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Abolish Human Bans: Intertwined Histories of Architecture

Esra Akcan, Michael A. McCarthy Professor of Architectural Theory, Department of Architecture, Cornell University

Cornell AAP faculty member Esra Akcan speaks about her recently published book,  Abolish Human Bans: Intertwined Histories of Architecture (CCA 2022).  Published as part of the CCA Singles series, Esra Akcan builds on her theory of architectural translation to construct an activist gesture—through the lens of architectural history—against the anti-immigration policies of ruling powers. To contest the alleged inaccessibility of seven countries specifically vilified by the United States government, Akcan explores case studies from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Iran, and Yemen, tracing some of the transportations and transformations of architecture in each. The projects in this book demonstrate that modern architectural histories are global and intertwined, and frame questions as to whether architects can commit their ethical and political compasses to peace rather than to dominant geopolitical regimes. Andrew Scheinman, editor at the Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA) speaks after the talk to introduce the book as part of the center’s innovative CCA Singles series.  This recording is a hybrid event with audiences attending in person on on Zoom.

Esra Akcan is Michael A. McCarthy Professor of Architectural Theory, Department of Architecture.  Akcan's research on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism foregrounds the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia and offers new ways to understand architecture's role in global, social, and environmental justice. 

April 20, 2022


Fanon, Phenomenology and Psychiatry

Jean Khalfa Fellow and Senior Lecturer in French Studies, Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Fanon’s phenomenological and psychiatric references are both obvious and intriguing in all of his political works. They seem to determine his interpretation of the colonial situation and the decolonizing processes he was deeply involved in, in Martinique, Algeria as well as in Subsaharan Africa.  In Black Skin, White Masks (1952), the effect of the racist gaze upon its victim is described as and alienation via a destruction of the “body schema, ”a notion borrowed from Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who himself imported it into phenomenology from psychiatry. In The Wretched of the Earth (1961) Fanon describes the colonial situation in the same terms as he had described classical psychiatric internment and presents participation in an anti-colonial struggle as a form of disalienation similar to the techniques of psychiatric social therapy which he had pioneered in his clinical work.

With the recent publication of 800 pages of lost or forgotten material by Fanon, Alienation and Freedom (2018 and 2020) (Écrits sur l’aliénation et la liberté, 2015, 2019), it is now possible to see that rather than providing simple analogies, Fanon’s phenomenological and psychiatric reflections are the foundations of his political thought, and what has made it so enduring.

March 20, 2022


Connecting Art Histories Across Africa and Asia

This presentation reflects on Connecting Modern Art Histories in and across Africa, South and Southeast Asia (MAHASSA) project, which brought together a team of international faculty and emerging scholars to investigate the cultural histories of these regions. Shaped by shared developments, these regions are marked by similar experiences that include the rise of modern art practices associated with the withdrawal of colonialism and the consolidation of nationalism, the founding of institutions such as the art school and the museum, and increasing exchange with international metropolitan centers via travel and the movement of ideas through publications and exhibitions. MAHASSA emphasized a connected and contextualized approach to better understand both common developments as well as divergent trajectories, and included two intensive 10-day workshops, Hong Kong (Aug 2019), and Dhaka (Feb 2020).

MAHASSA is a partnership between Asia Art Archive, Dhaka Art Summit, and Cornell University’s Institute for Comparative Modernities, and has been generously supported by Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative.

Speakers:  Diana Campbell Betancourt, Iftikhar Dadi, Anissa Rahadiningtyas, Muhammad Nafisur Rahman, Amie Soudien, Akshaya Tankha, John Tain, Ming Tiampo

October 12, 2020







Anti-Racism, Activism and Institutional Change

A conversation with Cornell faculty and students about the obstacles and opportunities the present moment has raised for anti-racism and activism in the university and elsewhere.  

Speakers:  Russell Rickford (Department of History)  and student activists from across the College of Arts and Sciences:   Max Greenberg, Kun Huang, Bwesigye Mwesigire, Estefania Perez, Jessica Diaz Rodriguez, Krinal Thakkar, and Kevin Zong,  Moderated by Derek Chang (Department of History, Asian American Studies Program) and Shelley Wong (Department of English, Asian American Studies Program)

October 14, 2020


From One Arab Spring to Another: A Regional Revolutionary Process

Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations, SOAS University of London

Discussants: Ziad Fahmy, Professor, Near Eastern Studies, Cornell University; Samia Henni, Assistant Professor, Architecture; Fouad Makki, Associate Professor, Global Development, Cornell University

September 30, 2020

Health, Inequality and Pandemics

Panelists:  Jamila Michener, Assistant Professor, Department of Government, Cornell University

Suman Seth, Marie Underhill Noll Professor of the History of Science, Department of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University

Moderators/co-hosts:  Fouad M. Makki, Director, The Polson Institute for Global Development, Associate Professor, Department of Global Development, Cornell University

Natalie Melas, Resident Director, ICM, Department of Comparative Literature, Cornell University

May 21, 2020

CAMP: Cinema at a Time of More Cameras than People

Shaina Anand
Filmmaker and Artist, CAMP, Mumbai
September 27, 2019

Aesthetic Economies

Pedro Erber
Associate Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies, Romance Studies, Cornell University

October 24,  2018


Reading Édouard Glissant

Jacques Coursil
Independent Scholar and Jazz Musician

August 30,  2018

The Colonial Genealogies of Fascisms in Europe

Eleni Varikas
Emeritus Professor, Political Theory and Gender Studies, Université Paris 8/Saint-Denis
Researcher, Centre de Recherches Sociologiques et Politiques de Paris Cresppa (CNRS)

April 11, 2018


Marxism and Romantic Anticapitalism

Michael Löwy
Emeritus Research Director at the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research)
Lecturer, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

March 27, 2018

The Disinformation Age: The Collapse of Liberal Democracy in the United States

Eric Cheyfitz
Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters
English Department, Cornell University

February 13, 2018 

Homo Oeconomicus of the 'New Turkey': Urban Development in the 2000s

Esra Akcan
Associate Professor, Architecture, Cornell University
Director, Cornell Institute for European Studies

October 19, 2017

Juridical Colonialism, International Law, and the Ottoman Response

Mostafa Minawi
Assistant Professor, History, Cornell University
Director, Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative

November 29, 2017

Objects from the Deep

Naiza Khan
Artist, London and Karachi

September 14, 2017

Our Future is Another's Past

Sibo Grovogui
Professor, Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University

October 12, 2017

A Politics of Habitability: Plants, Healing, and Sovereignty in a Toxic World

Stacey Langwick
Associate Professor, Anthropology, Cornell University

April 11, 2017

Lecture by Tariq Ali: The Birth of Modern Europe and the Expulsion of Muslims and Jews from Spain

View this lecture on Cornellcast

Abolitionism, Modern Anti-Slavery, and #BlackLivesMatter

Edward E. Baptist
Professor, History, Cornell University

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Mutilated Cartography

Françoise Vergès
Consutling Professor, Goldsmiths College, University of London

October 29, 2013

Against Sovereign Violence: Feminist Activism and Law in Ghana

Saida Hodžić
Assistant Professor, Anthropology; Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Cornell University

December 3, 2015

The Futures of Indian Communism

Vijay Prashad
George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History; Professor, International Studies, Trinity College

April 16, 2017

Subversive Santiago, 1920

Raymond Craib
Associate Professor, Department of History, Cornell University

September 9, 2014

Muslims and the Secular State: The View from Practice

Abdullahi An-Na’im
Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, School of Law, Emory University

April 18, 2017

American Muslims of Imagined and Re-Imagined Communities

Abdullahi An-Na’im
Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, School of Law, Emory University

April 17, 2013

Film Screening and Panel Discussion, "Maryse Condé: Une Voix Singulière"

Carole Boyce Davies
English; Africana Studies, Cornell University

Naminata Diabate
Comparative Literature, Cornell University

Kavita Singh
Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto

Marie-Claire Vallois
French Studies, Cornell University

Françoise Vergès
Goldsmiths College, University of London; Collège d’études mondiales

April 30, 2013

What Does the Emerging International Law of Migration Mean for Sovereignty?

Chantal Thomas
Professor of Law, Cornell Law School

October 2, 2013

One of These Mornings You're Gonna Rise Up Singing': The Secret Black Feminist History of Porgy and Bess

Daphne Brooks
Professor, English and African American Studies, Princeton University

April 12, 2017

Just War Theory and the Invention of the American Man

Gerard Aching
Professor, Romance Studies, Cornell University

April 10, 2012

The Feelings of Motherless Children: AIDS Orphans and their Epistles to the Dead


Assistant Professor, English, Cornell University

Accumulating Insecurity: Violence and Dispossession as Lived Experience


Professor, Development Sociology; Director, Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, Cornell University



Professor, Development Sociology, Cornell University

Ordinary Egyptians: Creating the Modern Nation through Popular Culture

Ziad Fahmy
Assistant Professor, Near Eastern Studies, Cornell University

November 2, 2011

Freedom and Democracy: Rethinking Political Philosophy in Modern Africa

Olúfémi Táíwò
Professor of Philosophy and Global African Studies and Director of the Global African Studies Program, Seattle University

October 18, 2011

Can the New Man Speak?

Bruno Bosteels
Professor, Romance Studies, Cornell University

September 14, 2011