The Bog and the Beast: Museums, The Nation, and the World

How are national identities created and maintained?  What role does culture play, and how do museums contribute to national identities?  These are questions that Wellesley Professor Peggy Levitt will address in her talk:

“The Bog and The Beast: Museums, the Nation, and the World”
Thursday, March 1

3:30-5 pm
Intercultural Center- Second Floor Multipurpose Room

As Prof. Levitt has written:

“During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama told an adoring crowd of more than 250,000 gathered in Berlin’s Tiergarten that he was speaking to them as a citizen of the United States and as a citizen of the world.

“The President’s globalism, however, stands in sharp contrast to the fierce nationalism and anti-immigrant fever plaguing Europe and the United States.  What do we make of these two seemingly irreconcilable views?

“Museums might seem like unlikely places to look for answers. But ever since August 1793, when the leaders of the new French Republic opened the doors of the Louvre to the public to celebrate Louis XVI’s demise, museums have strongly influenced how people imagine the nations where they live. To create a unified “team” out of millions of people who would never meet, museums showcased the knowledge and customs their citizens shared.

“But in today’s global world, have museums taken on the challenge of creating the global citizens of the future too? Where do they fall in the battle between multilingual globalism and parochial nationalism? Why do particular cities create regionally or internationally-focused institutions while others create museums that look barely past their front doors?

Interview with Florence Levy Kay Fellow Beatrice De Gasquet

Editor’s note: Dr. Beatrice de Gasquet will moderate our discussion of “The Challenges of Global Migration” (this Wednesday, Feb. 15th, at 6:30 pm in the Mandel Center Reading Room).  

Next fall Dr. de Gasquet will teach A Democratic Babel? Language Politics in Contemporary Europe.  The class that will use language to explore topics in European politics such as European integration, the persistence of nationalisms, regionalism, minority rights and immigration. 

What IGS classes have you taught at Brandeis?

In the Fall I was teaching a class called ‘Behind the Veil’ about religion and ethnicity in France. The idea was to start with the law banning the veil in schools (and later banning the full veil in public space) and then talk more broadly about issues of religion, politics, race and immigration in France.  So we looked not only at Islam but also Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism in France to understand the history of religion, politics and secularism and how it intersects with the history of immigration in France. The point was to begin with a very specific issue and draw out the links with larger historical and political issues.

How do you think that these themes are relevant and useful for IGS students?

There were several things that came up especially in class discussions that are relevant for IGS students. For instance, depending on the country, the way people view the relationship between religion and politics is very different. Of course, the French view and the US view contrast quite nicely and this comparative aspect was very interesting to many students. I saw this in the presentations they did. Some talked about religion and politics in Morocco and Turkey so we had nice comparisons with other countries looking at race and immigration in different ways. There was another aspect that came up regarding the relationship between French and US politics.  French politics, on many issues, is in part a reaction to a perceived threat to national identity or independence from either the US or Europe or immigration from North Africa. So we addressed this particular connection between religion and concerns about national identity in France as opposed to other countries such as the US. Continue reading “Interview with Florence Levy Kay Fellow Beatrice De Gasquet”

An IGS Conversation: The Challenges of Global Migration

Refugees of Libyan War head to Europe.Wednesday February 15
7 PM (6:30 for pizza)

Mandel Center Reading Room (3rd Floor)

IGS will kick of the new semester on Wednesday evening, February 15, with the next installment in its year-long Conversation Series on global issues. Up for discussion will be “The Challenges of Global Migration.”

Why are so many of the world’s peoples on the move?  What awaits them when they arrive?  How can North Africans migrating to Europe cross divides of wealth, religion, and culture?

Four Brandeis seniors from the IGS Department will be sharing their conclusions on these and other challenges of migration, drawing from their own research and first-hand experience with migrant communities while studying abroad.

Tess Raser ’12, will discuss the work she did with Libyan refugees while studying abroad in Sicily. She is currently completing a senior thesis on the political anthropology of the refugee crisis there.


 Gabrielle Santoro ’12, will discuss the role that Moroccan immigrants play in the city of Granada, where she studied abroad in the spring of 2011.


Nashrah Rahman ’12, will explore why Egyptians are continuing to leave Egypt, even though the revolution has technically ended. She will be discussing the “push” and “pull” factors that are affecting many Egyptians’ decision to emigrate.


Elise Allan ’12, will examine the battle over the immigration and assimilation of North Africans in southern France. She has studied abroad in both Montpellier, France, and Quito, Ecuador.


Professor Beatrice de Gasquet, Florence Levy Kay Fellow of Culture and Politics in the Francophone World, will be moderating.

As always, we want to hear your thoughts on the matter, too! While much of our panelists’ work has focused on migrants in the Mediterranean world, we hope to broaden our discussion to include other global migrations as well. Here’s your chance to share your thoughts on the challenges that come with so many people on the move.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Three great talks on British and Global history, Feb. 8-10

From 2012 to 2014, IGS and the History Department will share a postodoctoral fellow, someone who will teach classes on “Britain and the World since 1750” for both programs. We’ve got three candidates.  All are fascinating — and all three are speaking at Brandeis this week (Feb. 8, 9 & 10).

Whom should we pick?  Come hear them and let us know what you think!

First up is a talk on the British Empire’s detention camps.  Did you know that, long before the Gulag, long before even the First World War, the British Empire was imprisoning and “re-educating” whole populations?  Come hear Aidan Forth, a Stanford historian, talk about:

“Britain’s Empire of Camps, 1876-1907”
Wednesday, February 8th @ 2:00 p.m.

Next up: a reconsideration of Victorian England.  Was it really a militaristic place shot through with racism?  Or were there plenty of pacificists about, especially in religious circles?  Come hear Ian Hopper, a Brandeis PhD, talk about:

“Absent Minded Conquerors: the paradoxes of English militarism and imperialism before the Great War”
Thursday, February 9th @ 3:00 p.m.

Finally, what did the colonies think of the First World War?  We’re used to the idea that Australia and Canada hated fighting for Britain and thus headed for independence.  But what if they loved contributing to the cause as England’s equals? What do museum exhibitions of the time tell us?  Come here Yale historian Jennifer Wellington talk about:

“Exhibiting the First World War in Britain and its Empire”
Friday, February 10th @ 4:00 p.m.

All talks will be held in Olin-Sang 207.  See you there!