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Society for the Humanities Fellows' Conference on "Repair" (Day 2)

Friday, April 28, 2023 at 10:00am to 5:45pm

A.D White House, Guerlac Room 121 President's Drive

Join this year's cohort of Fellows at the Society for the Humanities for our concluding conference on the 2022-23 focal theme of Repair. The conference kicks off on Thursday, April 27, with a panel of humanities scholars, and continues all day on Friday, April 28, with several panels and two keynotes (Audra Simpson, Columbia University, and Mimi Thi Nguyen, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). 

Each presentation will be followed by a Q&A. Open to the public.

Schedule for Thursday, April 27:

Schedule for Friday, April 28  (Day 2)


10:00am-11:30am PANEL 2

“A City of Vineyards: Reparative Ecologies in Times of Ruination” - Tamta Khalvashi (Society Fellow; Anthropology, Ilia State University)

Critical Repair: Afterlives of Decolonization and the African Imagination” - Imane Terhmina (Faculty Fellow, Romance Studies, Cornell)

“Migration as Reparation? Eritrean Refugees and a Postcolonial Indebted Politics” - Carla Hung (Society Fellow; Anthropology, University of North Carolina - Asheville) 

11:30am-1:00pm KEYNOTE 1

"Savage States: Settler Governance in an Age of Sorrow" - Audra Simpson (Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University) 

Abstract: How is the past imagined to be settled? What are the conditions that make for this imagining, this fantasy or rather, demand of a new start point? In this piece I consider the slice of this new-ness in recent history – 1990 to the near present in Canada.  This is a time of apology, and a time in which Native people and their claims to territory are whittled to the status of claimant or subject in time with the fantasy of their disappearance from a modern and critical present. In this piece I examine how the Canadian practice of settler governance has adjusted itself in line with global trends and rights paradigms away from overt violence to what are seen as softer and kinder, caring modes of governing but governing, violently still and yet, with a language of care, upon on still stolen land. This piece asks not only in what world we imagine time to stop, but takes up the ways in which those that survived the time stoppage stand in critical relationship to dispossession and settler governance apprehend, analyze and act upon this project of affective governance. Here an oral and textual history of the notion of “reconciliation” is constructed and analyzed with recourse to Indigenous criticism of this affective and political project of repair.

1:00-2:30pm Lunch Available in the Dining Room 

2:30-4:00pm PANEL 3

"The Life and Death of a Tropical Polar Bear" - Juno Parreñas (Faculty Fellow, STS and FGSS, Cornell) 

"Human Pollination” - Pascal Schwaighofer (Mellon Graduate Fellow; Comparative Literature, Cornell) 

"Upcycle” - Susan Stabile (Society Fellow; English, Texas A&M)

4:15-5:45pm KEYNOTE 2

“The Right To Be Beautiful“  - Mimi Thi Nguyen  (Assoc. Professor & Chair of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Abstract:  What is the promise of beauty for habituation in disastrous situations where a life that can be lived is hard to hold? Part humanitarian intervention and part performance, the 2009 Miss Landmine Cambodia pageant follows from a not uncommon faith that beauty is both a humanitarian problem and also its solution. From the sprawling international complex that funds and conducts prosthetic manufacturing, rehabilitation and vocational training, infrastructural development and cultural programming, through to the aesthetic and moral discourses of rights, capacities, humanitarianism and humanity, all must be in place for this pageant to promise beauty. I focus narrowly on the pageant’s maxim, everyone has the right to be beautiful, in the time and space of rights claims that unfold tactically under a quasi-authoritarian regime, through a humanitarian campaign for the social recognition of the war damaged. The right to be beautiful attests to the degree to which rights almost exclusively model claims to the subject of freedom. Such claims follow from the constellation of modern powers that presume to adjudicate humanity, in which the human is the effect of rights, animated by the law, and through which those who have been abandoned or outcast through the law’s absence or suspension can be redeemed. That beauty also operates as a measure of humanity and its others dares us to consider beauty alongside other rights on whose behalf we intervene against what terrors might follow in their absence.

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Conference/Workshop, Symposium


Society for the Humanities, Southeast Asia Program

University Themes



cashum, sochum, cosochum, fgsscal, lgbtstudiescal

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Alex McNeil

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(607) 255-4725

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