February – April 2015
This talk will examine the question: why do Indian middle class citizens seem to have no compelling interest improving sanitation for the poor, despite the fact that their own health is affected due to the close proximity of the poor? By comparing the current conditions of poverty in India and China, presenter Peter van der Veer will examine cultural theories of attitudes towards ‘the dirty outside world’ and will argue that these theories ignore the importance of caste, and especially, untouchability.
Peter van der Veer is Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen and Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University. He is the author of Gods on Earth (LSE Mongraphs, 1988), Religious Nationalism (University of California Press 1994), Imperial Encounters (Princeton University Press 2001), The Modern Spirit of Asia (Princeton University Press 2014), editor of the new journal, Cultural Diversity in China and is a Senior Advisor at the India China Institute.
The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (SJDC) presents the D20 – modeled after the G20 group of the most industrialized nations. It is a selective list of leaders from present and recent past, across continents and political systems, who, in some way, represent many people’s ideal of strong power – a true power. What are the various aspects of history, culture or geography that have allowed, indeed in many cases cultivated, this dicktatorial leadership style? Why are so many of us enamored with power and the excesses that go with it? What is so attractive, even seductive, about this dicktatorial way of life? Why do we romance it?
Romancing True Power investigates the human reaction to an idea of power that is autocratic, authoritarian, dictatorial. This is a power undoubtedly present in dictatorships but can be equally be found in democracies. This exhibition is an invitation to re-imagine power by looking at dicktatorial constructs, their typology, and their trappings. These trappings including parades, salutes, group photographs, national currencies and stamps, formal and informal busts, and other memorabilia – official collectibles and pop-culture trinkets such as mugs and t-shirts, which are on exhibition. But the trappings also include intangibles such as perception, support, posturing, and self-promotion, all of which will be explored as well.
The exhibition is partially funded by the India China Institute, the Milano School and Milano’s Studley Faculty Research Fund.
Ai Weiwei will give the keynote address with a video he is creating especially for the conference, “The Censorship of Artists: Artists in Prison, Artists in Exile.”
We have chosen this theme for our next conference because freedom of expression remains under threat in both totalitarian and democratic states. Artists continue to be imprisoned and exiled and art continues to be banned and destroyed, all of which gives evidence of the power of images to unsettle, to speak truth to power, to question our cherished cultural norms and what we hold sacred.
The conference aims to examine how art can threaten, terrify, and provoke the wrath of political, religious, and cultural regimes. Speakers will examine the history of art censorship and the role of artists as collaborators and rebels. The agenda also pairs artists and scholars to discuss activist art, the threat posed by art, the potency of art, artists at risk, and artists in exile. Museum and gallery directors will discuss who does the policing and ask: What is the role of self-censorship?
The conference is co-sponsored by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, PEN American Center, and the India China Institute at The New School. The conference has been made possible with generous support from Agnes Gund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Larry Warsh, the Ford Foundation, and ArteEast.
The director and founder (1988) of the Social Research conference series is Arien Mack, Alfred and Monette Marrow Professor of Psychology at The New School for Social Research, who has been the editor of Social Research since 1970. For the history of the conference series, visit the Social Research conference series site. For information about other public events at The New School, see the university calendar. Find information about the more than 70 degree programs offered at The New School. For general information about The New School, visit the Quick Facts page.
Please join us for a roundtable discussion with experts on China, India, Japan & Russia.
Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut and Contributor, Dissent Magazine
Nina Khrushcheva, Associate Professor and Associate Dean at Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy, The New School
Ross Perlin, Author and Contributor, Dissent Magazine
Sanjay Ruparelia, Associate Professor of Politics, Eugene Lang College at The New School and former Fellow, India China Institute
China and India: New Urban Forms, New Fields of Inquiry will explore new ways of looking at the interplay of the conceptual and the material in studies of urban India and China. A collaborative and exploratory field-building exercise, this conference will pursue alternatives to theories of social science and design that sometimes draw upon universalist and/or linear assumptions about processes such as capitalism, urbanization, and modernity. Instead, our conference participants, many of whom have engaged in ethnographic, interpretive, or other qualitative approaches to urban forms and processes, will pursue new concepts and expose areas of future inquiry based on their work on urban and urbanized spaces of China and India. ICI believes that a conference engaging scholars committed to theorizing from careful, contextualized studies of Chinese and Indian cities has the potential to create new fields of inquiry. Please check back for updates on logistical information about this conference.
Professor, Former Director
Institute of Asian Research
University of British Columbia