Each academic cycle, UCSB’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC) hosts a series of talks revolving around a particular theme. This year, the IHC chose “Regeneration” as the common thread for the 2021-2022 public events series. Throughout the academic year, public intellectuals, artists, and other invitees will speak about topics that examine the processes and experiences of regeneration — the creation of new lives and forms — in contexts ranging from the conservation of Japanese textiles to the potential role of proactive human intervention in preserving the natural world.
As with other years, the IHC selected “Regeneration” as their theme after first polling the campus community, in order to anchor its project to the community’s thoughts and concerns. Once the theme is announced, community members are further encouraged to submit ideas and suggestions for event topics and speakers. IHC Director Susan Derwin said that out of several potential topics, regeneration was the most appropriate in this current context. “We thought that the theme of regeneration would help us envision how to move forward with an equitable and just future after a year of national reckonings toward racially motivated violence, pandemic-era health, and social justice,” she explained.
Despite the suggestion of hope for a better future, much of the content is drawn from truths and concepts that are uncomfortable or even profoundly disturbing. Dr. Derwin maintains that knowledge is empowering in these forms as well, because it “creates opportunities for people to not only learn and discover, but also for them to become more engaged and active in relation to salient issues.”
Speakers are largely chosen to enrich people’s understanding of stories, making original interventions that connect the past and the present. “We should not separate lived experience from acquired knowledge,” Dr. Derwin emphasized. “It’s important for people to understand the contexts in which they live and how their lives impact collective futures.” IHC’s public events are meant to provide a space for these culturally and intellectually diverse voices, when they are often excluded from mainstream narratives. In this way, the IHC also hopes to underscore how the humanities are crucial in that endeavor.
The next Regeneration speaker (the third of this series) is Harmonia Rosales, an Afro-Cuban American artist based in Los Angeles. In this talk, Rosales will discuss some of her work that uses representations from ancient Greek and Yoruba mythologies, and how it “invites viewers to challenge their ideas about identity and empowerment.” This body of work will also be featured in the exhibition Entwined, on display at UCSB’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum from January 8 to March 20.
The talk featuring Rosales will take place Thursday, January 27, from 4-6 p.m. in the McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB (Humanities and Social Sciences Building). Attendance is free of charge. Subsequent events — including a talk by Elizabeth Kolbert on April 4 — and a link to the mailing list can be found on the IHC’s website.