Newsletter, December 2020

Upcoming Events

Pre-Texts Internship Summer 2021

Cultural Agents is starting a new remote internship program for Summer 2021 where Harvard undergrads are trained as facilitators of Pre-Texts, and are then paired with a host organization to collaborate. We’d like to gather as much information as we can on possible internship partners and begin student outreach at Harvard.

If you are interested in becoming a host, please fill out this interest form by January 1st, 2021. There will be more information to come in the next few weeks.

#Luiss.MasterClasses – Intersections

#Luiss.MasterClasses – Intersections is a new series of webinars organized by the LUISS Guido Carli University and dedicated to a serious reflection on the intersections that exist between various disciplines, cultures, and fields.

The third meeting features Luca Guadagnino, Film Director, Writer and Producer and Doris Sommer Ira Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University. Introduction and moderation by Luiss Rector Andrea Prencipe.

The event will be held in English and streamed live on Luiss Social TV.
More information here.

Pabellón Araucanía

Cultural Agents, Inc. has been invited by the Universidad Mayor de Chile to propose, together with a number of local artists and poets, an exhibition for 2022 that will help promote and develop a culture of democracy in the region at the Pabellón Araucanía in Temuco, Chile.

Designed by renowned architects Cristián Undurraga and Sebastián Mallea, and built originally for the “Expo Milan 2015”, the pavilion was then later relocated in the capital of the Region of the Araucania in 2018, with the purpose of fostering fair trade commerce for small producers of the region. As it is well known, the region has been a contested space for centuries, as it has been the traditional territory of the Mapuche culture since pre-hispanic times. Since then, starting with the Spanish in the Colonial period, a number of immigrant “colonias” have ended up moving to the region, transforming it now to a unique but socially volatile patchwork of communities coexisting precariously together. For this reason, the invitation to propose an exhibition at the Pavilion not only represents an opportunity to reach new audiences but, most importantly, it presents us with the urgent task to contribute in forging a much needed democratic culture in the region—one which could help overcome the collective mistrust and perennial animosity among them.


Revista Brasileira de Extensão Universitária

The Brazilian Journal of University Extension will publish in the next few weeks the first article of a group of Brazilian universities in collaboration with Harvard and MIT. The professors and researchers involved share the challenge of co-creating projects, programs and strategies with communities. One example is the Little Hearts Program which started in Brazil in 2014 and aims to innovate in learning strategies similar to the Pre-Texts methodology.

International Summit on Domestic/Family Violence during the COVID-19 Era

From November 18 to 20, 2020, the NGO Alliance on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at the United Nation Headquarters held a three-day international summit on Domestic and Family Violence during the Covid-19 era. The summit was an urgent and global response to what has been described as the Shadow Pandemic of the Covid-19 era. Rates of violence in the family setting have skyrocketed in many countries since the beginning of Covid-19 this past March. It is essential to provide more information to the public on the effects that Covid-19 has had on domestic violence, sharing the voices of victims and survivors, and allowing experts to propose ideas for solutions. You can find more information here.

Sign the declaration to end domestic violence here.
Check out the many exciting events that were held around the world in November and early December 2020!

Pre-Texts News


Pre-Texts as Violence Prevention in Brazilian Schools:
Literacy and Innovation for Citizenship 

Research on violence in Brazil’s public schools has explored the problem more than proposals for mitigation. In response, a possible remedy of arts education through Pre-Texts will be explored in Sergipe, a small Brazilian State with a thin economy and deep social inequities. There, school violence accounts significantly for the 160.5% rise in homicide between 2004 and 2014. Violence has weakened the infrastructure of public education, and therefore the future of democracy. Led by Doris Sommer and Matheus Batalha, in May 2020 the Sergipe study was funded by the Lemann Foundation through the Collaborative Research Grants of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. In November 2020, it was also awarded funds by the Fundação de Apoio à Pesquisa e à Inovação Tecnológica do Estado de Sergipe (FAPITEC). The goal is to fully develop this project next year when a Pre-Texts workshop will be organized and collection and analysis of data related to violence and other variables will be performed.

Check our Digital Pre-Texts page for regular updates.
Reflections on Pre-Texts

“I attended Prof. Sommer’s class and workshop on Culture Agents when I was visiting Havard in 2016. Her lectures have changed my thoughts about scholars’ social responsibility. And for the first time in my life I realized that a scholar’s work could really change society in an artistic and meaningful way. When I returned to China, I realized that the teaching methods I learned in the workshop could be perfectly employed in my class on Qualitative Research Methods. I adopted “literature on the clothesline” and “Cartonera books” in my class. The students love those sessions so much.”

– Yu Hua, Associate Professor, Institute of Linguistics, Shanghai International Studies University, Songjiang Campus

Highlighted News


Creative Bureaucracy Festival

Watch recordings from the Creative Bureaucracy Festival that was held earlier this year. You can learn more about Doris Sommer and Pier Luigi Sacco’s talk on Serious Playfulness and Government Effectiveness here.
Rana Dajani, a scientist and mother of four on a quest to make reading and learning accessible to refugee children, is one of the four heroes who go to extraordinary lengths to help those in great need and have been selected as the regional winners of this year’s Nansen Refugee Award. Read more here.
Read about how opportunities to practice real-life philanthropy can bring academic benefits:
EMERGENYC is an incubator for artist-activists interested in developing their creative voice, exploring the intersections of art and activism, and connecting to a thriving community of independent practitioners—most of them POC, women, and LGBTQIA+ folks. First launched in 2008 at NYU’s Hemispheric Institute—and now independent, in partnership with BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange and Abrons Arts Center—EMERGENYC offers varied entry points into art and activism, prioritizing process, discovery and reflection, and fostering a brave space for experimentation, risk-taking and community-building. Read more here.
Why Maradona Matters 

Mariano Siskind, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature at Harvard, sees a classic hero in the complex, flawed life of soccer legend Diego Maradona. Read more here.

Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Department of Architecture Doris Sommer Italia Launch Videos Mental Health Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now Social Equity
December 4, 2020
by Rodriguez