IGS and Environmental Studies Alum, Peniamina (Ben) Percival ’18, is headed to the Tokyo Olympics this month to compete in judo, representing his home country of Samoa. Read the full article here .
As you prepare to select courses for the Fall semester, take a look at these new and intriguing courses.
IGS 160a Asian Gangsters: Contemporary Crime Cinema Tuesday/Thursday 10am-11:30am EST
This new course taught by Professor Avinash Singh studies contemporary crime films to examine modern Asian society and politics. This course is a Media, Culture, and Arts elective course that can help you meet the elective requirements for the IGS major and IGS minor.
HIST 187b: Unequal Histories: Caste, Religion and Dissent in India Tuesday/Thursday 4pm-5:30pm EST
In 2019, Brandeis became the first American university to expressly prohibit caste bias by including caste in its non-discrimination policy.
This course taught by Professor Avinash Singh explores connections between race and caste by comparing similar systems in America and Nazi Germany. It examines the religions, political, and social dimensions of caste, marginalized voices and an alternative discourse of dissent and social justice.
This is an Economy, Health, Environment elective course that can help you meet the elective requirements for the IGS major and IGS minor.
IGS 136b – Contemporary Chinese Society and Culture Monday/Wednesday 10am-11:30am EST
Another relatively new course to consider enrolling in this Fall is Professor Elanah Uretsky’s IGS 136b – Contemporary Chinese Society and Culture.
This course introduces students to contemporary Chinese society, with a focus on the rapid transformations that have taken place during the post-Mao era with a focus on family, gender, sexuality, migration, ethnicity, and family planning.
This is an Economy, Health, Environment elective course that can help you meet the elective requirements for the IGS major and IGS minor.
By Benjamin Dombrowski
June 1, 2021
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 crisis has forced the world to reimagine every dimension of daily life. Industries of all sorts, from healthcare, education, to restaurant dining, have all been forced to adapt to the realities of pandemic life. That pressure to adapt, and the risk of failing to do so, has been particularly acute in the world of theater arts. Even over a year into the pandemic, many theaters and theater companies remain closed to live audiences.
Since graduating from Brandeis University in 2013, Brooklynite, creative producer, and dramaturg Iyvon Edebiri has been working hard to revolutionize the theater industry long before the start of the pandemic, both on and off the stage. Her most recent project, The Parsnip Ship, is a modern podcast play company bringing underproduced playwrights and artists to the digital stage. Inspired by the popular radio plays of the 20th century, The Parsnip Ship is redefining what it means to produce theater in a time when traditional in-house theater productions are largely on hold. However, for Iyvon, The Parsnip Ship is not only an answer to the crisis facing theater arts today, but an example of the future of theater more generally.
In a recent conversation with IGS, Iyvon discussed her journey from Brandeis into the energized world of NYC theater. Along the way, she also shared her thoughts about the impact of COVID on the arts industry, the future of theater in a post-pandemic world, and advice for graduating seniors hoping to break into the world of performing arts.
I know your current project is called The Parsnip Ship. Could you talk a little bit about what you do there?
Yeah. So I’m doing a lot of different things and Parsnip is one. It’s an organization that I run as the artistic director. In general, I’m a creative producer, dramaturge, and company manager. All of my work tends to specifically intersect in one of those roles.
So with Parsnip I’m doing a lot of creative producing and dramaturgy specifically to support my organization. [The Parsnip Ship] is all about sharing or bringing back, especially before COVID, the world of radio plays as a viable form of theatrical entertainment. I want the masses to really consider radio plays to be part of the theatrical cannon, especially in the new play development sector, while also using Parsnip as a vehicle for underproduced, undershowcased playwright, musicians, and directors all in an accessible format. So anything related to audio theater and new play development tends to fall within my Parsnip Ship sphere
How has it been being a company manager in NYC? Could you talk more about that chapter of your career?
So a lot of my upcoming work is spanning indie, experimental, device theater to off-Broadway and I’m usually working on this through creative producing and dramaturgy. More so before COVID I was working as a company manager […] but I do still consider myself a company manager because those skills have been super, super helpful in the other two roles that I hold and how I work and collaborate with artists.
That actually came from my time at Brandeis as a community advisor, because I didn’t know what a company manager was when I applied for a job. When it was explained to me, what a company manager did, I thought ‘Oh! It’s an RA for artists. I can do that!’. I was the head CA of one of the buildings in Massel.
I’ve really, really enjoyed the logistical and creative challenges of being a company manager. I think a lot of the skillsets of being a company manager at such a young age in New York City was fortified by being a CA.
Did you move right out to NYC after graduating from Brandeis?
I’m from New York City, so I moved right back to Brooklyn and started my career in theater from scratch. Most of my theater contacts were in Boston. So yeah, I started from scratch in my own city to figure out theater and what I wanted to do.
What made you want to go back to New York instead of staying in Boston?
I realized that one great thing about Boston theater is that it’s small, so you tend to see a lot of the same people. I’m still subscribed to newsletters and often I see names that remind me ‘Oh yeah, I saw that person in this show, this show, this show’. Boston theater has a really tight community, but at the same time, it’s really hard to break into that community because people are so clicky.
When I was thinking about whether I would come back to New York or Boston, I realized that New York was a better bet. Yes, it’s a bigger pond and there are more fishes, but I just knew I wanted to have more experiences and opportunities that the Boston theater scene couldn’t provide because it’s small. And that’s works for some people – it just wasn’t for me, at the time.
I’m a person who needs to see the many different things that are available before I start to specifically hone in on what interests me. I don’t think if I had stayed in Boston, I would have really understood or found a passion for new play development. When I came to New York I realized that new play development was this space and this thing. That wasn’t even mentioned to me during my time at Brandeis in the theater department, we were reading a lot of classic plays. We only read one black play while I was there, which is crazy. It was so limited in scope and I didn’t want that.
What are your thoughts regarding the impact of COVID on the creative energy of the theater industry? Are people really excited to get back out there once theaters can open again?
Yes and no. I think a year ago, if you had asked if we were ready to get back to the theater, I would have said yes, for sure.
The closer it comes to that time, because it’s coming in the fall […], I don’t think anyone wants to go back to the hardships that exist in theater, the living paycheck to paycheck, the fact that more people are making money with unemployment on a weekly basis than they would as full-time working artists. I don’t think people want to go back to that.
But people miss audiences, we miss connecting with each other. Right now I don’t think I necessarily miss shows, but once I finally sit in one and the lights go dark I’ll probably just start to cry.
I think people just really want to come back safely and consciously. It was a very traumatic year for the arts industry and not everyone made it, not everyone survived. That’s really hard and I think we’re going to need lots of grace.
We’re all people. I think that’s what we realized, even without our art we’re all people. So there is excitement, but there’s also anxiety.
Do more people see genres like the one The Parsnip Ships exists in as a solution, as a way to move on with theater in a post COVID world?
I think it’s a solution for some, but it’s not the end all be all. Radio plays over the last year have definitely made its mark as viable theater, which is the thing I’ve wanted. It happened, it happened rather quickly.
But there are still things that need to be worked out. Union stuff needs to be worked out.
However, radio plays and audio theater are going to be here to stay, including other forms of digital theater. I think it would be really [messed] up if theater companies offered all of these virtual offerings and then just took them away.
We as an industry need to parse through what all of these things really mean for us. If we’re a nonprofit and our work is for the greater good, we are anchored to the thought and idea of things being accessible for everyone. That includes physical accessibility, that includes theater being affordable, and then also, how do we continue to cultivate community?
COVID has shown us again that borders are kind of meaningless in this digital world, especially when it comes to theater making. We should continue that, we shouldn’t shrink back and do the same thing we did before.
Was it frustrating for you that it took something catastrophic like COVID for your genre of theater to be more widely recognized and appreciated?
Yeah, I think it was, it really was. It sometimes feels like you’re screaming into the void that “I’m doing this cool thing! I need money and support. This is a way forward!”, and people just say no. And now, radio theater is one of the few forms of reliable theater that we’ve had over the last year. So I do feel frustrated that it took this long, but I’m glad that it happened.
I wouldn’t have ever thought a pandemic would have been the cause, I thought that the rise of podcasts would hopefully bleed into the theatrical sector and people would realize that really good storytelling could be done in this way. […] I’m also glad that Americans specifically have caught on. There’s not this issue in the UK, because the UK has always had a strong love and support for audio theaters, specifically through the BBC.
Are you afraid of going back to that old normal again after COVID or do you think that real progress has been made, that people recognize radio theater as legitimate?
Yes I do because it’s borderless. We just recorded a radio play that had people in Chicago, Los Angeles, and in New York. We just did a production together, a legitimate SAG production. Everyone did it in the comfort of their own homes. Risk was mitigated. So, why wouldn’t we want to do this again? Corona, it’s going to be here for a while.
2020 told us anything could happen, literally anything could happen. If we go forward with that mindset, why wouldn’t we just set up systems and processes so that this is a viable, consistent source of media? People in theater have gotten really inventive. To go back to what it was before would be boring.
With a graduating class going into a world of work that’s totally different than anything anyone ever expected, do you have any advice for Brandeis graduates hoping to get involved in the art and theater industries?
For one, definitely be bold and excited about your ideas. Even if no one has done it before, or someone has done it but you think you can improve upon it in your own unique way, go for it!
Also, Brandeis collabs are really dope. Finding friends, even if you think they might not be necessarily in your industry, it’s interesting the ways in which Brandeis people are knowledgeable and eager to engage with you and collaborate with you on your ideas.
So for example, at Parsnip, our head of special projects is Jesse Manning who graduated literally next to me in 2013. I lived across the hall from him freshman year […] We also have Todd Kirkland who I also met freshman year, graduated 2013 with Jesse and I, and he runs the digital operations for parsnip. And he’s not a theater industry person. He was at Google when we reconnected and he came to a Parsnip episode and he loved it. He came to more and asked how he could get involved and support this mission and this project. […] So I think that reaching out to some Brandeis networks is great. Try writing to people to see what they’re doing and try reconnecting with people.
For more information about The Parsnip Ship and Iyvon’s work, visit
When: Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 11:00am-12:15pm Eastern Time
Where: Register here for Zoom login details
The Green Movement protests in Iran after the 2009 presidential election are often described as a “failed revolution,” and the Iranian state casts participants as “seditionists.” In this talk, based on his recent book Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings, Pouya Alimagham will challenge this conventional win-lose binary interpretation of Iranian politics by examining how those activists coopted and subverted the ideology of the government to attack it. By appropriating and reprogramming the symbols and history of Shiite Islam, Palestinian liberation, and the Iranian Revolution, they challenged the Islamic Republic’s legitimacy at its very core. Although the Green Movement may have failed to cancel the presidential election results or bring down the state, Alimagham argues it succeeded in undermining the state’s ideological foundations and continuing a century-old legacy of democratic struggle in Iran.
Pouya Alimagham is a lecturer in the Department of History at MIT.
Hadi Kahalzadeh, discussant, is a doctoral fellow at the Crown Center and a PhD candidate in Social Policy at the Heller School.
Hosted by the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University.
Cosponsored by the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies program, Department of History, International and Global Studies program, and Department of Politics at Brandeis.
When: Thursday April 29, 2021 7:00pm – 8:00pm EST | Friday April 30, 2021 7:00am-8:00pm GMT in China
Where: Register on Handshake https://app.joinhandshake.com/events/717471
Join IGS for a virtual alumni panel discussion moderated by Professor Chandler Rosenberger. This event will feature three Alumni working for technology companies:
Fizz Ahmed ’13 – Account Executive, Google
Click here to see Fizz’s professional experiences on LinkedIn
Yidi Du ’17 – Global Product Operations Strategist, ByteDance
Click here to see Yidi’s professional experiences on LinkedIn
Siddharth Joshi ’11 – Senior Product Manager, Amazon
Click here to see Siddarth’s professional expereinces on LinkedIn
When: Thursday April 15, 2021 8:00pm – 9:00pm EST | Friday April 16, 2021 8:00am-9:00pm GMT
Where: Click here to join the zoom meeting with passcode TRIVIAL. No registration required.
Join IGS for an international themed trivia night! Our UDRS will host this event in partnership with the Department of Student Activities. Enjoy time socializing with fellow IGS students and opportunities to win exciting prizes!
Image Description: Peach flyer with blue, green, and purple stripes on the top and bottom corners. There is vertical text that says Department of Student Activities Presents: IGS Themed Trivia. The Horizontal texts says April 15, 2021 8pm-9pm. All you need is a device for zoom and a way to access the website KAHOOT.IT. Possible Prizes weighted blanket, coffee maker, headphones, international snack box, paint by number, and more! Zoom Information: Password TRIVIAL. Zoom link: there is a picture of a QR code.
When: Monday, April 12 11:30am-1pm ET on Zoom
Where: Click here to register for the zoom webinar
Join the Center for German and European Studies at Brandeis and IGS for a discussion about Germany’s super election year 2021 and the rise of green politics. We will preview the election season and what the vote might bring for Europe’s biggest economy, its role on the path towards carbon neutrality and the prospects for transatlantic relations for a green agenda.
Featured Guest Speakers:
Claudia Kemfert, Head of the department Energy, Transportation, Environment at the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW Berlin)
Arne Jungjohann, political scientist and senior analyst, member of the Green Academy of the Heinrich Böll Foundation
This April, IGS distributed an email newsletter filled with events, scholarship opportunities, fellowship opportunities and more for IGS Majors, IGS Minors and those interested in the program.
If you would like to receive future newsletters and communication from IGS please contact IGS@brandeis.edu to sign up.
You can view the April 2021 newsletter by clicking the preview below:
When: Thursday Mar. 25, 2021 8:00pm EST
Where: Click here to register for the zoom webinar
Join the Brandeis Student Union on Thursday March 25th at 8pm for an important conversation regarding the recent rising anti-Asian racism in the U.S. and how Brandeis can support the Asian and Asian American community.
Karen Phuong ‘22, Panny Tao ‘21 and Luke Liu ‘21 will give a presentation on the recent hate crimes against the Asian-American community with different historical contexts. They will then shift the discussion by talking about the divide between Asian-Americans and Asian international students in society, while sharing their experiences on encountering cultural misunderstanding and inequalities.
Professor Rajesh Sampath of the Philosophy of Justice, Rights, and Social Change at the Heller School, will then bring a new topic to discuss by sharing his thoughts on the current situation as well as his experiences being a South-Asian.
This safe space is welcome to everyone who is interested in facilitating discussion regarding this imminent topic that is circulating in America today.
Image Description: The left side of the flyer says Panny Tao ’21, Karen Phuong ’22, Luke Liu ’21 Brandeis Student Union.
Responding to Anti-Asian Racism. Comparing domestic and international experiences. Asian American and Asian International students at Brandeis share their experiences with racism and reflect on ways to improve campus inclusivity.
Thursday March 25 8pm EDT. Register https://tinyurl.com/yzpfkopl
The right side of the flyer says Speakers. There is a photo of Peng (Panny) Tao and their bio says I am an international student from Hunan, China and currently serving as the Diversity and Inclusion Officer on the Student Union. I am also a Roosevelt Fellow under the Academic services.
There is a photo of Karen Phuong and their bio says I am a third-year student in the BS/MS Biology program from New York, NY. I am an Undergraduate Researcher in the Biochemistry Department and work as a Community Advisor and Orientation Leader. I am also a Posse STEM scholar.
There is a photo of Luke Liu and their bio says I am a senior from Shenzhen, China, majoring in IGS and Economics. I am also the managing editor of the Justice newspaper.
There is a photo of Professor Rajesh Sampath and their bio says I am an Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Justice, RIghts, and SOcial Change at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. My teaching and research interests are in critical race theory, intersectionality, minority rights, and theories of justice and democracy.