In the Balance: Humanitarianism and Responsibility

October 10-12, 2008

Above: Kimsooja, Bottari Truck, 2000, 2.5 ton truck stacked with Bottaris, installation view at Rodin Gallery, Seoul. Photo by Kim Hyunsoo. Courtesy of The Samsung Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul Sponsored by the HR I and UCHI’s Foundations of Humanitarianism Initiative (click image for larger size)

Conference of the Humanities Institute
and the Human Rights Institute of the University of Connecticut
Sponsored by Foundations of Humanitarianism

Conference Organizers: Alexis Dudden and Kerry Bystrom

Introduction

The central aim of this conference is to think through the rapidly expanding body of scholarship on humanitarianism - both as a discourse and practice - beyond its longtime amalgamated human rights framework. We hope to better understand the concept of humanitarianism as it is currently deployed around the globe, and to assess its future as a guiding political principle for behavior on the individual, state, and transnational levels. Our complementary focus on responsibility leads us to interrogate how humanitarianism defines obligation towards the other, to consider the effects of such definitions - including the limitations they impose - and to raise problems and possibilities for alternative conceptions of the ties that bind humans together.

Queries can be directed to conference organizers:
Alexis Dudden and Kerry Bystrom. Please continue to check this website for updated information.

Conference Agenda

Schedule of Events

Friday October 10th

4 p.m.
Keynote Lecture: (Open to the public)
"A World History of Genocide"
Ben Kiernan, Yale University
Konover Auditorium, Dodd Center
Reception to follow

Saturday October 11

All panels will be held in the Rome Ballroom and are open to the public by pre-registration only.

9-10:30 a.m.
"Coding the Humanitarian"
Jacqueline Bhabha, Harvard University;
Timothy Shorrock, Independent journalist;
Ron Dudai,University of York
Moderator: Alexis Dudden, UConn

10:45a.m.-12:15 p.m.
"Institutional Responsibility"
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Australia National University;
David Forsythe, University of Nebraska;
Selma Leydesdorff, University of Amsterdam
Moderators: David Leheny, Princeton University and Emma Gilligan, UConn

1:15-3 p.m.
"The Morality of Responsibility"
Eyal Sivan, Filmmaker/University of East London;
Eyal Weizman, Architect/University of London;
Christiane Schonfeld, National University of Ireland
Moderators: Mark Bradley, University of Chicago and Thomas Keenan, Bard College

3:15-4:30 p.m.
"Culture, Theory, Responsibility"
Mark Sanders, NYU;
Jennifer Wenzel, Universityof Michigan;
Sarah Nuttall, WISER/University of the Witwatersrand
Moderator: Eleni Coundouriotis, UConn

4:30 p.m.
"In the Balance"
Nuruddin Farah, Novelist;
Zakes Mda, Novelist;
Joseph Slaughter, Columbia University
Moderator: Kerry Bystrom, UConn

Speakers

Jacqueline Bhabha, Harvard University
Mark Bradley, University of Chicago
Ron Dudai,University of York
Nuruddin Farah, Novelist
David Forsythe, University of Nebraska
Thomas Keenan, Bard College
Ben Kiernan, Yale University
David Leheny, Princeton University
Selma Leydesdorff, University of Amsterdam
Zakes Mda, Novelist
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Australia National University
Sarah Nuttall, WISER/University of the Witwatersrand
Mark Sanders, NYU
Christiane Schonfeld, National University of Ireland
Timothy Shorrock, Independent journalist
Eyal Sivan, Filmmaker/University of East London
Joseph Slaughter, Columbia University
Eyal Weizman, Architect/University of London
Jennifer Wenzel, Universityof Michigan

Call For Papers

In the Balance: Humanitarianism and Responsibility

Our central aim is to think through the rapidly expanding body of scholarship on humanitarianism — both as a discourse and practice — beyond its longtime amalgamated human rights framework. We hope to better understand the concept of humanitarianism as it is currently deployed around the globe, and to assess its future as a guiding political principle for behavior on individual, state, and transnational levels. The conference’s complementary focus on responsibility leads us to interrogate how humanitarianism defines obligation towards the other, to consider the effects of such definitions — including the limitations they impose — and to raise problems and possibilities for alternative conceptions of the ties that bind humans together. Panels will focus on themes ranging from humanitarian institutions to moral arguments about good and evil and fictional representations of empathy, complicity, and interconnection.

Please submit a one-page abstract and a CV (no more than 3 pages) by June 1, 2008 to organizers, Alexis Dudden or Kerry Bystrom.

Organizer Biographies

Alexis Dudden (PhD, Chicago, 1998) is Associate Professor of History at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. She is the author of "Troubled Apologies Among Japan, Korea, and the United States" (Columbia University, 2008) and "Japan's Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power" (University of Hawaii, 2005) as well as a number of articles and Internet essays. She is currently researching the politics of food security in Northeast Asia and its ramifications for humanitarian response and action. She teaches courses on modern Japanese and Korean history.

Kerry Bystrom (PhD, Princeton, 2007) is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. She is currently at work on a manuscript exploring the public role that the retelling of "roots," genealogies, and other family origin stories has played in the recent Argentine and South African transitions to democracy. She is also developing a project that focuses on the move beyond "human rights" to rival ethical paradigms of responsibility in contemporary fiction by JM Coetzee, Amitav Ghosh, and Kazuo Ishiguro. Dr. Bystrom holds a B.A., summa cum laude, in Government and English/Creative Writing from Dartmouth College, NH. She has taught at Princeton University, NJ; Bard College, NY; and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and author of forthcoming articles on South African and Argentine literary and cultural studies.