Newsletter, September 2019

Upcoming Events

Diego Alejandro von Vacano Camara will be speaking in the class Politics: The Greatest Art on “The Beauty of Politics” on Sept. 18th at 12pm in Sever Hall, Room 201. Dr. von Vacano is an Associate Professor at Texas A&M University. His teaching and research interests are in political theory, political philosophy and the history of political thought. He works mainly in Comparative Political Theory (modern Latin American and European political thought); Latinx thought; and immigration, race & ethnicity. His other academic interests include genomics and race as well as gas/oil industries for development.

Prof. Doris Sommer and José Falconi will be representing Cultural Agents at the Cinédanse Ottawa 2019 Conference on Sept. 19th. Under the theme “Healing Scars”, the event will spread dance through screens and interact with other artistic disciplines. The works displayed will allow the public of the greater Canadian Capital region to question social issues, renew their perspectives and their senses. The programming will revolve around the theme of health and wellness in a spirit of healing, going beyond the superficial. The works presented will allow participants to discuss their connections to others, to strangers, and to the marginalized in order to challenge indifference and isolation in our communities.

Read more about Cinédanse Ottawa 2019 here.

On Monday, Sept. 23rd, Prof. Doris Sommer will hold a Pre-Texts workshop for a group of 27 university leaders from 23 universities in Costa Rica who will be participating in LASPAU’s University Leadership and Governance Program. The program is sponsored by the government agency SINAES (Sistema Nacional de Educación Superior de Costa Rica). The group is working on envisioning the future of higher education in Costa Rica and will be discussing trends in liberal arts, education, interdisciplinary research, teaching and learning, all with a special focus on the arts, humanities and social sciences. They will also be learning about trends in engineering education and how it intersects with liberal arts.

Read more about LASPAU here.

Pier Luigi Sacco, Special Advisor to the EU Commissioner for Education and Culture, will give a talk at the Mahindra Humanities Center entitled “Cultural Engagement as Measurable Medicine” on Sept. 24th at 6pm. The Medicine with Words Seminar Series is a collaboration between the Cultural Agents Initiative and the Initiative on Healing and Humanity at Harvard Medical School, co-sponsored by Mahindra Humanities Center and Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. This series explores the importance of narrative for personal and collective healing, focusing on the interplay between art, science, their practices, and interpretations. The series engages with the long legacy of humanistic and therapeutic narrative: identifying genres of storytelling, as well as networks of artists, educators, politicians, clerics, doctors, and other practitioners who use creative verbal practices to promote public health.

Pier Luigi will also be speaking in the class Politics: The Greatest Art on “Cultural as Collective Behavioral Change” on Sept. 25th at 12pm in Sever Hall, Room 201.

For more information, visit this link.

On Tuesday, Oct.1st at 5:30pm at the HGSE Askwith Forum, Marcelo Suárez-Orozco will launch the Immigration Initiative at Harvard, a University-wide effort to promote intellectual exchange, community support, and action on immigration policy and with immigrant communities. Suárez-Orozco is the Wasserman Dean and Distinguished Professor of Education at UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and a worldwide expert on urgent questions of globalization, immigration, and education. Over the course of a three-decade career, Suárez-Orozco has worked to understand the causes and consequences of mass migration. He offers a compelling, interdisciplinary lens on the mass migrations of the 21st century, with an emphasis on health, mental health, and educational and legal protections for displaced children and families.

The Immigration Initiative at Harvard is a convening place for scholars, students, and policy leaders working on issues of immigration — and a clearinghouse for rapid-response, nonpartisan research and usable knowledge for media, policymakers, and community practitioners.

Read more about the Immigration Initiative at Harvard here and find more information about the event on the Askwith calendar here.

Tarun Khanna will be speaking in the class Politics: The Greatest Art on “Performance as Policy” on Oct. 2nd at 12pm in Sever Hall, Room 201. Dr. Khanna is the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School, where he has studied and worked with multinational and indigenous companies and investors in emerging markets worldwide. He has served as the head of several courses on strategy, corporate governance, and international business targeted to MBA students and senior executives at Harvard. He currently teaches in Harvard’s executive education programs and is Faculty Chair for HBS activities in India.

As part of the project La paz se toma la palabra with Banco de la República in Colombia, a series of Pre-Texts workshops will be held over 3 sessions on October 3rd, 4th and 5th in Barranquilla. The workshop is open to cultural mediators from Cartagena, Barranquilla, Montería, Santa Marta, Riohacha San Andrés, Sincelejo, Valledupar and Bogotá.

Read more about La paz se toma la palabra here.

As part of our Symbolic Reparations series, the border artist-interventionist ERRE will be speaking on Wednesday, October 9th at Winthrop House at 6:30pm. ERRE has spent much of his career engaging issues of the border in his work. In the 1990s, he placed a two-headed Trojan Horse sculpture called “Toy-An-Horse” on the San Ysidro-Tijuana border crossing– a nod to mutual exchange and invasion. He also worked on a project titled “DeLIMITations” with artist David Taylor where they mapped and marked the boundary of the 1821 U.S.-Mexico border, when areas such as California, Arizona, Texas and even pieces of Kansas were still part of Mexican territory. The work was shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego. Another of his installation projects is titled “Of Fence,” and was part of the group show “unDocumenta,” which takes the dynamism of the U.S.-Mexico border as a point of inspiration for works that explore issues of cultural, economic and political exchange.

ERRE will also be speaking in the class Politics: The Greatest Art on Oct. 9th at 12pm in Sever Hall, Room 201.

Read more about Erre’s work here.

The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning will offer a 3-session Pre-Texts workshop with Prof. Doris Sommer. The sessions will take place at the Bok Center over three Fridays, Oct. 11th, 18th and 25th.

Pre-Texts is educational acupuncture. With a single prompt: “Use the text to make art,” we activate both cognitive and emotional dynamics. The pleasures of playing with a challenging text (literary, scientific, historical, political, etc.) drive literacy, innovation, and citizenship like gears of a holistic system for development. Culturally diverse colleagues multiply perspectives, contribute arts, and deepen interpretation. Diversity is therefore admired rather than resisted. With Pre-Texts, intellectual and socio-emotional learning go together.

Participants will get a taste of the Pre-Texts method, and think about how to use it in the Harvard classroom.

Read more about the workshop and register here.

LaTosha Brown will be speaking in the class Politics: The Greatest Art on Oct. 16th at 12pm in Sever Hall, Room 201. Ms. Brown is an award-winning organizer, philanthropic consultant, political strategist and jazz singer with over twenty years of experience working in the non-profit and philanthropy sectors on a wide variety of issues related to political empowerment, social justice, economic development, leadership development, wealth creation and civil rights. She is the co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, a power building southern based civic engagement organization that played an instrumental role in the 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate race. Ms. Brown is principal owner of TruthSpeaks Consulting, Inc., a philanthropy advisory consulting firm in Atlanta, GA. For more than 25 years, she has served as a consultant and advisor for individual donors, government, public foundations and private donors.

Read more about LaTosha Brown here.

Juma Assiago will be speaking in the class Politics: The Greatest Art on Oct. 23rd at 12pm inSever Hall, Room 201. Mr. Assiago is a social scientist and works as an Urban Safety Expert with UN HABITAT. He joined the Safer Cities Programme in 1999, assisting governments and other city stakeholders to build capacity at the city level to adequately address urban insecurity and to contribute to the establishment of a culture of prevention in developing countries.He has served in various UN inter-agency coordinating processes and technically supported various international youth crime prevention and governance processes. He is also involved in developing safety tools in urban contexts, particularly those targeted at social crime prevention. His main area of focus is on youth crime and delinquency in cities. Mr. Assiago is currently involved in developing the Global Network on Safer Cities, which among others is defining the key role of the police in urban development and developing a network structure taking into consideration the governance of safety and safety in public spaces.

Pre-Texts News

Cultural Agents partnered with Boston Public Schools (BPS) to introduce Pre-Texts in elementary and middle school classrooms at the Perry School in South Boston and the Adams School in East Boston. During the last week of August, BPS teachers and principals from both schools participated in a 3-session Pre-Texts training. We played with two different texts and learned about the Pre-Texts pedagogy and explored how it could be implemented throughout the year in the schools.

The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning offered a Pre-Texts mini workshop with Prof. Doris Sommer on Aug. 29th at the 2019 Fall Teaching Conference (FTC). During the workshop, participants were able to get a taste of the Pre-Texts method and explore how to use it in the Harvard classroom. It was a short version of the 3-session workshop that Prof. Doris Sommer will offer in October over the course of three Fridays– Oct. 11th, 18th and 25th.

Featured News

The Afro-Latin American Research Institute at Harvard University is the first research institution in the United States devoted to the history and culture of peoples of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean. Over 95 percent of the Africans forcibly imported into the Americas went to Latin America and the Caribbean, two thirds of them to the Spanish and Portuguese colonies. Many Hispanics in the United States are also of African descent. Cultural forms and community practices associated with Africa are conspicuous across the region – indeed, the very existence of Latin America would be unthinkable without them.

During the last few decades, Afro-Latin Americans have created numerous civic, cultural, and community organizations to demand recognition, equality and resources, prompting legislative action and the implementation of compensatory policies. The Afro-Latin American Research Institute stimulates and sponsors scholarship on the Afro-Latin American experience and provides a forum where scholars, intellectuals, activists and policy makers engage in exchanges and debates.

Read ALARI’s most recent newsletter here.

Humanities for All showcases over 1,500 examples of publicly engaged humanities work at colleges and universities across the United States. With the start of the new academic year, in partnership with Routledge, Taylor & Francis, they are launching Publishing and Publicly Engaged Scholarship: a free-access collection of recent articles featuring publicly engaged humanities research, teaching, preservation, and programming. This collection highlights how publicly engaged scholarship can lead to publication, and thereby fit within traditional promotion and tenure expectations. It also showcases a range of methodologies for enriching community life through the humanities.

Read more about Humanities for All here.


Cambridge is celebrating the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment and recognizing the Cambridge women who fought tirelessly for women’s right to vote. To commemorate this momentous occasion, the City is both commissioning a public art piece and hosting an event series.

The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

The City of Cambridge invites artists to submit qualifications for a $300,000 public art commission to commemorate the passage, in August 1920, of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which granted women the right to vote and resulted in the largest one-time addition to the American electorate, yet also left most women of color without access to the ballot box. A successful project will acknowledge the amendment’s complex history, its ongoing work in the shaping of American democracy, and the role of Cambridge women in the women’s suffrage movement.

Cambridge Arts, the official arts agency for the city, is managing the artist selection process. To be considered for this commission, submit your qualifications online to the Cambridge Arts artist registry by 5:00 p.m., September 30, 2019.

For more information, please visit this site.

For more than a decade, Harvard undergraduates have provided one-on-one and small group after-school mentoring to students from Allston-Brighton. Ed Portal mentors can also develop the curriculum for subject-specific offerings, including clubs, that allow local students to deepen their knowledge of a broad range of topics—from laboratory skills to computer animation.

Each semester, approximately 25 Harvard College undergraduate students serve as Mentors at the Harvard Ed Portal located at 224 Western Avenue in Allston. Mentors fulfill an important community outreach role by working with Allston-Brighton children and teens from a variety of backgrounds, encouraging their exploration of science, writing, public speaking, math, technology and the arts.

Mentors are committed to the vision of the Ed Portal as a community of learning without limits, and strive to instill in local youth the understanding that learning is a lifelong endeavor, making a difference in the lives of students who struggle in school, and offering inspiration and enrichment to all students. In addition, Mentors are committed to consciously developing their own skills as educators and learners.

To learn more and to apply to become a mentor, please visit this site.

Caminos de Paz Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now
September 4, 2019
by Rodriguez