Tuesday, February 09, 2016, 07:30 pm | Humanities
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Security, a Roman Metaphor

Security and secure borders preoccupy current public debates. But do we know what security means? Securitas first occurs in Cicero meaning "tranquility," in a strictly psychological sense. A century later the "security of the Roman Empire" had become a political slogan. Recognition of the concept’s origins in the collapse of the Roman Republic helps to clarify its potential for ideological manipulation. Ancient philosophy makes the blessed life, humanity’s highest aspiration, dependent on peace of mind. And when tranquility becomes a political imperative, it justifies Imperial governance and encourages depoliticization. Originally less a concept than a cluster of tropes, the evolution of “security” can be traced through a series of figurations, including the imagined embodiment of group safety in a charismatic leader. In her lecture, Michèle Lowrie, Professor of Classics and the College, University of Chicago, will shed light on how security discourses have always sympathized with the maintenance of hierarchies, the centralization of power, and trade-offs in citizen rights.

Watch Professor Lowrie introduce her project here.


Thursday, February 18, 2016, 07:30 pm | Humanities
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Bending Stone: Adam Kraft and the History of Art’s Appropriation

Adam Kraft's sculptures have endured in public places in Nuremberg for over 500 years. They will provide the basis for art historian Corine Schleif's discussion of how art has participated in religious rituals, economic developments, art-historical debates, political decision-making, and military strategies through the centuries. Patrons and sculptors carved themselves into the cityscape, thereby assuming important political and social positions. Early audiences employed the works not only to support public health but to justify pogroms against Jews. The Nazis touted Kraft and his work as the most German in the most German of German cities. Allied bombers targeted this city at the close of WWII. Schleif's talk will conclude with questions about the place of art and its history in debates among current public intellectuals.

Thursday, February 25, 2016, 07:30 pm | Arts and Culture
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War, Modernity, and Transformation in Imperial Ethiopia

Teferi Makonnen’s 1916 rise to power and ascension to the Ethiopian throne, in 1930, as Emperor Haile Selassie, and subsequent confrontation with Italy, in 1935, had dramatic consequences for the country’s future. Filmmaker Yemane Demissie’s forthcoming social-history documentary series, The Quantum Leapers: Ethiopia 1916-1975, undertakes the monumental task of configuring the myriad narratives and reflections culled from more than 300 individual interviews concerning Ethiopia’s twentieth-century experience. In this lecture, Demissie examines some of the ways the Italo-Ethiopian War and occupation of Ethiopia between 1935-1941 forced the country to fundamentally reevaluate its age-old traditions in the face of modernity and industrialization.

Monday, February 29, 2016, 07:30 pm | Social Sciences
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Democracy’s Failure to Perform

Democracy has been doing poorly around the world in recent years, argues political scientist Francis Fukuyama. With political breakdown occurring in many regions across the globe, the failure of governments to provide citizens with basic services and the consequences of widespread political corruption have contributed to democracy’s poor performance. In his lecture, Fukuyama contends that in order for democracies to remain legitimate, they must address the constraints imposed upon them by institutions that emphasize rule of law and accountability at the expense of states’ capacities to take strong action.

Thursday, March 03, 2016, 07:30 pm | Arts and Culture
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American Experimental Music and Its Role in Germany from the 1950s to the Present

From the 1950s until reunification, West German producers gave extensive support to radically experimental musical work by American artists. Examining various pieces, performances, and sound installations from the 1960s to the recent past, Composer David Behrman will discuss the role of this personal and institutional support, how collaborative authorship can be used as an aid to working in a time of rapid technological change, and how installation art has emerged as an alternative to music made for concert performances. He will also examine the role that technological progress has played in providing artists with new tools and the challenges posed by the rapid obsolescence of existing technologies.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016, 07:00 pm | Economics
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Who Gets What and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design

In this lecture, economist Alvin E. Roth illuminates the everyday world of matching markets in organ donation, public school choice programs, college admissions, and online dating. Unlike commodity and equity markets, where price alone determines allocation, in matching markets one is not free to choose but rather must also be chosen. The “market design” school, of which Roth is a pioneer, aims to remedy matching markets that are not “thick” enough (lacking sufficient participants) or suffer from “congestion” (an overwhelming range of options). He notes, for example, that over 100,000 people in the US are waiting for kidney transplants, yet only 11,000 non-directed kidneys become available each year. As a solution, using market-design principles Roth helped to design the New England Program for Kidney Exchange. Through this and other examples, Roth’s lecture explores the complicated dynamics involved in matching markets.

Moderated by Christoph von Marschall, Managing Editor, Der Tagesspiegel

In cooperation with Siedler Verlag and the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT).

Who Gets What and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design will be released
in March 2016 by Siedler Verlag as Wer kriegt was und warum? Bildung, Jobs und Partnerwahl: Wie Märkte funktionieren.

The lecture will take place at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT), Schloßplatz 1, 10178 Berlin.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 07:30 pm | Humanities
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The View from Water’s Edge: Red Sea Islands and Indian Ocean History

Before the circumnavigation of Africa by the Portuguese, the corridor of the Red Sea had linked the Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean world, where many of the most coveted goods of international trade originated. The Dahlak Archipelago, in the southern Red Sea, provided a set of stepping stones for trading networks crisscrossing this transregional continuum; a market and a shipping service hub; unique marine products; and a gateway in the movement of enslaved people from East Africa to Arabia and beyond. Historian Roxani Margariti’s lecture focuses on the local, regional, and transregional history of this medieval and early modern island polity. Situated at the margins of powerful territorial states, tenuously connected to metropolitan centers and the master narratives they generated, the Dahlak islands occupied crucial crossroads and commanded a lucrative maritime realm. How, she asks, do the medieval Islamic world, the Middle East, and East Africa look from their maritime edges?

Thursday, March 17, 2016, 07:30 pm | Humanities
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Arabic Poetry and the Project of Modernity

Robyn Creswell, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, Yale University; and Poetry Editor, Paris Review

Thursday, March 31, 2016, 07:30 pm | Arts and Culture
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Possibilities and Inequities: The Ethical Imagination in the Unsuspecting Materials of Policy, Planning, and Radio Frequency as the Work of Art

Mary Ellen Carroll, Conceptual Artist

In cooperation with the Museum THE KENNEDYS.


The lecture will be held at the Musem THE KENNEDYS in Mitte, Auguststraße 11–13, 10117 Berlin.