University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Stealing time: photographs and the long inception of colonialism in southern Angola: photographs and the long inception of colonialism in southern Angola 

Webinar led by Patricia Hayes

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Coastal Futures Festival Symposium

A symposium about sonification and the expression of data and dreams, meditating and mediating upon coastal futures.
Friday October 15 | 8 PM EDT | Online

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The New (ab)Normal

Humanities Week 2021
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Citizen, Belonging, and the Partition of India: A Symposium

The papers in this symposium revisit the aftermath of the partition of 1947, and the war of 1971, to examine some of the longer-term consequences of the redrawing of borders across South Asia.

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Immunity and Quarantine: The Biopolitics of Space-Making in Pandemics

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Annual Report 2020-21

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About the Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures

The Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures (IHGC) offers a vision at once local and global, and a mission both academic and socially engaged.

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News & Announcements

Fri Nov 05
10:00 am | Webinar
Ed Welch (University of Aberdeen), “Spatial Planning's Time Machine: Spaces of Speed in a Modernized France”

Ed Welch (University of Aberdeen), “Spatial Planning's Time Machine: Spaces of Speed in a Modernized France”

Fri Nov 05


Spatial Planning's Time Machine: Spaces of Speed in a Modernized France

Edward Welch, University of Aberdeen

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During the presidency of Charles de Gaulle (1958-1969), France’s look and feel began to be transformed by an extensive programme of spatial planning and modernization (aménagement du territoire). Unfolding over the subsequent decades, aménagement du territoire produced New Towns, holiday resorts, motorways, airports, rapid rail networks and other forms of infrastructure. Yet while modernized space was the most obvious outcome of their work, France’s aménageurs were perhaps even more preoccupied with time. More specifically, they were obsessed with the future. Even, on occasion, they gave the impression that planning was somehow from the future.

 

Writing in 1965, Oliver Guichard, director of the newly created DATAR spatial planning agency, suggested that ‘l’aménagement ne vit pas dans l’époque présent: il doit toujours la devancer, projeter sur l’avenir’ [spatial planning doesn’t live in the present: it must always be one step ahead, projecting into the future]. Being ahead of its time, planning’s job was to return to the present with insights from the future, and use them to propel the country towards its destiny. Guichard’s comment comes in his book Aménager la France, and is a moment of time-travelling brio in an otherwise relatively sober account of the aims and requirements of French spatial planning. It is also a glimpse of some of the more striking philosophies of time and history lurking beneath the planners’ administrative and technical discourse. In particular, it betrays the influence of the philosopher Gaston Berger, whose notion of la prospective as anticipatory thinking would guide their work during the 1960s and early 1970s.

 

This paper explores how France’s post-war spatial planners think about and negotiate time, and the complexities which emerge as they do so. At stake is their understanding of time, speed and acceleration, as well as the sorts of spaces they create, and how those spaces transform the lived experience of time. One of the key aims of aménagement was to improve circulation, mobility and productivity by means of infrastructure. Spatial planning thus became a form of machine designed to shrink the French hexagon by engineering time-space compression, and an example of how technocratic states sustained the ‘dromocratic revolution’ diagnosed by Paul Virilio (1977) as the driving force of western civilization. One of its most notable and visible outcomes was the development of France’s system of motorways (autoroutes). In order to think about the nature and consequences of modernized France’s infrastructure spaces, the paper explores the presence of motorways in some French texts and films, including Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop’s Les Autonautes de la cosmoroute (1983) and Agnès Varda’s Sans toit ni loi (1985), considering how they at once depict and interrogate the peculiar temporalities and modes of being motorways bring with them.

 

 

Biography

Edward Welch is Carnegie Professor of French at the University of Aberdeen. His research explores modernization, space, and change in post-war France, and their representation in literary and visual culture. Publications include France in Flux: Space, Territory and Contemporary Culture, co-edited with Ari Blatt (Liverpool University Press, 2019); Contesting Views: The Visual Economy of France and Algeria, co-authored with Joseph McGonagle (Liverpool University Press, 2013); and François Mauriac: The Making of an Intellectual (Rodopi, 2006). He is currently completing a book on spatial planning and modernization, provisionally entitled Making Space in Post-war France.

Thu Nov 11
Book Seminar on South Asian Politics, History, and Culture (Featuring Prathama Banerjee & Rochona Majumdar

Book Seminar on South Asian Politics, History, and Culture (Featuring Prathama Banerjee & Rochona Majumdar

Thu Nov 11


The seminar will feature talks and a discussion on two recent publications on South Asian political thought, history, and culture by the featured authors.

 

 

Prathama Banerjee, Elementary Aspects of the Political: Histories from the Global South

Duke University Press, 2020

https://www.dukeupress.edu/elementary-aspects-of-the-political

 

In Elementary Aspects of the Political Prathama Banerjee moves beyond postcolonial and decolonial critiques of European political philosophy to rethink modern conceptions of "the political" from the perspective of the global South. Drawing on Indian and Bengali practices and philosophies from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Banerjee identifies four elements of the political: the self, action, the idea, and the people. She examines selfhood in the light of precolonial Indic traditions of renunciation and realpolitik; action in the constitutive tension between traditional conceptions of karma and modern ideas of labor; the idea of equality as it emerges in the dialectic between spirituality and economics; and people in the friction between the structure of the political party and the atmospherics of fiction and theater. Banerjee reasserts the historical specificity of political thought and challenges modern assumptions about the universality, primacy, and self-evidence of the political

 

 

Rochona Majumdar, Art Cinema and India’s Forgotten Futures, Columbia University Press, 2021

http://cup.columbia.edu/book/art-cinema-and-indias-forgotten-futures/9780231201056

 

In this pioneering book, Rochona Majumdar examines key works of Indian art cinema to demonstrate how film emerged as a mode of doing history and that, in so doing, it anticipated some of the most influential insights of postcolonial thought. Majumdar details how filmmakers as well as a host of film societies and publications sought to foster a new cinematic culture for the new nation, fueled by enthusiasm for a future of progress and development. Good films would help make good citizens: art cinema would not only earn global prestige but also shape discerning individuals capable of exercising aesthetic and political judgment. During the 1960s, however, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, and Ritwik Ghatak—the leading figures of Indian art cinema—became disillusioned with the belief that film was integral to national development. Instead, Majumdar contends, their works captured the unresolvable contradictions of the postcolonial present, which pointed toward possible, yet unrealized futures.

 

Prathama Banerjee is Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi, India, and author of Politics of Time: "Primitives" and History-Writing in a Colonial Society (2006) and Elementary Aspects of the Political: Histories from the Global South (2020).

 

Rochona Majumdar is Associate Professor in the Departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal (2009), Writing Postcolonial History (2010), and Art Cinema and India’s Forgotten Futures (2021).

 

Aswin Punathambekar is Associate Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. He is the author of From Bombay to Bollywood: The Making of a Global Media Industry (2013), co-author of Media Industry Studies (2020), and co-editor of Global Bollywood (2008), Television at Large in South Asia (2013), and Global Digital Cultures: Perspectives from South Asia (2019). 

 

Samhita Sunya is Assistant Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia. She is the author of Sirens of Modernity: World Cinema Via Bombay (in press,). Her interests span world film history, informal practices of media distribution across South / West Asia and the Indian Ocean, and intersections of audio-visual media and literary forms.

Fri Nov 12
Kasey Jernigan, Workshop on Digital Storytelling & Indigenous Cultures

Kasey Jernigan, Workshop on Digital Storytelling & Indigenous Cultures

Fri Nov 12


Fri Nov 12
“Coasts in Crisis:” A Digital Exhibit of Art After Hurricanes Virtual Launch

“Coasts in Crisis:” A Digital Exhibit of Art After Hurricanes Virtual Launch

Fri Nov 12


Mellon Global South Initiative

Mellon Global South Initiative

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the University of Virginia $3.47 million to launch a major humanities initiative dedicated to the study of the Global South. The College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences will match the grant, making the initial five-year investment to launch the initiative about $7 million.

Clay Endowments & Grants

Clay Endowments & Grants

The Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures (IHGC) invites proposals for funding from the Buckner W. Clay Endowment to support innovative work in the global humanities at the University of Virginia. The Endowment provides an ambitious basis of support for faculty and student research and teaching to be conducted under the auspices of the IHGC. Faculty and students from across all schools and disciplines at the university are welcome and encouraged to apply. 

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Bologna

Summer School in Global Studies and Critical Theory

The Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory is a new research entity jointly promoted by the University of Virginia, Duke University and the University of Bologna. It is conceived as an intellectual space for scholars coming from different research fields and geographical regions to work together on the redefinition of the humanities in a global age.

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Mapping Indigenous/UVA Relations: Stories of Space, Place, and Histories is a participatory action methodological project that focuses on sparsely documented Indigenous relations with the University of Virginia. This project combines archival materials related to Indigenous histories and presences in and around UVA with Virginia tribal citizens’ personal digital stories that...

My research focuses on sabils, or charitable water fountains, as a key location for exploring vernacular water architecture and investigating the underlying conceptual frameworks that give them life. Sabils are important parts of the built environment of Cairo, drawing on religious precedence and enacting everyday ethical notions of reciprocity. They are particularly important in the changing...

The focus of my research while a Mellon Humanities Fellow takes off from the ubiquity of the phrase: "the long eighteenth century." Proliferating in calls for participation and panel descriptions throughout art history and visual culture studies, if the mark of an elongated eighteenth century is inescapable, this terminology merits further scrutiny. During my period as a Mellon Fellow, I will...

What meaning did a fictional Ottoman tale and the manuscript containing it have to those who copied, read, heard, and owned it? An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy is an interdisciplinary microhistory that explores the many meanings, uses, and journeys of an otherwise unremarkable manuscript—the only extant copy of an eponymous Ottoman Turkish story of forced migration, fortune, and loss...

“If human beings suddenly ceased imitating, all forms of culture would vanish.” This striking statement by René Girard not only ascribes to mimesis the ability to generate culture, but also implicitly challenges scholars to determine how mimesis operates within the cultural field they study. Many have risen to this challenge, but the question still remains: How does mimesis operate within...

How did the partition of the Indian subcontinent resolve the problem of belonging for minority religious communities – in India, Pakistan, and later, Bangladesh? If Pakistan was designed to create a ‘homeland’ for the Muslims of the subcontinent, was India meant to serve as a homeland for the Hindus? How, then, did the Hindus of Pakistan and the Muslims of India learn to live and build...

Since the mid-1980s, art photographers from metropolitan France have been training their lenses on places throughout the country they call home. Their work constitutes a dynamic, thoughtful, and altogether transformative way of envisioning what on the surface might seem like perfectly mundane locations, but which the photographs endorse as landscapes endowed with the capacity to expand and...

I am beginning a new project at IHGC, one that builds from the methods that I developed in my first book, Mining Language: Racial Thinking, Indigenous Knowledge, and Colonial Metallurgy in the Early Modern Iberian World (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture for the University of North Carolina Press, May 2020). My new project turns from mining to agriculture,...

Higher Powers: Alcohol and After in Uganda’s Capital City is a collaborative monograph (co-authored by George Mpanga and Sarah Namirembe) that draws on four years of fieldwork carried out with Ugandans working to reconstruct their lives after attempting to leave problematic forms of alcohol use behind.  Given the relatively recent introduction of Western ideas of alcoholism and...

Project Summary: My project on Byzantine urbanism and Athens in particular, seeks to reconstruct the topography and spatial layout of Byzantine Athens (4th-15th c AD), and better understand contemporary living conditions and socio-economic activities in the city. Emphasis is placed on city-making processes and particularly the role of non-elite, ordinary people in them. Similar to...

Project Summary: My current book project reframes narratives of photography’s origin and originality by zooming into the first one hundred years of photography in Senegal (1860-1960). Senegal has received significant attention as one of the epicenters of modernism in the Black Atlantic, and yet, the advent of photography in the country in the 1840s has hardly been considered in...