Nesletter, June 2016


Arts and Humanities Civic Engagement


Cultural Agents is an interface between academic learning and civic engagement. The Initiative promotes arts and humanities as social resources.


F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M



  • 4th ENCATC International Study Tour in Boston
  • WHEN: Tuesday, June 7th  | 4:00 – 5:30pm
  • WHERE: Northeastern University, 11 Leon Street, Ryder Hall, Room 204
  • WHAT: ENCATC is an NGO which works in partnership with the European Union, UNESCO and is an observer to the Council of Europe. This tour is one result of our strategic protocol of understanding with the Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE). It is aimed to foster international exchanges of ideas projects and best practice among academics, scholars, cultural entrepreneurs and administrators from Europe and USA. It will also promote cooperation among European and USA educational and cultural institutions. This international study tour is designed for arts and culture educators, trainers and students, researchers, arts and cultural managers and entrepreneurs, artists, policy makers.
    Harvard’s Cultural Agents Initiative will be participating by offering a synthetic presentation focused on its work in the Boston Area.*This event is closed to ENCATC International Study Tour participants only.*

  • The Trustees presents “Art & the Landscape” project with Guest Curators Pedro Alonzo  and  Trevor Smith
  • WHEN: Tuesday, June 7th  | 6:00 – 8:00pm
  • WHERE:  Le Laboratoire, 850 East, Kendall Street, Cambridge, MA
  • WHAT: The Trustees will launch a multi-year initiative called Art & the Landscape with contemporary art installations at four of its most iconic sites. Led by Guest Curator Pedro Alonzo, the Art & the Landscape project presents compelling contemporary art in the context of a public landscape. The event will host  a conversation by Guest Curator Pedro Alonzo  and  Trevor Smith, Curator of Contemporary Art, Peabody Essex Museum, moderated by Jared Bowen, WGBH Arts Editor. Pedro Alonzo will preview two of the four projects planned, while also talking about how organizations present unique and new opportunities for visitors to experience contemporary art. The discussion will be followed by a reception.
  • Pre-Texts in Dublin, Ireland
  • When:  Friday, June, 10th | 9:30 am
  • Where: Grangegorman Development Agency, en Greenway Hub, Grangegorman Lower, Dublin
  • What: Ireland’s community and  higher educational sector is transforming itself through the relocation of the Dublin Institute of Technology from 39 locations into a new inner city urban quarter that was the former St. Brendan’s Hospital in the heart of the capital city. What makes this a fascinating challenge is the close proximity of primary and psychiatric care alongside pioneering institutes in technological higher education. For those living, working, visiting or studying in this emerging and historic urban quarter, challenges and questions abound and are continually shifting – who are we now, what remains important, how do we want to learn and remember, how can we truly engage the complexities of life and living?Prof. Sommer has been invited to share Pre-Texts – experience, impact and value – amongst an invited audience drawn from the educational, health, arts, sciences and humanities sectors. Hearing of about Sommer’s coming, a recently formed Aesthetics Group affiliated with The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media requested the opportunity to devise a creative response to her book The Work of Art in the World. This live session going to take place with a focus on Schiller’s writings, and will be linked to a live online discussion with colleagues in Barcelona. And just in case that was not enough, a final presentation will be made by artist Jennie Guy whose initiative: ‘The Master Plan’, an interdisciplinary creative project with young students about change is taking place.
For more information see:
  • Mapping Home Amidst a Global Crisis of Place
  • WHEN: Thursday, June 16th | 5:00 – 7:00 pm
  • WHERE: Washburn Auditorium, Brattle Campus, Lesley University, 10 Phillips Place, Cambridge, MA
  • WHAT: Join speakers 
Nisha Sajnani, Oscar Palacio, Marjorie Agosin, Jeffrey Ansloos for a talk about “a crisis of place.” Through Dr. Nisha Sajnani’s work with the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, she asked first responders working with displaced persons around the world to take a photograph of what sustains them amidst this ongoing crisis and to use digital film to document how they contribute to creating a healing environment through their policy development, programs, or practice.  An analysis of over 281 photos and 540 films reveals an undeniable connection between ecological and human health. As co-curator of this archive, Oscar Palacio’s interest is focused on the way participants across the globe use the medium of photography and sound to map out their new environments.  Through the lens of displacement, this selection of landscape photographs emphasize the human need to define alien territories, while pointing out moments of hope and play.

For more information see:

General News: Cultural Agents

Venezuelan researchers and academics doing Forum Theater Workshop at Harvard University with Doris Sommer

“Venezuela, our country, is experiencing intense turmoil: food shortage; very high levels of inflation; intense urban violence; an authoritarian government, and daily protests and manifestations.  When we heard about Cultural Agents we were fascinated by the beauty and simplicity of its proposal and methodologies. Challenges in Venezuela are enormous, and at the same time Cultural Agents and the work of Doris Sommer, opens up spaces for realistic hope. Even in the face of these huge tasks, as Sommer enthusiastically insists to us, the agglutination of our efforts and the pleasure of working together might bring about differences and changes, as evidence from other Cultural Agent´s allies shows; and as the experience of Antanas Mockus in Bogota allows us to conceive. We were also deeply moved when we met him with Marco Abarca in the frame of “Dialogue About Symbolic Reparations” organized by Cultural Agents.

We came to a Teatro Foro session invited by Doris Sommer, after we, a group of Venezuelans, asked her to meet us. In the Teatro Foro session we were from many different countries: Argentina, El Salvador, Spain, United States, Colombia, Venezuela, among others. We spent three hours getting to know each other, playing very seriously, and explored turning painful and difficult situations for all and each of us upside-down. The experience of sharing was immediately rewarding and the situation of trying out different paths indeed tenderly forced us to think and act differently. Cultural Agents definitely invites us to foresee micro-spaces of resistance through collaborative work and the experience of joy. We are looking forward to being part of this work and to having Cultural Agents in Caracas!”

– Veronica Zubillaga
Universidad Simon Bolivar, Caracas
Santander Visiting Scholar DRCLAS- Harvard University

General News: Pre-Texts

Boston Public School Teachers Use Art to Analyze Complex Texts

For five weeks, local Boston Public School teachers met at the Harvard Ed Portal to discover ways in which they could engage all learners in analyzing complex texts through art. The teacher training workshop, Implementing UDL through Pre-Texts Cultural Agents was developed and facilitated by Doris Sommer, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and founder of Pre-Texts Cultural Agents at Harvard University, Hilary Shea, Inclusion Specialist in the Boston Public Schools and Paul Tritter, Boston Teachers Union Director of Professional Learning.

Twenty-five teachers collaborated to create barrier-free lesson plans which incorporated the principles of Universal Design for Learning. The lessons all included an art activity to ensure high levels of engagement. The art activities ranged from song writing and dance to mask-making and quilt-making. The teachers will now spend the rest of the year integrating the Pre-Texts and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles into their lesson plans.

Article source:

Featured Story

“Cultural Traffic: the Construction of New Subjectivities in the Peripheries of
Medellin and Sao Paulo”

Figura 3: Peace One Day in Medellín. Photo: Yojan Valencia.
(From right to left: Alonso Salazar, Mayor of Medellín; John Jaime Sánchez, Son Batá leader; JBalvín, recognised reggaeton singer; Musician from Crew Peligrosos of Comuna 4; Jeihhco, artist and cultural manager of Comuna 13; Juanes, Colombian singer; Mario, vocalist of the group Doctor Krápula; and Nene, from Son Batá) 

Estefania González Vélez from Colombia, just acquired a doctorate in Cultural Agents at the National University of Colombia. For those who are part of the construction of Cultural Agents, the members of the PhD at the National University of Colombia, and for those acting within the cultural field, this milestone is quite significant. Estefania is the first student who graduates from a PhD program in this line, confirming the importance of proposing new theories and approaches to understand social transformation processes occurring in the region.

In order to get her degree, Estefania developed a compared research process between cultural collectives in the peripheries of Medellin and Sao Paulo, which provide a wide fieldwork and a theoretical research that puts into dialogue different authors. This allowed her to understand the processes led by young people within Latin American peripheries that she defines as “cultural traffic”. The aforementioned involves complex relationships, negotiations and complex meetings with public policies, the marketplace, and with the actors in the territory. In her research, Gonzalez Velez also developed other conceptual approaches such as, “refuge communities”, “cultural productive arrangements ” and  “periphery consumes periphery”.

The dissertation, “Cultural Traffic: the Construction of New Subjectivities in the Peripheries of Medellin and Sao Paulo,” is accompanied by Paolo Vignolo, and was evaluated and approved by Brazilian and Colombian juries in February 2016.

To read the full thesis, please see:

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Caminos de Paz Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now
June 2, 2016
by Rodriguez