has no morals.” This is the title of a 1986 black comedy about AIDS by the German filmmaker, Rosa von Pronheim. While much has changed about the understandings, experiences, and politics of viruses since the earliest days of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, it remains definitive that it is people, cultures, governments, scientists and artists who engender the “morals” and “conscience” of these powerful, if unthinking agents. AIDS artist and activist, Gregg Bordowitz more recently wrote: “AIDS is a mindless repetition, an automatic self-reproduction. Emotionless, without conscience or consciousness, inhuman. A force of nature.”

For 2014-2105, MCSI will invite prominent scholars, artists, and activists across a range of disciplines, to help us understand both the natural and human forces that define, use, are used by, and try to control viruses. If “AIDS is a crisis of connections,” according to curator John Chaich, then one of the primary goals of MCSI’s year of programming on VIRUS will be to address viral crises by making connections across virology, performance, psychoanalysis, public health, photography, poetry, video, critical Internet studies, environmental analysis and other fields that morally, emotionally, and with conscience engage with the virus, the viral, the sprawl, and the many similar repetitious functions that mindlessly spread illness, pollution, power, or ideas in contemporary culture.

The Director for 2013-17 is Professor Alexandra Juhasz.