The CHI partners with departments and programs across campus to present symposia, readings, lectures, and conferences.

Fri, Sep 23, 2022

Headshot of Jason Moran

A Pre-Concert Conversation with Presidential Scholar Jason Moran

6:30 pm Arms Music Center, Buckley Recital Hall

Composer, pianist and Presidential Scholar Jason Moran speaks with audience members in anticipation of his concert tribute to iconic figure in the evolution of African American music, ragtime pioneer and World War I hero, James Reese Europe. Part of the President's Colloquium on Race and Racism. No tickets required.

The concert, James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin, follows at 8:00 p.m. Tickets required for the concert.

Archival photo of James Reese Europe with his military band looking on

Presidential Scholar Jason Moran in concert - James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin

Composer, pianist and visual artist Jason Moran reflects on the legacy of a hero of Black music in a multidisciplinary program entitled James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin. An iconic figure in the evolution of African American music, ragtime pioneer and World War I hero, James Reese Europe led a crack military ensemble called the Harlem Hellfighters. In addition to their achievements in combat, Europe and his Hellfighters popularized the new spirit of jazz in a war-torn French nation fascinated with Black culture. And that’s only the beginning of their story—their legacy has had an extraordinary impact on African American music over the past century of cultural and political change.

This concert is made possible by the Amherst College Music Department and the Presidential Scholars program and is part of the President's Colloquium on Race and Racism. Tickets required.

Mon, Oct 3, 2022

 Nikki Haley presenting photographs of children who suffered from a chemical attack in Douma, Syria

Maayan Amir - Visual Lawfare: Evidential Imagery at the Service of Military Objectives

One of the central factors shaping today’s armed conflicts is what is known as lawfare—“the use of law as a weapon of war” (Dunlap, 2001: 2). This presentation zeroes in on the role visual material plays in lawfare. I argue that the mounting instrumentalization of evidential imagery at the service of lawfare demands its own distinction, what I term “visual lawfare”: the weaponization of visual documentation to prove compliance or demonstrate violations of international laws of warfare before a legal forum to facilitate a military objective.

Visual lawfare involves diverse kinds of still images and video footage which are deployed to justify (or condemn) a broad spectrum of military operations. These include pre- and post-war justifications, which affect the function of visual material in the constant tug-of-war over meaning. Departing from my work on extraterritoriality and the image mainly in the context of the attempts of the State to allude criminal accountability at the international level by excluding visual evidence from view, I move to focusing on attempts of state members to affect the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, by exhibiting photographic material.

Drawing on examples from the Syrian civil war—in which visual documentation was presented at the UNSC to legally shield military operations in Syria—and other historically earlier cases, I expand on how visual evidence is employed or produced to sanction the lawful use of violence while citing international codes of conduct. The event launches two of the author's publications on the exploitation of visual evidence in the context of the state system and in that of international law: a book published this year with I.B.Tauris, and a paper that appears in the latest August addition of the Journal of Visual Culture (JVC), for which she was awarded the Early Career Researcher Prize from JVC and the International Association for Visual Culture.

Maayan Amir is an artist, researcher, and senior lecturer at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Niko Vicario, Assistant Professor of Art and the History of Art, will participate as a respondent.

Raphael Sigal, Associate Professor of French, will moderate the event.

* Accompanying image:
Former Permanent Representative of the United States Nikki Haley
presenting photographs of children who suffered from a chemical attack
in Douma, Syria (UN Web TV, 2017)

Sat, Oct 15, 2022

The Archdukes Albert and Isabella Visiting the Collection of Pierre Roose

2022 New England Renaissance Conference: “Instruments of Power in the Global Early Modern”

All day Frost Library, CHI THINK TANK

Amherst College, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, hosts the 2022 annual meeting of the New England Renaissance Conference (NERC).

This year’s day-long meeting convenes scholars around the theme “Instruments of Power in the Global Early Modern.” Power relations in the global early modern are witnessed in political and legal engagements, military conflicts, domestic and family spheres, devotional practices, religious reforms, scientific experimentation, humanistic and historical scholarship, vernacular languages and national literatures, trade and gift exchange, imperial, missionary, and colonizing ambitions, as well as evolving habits of conspicuous consumption, collecting, and connoisseurship in the pursuit of prestige or social distinction. This conference seeks to bring scholars into conversation about the instruments–objects, texts, music, images, ideas, spaces, practices, and people–that contribute to the creation, consolidation, preservation, subversion, or transformation of power in these and other areas.

Conference Date: Saturday, October 15, 2022.

Conference Location: Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Amherst College

Organizers: Sanam Nader-Esfahani (French, Amherst College), Evan Mac Carthy (Music and Dance, UMass Amherst)

Keynote: Dr. Valeria López Fadul (Assistant Professor of History and Latin American Studies, Wesleyan University)

Related Events: The conference will be preceded by a concert of late fifteenth-century music, including Johannes Okeghem’s Requiem, performed by the award-winning ensemble Blue Heron, directed by Scott Metcalfe. The concert, which will take place on Friday, October 14th at 8 p.m. in Buckley Music Hall, is part of the Music @ Amherst Series.

Sanam Nader-Esfahani (snaderesfahani [at]
Evan Mac Carthy (emaccarthy [at]

Generous support from the following centers, departments, and programs across the Five Colleges has made this event possible: Arthur F. Kinney Center for Renaissance Studies (UMass Amherst), Center for Humanistic Inquiry (Amherst), Departments of Art and the History of Art (Amherst), Art History and Architectural Studies (Mount Holyoke), English (UMass Amherst), European Studies (Amherst), French (Amherst), History (Amherst), Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (UMass Amherst), Music & Dance (UMass Amherst), Spanish (Amherst), and the Five College Early Music Program. Special thanks to Music @ Amherst series for their support for the Blue Heron performance.

**Additional information, including the conference program, will be available in mid- to late August.**

*** The accompanying image: Hieronymus Francken II and Jan Brueghel the Elder, The Archdukes Albert and Isabella Visiting the Collection of Pierre Roose (ca. 1621-1623). The Walters Art Museum.

Thu, Apr 6, 2023

Black: Here and Now - CHI Fellows Conference, April 6-7, 2023

“Black: Here and Now” invites interdisciplinary engagement with various forms of Black life and cultural expression. Bringing together visual artists and scholars from Philosophy, Black Studies, and visual and literary studies, this conference examines the significance of Blackness in identity, art, music, and time-based media.

The conference explores a range of questions: What are the relationships between the histories of imperialism, enslavement, and global representations of Blackness? What does putting Afro-Latinidad in conversation with the post-soul/post-black concept reveal about the meaning of Blackness in the contemporary moment? How do forms of black visual culture challenge what we perceive to be legitimate forms of knowledge?

This conference will feature a keynote address by Saidiya Hartman and will include a series of panels.