Newsletter, April 2015


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.


Upcoming Events

  • Jay Critchley, Incorporated
  • WHEN: May 8th, 2015 – June 21st, 2015
  • WHERE: The Provincetown Art Association and Museum, 460 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657
  • WHAT: Critchley’s notoriety is fueled internationally by the alternative and mainstream media. With one compelling, visionary proposal and idea after another, Critchley relentlessly tackles the big issues of our time, always with a baffling sense of humor, seriousness and timing: from global pathogens to plastics and the car culture, from climate change to corporate domination.
  • For more information, click here.

Past Events

  • Requiem N.N., Film by Juan Manuel Echavarría
  • WHEN: Thursday, April 23 5:30 – 7:30 PM
  • WHERE: Boston University, 2 Silber Way, SED 130
  • WHAT: As part of the Harvard-MIT-BU-Tufts Colombia Building Peace Conference, members of the Cultural Agents Initiative’s symbolic reparations working group led a discussion on Echavarría’s film, memorials, symbolic reparations, and the Law of Victims in Colombia.

General News

Pre-Texts Workshop 

On Sunday, April 26, the Co-Founder and President of United Somali Youth, Said Hassan Ahmed, a group of his mentors, and Harvard University graduate students participated in a Pre-Texts workshop held at Harvard University. United Somali Youth is an organization that seeks to provide social, economic, educational and professional empowerment for inner city refugee and immigrant youth in Greater Boston. The Cultural Agents Initiative is planning to train a group of United Somali Youth mentors in Pre-Texts in the coming months. We look forward to bringing you more news on this collaboration.

Arguing for the Humanities

Doris Sommer’s “Come Back Aesthetics”

The Cultural Agents Initiative’s Founder and Faculty Director Doris Sommer has recently written a compelling article that encourages humanists to back their claims with actions. Read the article here.

Cultural Agents 

Help Support David Gómez’s Project with the Jiw 

David Gómez is a cultural agent and PhD candidate at the National University in Colombia. David has been at Harvard University since last fall as a Pre-Doctoral Fellow and Cultural Agents intern under the supervision of Professor Doris Sommer.

David has created a project that challenges the stereotypes about indigenous people through a cultural agency approach, and he could use your support obtaining cameras for his work with the Jiw.

David’s research is based in the Guaviare department in the Colombian Amazon. In his project, photography is conceived as a research tool and as a way to create a political intervention which allows new paths for the Jiw to re-negotiate their cultural identities and to question the derogatory representations created by others.

In order to finance part of his project, David is running a crowdfunding campaign that aims to collect 2000 USD. The money will be used to buy equipment (10 digital waterproof cameras) and develop a six-month photographic workshop with a group of indigenous leaders from the Guaviare River. In this workshop, participants will engage in a deep visual exploration of what it means to be an indigenous person in the 21st century and how the stereotypes about indigeneity impact their daily lives. To read more about the project and donate to this campaign visit:

Times Flies!

A Note from HGSE’s 2015 Field Experience Interns

Gabi Lieberman and Wanwan Weng completed their Field Experience Internships with the Cultural Agents Initiatives last week. Through the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Field Experience Program, Gabi and Wanwan served as Pre-Texts Coordinators for the spring 2015 term. Thank you for your hard work, Gabi and Wanwan!

Here are their concluding thoughts and farewells:

Gabi comments: “The time went by so fast! I realized that this was because of the ongoing dedication of everyone at Pre-Texts. Most of the time I felt this wasn’t ‘work’ at all, but fun! In the open, flexible, and nonjudgmental environment at the Cultural Agents Initiative, I felt that the skills I could contribute were utilized fully, as well as grown and enhanced in innovative ways. In between team meetings, updating social media, and increasing our global outreach, I learned that this type of cooperative safe space within an organization is a rare and wonderful thing, and I am very lucky to have participated. In my future endeavors in education, I hope to continue to use the rich and deep comprehension strategies that Pre-Texts advocates!”

Wanwan says: “Working with the Pre-Texts team has been such a valuable learning experience. As an intern, I felt highly engaged and valued. I was always encouraged to have my own voice and contribution. Just as the Pre-Texts approach encourages students to take ownership of a challenging text, my work here also empowered me to discover my own unique strength and potential. Yes, this is exactly the charm of Pre-Texts!”


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Caminos de Paz Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now
April 1, 2015
by Rodriguez