Global Georgia Initiative

Global Georgia InitiativeThe Global Georgia Initiative brings world class thinkers to Georgia. It presents global problems in local context by addressing pressing contemporary questions, including the economy, society, and the environment, with a focus on how the arts and humanities can intervene. Global Georgia combines the best in contemporary thinking and practice in the arts and humanities with related advances in the sciences and other areas.

Global Georgia Initiative 2013-2014:

Karima BennouneKarima Bennoune

Author, legal scholar

Date: November 15, 4 p.m.
Location: The Chapel

Karima Bennoune is professor of law at the University of California–Davis. Her talk is derived from her new book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism.

Bennoune’s appearance is a special presentation of the Global Georgia Initiative for UGA’s annual Spotlight on the Arts festival. It is co-sponsored by the University of Georgia School of Law, the Dean Rusk Center for International Law and Policy, the International Law Students Association, the UGA African Studies Institute, and the Georgia Society of International and Comparative Law.

Bennoune’s book was released by W.W. Norton & Company in August, 2013. The book addresses resistance to fundamentalism through accounts of interviews of more than 280 people of Muslim heritage, many of which have channeled their resistance through various forms of artistic expression. Bennoune conducted the interviews in Algeria, where she was born, and many other countries throughout the world.

Her scholarship, which examines international law, international human rights, terrorism, counterterrorism, religious extremism, and women’s rights, has appeared in journals such as the American Journal of International Law, the Berkeley Journal of International Law, and the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. In 2008, Oxford University Press named Bennoune’s piece “Terror/Torture” one of the year’s top 10 global security law review articles.

The New York Times, The Guardian, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, Salon.com, and many other press outlets have published Bennoune’s articles or excerpted her book. She has spoken on National Public Radio, Fox TV, the Australian Broadcasting Service, HuffPost Live, and “The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour,” and has been interviewed by the International Herald-Tribune and The Guardian.

Bennoune has served as a member of the executive council of the American Society of International Law and on the board of directors of Amnesty International USA. She is currently on the board of the Women Living Under Muslim Laws network. She has lectured around the world, including at Harvard Law School, UC-Berkeley School of Law, and the Yale Law School in the U.S., as well as for the UN Department of Political Affairs, the University of London, the London School of Economics, the University of Oslo, the Feminist Leadership Institute in Senegal, CODESRIA (The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa) and the Second Istanbul Conference on Democracy and Global Security.

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Tania LeónTania León

Composer, conductor, educator

Title: “Border Crossings: Cultural Thresholds in the Syncretic Evolution of Music”
Date: January 30, 4 p.m.
Location: The Chapel

Introduction by Susan Thomas, Associate Professor, Hugh Hodgson School of Music and co-director, Athens Music Project, a Willson Center Faculty Research Cluster

Tania León is highly regarded as a composer and conductor and recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. She has been profiled on ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, Univision, Telemundo, and in independent films. She was born in Havana, Cuba and lives in New York City.

León’s opera Scourge of Hyacinths, based on a play by Wole Soyinka with staging and design by Robert Wilson, received over 20 performances throughout Europe and Mexico. Commissioned by Hans Werner Henze and the city of Munich for the Fourth Munich Biennale, it took home the coveted BMW Prize. The aria “Oh Yemanja” (“Mother’s Prayer”) was recorded by Dawn Upshaw on her Nonesuch CD, The World So Wide.

Commissions include works for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, Koussevitzky Foundation, Fest der Kontinente (Hamburg, Germany), Cincinnati Symphony, National Endowment for the Arts, NDR Sinfonie Orchester, American Composers Orchestra, The Library of Congress, Ensemble Modern, The Los Angeles Master Chorale, and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, among others.

Her works have been performed by such orchestras as the Gewaundhausorchester, L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the China National Symphony, and the NDR Orchestra. She has collaborated with authors and directors including John Ashbury, Margaret Atwood, Rita Dove, Jamaica Kincaid, Mark Lamos, Julie Taymor, and Derek Walcott.

León has appeared as guest conductor with the Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Marseille, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Asturias, L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orquesta Filarmonica de Bogota, the Gewaundhausorchester, Chamber Orchestra of Geneve, Switzerland, the Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra, Mexico, Symphony Orchestra of Johannesburg, and the WaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, South Africa, as well as the Orquesta de la Comunidad y Coro de Madrid and the New York Philharmonic, among others.

She has lectured at Harvard University and in the prestigious Mosse Lecture series at the University of Humboldt in Berlin, and was the Andrew Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Scholar at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa. León was also a visiting professor at Yale University, and a guest composer/conductor at the Hamburg Musikschule, Germany and the Beijing Central Conservatory, China.

A founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, co-founded the Sonidos de las Américas festivals with the American Composers Orchestra, and is the founder of the Composers Now festival in New York City. She also served as Latin American Advisor to the American Composers Orchestra and New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic.

Her honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Symphony Space’s Access to the Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and the Fromm, Koussevitzky, and Guggenheim Fellowships. In 2012 she received both a Grammy nomination (for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition”) and a Latin Grammy nomination (for “Best Classical Contemporary Composition”), and in 2013 she was the recipient of the prestigious 2013 ASCAP Victor Herbert Award.

León has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Colgate University, Oberlin, and SUNY Purchase College, and has served as U.S. Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. A Professor at Brooklyn College since 1985, she was named Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York in 2006. In 2010 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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Pete McCommonsPete-McCommons

Editor and publisher, Flagpole magazine

Title: “The Stuff of Journalism: Death, Kudzu, and the Unexamined Life”
Date: February 6, 4 p.m.
Location: The Chapel

Introduction by James C. Cobb, B. Phinizy Spalding Distinguished Professor in the History of the American South

Pete McCommons is editor and publisher of Flagpole magazine and has been involved in weekly journalism in Athens for most of the last 40 years, beginning as co-founder of The Athens Observer.

He earned a degree in political science from the University of Georgia and studied political philosophy at Columbia University. He was head of the State Government Section in the UGA Institute of Government until he was arrested as a result of his support for a student sit-in at the president’s office.

McCommons writes a weekly column, “Pub Notes,” composed of observations on the local political scene, eulogies, occasional attempts at humor and, when nothing else presents itself, reminiscences on growing up in a small Georgia town.

He is married to Gay Griggs McCommons, who is retired from the University of Georgia English department but not from the Town & Gown stage. They have one daughter, Molly.

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Paul PresslyPaul Pressly

Author, historian, educator

Title: “Colonial Georgia: Caribbean Influences and the British Atlantic World”
Date: February 20, 4 p.m.
Location: The Chapel

Introduction by Lisa Bayer, Director, University of Georgia Press

Dr. Paul Pressly is Director of the Ossabaw Island Education Alliance, a partnership between the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the Ossabaw Island Foundation, and author of Georgia and the British Atlantic: Caribbean Roots, 1750-1775 (University of Georgia Press, 2013). Dr. Pressly is a former Rhodes scholar and earned a D. Phil. from Oxford University, an M.P.A. from Harvard, and a B.A. from Princeton. Dr. Pressly is former Headmaster at the Savannah Country Day School and taught at the Webb School in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has won a Georgia Governor’s Award in the Humanities and is an expert on Savannah’s role in the British Atlantic world.

How did colonial Georgia, an economic backwater in its early days, make its way into the burgeoning Caribbean and Atlantic economies where trade spilled over national boundaries, merchants operated in multiple markets, and the transport of enslaved Africans bound together four continents?

In On the Rim of the Caribbean, Paul M. Pressly interprets Georgia’s place in the Atlantic world in light of recent work in transnational and economic history. He considers how a tiny elite of newly arrived merchants, adapting to local culture but loyal to a larger vision of the British empire, led the colony into overseas trade. From this perspective, Pressly examines the ways in which Georgia came to share many of the characteristics of the sugar islands, how Savannah developed as a “Caribbean” town, the dynamics of an emerging slave market, and the role of merchant-planters as leaders in forging a highly adaptive economic culture open to innovation. The colony’s rapid growth holds a larger story: how a frontier where Carolinians played so large a role earned its own distinctive character.

Georgia’s slowness in responding to the revolutionary movement, Pressly maintains, had a larger context. During the colonial era, the lowcountry remained oriented to the West Indies and Atlantic and failed to develop close ties to the North American mainland as had South Carolina. He suggests that the American Revolution initiated the process of bringing the lowcountry into the orbit of the mainland, a process that would extend well beyond the Revolution.

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Xiaolu GuoXiaolu Guo

Author, filmmaker

Film: UFO in Her Eyes, screening & discussion
Date
: February 27, 7 p.m.
Location: Ciné

Post-screening discussion with Antje Ascheid, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre and Film Studies and Willson Center Associate Academic Director for Arts and Public Programs, and Andrew Zawacki, Associate Professor of English and Director, Creative Writing Program

Lecture: “Beyond Chinamerica”
Date: February 28, 4 p.m.
Location: Zell B. Miller Learning Center, Rm. 148

Xiaolu Guo was born in a fishing village in south China. She studied film at the Beijing Film Academy and published six books in China before she moved to London in 2002. The English translation of Village of Stone was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel written in English, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers was shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, and 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, published in 2008, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Xiaolu’s film career continues to flourish; her feature, She, A Chinese, was released in 2009 and her documentary Once Upon a Time Proletarian has been screened at international film festivals. In 2013 she was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.

Nathalie HandalNathalie Handal

Poet, playwright, editor, theatre & film writer/director/producer

Date: March 18, 7 p.m.
Location: Ciné

Introduction and discussion with Ed Pavlić, Professor of English

Nathalie Handal is an award-winning poet, playwright, and editor. She has lived in Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Arab world.

Her poetry collections include The Neverfield; The Lives of Rain, shortlisted for The Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and the recipient of the Menada Literary Award; and Love and Strange Horses (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award for 2011 and an Honorable Mention at the San Francisco Book Festival and the New England Book Festival. The New York Times says it is “a book that trembles with belonging (and longing).”

Her new collection, Poet in Andalucía (University of Pittsburgh Press, Spring 2012) is “a unique recreation, in reverse, of Federico García Lorca’s Poet in New York, considered one of the most significant books ever published about New York City.” Alice Walker lauds Handal’s work as “poems of depth and weight and the sorrowing song of longing and resolve.” Handal is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, a Fundación Araguaney Fellow, recipient of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature 2011, the AE Ventures Fellowship, an Honored Finalist for the 2009 Gift of Freedom Award, and was shortlisted for New London Writers Awards and The Arts Council of England Writers Awards. Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Kumunyakaa writes: “This cosmopolitan voice belongs to the human family, and it luxuriates in crossing necessary borders.”

Handal’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, such as The Guardian, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetrywales, Ploughshares, Poetry New Zealand, Crab Orchard Review, and The Literary Review, and has been translated into more than 15 languages. She has read her poetry worldwide, and has been featured on PBS’s “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and NPR Radio, as well as in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Reuters, Mail & Guardian, The Jordan Times and Il Piccolo.

She has been involved either as a writer, director or producer in over twenty theatrical or film productions worldwide. Most recently her work was produced at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Bush Theatre, and Westminster Abbey in London. Ed Ochester writes, “If there is such a thing as a Renaissance figure among younger poets writing in America, that person is Nathalie Handal.”

She has promoted international literature through translation, research, and the editing of the groundbreakingThe Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology, an Academy of American Poets bestseller and winner of the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award, and the co-editing along with Tina Chang and Ravi Shankar of the landmark anthology, Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond (W.W. Norton & Co). Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer writes: “Assembled here not the Tower of Babel, but the astonishment and subtlety inherent in many languages and their experimental modes to expand the power of words. The editors have boldly envisaged and compiled a beautiful achievement for world literature.”

Handal received an MFA in Poetry from Bennington College, a Master of Philosophy in Drama and English from the University of London, and has studied contemporary literature in Russia, France, and Spain. She teaches and lectures nationally and internationally, most recently in Africa, and as Picador Guest Professor, Leipzig University, Germany. She is Books Review Editor and Tutor for Sable Literary Magazine and Forum, UK; an executive board member for Palfest; a member of the Laboratory of Frontiers Studies at the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil; and an advisory board member for the Center for Literary Translation and for the Levantine Center, Los Angeles. She is currently a professor at Columbia University and part of the Low-Residency MFA Faculty at Sierra Nevada College. Handal writes the blog-column “The City and The Writer” for Words without Borders magazine.

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Global Georgia Initiative 2012-2013:

james cobbJames C. Cobb

B. Phinizy Spalding Distinguished Professor in the History of the American South
University of Georgia

Title: “De-Mystifying Dixie: Southern History and Culture in Global Perspective”
Date: January 29, 4 p.m.
Location: The Chapel

James C. Cobb is widely recognized as one of the foremost scholars of Southern history and culture—and among the first to write broadly about the South in a global context. Cobb has written more than 40 articles and 12 books, mostly about the impact of changing economic conditions on the South. Two of these, Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity and The Most Southern Place on Earth, his book about the Mississippi Delta, are considered classics in the field. The latter quickly became a model for studying other regional cultures and subcultures, such as those of Appalachia and New England.

Committed to reaching beyond the scholarly community, Cobb has written pieces for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  His latest book, The New America: The South and the Nation Since World War II, was published in 2010 by Oxford University Press. Cobb’s work has won him a string of awards and prizes, named lectureships, offices in professional associations, most notably the presidency of the Southern Historical Association—and a dedicated audience of both academics and lay history buffs who eagerly follow his work.

The lecture is co-sponsored by Flagpole magazine.

Introduction by Pete McCommons, Editor/Publisher, Flagpole.

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barry c smithBarry C. Smith

Director, Institute of Philosophy
School of Advanced Study
University of London

Title: “Coming to Our Senses, Anew”
Date: February 5, 2013
Location:  The Chapel

Barry C. Smith is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute of Philosophy in the School of Advanced Study, University of London, where he co-directs the Centre for the Study of the Senses. He has written mostly on the philosophy of mind and language, on the topics of self-knowledge and our knowledge of language. He co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language (2006) with Ernest Lepore. Following his 2007 collection, Questions of Taste – The Philosophy of Wine (Oxford University Press), he began working with psychologists, neurologists and neuroscientists on flavor perception and is now the co-organizer of an international research project on the Nature of Taste, jointly run by the University of London and NYU. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of California at Berkeley and at the Ecole Normale Supèriere, and was the writer and presenter of the BBC World Service radio series, The Mysteries of the Brain.

Introduction by David Lee, UGA Vice President for Research.

John LoweJohn Lowe

Barbara Lester Methvin Distinguished Professor of English
University of Georgia

Title: “The Tropical Sublime in the 19th Century CircumCaribbean”
Date: February 12, 5:30 p.m.
Location: Ciné, 234 W. Hancock, Athens

John Lowe, recipient of the MELUS Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Ethnic American Literatures, was Robert Penn Warren Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Founding Director of the Program in Louisiana and Caribbean Studies at Louisiana State University. He has authored and edited numerous books in Ethnic American and Southern literature, published dozens of essays, and presented over 80 papers in North America, Europe, and Asia, including invited lectures at the Sorbonne, the University of Paris VI, Venice, Kiel, Munich, Dresden, Budapest, and Hyderabad.

Introduction by Richard Gordon, Director, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute, UGA.

Bertis Downs

Bertis Downs

Entertainment lawyer and adjunct professor, actively retired
R.E.M. advisor since earliest times

Title: “Bertis Downs in Conversation: Don’t Get Me Started – on Athens, music lessons, and of course, good schools for all kids…”

Date:  February 18, 2013, 4 pm
Location:  The Chapel

Since graduating from Davidson College in 1978, Bertis Downs has lived in Athens, Georgia, where he received his law degree in 1981 from the University of Georgia’s School of Law.  He represented the band R.E.M. throughout the band’s illustrious thirty-year career and remains an advisor to the group’s various business endeavors even after its disbandment in 2011.

In 1988 Downs originated the Entertainment Law course at the University School of Law and for a short while was even referred to as the Adjunct Dean Emeritus on the university website (until he pointed out the “mistake” and the honorific distinction was summarily removed).  Downs has always maintained his interest in teaching by speaking at various state and national continuing legal education and music industry conferences and groups such as the Practicing Law Institute, the Future of Music Coalition, South By Southwest, and the American Bar Association Forum Committee on the Entertainment Industries. Throughout his career, he has lectured widely at universities and law schools including William and Mary, the University of Chicago, Harvard, Duke, Emory, Vanderbilt, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Emory, the University of Milan, the University of British Columbia and University College Dublin. His civic and sociopolitical interests include advocating for a vital public resource: our nation’s public education system. His main academic and professional focus is, like most everyone else in the creative industries these days, the changing legal and business landscape relating to the digital age of ubiquity.

Downs is active in various organizations and has served on the boards of People for the American Way, Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, Georgia Conservation Voters, Georgia Appleseed, First Presbyterian Church of Athens, Georgia and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Ntone EdjabeNtone Edjabe

Writer, journalist and DJ
Founding editor of Chimurenga magazine

Title: “Diagnosing the Chimurenga Chronic”
Date: February 26, 2013, 4pm
Location:  The Chapel

Ntone Edjabe is a DJ, critic, and the founder and editor of Chimurenga magazine, a pan-African publication of writing, art and politics based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Edjabe’s Feb. 26 lecture will be followed by a DJ session that evening at the 40 Watt, 285 W, Washington St. in downtown Athens.

Edjabe was profiled in a June segment of CNN’s “African Voices” – article and video clips available here.

Introduction by Akinloye Ojo, Director, African Studies Institute, UGA.

Valerie BabbValerie Babb

Professor of English and of African American Studies
Director, Institute for African American Studies 
University of Georgia

Title: “In the Footfalls of Diaspora: Reflections on the Wanderer
Date: March 5, 5:30 p.m.
Location: Ciné, 234 W. Hancock, Athens

Valerie Babb is Professor of English and of African American Studies, as well as Director of the Institute for African American Studies, at the University of Georgia. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, her B.A. at Queens College, The City University of New York. She has been a professor at Georgetown University and is a faculty member of the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College.

Her fields of expertise include African American literature and culture and American literature and culture, with particular interests in constructions of race and gender. Among her publications are Whiteness Visible: The Meaning of Whiteness in American Literature and Culture. Other works include Black Georgetown Remembered, described as “the history behind the Oprah Book Club selection River, Cross My Heart,” and Ernest Gaines.

Professor Babb’s talk will be preceded by a cocktail reception at 5 pm.

Introduction by Barbara McCaskill, Co-Director, Civil Rights Digital Library Initiative.

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Ambassador James A. JosephJames Joseph

Title: “Leadership as a Way of Being: Reflections on Nelson Mandela, Servant Leadership and Personal Renewal”
Date: May 16, 4 p.m.
Location: The Chapel

James A. Joseph has served in the administrations of four U.S. Presidents. He was U.S. Ambassador to South Africa from 1995–1999, the only holder of that office to present his credentials to President Nelson Mandela. In 1999, President Thabo Mbeki awarded Joseph the Order of Good Hope, the highest honor the Republic of South Africa bestows on a citizen of another country. He is currently Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Studies at Duke University and executive director of the United States – Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values at Duke and the University of Cape Town.

Ambassador Joseph’s talk is presented in partnership with the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, which organized his visit to UGA.