Mellon-Sawyer Public Events

To create opportunities for visiting Sawyer scholars to engage with the campus community, WSIP has arranged two residencies and a series of public events on themes linked to the invitation-only Sawyer Seminars. These events feature internationally renowned scholars who have shaped critical studies across the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Please plan to join us for lectures on November 12th (Professor Ann Stoler) and April 7th (Professor Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o) and for the “Emergent Frameworks” roundtables in October, March, and April, described below. Please also join us for Professor Andrea Felber Seligman’s lecture, “Crafting New Economies: Inland Trade and Regional Aesthetics in the East African Indian Ocean World, c. 1200-1600 CE” on October 1 from 5-7pm in Herter 601. An historian of Africa, Professor Seligman is the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow affiliated with the Sawyer Seminar. Check back for more information about these events as the dates approach.


November 11-14, 2015
Professor Ann Stoler (Anthropology, New School)
Ann stolerProfessor Stoler is the Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and History at the New School in New York City and Founding Director of the Institute for Critical Social Inquiry (ICSI). During her residency at UMass-Amherst in November, Professor Stoler will meet with communities of faculty and graduate students, and give a public lecture on Thursday, November 12 at 5pm (Bernie Dallas Room, Goodell), drawing from her new book, DURESS: CONCEPT-WORK FOR OUR TIMES (forthcoming 2016). Stoler’s six groundbreaking monographs include Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things (1995), Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (2002), Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (2009), and most recently Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination (2013). She has also co-edited the collections, Haunted by Empire: Geographies of the Intimate in North American History (2006) and Imperial Formations (2007). Professor Stoler has been a visiting distinguished professor at the École des hautes études and at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and is recipient of Fulbright, Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, and Social Science Research Council fellowships.

April 6-9, 2016
Professor and author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (Caribbean and African literature, UC Irvine)
ngugi_wa_thiongo2Professor Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and English Literature at the University of California-Irvine, internationally acclaimed author, and a leading light in African letters today. During his residency at UMass-Amherst next April, Professor Ngũgĩ  will meet with communities of faculty and graduate students, and give the Distinguished Troy lecture on “James Joyce and the English Metaphysical Empire,” Thursday, April 7 at 4:30pm (Bowker Auditorium), sponsored by the English Department.  His literary-philosophical works such as Decolonising the Mind, Moving the Centre: Struggle For Cultural Freedoms, and Penpoints, Gunpoints and Dreams have shaped contemporary global thought, and his many acclaimed novels and plays include The River Between, A Grain of Wheat, Petals of Blood, Matigari Ma Njirũũngi (Gĩkŭyũ), and Wizard of the Crow. Professor Thiong’o holds honorary degrees from University of Dar es Salaam and University of Bayreuth, and he has received numerous awards, including the Lotus Prize for Literature, the Nonino International Prize for Literature, the National Book Critics Circle Award for his recent autobiography In the House of the Interpreter, and the Nicolás Guillén Lifetime Achievement Award for Philosophical Literature.

Emergent Frameworks Roundtables

Emergent Frameworks roundtables bring together visiting Sawyer scholars to discuss what they consider the most important new directions in their fields, especially in relation to postcolonial and world studies. Sawyer scholars will open with short presentations, followed by dialogue among the roundtable participants and then by open discussion among presenters and audience.

Thursday, October 22, 2015 (4:30pm-6:30pm in Isenberg 210)
Translating Literary-Political Worlds:
Longue Durée Perspectives and African/Asian Spheres

mansa musaFeaturing Sawyer scholars of translation, linguistics, and literatures, this roundtable addresses the cutting-edge work and concepts that are currently shaping literary-cultural analysis in African studies, Indian Ocean Studies, and medieval Middle Eastern studies. With moderator Sheldon Pollock (Columbia), presenters include Simon Gikandi (Princeton), Fallou Ngom (BU), Isabel Hofmeyr (U of the Witwatersrand), and Hayrettin Yucesoy (Washington U).

Thursday, March 3, 2016 (5:30PM, Isenberg 210)
Emergent Frameworks in World Political Economy:
Revisiting Westphalian and Capitalist Narratives

Sawyer scholars of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and International Relations rethink standard accounts of capitalism and the emergence of so-called “modern” states. With Mary Louise Pratt presiding, presenters include Kenneth Pomeranz (U Chicago), John Thornton (BU), Pinar Bilgin (Bilkent U), and Siba Grovogui (Cornell).


Wednesday, April 6, 2016 (4:00PM, Integrative Learning Center Room S211)
Archiving African Imaginaries
A Screening of “Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o: The River between Indigenous and Colonial Languages,” by prize-winning documentarian Ndirangu Wachanga, followed by conversation between Ndirangu Wachanga and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, moderated by Prof. Annette Damayanti Lienau. Sponsored in part by the Five College Consortium.


Friday, April 8, 2016 (10:30AM, Isenberg 210)
Emergent Frameworks Roundtable: Language and African Polities in the Longue Durée
April roundtable
Featuring panelists Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Ousseina Alidou (Rutgers), and Rowland Abiodun (Amherst). Moderated by Simon Gikandi (Princeton) and Mwangi wa Githinji (UMass-Amherst).