Center for Ethics
FALL 2009 Schedule of Events
Mapping the Muhlenberg Landscape: Borders, Boundaries, and Barriers
Our kick-off event highlighted the key themes that will define our year-long series. This was an interactive event intended to explore the ways in which we define and use space on the Muhlenberg campus to work, play, and live. Attendees at this opening event were asked to move about the Muhlenberg campus, exploring questions such as: How is space organized on campus? What boundaries exist here? Which spaces are accessible or inaccessible and to whom? Where do spaces intersect? How do our campus spaces function? And perhaps most important, what meanings do these spaces have to us as we use them?
Exploring Space and Place in Downtown Allentown
Community Tour Exchange, Part One (Community hosts)
Community leaders from downtown wards guided students, faculty, staff, and interested community members on an exploration of urban space in Allentown. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the history of the community, the everyday experiences of community members, and the institutions that are bounded by the city. Tours provided opportunities to ask questions such as: How does space delineate, define, and shape different communities? Who are the architects and what are the institutional hallmarks of community boundaries in Allentown? What are the political, social, and economic implications of the organization of urban space in Allentown? Tour times: Friday September 11, 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm, including dinner with tour participants. Saturday September 12, 11:00 am – 1:30 pm, including lunch with tour participants.
Prints about Place. Sept 15 - Oct 10: Galleria space in the Baker Center for the Arts
Amze Emmons organized an exhibition of two print portfolios revolving around ideas and interpretations of space and place. The prints were on display in the Galleria space in the Baker Center for the Arts from September 15 through October 15. The exhibition contained the work of over 40 artists from around the country. The themes of the two portfolios, described below, are "Displaced," and "Real e-State".
Displaced - This portfolio was made up of work by print artists who take into account the influence of environment and place in their work. Does our environment or community close at hand affect our artistic practice, or do we as artists purposively remove ourselves from the familiar and embark on travels, whether it is across town or across the ocean, to find, encounter, and appropriate the things that bear influence on our work? How do our surroundings affect our work? Or do they at all? Do we close out the world or do we allow it to become an integral part of the images we produce? And, does the information we collect as our source material manifest itself as a result of actual experience, or is it obtained through other approaches as varied as personal history and memory, to merely picking up a newspaper or opening up a website?
REAL e-STATE - This portfolio speculated on the conditions and contexts that define our experience of space in contemporary life. Virtual realms, critical regionalism, privatization, mobility and the local are but a few buzzwords plotting points of contention in the ongoing debate of how we might situate ourselves and our cultural values in a continually changing world. Printmaking’s unique position as both a transformative process and an emblem of reproductive infallibility provides a rich terrain for the exploration of these contradictory positions. The prints included in this portfolio were a response to these distant poles that demarcate the lines of our spatial experience today.
Art, Life, and Grafitti, a public lecture by Graffiti Artists Lady Pink & Julie Lien
Co-Sponsored by the Department of Art How do graffiti artists mark space? What is graffiti and what does it have to do with space and power? Is graffiti art? Political or social activism? Vandalism? Or, is it some combination of all these things? To what extent do acts of graffiti and graffiti artists give voice to marginalized communities, signifying the multi-vocality of space? And how, in its public expression, does graffiti transcend boundaries and democratize art? Lady Pink and Julie will discuss these and other questions in their conversation with the campus. Reception to follow event. Lady Pink was born in Ecuador and grew up in New York City. In 1979, she started writing on subway trains, one of few women who participated in the graffiti subculture. She had a starring role in "Wild Style," a 1982 film that captured the early days of hip-hop culture. Pink painted subway trains until 1985, while she pursued a career as a painter in galleries such as Sidney Janis, Fashion Moda, and Semaphore East. Lady Pink's canvases are in important art collections such as the Whitney Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Groningen Museum of Holland. She and her husband, the artist Smith, run a mural company that has created works in New York City. For more information, visit their web site. Julie Lien is a 17 year-old high school art student from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. She was born and raised in Queens, NYC. Julie has been studying art and music since the age of 13. After dabbling briefly with graffiti she discovered 5Pointz, a non-profit art space in L.I.C. As a freshman, Julie frequented 5Pointz and was inspired to do legal public art; it was a safe haven for her, taking her off the streets, and it improved her painting skills. Julie has created large murals, paintings that have been exhibited at Columbia University, as well as a commissioned painting for Bellevue Hospital. She looks forward to continuing her art education and working in the arts.
Exploring Space and Place on Our Campus
Community Tour Exchange, Part Two (Muhlenberg hosts)
Muhlenberg students, faculty, and staff hosted the community leaders who gave them tours for an investigation of Muhlenberg’s space on campus and in the West End of Allentown. Students shared some of the history of the college, a perspective on the surrounding neighborhood and perspective on their own campus/classroom experiences. The tour provided opportunities to ask questions such as: What places are comfortable/uncomfortable for students on campus and why? What space is accessible to the broader community? How do students explore the surrounding neighborhood? Does exploration of space change as students move through their years at Muhlenberg? What is the student/community perception of campus and the surrounding neighborhood? Who creates boundaries on campus? Who defines space and what are the invisible barriers of campus? Tour time: 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm, including dinner with tour participants. This was the second part of a two-part Community Exchange.
The Desire to Acquire: Or, Why Shopping Malls are Sites of Religious Violence, a public lecture by Jon Pahl
Co-Sponsored by the Department of Religion Studies and the College Chaplain's Office. Ever gotten lost in a shopping mall? That disorientation is a symptom of the spiritual problem Jon Pahl sees with malls as "sacred places" in a global religion of the market. Based on his books Shopping Malls and Other Sacred Places and Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence, this multimedia presentation will introduce a viewing of the recent film in which he appears, Malls R Us (2009, Instinct Films). Malls R Us is a feature documentary directed by Montreal filmmaker Helene Klodawsky. The film premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Pahl argues, and the film reveals, that in all of their architectural beauty and designed splendor, malls function as temples of trade or cathedrals of commerce. From Minneapolis, Minnesota to Osaka, Japan, from Dubai to Delhi, malls have operated as labyrinths of consumer desire. Malls work by disorienting pilgrims who then get reoriented by acquiring an enchanted commodity. Malls trigger an insatiable desire to acquire that Pahl calls "the violence of banality," and that have made malls targets for resentment-laden terrorists, and made them sites for ritual shooters. Malls are, in short, sites of religious violence. The presentation and film-viewing will be followed by a Q and A discussion with Dr. Pahl. Reception to follow event.
Jon Pahl is Professor of the History of Christianity in North America at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and has been a visiting Professor at Temple and Princeton Universities. He's the author of five books, and recently edited An American Teacher: Coming of Age and Coming Out, the Memoirs of Loretta Coller--the life-story of a lesbian high school teacher murdered in Southern California in 1994. Dr. Pahl has spoken to audiences from Ankara, Turkey to Anaheim, California, and lives near Swarthmore, PA, where he enjoys sports and playing the saxophone with his band, The Groove Daemons.
Witness and Host to Change: A Tour of Allentown's Sacred Spaces
Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other sacred spaces have always been at the center of immigrant communities. Here in Allentown, with its rich history of immigration, we will explore how immigrants create communities that shift and evolve over time. The sacred spaces that remain as features in the downtown geography serve as both witness and host to these changes. We will tour selected churches, documenting these spaces with photographs where possible. The route will center on and move out from Sacred Heart Church on 4th between Chew and Gordon. After this downtown day, we will reconvene during the first week in December for a public slide show/video of the images and impressions of communities old and new. Tour Times: Saturday October 10, 11:00 am – 1:30 pm, including lunch with tour participants Saturday, October 24, 11:00 am - 1:30 pm, including lunch with tour participants.
Conversations about Ecology and the Preservation of Wooded Spaces with Janisse Ray, a public lecture by Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow .
Co-Sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Committee. Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Janisse Ray is an environmental activist and poet whose work raises questions about southern rural space, its ecology, and the peoples that inhabit and interact with it. She is the award-winning author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, a highly praised book that combines elements of ecology and autobiography into a multifaceted work. As an activist and memoirist, Ray alternates chapters between her childhood in rural southern Georgia and the ecological history of that region; this effective switch shows the delicate and symbiotic nature of the landscape and the people who are irrevocably connected with this land. For more information, please visit: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2562. Reception to follow event.
A public lecture by Mindy Thompson Fullilove, Author of Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It Co-Sponsored by the Public Health Program How do race and class affect patterns of health and well-being? How do the spaces and communities we inhabit influence our health? And how do these issues play out in America’s cities? Mindy Thompson Fullilove studies urban renewal and its largely negative effects on African-American communities across America. Her talk will focus on her continuing quest to explore the connections among race, class, urban displacement, and health in America. Reception to follow event. Mindy Fullilove is a research psychiatrist at New York State Psychiatric Institute and a professor of clinical psychiatry and public health at Columbia University. She is the author of Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It (2004), and The House of Joshua: Meditations on Family and Place(1999). She is co-author of Ernest Thompson's Homeboy Came to Orange: A Story of People's Power (1976) and Rodrick Wallace's Collective Consciousness and Its Discontents (2008). For more information, please visit: http://asp.cumc.columbia.edu/facdb/profile_list.asp?uni=mf29&DepAffil=Psychiatry
Geo-Politicized Space: Race, Representation & the 2010 Census: An Interdisciplinary Panel Discussion
Co-Sponsored by the Department of Political Science. In 2010, the United States will undertake its 23rd decennial census of our population. Much is at stake. The Census affects more than $300 billion per year in state and federal funding for local communities. Just as important, the Census is used to apportion seats in the US House of Representatives and to redistrict state legislators, ultimately shaping our electoral power as citizens and members of local communities. The Census informs the decisions of political leaders, determines school district assignment areas, defines legislative districts, and affects the representation of communities and groups in government. The Census, in short, is a snapshot of who we are as a nation, providing information that affects decisions ranging from the provision of services to the elderly; to the construction of new roads and schools; to the safeguarding of electoral competitiveness, voting rights, and representative democracy. In addition, following the 22nd Census, the 2010 Census will include a "multiracial" category in the counting and mapping of community populations across the nation, raising a host of questions about the political, legal, and ethical problems created by the uncertainty of counting and classifying multiracial individuals.
This multi-scholar panel of academic experts from a range of fields will discuss the implications of the 2010 Census with an emphasis on the affects of the Census and political apportionment on race and representation. How does the inclusion of a "multiracial" category in the US Census both reflect the fiction of exclusive racial categories and create new problems for safeguarding the civil rights of racial minority populations? How do political and partisan leaders attempt to draw district boundaries so as to maximize institutional and electoral power? How do new technologies make it possible for legislatures to "gerrymander" districts for partisan advantage? What is a "community of interest," and how are these communities determined by race, or by "natural" geographical boundaries? Are "majority-minority" districts a legitimate response to historical discrimination faced by African American and Latino communities, or do such districts give unfair preferences to one section of the population? How does the counting of the population and the drawing of district lines shape the political and racial landscape of minority and majority communities, and what are the ethical dilemmas raised in the drawing of these political boundaries? Panelists include Peter Wagner, Executive Director of the Prison Policy Iniative; Bruce Cain, Professor of Political Science at the University of California--Berkeley; and Aitya Stokes-Brown, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Bucknell University
Out of the Water Closet: Gender, City, and the Public Toilet, a public lecture by Harvey Molotch.
Co-Sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. According to Harvey Molotch, Professor of Sociology and of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, public restrooms are radically unstable places at the intersection of the public and private spheres, providing a window on the social and political world. In his talk he will address question such as: How “public” are public restrooms? How is the line between private acts and public space negotiated in public washrooms? What can the toilet tell us about gender and cultural politics? For more information, please visit http://as.nyu.edu/object/harveymolotch.html. Reception to follow event.
The St. Bernard Project- Displaced people in New Orleans – A Conversation with Liz McCartney
Co-Sponsored by Hillel, R.R.N.O.L.A., and S.H.A.R.E. What happens when a natural disaster destroys entire communities? Who has access to rebuild and who doesn’t? How might people reclaim space and what space remains vacant? And how do you rebuild an entire community? The Katrina disaster in New Orleans and the city’s subsequent attempts to rebuild the city raise myriad questions about the intersections of public and private space, and the connections among space, race, and political power in urban America. In conjunction with National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, Liz McCartney (CNN Hero 2008) will discuss the unique challenges faced by displaced people in southern Louisiana. Reception to follow event. Liz came to St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans in 2006 to help the community in its rebuilding efforts. She continues to reside there, dedicating herself to helping others rebuild and move back into their homes. For more information, please visit: http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/05/08/heroes.mccartney/.
Exposed Terrain, An Art Gallery Exhibit curated by Amra Brooks
Co-Sponsored by the Martin Art Gallery. An exhibit featuring six artists working in video, sound, sculpture, painting, and print making, each dealing wiht a sense of place. Brooks is visitng lecturer in Creative Writing at Muhlenberg College. Talk and Reception, November 18 4:30pm. Exhibit runs November 18 - December 18.
Modernist Aesthetics and Urban Politics, a public lecture by Thomas Bender
Co-Sponsored by Phi Beta Kappa. Bringing together early 20th century modern art, ideas of the city, and urban politics, Thomas Bender explores the aesthetics and implicit politics of two circles of early modern modernists: John Sloan and the Eight and Alfred Stieglitz and his circle, associating their urban visions with the politics of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses, respectively. Thomas Bender joined the faculty of New York University in 1974, where he now holds the position of University Professor of the Humanities and professor of history. He has been a visiting professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris and at the University of Venice, and is an advisory professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai. Currently a fellow at Princeton’s Davis Center for Historical Studies, he has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a Getty Scholar, and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research interests span the history of cities, intellectual and cultural history, including the history of universities and academic disciplines, urban culture, forms of narrative in history, and, most recently, the global context of American history. Publications include A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History; The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea; Urban Imaginaries: Locating the Modern City; and American Higher Education Transformed, 1940-2005. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of American History and Modern Intellectual History. Reception to follow the event.
FALL SEMESTER WRAP-UP EVENT -- Sharing the Experience with Various Campus Groups.
How are Muhlenberg students, faculty, and staff engaging the ethics of space and the power of place? This campus-wide wrap-up event provided opportunities for Muhlenberg community members to showcase research, performances, food, posters, and other work related to the Center's themes.