Peripheral Visions

February 22, 2013 (Friday) / 10:00 am5:45 pm

Rainey Auditorium and Nevil Classroom, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street

Peripheral Visions

Space, Hierarchy, and Power in Humanistic Research

Jane Guyer

Professor of Anthropology
Johns Hopkins University

Eric Hayot

Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies
The Pennsylvania State University

René Marquez

Associate Professor of Visual Art
University of Delaware

Kazys Varnelis

Director, Network Architecture Lab
Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

Social and cultural peripheries—spatial, political, economic, or relating to identity, age, or ability—are frequent objects of humanistic research. Yet the study of the periphery, especially from the privileged “central” position of the academy in the United States, is ethically and methodologically fraught. How do ideas of center and periphery enter into research programs and disciplines? What sorts of work do these concepts enable and inhibit? Can we study centers and peripheries without reproducing the structures of power our research is designed to reveal or critique? How can we analyze the very real effects of center-periphery hierarchies on the lives of groups and individuals, while simultaneously challenging the constructed nature of these relationships, both in the world and in the academy? How does the paradigm of “centers and peripheries” relate to other potential organizing metaphors for research and experience, such as “connectivity” or “network”? How might we teach about centers and peripheries while navigating these various methodological challenges?

This one-day symposium will bring together invited speakers with the Forum's Graduate Mellon Fellows as well as Penn graduate students and faculty in order to confront these questions and others.

10:00am–12:00pm - Rainey Auditorium, Penn Museum
Free and open to the public

The Challenge of the Periphery

Jane Guyer
Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins

Eric Hayot
Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies, Penn State

René Marquez
Associate Professor of Visual Art, University of Delaware

Kazys Varnelis
Director, Network Architecture Lab, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation


1:30-5:45pm - Nevil Classroom, Penn Museum
Free and open to students and faculty (Penn and regional)

Panel 1: 1:30–3:30pm
Discussants: Jeremy Dell and Gideon Fink Shapiro, GHF Mellon Fellows
Jane Guyer      
      "The Point of Departure is Elsewhere": Three Recent Arguments for Africa as a Theoretical Point of Departure on Aspects of Current Capitalism
Kazys Varnelis      
      Networked Publics or Pareto's Revenge      
Panel 2: 3:45–5:45pm
Discussants: Yumi Lee and Cliff Mak, GHF Mellon Fellows
René Marquez
      Is This a Studio or a Kennel?
Eric Hayot
      Scale, Hierarchy, and the Problem of World Literature

Jane I. Guyer is Professor of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Rochester and has taught at Harvard, Boston University, and Northwestern. Her research has been devoted to economic transformations in West Africa, particularly the productive economy, the division of labor, and the management of money. Theoretically she focuses on the interface between formal and informal economies, in particular the instabilities that interface gives rise to. Her books include Marginal Gains: Monetary Transactions in Atlantic Africa and Money Struggles and City Life (co-edited with LaRay Denzer and Adigun Agbaje).

Eric Hayot is Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies at Penn State University. Following his PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, he published Chinese Dreams: Pound, Brecht, Tel quel (Michigan, 2004) and The Hypothetical Mandarin: Sympathy, Modernity, and Chinese Pain (Oxford, 2009; co-winner of the 2010 Modernist Studies Association Book Prize), which focused on the impact of Chinese history, literature, politics, and culture on European and US literature and philosophy. His latest book, On Literary Worlds (Oxford, 2012) takes on the world literature and globalization debates, and develops new narratological and historical models for thinking about the "cosmographical," world-creating imaginations of literary and cultural production.

René Marquez is Associate Professor of Visual Art at the University of Delaware, where he works in painting, drawing, and video. He took his MFA in Painting from Penn, and previously taught at Haverford College and Penn's Asian American Studies Program. His research interests include postcolonial and critical animal studies. Past exhibitions include the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the International Center of Photography, University of California-Irvine, College of William and Mary, the Delaware Biennial, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, as well as the Ayala Museum and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, both in Manila.

Kazys Varnelis is Director of the Network Architecture Lab at Columbia University where he also teaches studios and seminars in history, theory, and research. He took his PhD in the history of architecture and urban development from Cornell. He has lectured at Harvard, Yale, MIT, UCLA, TU-Delft, the IUAV, and at venues such as the Digital Life Design Conference in Munich, the Architectural League, the Van Alen Institute, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, and the Glass House. His work focuses on contemporary architecture, late modernism, architecture and capitalism, and the impact of recent changes in telecommunications and demographics on the contemporary city.