Punishment and Democracy: Prison Abolitionism in the Twenty-First Century (November 14, 2002)
Angela Davis, History of Consciousness, University of California at Santa Cruz
During the period of the American Revolution, the prison was proposed as an historical alternative to corporal and capital punishment. Today, in the era of a global prison industrial complex, this institution is cavalierly assumed to be inevitable and permanent. In the tradition of late eighteenth century democratic reformers, who saw the future of democracy as linked to the abolition of corporal (and capital) punishment, contemporary advocates for radical democracy urge us to imagine and fight for a world without prisons.
Making Sense of Non-Revolutionary Violence: The Rwandan Genocide (November 1, 2002)
Mahmood Mamdani, Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Director, The Institute of African Studies, Columbia University
By focusing on political violence and political identity in an era in which violence has often been considered a progressive force--a midwife of progress--how then do we understand the violence that does not fit this paradigm, the Rwandan Genocide, an event that brings to mind the Holocaust in Germany or the violence of partition in South Asia?
Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream (February 5, 2002)
Lerone Bennett, Jr., Executive Editor, Ebony Magazine, Chicago
Lerone Bennett traces the develop.m.ent of Lincoln's beliefs about African descended people, slavery, and citizenship from his youth through his assassination in 1865 situating Lincoln's thought and actions in the sociohistorical context in which he lived. In doing this, Bennett shows how Lincoln's racial politics laid the foundations for the system of racial apartheid that endures to this day.
In Whose Aid is Aid? International Cooperation for African Development (January 24, 2002)
Thelma Awori, Teachers' College, Columbia University
Thelma Awori examines the bilateral and multilateral institutions that were created to make international allies and friends. She argues that they have failed. Aid to Africa and other places has been abused and subverted for purposes that turn the word "aid" on its head.
On the Evolution of the Language Faculty (January 16, 2002)
Ray Jackendoff, George A. Miller Endowment Visiting Professor, UIUC and Program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science, Brandeis University
The human ability to learn language is a human cognitive specialization encoded (in some unknown way) in our genes. The evident adaptivity of linguistic communications suggests that this capacity arose through natural selection. It is therefore a challenge for linguistics to find a plausible route, using evidence from child and adult language acquisition, from aphasia, from pidgin and creole languages, from "language"-trained apes and from "fossils" of earlier forms of the language capacity still found in modern-day languages.