This month, the UNC reading group won a Student Learning Circle Grant to continue their monthly reading workshops.
The Student Learning Circle Grants are opportunities meant to enrich the flow of ideas and an awareness of global projects among students. These circles, administered by the UNC Center for Global Initiatives, receive funding for an academic year to support activities such as speaker series, brown bag lunches, workshops, publications, film screenings and service-learning projects. In addition to promoting the academic work of students, the goal of these Student Learning Circles is to deepen the work of the Center for Global Initiatives.
Last year, the UNC Configurations of Empire group used the Student Learning Circles Grant to hold a film screening of Mala Mala (2014), co-directed by Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles. Stay tuned for this year’s event!
The Configurations of Empire working group met for its second annual conference at UNC-Chapel Hill this past August. Three Kings College London graduate students—Jamie Rakoczi, Rafael Lubner, and Christine Okoth (PhD)—convened with Rachel Warner, Abigail Lee, Emilio Taiveaho, Trisha Remetir, and Nicole Berland of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC for two days of workshops and discussion.
The conference was split into 3 blocks whereby each member had 30-45 minutes to present their material, answer questions, and receive feedback from other working group members. Papers were pre-circulated in advance, giving participants time beforehand to provide detailed, constructive feedback for each participant. On the second day, Dr. Jennifer Ho of the Department of English and Comparative Literature (UNC-CH) delivered a keynote lecture on intimacy, narratives, and the transpacific, which transitioned into a discussion about contemporary formations of race and the future of critical race theory through foodways, ethnography, and Afro-Asian networks of solidarity.
In between seminars, participants passed the time by revisiting conversations about articles and monographs that were memorable to them from the year’s reading group. Participants also engaged in cultural activities in Durham and in Chapel Hill, through group dinners, a visit to John Akomfrah’s video installation Precarity over at the Nasher Museum, and a group screening of Crazy Rich Asians. The presentations and discussions over the whole weekend brought new ideas for next year’s focus, and affirmed the value of a trans-Atlantic experiment such as this.
The UNC-KCL Configurations of Empire Working Group is grateful to UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities continued support in its scholarly pursuits.
Check out this article about last year’s Configurations of Empire Conference and the directions the reading group(s) have taken, plus whales, by two reading group members.
Our group held a screening of the documentary about trans-identifying communities in Puerto Rico with snacks and a short conversation afterward. This event was funded by a grant through the Center for Global Initiatives at UNC.