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Archived below are activities and events organized by our MA students and faculty members for graduate students in Global Humanities and beyond.

Recent socials and events

2022 Activities

Workshop Series on Crisis of Neoliberal Capitalism and Resistance in Latin America | Mar 10–31 @ 10:00AM–2:00PM | HC 2205, SFU Vancouver

The workshop series, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Roberto Longoni and Rogelio Regalado, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

The main intention of this workshop is to open a space for dialogue and critical reflection on some social phenomena that we understand as an expression of the deep crisis that neoliberal capitalism has been going through since at least 2008. This, of course, does not mean that before 2008 neoliberal capitalism was in a state of harmony and absence of crisis. Expressions of rage and discontent such as the Zapatista uprising in 1994, the Battle of Seattle in 1999 or Genoa in 2001, can be interpreted as evident signs of the instability of the dynamics of financialization and indebtedness that capitalism has had to assume more broadly since the late 1970s in order to sustain its logic of valorization. However, the year 2008 is emblematic in this sense, since, hand in hand with the collapse of the banks and the great stock market centers, various signs of resistance and rebellion sprouted with force throughout the world, which to this day are recognizable by their power, creativity, contradictions and heterogeneity.

In this regard, a wide range of analyses and interpretations have been established, which have mainly focused on understanding the struggles from a normative and liberal point of view, an issue with which we profoundly differ and which we are interested in discussing. Above all, because we sense that the tensions and complexities inherent to these struggles cannot be reduced to the framework of interpretation of democratic liberalism. Our argument in this regard (which of course we also open to discussion) is that the signs of resistance and rebellion that have emerged and have been maintained in the era of neoliberal capitalism are an expression of a crisis of its own foundations, that is, of the form of social relations determined by the value that sustains it.

Specifically, we propose to dialogue and reflect on three phenomena that seem to us important and current, not only to be thought in their geographical and historical specificity, but also to be thought from the concerns that may arise from the context of crisis and resistance in Canada: the fascist advance in global terms, with emphasis on the Mexican case, and the possibility of an anti-fascist resistance; the Chilean revolt of 2019 and its relation to a historical constellation in which the tension between fascism and socialism persists; and the actuality of the Zapatista struggle and the challenges that emanate from it around the possibility of thinking “other” ways of resisting and building a non-hegemonic and truly inclusive globalization.

Sessions

Mar 10: "Capitalism and the Global Fascist Advance: Theoretical Elements and the Mexican Case"
Mar 17: "The 2019 Chilean Revolt and the Specter of Fascism/Communism"
Mar 24: "Zapatista struggle and the Challenge of a Non-hegemonic Globalization"
Mar 31: "A Presentation on the Research Conducted at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades - BUAP"

Detailed Schedule

"Crisis of Neoliberal Capitalism and Resistance in Latin America".pdf

Humanities Interdisciplinary Graduate Symposium on Transformation and Change | Mar 25–26 @ 9:00AM–4:00PM | AQ 6205 (and Zoom), SFU Burnaby

The Graduate Symposium, organized and led by graduate students, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

We live in a world inundated with change and transformation. At every turn, technology seems to be evolving, politics are changing, and each day our social world becomes just a little bit different. In and of itself, change holds no intrinsic moral meaning outside the meaning human agents prescribe to it. For this reason, change and transformation occupy a precarious position within our world. Who are the agents of change, and how do these changes impact our daily life? How do we approach change in the social world? How can we ensure that the change we initiate aims to do the right thing? What transformation is needed to move the dial of humanity forward? With these questions in mind, we would like to invite you to the Humanities Graduate Student Caucus Symposium: “Transformation and Change,” an interdisciplinary, student-led graduate conference to be held on March 25th and 26th. Our conference will be hosting graduate students from around the world to present their research on this dynamic topic.

Learn more

Past socials and events

2021 Activities

No socials or events scheduled due to COVID-19.

2020 Activities

Workshop on Relativism and Obscurantism Vs Knowledge of Reality | Mar 12 @ 1:00–3:00PM | HC 1510, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Newton Duarte, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

Obscurantism has been assuming increasingly-aggressive forms in many countries in which political leaders are elected by spreading discourses that outright attack several social groups, including scientists, teachers, artists, and journalists. In my country, Brazil, right-wing political leaders claim that the regime that ran in the country from 1964 to 1985 was not a dictatorship and there was no censorship, torture, and murder. They claim that the idea of a dictatorship was invented by leftists who, in turn, insist that there are sufficient and indisputable evidences of the crimes committed by the dictatorial government. The evidences exist and are, in fact, indisputable, but the right-wing ideology uses the strategy of discrediting the people, groups, and institutions that present those evidences. The truth is in dispute. It turns out that a considerable part of leftist intellectuals, influenced by postmodern ideas, have spent a long time criticizing the use of the word “truth” by insisting that “truth” is a positivist illusion, that we cannot know reality itself, but only construct narratives about what we conventionally call reality. That is to say, reality would be a subjective construction of each individual or social groups. This epistemological relativism is also defended by neoliberalism, as it is the case with Hayek, who incorporated in his arguments for the freedom of economic agents, Michael Polanyi’s epistemology in which tacit knowledge is assumed to be the most important type of knowledge for social practice. Epistemological relativism is accompanied by cultural relativism that rejects the possibility of comparing knowledge because it is rooted in different cultures that were not comparable to each other. Relativism is not the best answer to obscurantism because both are negatively positioned in relation to knowledge of reality. If we admit that it is not possible to know what reality is, then we are also admitting that we cannot know what reality can become and will not, therefore, know what the different future alternatives would be and what actions would be most favorable for us to achieve more humane forms of reality.
 

Humanities Student Trivia Night | Mar 26 @ 4:30–6:30PM | GSS Lounge, MBC 2212, SFU Burnaby (Cancelled Due to COVID-19)

Come for Trivia Night and earn prizes! Open to everyone. Free pizza and snacks provided. Brought to you by the Humanities Graduate Student Caucus and Humanities Student Union.

2019 Activities

Humanities Roundtable Discussion Series | Feb 7–Apr 18 @ 12:30PM | AQ 5118, SFU Burnaby

The Humanities Roundtable, organized and led by graduate students, is a series of discussions, presentations, and debates on contemporary themes in the Humanities. The sessions were open to graduate students and faculty.

Sessions

Feb 7: Chinese Culture and the Lunar New year
Paul Crowe and Maggie Tsang (MA student), "Daoist Spiritual Mediums in Hong Kong & Vancouver"

Feb 28: Marxist History
Corey Abell, "On the Commodification of Affective Narratives within Canada’s Culture of Hockey"

Mar 21: Community Research Ethics
Scott Neufeld, "Research 101: Empowering Community Members in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to Develop Local Guidelines for Ethical Research with People Who Use Drugs"

Apr 4: To Publish or to Perish, Should that be the Question?
Group Discussion, "Professionalized Academia; The "Grievance Studies" Experiment; Publication Standards and Expectations"

Apr 18: Educational Challenges within Universities
Naghmeh Babaee, Discipline-specific Academic Literacy Development of Multilingual Students in Fine Arts

2018 Activities

Workshop on Antonio Gramsci: From Historical Materialism to Philosophy of Praxis | Oct 19 @ 10:00AM–1:00PM | HC 2200, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by Alessandra Capperdoni and led by Professor Giuseppe Vacca from the Gramschi Institute in Rome, Italy, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public with a keen interest in Gramsci’s thought—his radical re-envisioning of Marxism rooted in the notions of politics as fight for hegemony, “passive revolution,” and philosophy of praxis as the culmination of the intellectual and moral reform movement of modernity.
 

Conference on Utopian Spaces | Nov 23–24 | HC 7000, SFU Vancouver

Contours Journal and the Institute for the Humanities at SFU hosted Utopian Spaces, an interdisciplinary, student-led graduate conference that aimed to reinvigorate conceptions of the often stigmatized category of utopia—the notion that things could be otherwise, the collective desire for a radical alternative—as they pertain to social space. The organizers proposed to think utopia in spatial terms, and space in utopian terms, allowing for the elucidation of transformative potentialities. Yet the utopian space or enclave is just as likely to veer into dystopia. Utopia and dystopia coexist, interact, and conflict, reflecting unmet needs and desires. The conference was, therefore, interested in the convergences and tensions between the utopian and dystopian, in terms of both existent and envisioned representations of such spaces.

Learn more

2017 Activities

Workshop on Enlightenment and Idealism | Jan 23 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 2200, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Douglas Moggach, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

Hegel affirms that the great discovery of the Enlightenment is that everything exists for the subject. As a self-conscious demand that all political and economic institutions, religious beliefs, cultural values and identities must prove their validity in light of critical reason, the European Enlightenment has close affinity with the ethical programmes of German Idealism. This paper examines the complex patterns of political thought that originate with Leibniz, and that are taken up by various proponents of idealism, notably Kant, Fichte, and members of the Hegelian School. In their conceptions of modern subjects and of their interactions, and in their defence of the autonomous use of reason, against authoritarian impositions and stultifying orthodoxies, the idealists preserve and enrich the Enlightenment heritage, with implications for recent debates on politics and culture.

Workshop on The Leap vs the Elite: Progressive Populism in the Age of Trump and Trudeau | Feb 22 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 2050, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Martin Lukacs, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

One thing is now clear: the future is radical. Whether it will be defined by climate chaos, spiralling inequality and surging racism, or a justice-based transition toward a society based on care for the planet and each other, is up to us. In 2015, a broad coalition launched the Leap Manifesto, a vision for how Canada could get off fossil fuels while making the country far more fair and humane. It argued that the only way we can address the climate crisis is by simultaneously fighting for economic equality, racial and gender justice, and Indigenous rights. This kind of silo-busting people's agenda is the best answer to the centrist neoliberalism of Justin Trudeau or the US Democrats, as well as the right-wing populism that has grown in their shadow. So how do we build this intersectional left populism in Canada? What's next for the Leap?

Workshop on Recent Developments in Governmentality Studies: Counter-conduct | Mar 29 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 1510, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by William Walters, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

This seminar looks at the idea of counter-conduct which Foucault outlines primarily in his lecture series Security, Territory, Population (1977–78)—a series that, in retrospect, has come to be most closely associated with the theme of governmentality. Foucault's writings on governmentality have had a profound impact right across the social sciences and humanities, yet only very recently has the theme of counter-conduct enjoyed sustained and critical attention on the part of scholars. Among the questions we will ask in this seminar are: What is counter-conduct? How does the theme feature in the trajectory of Foucault's thought, including his idea of governmentality, and how does it differ from analyses which juxtapose power and resistance? What new light might counter-conduct shed on our understanding of contemporary struggles and conflicts? To ground our understanding of counter-conduct the seminar will consider some recent cases within the field of migration and borders.

Workshop on It Ain’t Necessarily So; Or the Contingency of Necessity | May 26 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 1510, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Bruce Baugh, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

From Aristotle to Husserl, philosophers have argued that “first principles” cannot be deduced from prior premises and cannot be grasped through sensory experience (as sensory experience apprehends only what is fleeting and contingent), but are given through a type of intellectual intuition which apprehends first principles in their self-evidence (Evidenz, évidence). Faced with the self-evidence of first principles, the mind is compelled to accept them. Because they are objects of intellectual understanding, first principles can only be universal, changeless, necessary and eternal. Yet there may be other forms of experience which are just as self-evident and compelling, but which are based on experiences that are peculiar to a particular individual. As involuntary and compulsory as the logically self-evident, the self-evidence of certain affective states (anxiety, boredom, jealousy, etc.) may give rise to a truth which is valid only for the individual who experiences it. The psychological and existential necessity involved in such compelling and self-evident subjective and particular experiences even forms the basis for the experience of being to compelled logically self-evident truths. In that sense, contingent and a posteriori experiences of an encounter of a subject with some external power that forces that person to think can be said to be the basis for what are taken to be necessary and a priori truths. All necessity, in the final analysis, is a posteriori and contingent. As Deleuze puts it, “The principle of reason... in philosophy is a principle of contingent reason... there is no good reason but contingent reason; there is no universal history except contingency.” 

2016 Activities

Workshop on Husserl and America: Reflections on the Limits of Europe as the Ground of Meaning and Value for Phenomenology | Mar 29 @ 7:00–9:00PM | HC 2050, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Ian Angus, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

This paper investigates phenomenological philosophy as the critical consciousness of modernity beginning from that point in the Vienna Lecture where he discounts Papuans and Gypsies, and includes America, in defining Europe as the spiritual home of reason. Its meaning is analyzed through the introduction of the concept of institution (Urstiftung) in Crisis. It argues that the historical fact of encounter with America can be seen as an event for reason insofar as the encounter includes elements previously absent in the European entelechy. The conclusion shows that phenomenology must become a comparative, Socratic, diagnosis of the planetary crisis of reason. The entelechy of reason that becomes evident through the concept of institution should be understood less as a renewal of a pre-existing tradition than as an exogenic encounter and incursion of an outside that together define an event as new in relation to its tradition.
 

Workshop on Canadian Women Shaping Diasporic Religious Identities | May 7 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 2520, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the J. S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities and led by Becky R. Lee, Tak-ling Terry Woo, and Kate Power, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

Using the chapters of Canadian Women Shaping Diasporic Religious Identities as an illustration, we will explore how focusing on women’s participation in their religious traditions complicates our understanding of diaspora and settler communities. The principal question for this seminar, then, is how we might best capture the beliefs and or devotional aspects of the lives of women who engage in traditional ways of religiosity. You will have the opportunity to work with excerpts from real conversations—and we will pay particular attention to the potential of discourse analytic methods to bring some complexity and nuances to confront the negative stereotypes in terms of which religious individuals and groups are often depicted.
 

Workshop on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato Si: “On Care For Our Common Home” | May 27 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM, HC 2200, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the J. S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities, led by John Zucchi, and with responses from Rabbi Philip Bregman, Donald Grayston, and Jennifer Pierce, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

This workshop is for those who are interested in a more in-depth discussion of Pope Francis and the issues raised in the public lecture. The main point of the lecture and followup workshop is to facilitate an interfaith conversation about the Pope's stance on issues like climate change, the plight of refugees, and human rights, to name a few. Rabbi Philip Bregman, Donald Grayston, and Jennifer Rae Pierce will be participating in this conversation by presenting their responses to Dr. John Zucchi's lecture, in which he addresses Catholics, non-Catholics, non-Christians, and those of no particular faith adherence.

2015 Activities

Workshop on Arendt, Truth, and Epistemic Responsibility | Nov 10 @ 4:00–6:00PM | HC 2200, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Yasemin Sari, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

Taking seriously Arendt’s concerns regarding judgment and decision in texts such as “The Crisis in Culture,” I argue, contra Martin Jay, that Arendt’s understanding of decision does not promote a “decisionistic” model of sovereign politics. While Jay’s interpretation of decision is antithetical to Arendt’s own account of politics as the space for human plurality, I maintain, by contrast, that in its relation to judgment and meaning, decision constitutes a necessary political principle for preserving human plurality. Recognizing that Arendt is not explicit about this, my aim in this paper is to introduce a new concept for understanding the relationship between responsibility and decision into her political framework: the principle of “epistemic responsibility.” Epistemic responsibility becomes a guiding principle in political action, which rests on a thin notion of truth that can provide a more robust account of political action understood as the “accompaniment of speech and deed.” In this sense, this principle allows for a reinterpretation of the relationship between “factual truths” and “meaning-creation” on pluralistic grounds; this, in turn, allows for the emergence of a political space of plural human togetherness as the “topos of responsibility.”

Workshop on Politics in Particular: From Primo Levi to Freedom and Being in the works of Hannah Arendt and Baruch Spinoza | Nov 23 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 2200, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities, co-sponsored by SFU's School for International Studies, and led by Greg Feldman, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.

Abstract

The post-Cold War era of liberal hegemony, purporting to usher in freedom and global democracy, has arguably alienated more people from party politics than ever before. Scholars often invoke two thinkers—Hannah Arendt and Baruch Spinoza—to make sense of this situation and the varied political movements that have emerged in response to it. Both Arendt and Spinoza, perhaps uniquely among major Western political thinkers, sought an understanding of sovereignty and action based upon the perspectives of particular speaking subjects as opposed to apriori abstract principles. Yet, despite this fundamental similarity, they differ considerably on such key political issues as thinking and reason, will and action, and, ultimately, freedom and being. Starting with Primo Levi’s story of his ten days “outside both world and time”—between the evacuation of Auschwitz and the arrival of Soviet forces—this presentation compares and contrasts these issues in Arendt’s and Spinoza’s work to try to better understand contemporary political action.