2009-10: Capitalism in Question (Because It Is)

During the spring 2010 semester, the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry at Pitzer College presented lectures, seminars, and a gallery exhibit that aimed to re-open questions about capitalism and its discontents—rather than treat capitalism, or “markets,” as the all-purpose answer to social questions. This sustained thematic inquiry looked backward in time to examine the most recent and earlier “busts” following capitalist “booms,” and looked forward in time to consider the range of forms, both desirable and undesirable, that might emerge when the global economy “recovers” from the Great Recession of the present.

Speakers and Events for Spring 2010

2010-tn-chomskyFEBRUARY 2
Aviva Chomsky
“Capitalism in Question: Rethinking Labor and Environmental Histories”
Professor of History and Coordinator of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies at Salem State College, the author of Linked Labor Histories: New England, Colombia, and the Making of a Global Working Class (2008) and West Indian Workers and the United Fruit Company in Costa Rica, 1870-1940 (1996), and the co-editor of The Cuba Reader (2003).

2010-tn-martinezFEBRUARY 9
Panel Discussion of “Capitalism in Question,” an Exhibit at the Nichols Gallery
The panel will feature Daniel Martinez (co-curator of the exhibit) and the artists in the exhibit—Ian Arenas, Matthew Brandt, James Melinat, Gabie Strong, Kara Tanaka, and Grant Vetter–and will be chaired by Bill Anthes (Art History).

CAPITALISM IN QUESTION (Because It Is),” juried by Daniel Joseph Martinez and curated by him and Ciara Ennis, Director of Pitzer College Art Galleries.

The exhibition included work by six artists: Ian Arenas, Matthew Brandt, James Melinat, Gabie Strong, Kara Tanaka, and Grant Vetter.

Daniel Joseph Martinez is an internationally exhibiting artist and a Professor of Studio Art at the University of California, Irvine. In 2006, he represented the United States in the Cairo Biennial, and he participated in the groundbreaking 1993 Whitney biennial and the 2008 Whitney biennial.

2010-tn-sahlinsMARCH 2
Marshall Sahlins
The Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology Emeritus at the University of Chicago and the author of numerous books including The Use and Abuse of Biology (1976), Culture and Practical Reason (1976), Waiting for Foucault (1999), and Apologies to Thucydides: Understanding History as Culture and Vice-Versa (2004), as well as the germinal 1966 essay, “The Original Affluent Society.” In addition, as a faculty member at the University of Michigan, Marshall Sahlins was a—if not the—central figure in organizing the first campus ‘teach-ins’ of the 1960s, as part of the social movement that opposed U.S. militarism in Vietnam. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

2010-tn-leeMARCH 9
Ching Kwan Lee
“The Labor Question of Chinese Capitalism in Africa”
Ching Kwan Lee is the author of Gender and the South China Miracle: Two Worlds of Factory Women (1998) and Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt (2007), which won the Sociology of Labor Book Award of the American Sociological Association. Her edited volumes include Working in China: Ethnographies of Labor and Workplace Transformation (2007) and Reclaiming Chinese Society: The New Social Activism (2009). She is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her current research asks whether Chinese capitalism, as it increasingly moves beyond China, is an alternative form of modernity and whether it is bringing new “development” outcomes in Africa and elsewhere.

2010-tn-harperMARCH 27 (Saturday)
8 pm
Benson Auditorium, Avery Hall
Concert: “Songs of Work and Resistance”
Curated by Pitzer alum Ellen Harper (of Claremont’s Folk Music Center) and Stuart McConnell, professor of History 

2010-tn-ortnerMARCH 30
Sherry Ortner
“The Darkness of Independent Films: Late Capitalism, ‘Generation X,’ and the Global Impact of the American Dream”
Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at UCLA and author of numerous books, including Sherpas Through Their Rituals (1978), Making Gender: The Politics and Erotics of Culture (1996), and New Jersey Dreaming: Capital, Culture and the Class of ’58 (2003). Sherry Ortner is also a 1990 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

2010-tn-thompsonAPRIL 20
J. Phillip Thompson
“Capitalism in Transition: From Competition to Cooperation”
Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT and the author of Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities, and the Struggle for a Deep Democracy (2005), as well as co-editor of Social Capital and Poor Communities (2001). J. Phillip Thompson is an urban planner and political scientist who, prior to entering academic life, worked as Deputy General Manager of the New York Housing Authority and as Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Coordination.

2010-tn-schorAPRIL 27
Juliet Schor
“From Ecocide to Plenitude: from Capitalism to Sustainability”
Professor of Sociology at Boston College, formerly an associate professor of economics at Harvard University, and author of numerous books including Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (2004) and co-editor (with Betsy Taylor) of Sustainable Planet: Solutions for the 21st Century (2002). Juliet Schor is also a founding Board member of the Center for a New American Dream, an organization devoted to transforming North American lifestyles to make them more ecologically and socially sustainable. In September 2009, Professor Schor’s current research was featured in “The Self-Storage Self” in The New York Times Magazine.

2010-tn-parkerMAY 3 (Monday)
Richard Parker – “If We’re All Keynesians (Again), Just What Sort of Keynesians Are We?”
Richard Parker is an economist at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is the president of the Americans for Democratic Action, a cofounder of Mother Jones magazine, and a past advisor to Senators Edward Kennedy and George McGovern. His books include John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics and The Myth of the American Class. He is also the author of the recent essay, “Government Beyond Obama?” which was published in The New York Review of Books in March, 2008.

Co-Sponsored Events, for Spring 2010

2010-tn-haiti_paintingAYITI: Cultural & Historical Perspectives on Haiti

Panel Discussion: “Remembering Haiti”
with Daniel Brevil, Colette Eloi, Nina Schnall (PZ `93) & Daniel Segal
followed by a Haitian dinner with the panelists, in the Grove House and catered by Kassava Caribbean Restaurant*

Haitian Drum and Dance Workshops
with Daniel Brevil and Colette Eloi

2010-tn-michael-mooreMONDAY, MARCH 1
Screening of “Capitalism: A Love Story” by Michael Moore

Michael Moore’s films Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story, are four of the top eight highest-grossing documentaries of all time. In 2002, Moore received a Best Documentary Feature Oscar for Bowling for Columbine. In 2008, he received a Best Documentary Feature nomination for Sicko.

This event is sponsored by the Pitzer Art Galleries and the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry at Pitzer College.

2010-tn-scott-hamilton-kennedyFRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26
Scott Hamilton Kennedy – Screening of “The Garden” followed by Q&A
Scott Hamilton Kennedy will screen of his Oscar-nominated documentary film, The Garden. The Garden follows the plight of the farmers, from the tilled soil of this urban farm in Los Angeles to the polished marble of City Hall. Mostly immigrants from Latin America, from countries where they feared for their lives if they were to speak out, we watch them organize, fight back, and demand answers.

This event is co-sponsored by Intercollegiate Media Studies, the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry, and the Faculty-in-Residence “Expand Your Mind” program. For more about Scott Hamilton Kennedy and his work, see www.thegardenmovie.com.

2010-pastorTHURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18
Dr. Manuel Pastor – “The State of the Economy and Prospects for Immigration Reform”
Dr. Manuel Pastor is on leave from his position as Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is currently a Professor of Geography and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California where he directs the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and co-directs the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. Professor Pastor has received grants and fellowships from the Irvine Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and many others.

This event is sponsored by the Latino and Latina Roundtable and the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry at Pitzer College.