In this lecture, anthropologist and Bosch Public Policy Fellow Jason Pine looks at small-scale methamphetamine manufacture in rural Missouri to ask how meth cooking and consumption are used to enhance or “get more life.” He explains the fieldwork he conducted among meth cooks, narcotic agents, judges, parole officers, physicians, pastors, and a St. Louis pharmaceutical laboratory. He also traces the contours of alternative biotechno-ecologies, where “rogue” consumers unmake common household products to create elixirs for fatigue, deflation, and dispossession. Like Pine’s other research projects, the focus of this lecture is on people’s everyday pursuits of personal sovereignty in alternative economies. In his study of small-scale DIY methlabs, he explores how people engage in the alchemical work of self-production as they make do with the toxic inheritance of late-industrial landscapes.
Shame and shaming have been powerful tools since the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, but with the rise of social media the brutality of shaming has reached a cultural boiling point. While mistaken as a medium for social justice, where the powerless are given a voice, cyber-mobbing often takes on the characteristics of medieval punishment. In this lecture, Andrea Köhler, the New York correspondent of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, discusses how shamers can wreak havoc on the lives of those who have offended their values. Shamers often think of themselves as being morally superior and claim to be unaware of the devastating effects of their actions on their victims. But as more and more people end up on the receiving end of cybermobs, the destructiveness of public shaming has become an international problem that must be reckoned with. (Image: Dan Gluibizzi)
While the world witnesses unprecedented growth of citizen empowerment, the same geopolitical challenges that have plagued our world for centuries—terrorism, war, repression, sectarian violence—are spilling over into the digital domain in ways unique and without precedent. The founder and director of Google Ideas, Jared Cohen, discusses how from the Great Firewall of China to Russia’s troll armies, from the Syrian Electronic Army to ISIS’s propaganda machine, states and non-state actors are presently using technology to repress people and restrict free expression. Simply applying a physical-world lens to international relations will no longer suffice. Power and politics are changing in ways that only a comprehensive—physical and digital—approach will prepare us to meet old challenges in new domains. The event took place in Berlin's Rotes Rathaus on November 9, 2015.
Scholars have long been interested in architecture and urban planning as a cultural battleground during the Cold War. What is less known, however, is how such ideological conflicts played out abroad, beyond the frontlines of Europe. In this lecture, architectural historian Christina Schwenckel is concerned with a largely forgotten chapter in the history of the global Cold War: that of the reconstruction of the city of Vinh, Vietnam, by GDR technicians after the end of US air war. Based on extensive field and archival research carried out in Vietnam and Germany, Schwenkel traces the dialectical relationship between global socialist designs and local cultural practices through Vietnamese architects, workers, and tenants whose own social logics of dwelling transformed the newly built city and its modernist style of social housing.
In this lecture, philosopher Philip Kitcher explores the concept of social progress by proposing that we should think of progress pragmatically, in terms of overcoming problems rather than as directed towards some ideal state. Following John Dewey, he sees these problems as arising from changes in the environment- physical, social, and cultural- which undermine once adaptive institutions and patterns of behavior. Partial solutions to these problems sometimes require a fundamental rethinking of these institutions and patterns of behavior. Kitcher will illustrate these themes with respect to the contemporary state of democracy, global inequality, and climate change. Introduction by Thomas Schmidt, Professor of Philosophy, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
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