Newsletter, May 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.



ACT @ MIT: “Mediated Entities. In and Out of Curating” featuring, Lars Bang Larsen

  • When: Monday, May 2nd | 6:00 – 8:00pm
  • Where: Act Cube. Wiesner Bldg (E15-001) Lower Level. 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA
  • What: Counterintuitive to the idea of critical practice, how can a work of art be “holistic” and at the same time problem-oriented, conflict-aware, self-critical, and engaged in cultural and social struggles? Using the concept of mediation as its point of departure, this lecture develops a critical perspective on curatorial practice and its limits.

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Cultural Agents: “Asylum in France: the rising paradox of Individual compassion and collective rejection of the refugees 1990-2015”

  • WHEN: Wednesday, May 4th | 6:00 – 7:30pm
  • WHERE: Thompson Room, Barker Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • WHAT: The number of asylum applications in France has increased by 73 percent in the past five years to 61,468. The authorities are completely overwhelmed by this influx. The French society is hesitating between two opposite attitudes: compassion and reject. Since the nineties the gap between individual compassionate emotions, and collective aggressive and repulsive answers, has stressed an unbearable paradox. In this event, Dr. Fabienne Le Houerou, will give and overview of the French paradox.

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Cultural Agents: “Angu: A Woman on the Edge” Documentary film screening and discussion with director, Fabienne Le Houerou

  • WHEN: Thursday, May 5th  | 6:30 – 8:00pm
  • WHERE: Thompson Room, Barker Center, Harvard University. Cambridge, MA
  • WHAT: A Tibetan Case Study of Angie a Woman on the Edge in India. An ethnographic film followed by a discussion with director Fabienne Le Houerou. Women on the edge live at the bottom of the social pyramid in a Diaspora context. They experience a double stigmatization. We will stress on the socio-cultural factor of the concept of the ‘edge’ using an ethnographic film shot in India in 2013 to explore the plurality of edges in Angie’s situation as a Tibetan single mother in India.

Pre – Texts: A workshop for educators at Jumex Museum as part of the activities related to the exhibition:Carla Fernández: The Barefoot Designer: A workshop to unlearn

  • WHEN: May, 11th and 13th | 4:00 – 7:00pm
  • WHERE: Fundacion de Arte Contemporáneo, Ciudad de Mexico
  • WHAT: In this workshop for educators, participants will introduce themselves to the Pre-Texts methodology and be able to have fun playing with challenging texts while they develop attention to details and develop interpretative skills.


For more information see:

General News: Cultural Agents

Dialogue about Symbolic Reparations: Antanas Mockus and Marco Abarca

In April we had the privilege to host Antanas Mockus, the former Major of Bogotá and creator of the program “Cultura Ciudadana” and Marcos Abarca, the Costa Rican lawyer expert in Human Rights and author of the program “Aula Verde” in an interesting dialogue about Symbolic Reparations and all the challenges involved in this issue. A group composed by academics, artists, students and researchers (included the reknowned Chilean poet, Raúl Zurita) was engaged in this conversation provoking deep reflections. Within an intimate setting, a beautiful and honest conversation took place, where stories were told, thought challenging questions were asked, and new ideas were conjured.

General News: Pre-Texts

Implementing UDL through Pre-Texts:
Cultural Agents – Harvard Ed Portal – Boston Public Schools

Since April 6th, a Pre-Texts training workshop has taken place at Harvard Ed Portal with 25 teachers from Boston Public Schools. Here is an input of one of the participants:

The third- and fifth-grade teams at my school are participating in the Pre-Text series of workshops at the Harvard Portal.  I am a special education teacher of 2nd and 3rd graders in Boston, and am interested in adding to my ‘bag of tricks’ to engage my students in rich content while giving them many opportunities to work with and play with texts.  The Pre-Text workshops are helping me discover ways I can do just that.  I find that the activities we have done in the workshops have been inspiring to me in that they give me a good vision of how to expand on the types of activities we already do in class.  The routines and protocols that we have used as part of ‘the Pre-Text way’ give opportunities for my students to become empowered to interact with each other and the text.  Incorporating movement, music and art into these activities for Literacy reminds me that these things are actually possible to do on a more regular basis instead of only once in a while.  Since my 3rd grade team has attended these workshops, we have planned for our upcoming Literacy instruction using many of the ideas that were generated during the workshops, so this has been very helpful.  Selfishly, however, I know that there is no budget for schools to purchase materials to use in the creation of projects/products, so I am a bit frustrated that again I will be spending my own $ to buy the stuff I need to do the cool stuff that is Pre-Text.

– Barbara Reid,
Guild Elementary

For more photographs of Pre-Texts in Ed Portal, see:

Featured Story

Museo Jumex: Carla Fernandez’s Exhibition
The Barefoot Designer: A workshop to unlearn
March 23 – May 15

The Barefoot Designer: A Workshop to Unlearn, a variation on the exhibition originally presented at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2014, features the work and design philosophy of Carla Fernández, through her exploration of the traditions and techniques from the different indigenous cultures of Mexico. The exhibition contains works inspired in Guerrero, Chiapas, Mexico City, the State of Mexico, Yucatan, and Campeche. Audiences will be introduced to the designer’s techniques as well as to the indigenous communities’ ancestral forms of knowledge through the process-based and workshop components of the exhibition.

Carla Fernández has developed a successful dynamic wherein the fashion industry and the handmade crafts of Mexico become compatible. The driving force of her strategy consists of reinterpreting the complex system of Mexican indigenous clothing through direct cooperation with artisans. She has conducted a research over ten years in which she catalogued hundreds of garment designs, including the Mayan culture, Aztec designs and other pre-Hispanic traditions, some at risk of being lost.

Do not forget to visit our new webpage!

In April we have officially launched our new Cultural Agents Initiative webpage. Check out the new design at:
Please see our calendar on the Cultural Agents website for more information on our upcoming events:

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Our mailing address is:
417 Boylston Hall
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

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