Newsletter, March 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

  • Mexico at a Crossroads: Political Crisis, Civic Agency and Culture
    • WHEN: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1 at 10:30am
    • WHERE: Room S020, CGIS South, Harvard University, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
    • WHAT: The Ayotzinapa disappearances, part of a phenomenal surge in violence that has left Mexico with 100,000 dead and 25,000 disappeared, have prompted non-stop national and international protests against organized crime, government corruption and impunity. Renowned public intellectuals, anthropologist Claudio Lomnitz (Columbia University), and writer Pedro Ángel Palou (Tufts University), will discuss the role of culture in these events to raise wider questions about what makes for effective political mobilization and renewed civic agency. The event will be moderated by art historian Robin Greeley (University of Connecticut).
    • The event is part of the Cultural and Humanitarian Agents Seminar sponsored by the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University.
  • 2015 African Development Conference at Harvard: Looking South – Moving Forward: Fostering Development Collaboration with the Global South
    • WHEN: SATURDAY, APRIL 4 at 2-4:45pm.
    • WHERE: Wasserstein Hall, Harvard Law School, 1585 Massachusetts Avenue, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
    • WHAT: Naseemah Mohamed of the Cultural Agents Initiative will give a presentation as part of a series of “Creative Talks.”
    • For more information, see:

Other Related Events

  • Jay Critchley’s Don’t Be Crude: Art and the Energy Grid
    • WHEN: TUESDAY, MARCH 31 at 7 pm. Meet and Greet with Jay for artists and activists 6 pm.
    • WHERE: PA 101, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Performing Arts, Building 101
    • WHAT: Jay Critchley is a multi-disciplinary artist known internationally for his humorous art works that respond to the ecological, cultural, and political concerns of local communities. In collaboration with activists and community stakeholders, the Provincetown, Massachusetts-based artist has tackled issues such as HIV/AIDS, climate change, and corporate domination, often resulting in real-world consequences that benefit and enrich communities.
    • This event is FREE of charge and open to the public.
  • Slavery, Dissent, Reconciliation: Harvard Histories
    • WHEN: MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2:30-4pm.
    • WHERE: Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall, Harvard University.
    • WHAT: During the spring 2015 term, Harvard will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War with the Harvard Civil War Project (HCWP). Among the activities associated with this project is this public conversation about Harvard’s relationship to the many legacies and memories of the Civil War. Professor Sven Beckert (Harvard University), Professor Kellie Carter Jackson (Hunter College), Professor Salamishah Tillet (University of Pennsylvania), and artist Brian Knep (Deep Wounds) will be featured. The discussion will be moderated by Professor Timothy Patrick McCarthy.
    • Deep Wounds is an installation by Brian Knep that will be remounted in Memorial Hall from April 4 to May 7, 2015. For more information, go to:
    • To learn more about HCWP go  to:

General News

Pre-Texts Workshops 

Three Pre-Texts workshops were held simultaneously between March 16 and 20. On March 17 and 19, the Cultural Agents Initiative organized a Pre-Texts workshop for members of the PACEE (Public Arts Creation and Education Exchange Program) which includes students from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and is active in Beijing, and other interested potential collaborators in the Materials Lab of the Harvard Art Museums. Using an excerpt of Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths,” participants interpreted the text through music, creative writing, theater-based activities, and the visual arts. Of note, the PACEE team facilitated an activity in which participants were asked to use two or more pieces of crumpled paper and the room to represent the relationship/s between two or more characters. Participants used scale, light, and the room’s architectural features to express their interpretations. In general, participants marveled at how each activity allowed for a greater understanding of the various dimensions of the text. One participant commented about the music activity: “Music is the language of the universe. Pre-Texts is a good method because music can bring similar feelings of understanding between different people, regardless of culture.”

Doris Sommer traveled to San Juan to facilitate another Pre-Texts workshop at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, while Weaver Voroca Davila coordinated a Pre-Texts workshop that marks the continuation of Pre-Texts with the Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila.

In addition, facilitators Naseemah Mohamed and Amy Fish led a Pre-Texts session with seventh graders from Rindge Avenue Upper School in Cambridge as part of Harvard’s Project Teach. The Cultural Agents team looks forward to another Pre-Texts session on Thursday, April 2 with students from Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn, New York.


Pre-Texts in Puerto Rico. Miguel de Cervantes,       Pre-Texts Guidelines in Saltillo,
Don Quijote de la Mancha.                                           Mexico. Universidad Autónoma de

Cultural Agents at Colombia National University

The National University of Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia) offers a PhD program in Social and Human Sciences with a component in Cultural Agents. The program has been active since 2010 and the first group of students is expected to finish soon. The program is conceived as inter- and transdisciplinary and aims to produce socially relevant and engaged knowledge. The Cultural Agents component fosters the combination of creative practices such as photography, music or visual arts with the research of social problems. The objective is not only to develop knowledge, but also innovative cultural interventions. To learn more, read:

The National University of Colombia is starting to build a network of cultural agents with the participation of students, professors and employees of the University. This network is part of the project “Coexistence, Culture and Communication,” developed by this University in collaboration with the NGO Corpovisionarios, a think-tank led by Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogotá and former president of the National University of Colombia. The project seeks to design and develop creative practices to consolidate positive changes in relation to the caring of the University’s campus, which was identified by the students as the University’s main problem. To learn more, visit:


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