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Presenters' Abstracts

Rebin Omar Mohammed Ameen

Hindu College, Delhi University, India

“Ruling out Religious Intolerance: Jainism and Baha’i as Examples”

Intolerance has become an obvious and unusual feature of most of the religions in the world. This religious attitude towards others’ beliefs has roots in their metaphysical understanding of reality and epistemological view of truth. Almost all religions proclaim to own The Truth. They reprehend each other based on their own interpretation of reality and absolute truth. And finally, they have formed a deeply ingrained bigotry which prevents religious men from considering others’ beliefs and views. In this paper I argue that, in religion, adopting a relativistic standpoint, in metaphysics and epistemology, is the best possible alternative to demolish religious intolerance and embrace other religious views. Here, I mention Jainism and Baha’i as examples to support my claim. Jainism thinks that reality has many aspects and infinite characters. The whole truth of manifoldness of reality (Anakantvada) can only be known by an omniscient. We, as human beings, have partial and relative knowledge of those aspects of reality. Therefore, any dogmatic belief and adoption of unconditional truth lead us to become intolerant towards others’ view. In Baha’i Reality is one and human beings lack the ability to make any absolute statement about it. This is due to our relative knowledge about reality and our inability in attaining absolute truth. This viewpoint makes a solid ground for the Baha’i faith to claim the unification of the world and religions to live with each other without quarrel. I think tackling the issue of religious intolerance brings a new face to humanity. This paper is a modest attempt toward that end.


Anahit Armenakyan

Nipissing University, Canada

“International Business Relationships”

Pervasive globalization and international interdependence has increased cross-border collaboration in businesses. This paper studies the effect of country of origin on the perceptions of trustworthiness of a partner in international business collaboration. A framework to analyze the impact of these attitudes is proposed. The paper adds value for both academics and managers by providing insight into this critical aspect of partner selection and the establishment of joint international business endeavors.


Hamza Ateʂ

Istanbul Medeniyet University, Turkey

“The Future of Government: An Evaluation of Drivers of Change and Major Trends”

The invention of the state was a great achievement of humanity and has become a vital component of civilization since then. Throughout history, the state has been transformed from city-states to empires and then to nation-states. Although the nation-state has been the predominant unit of political organization for the last few centuries, its future is uncertain as governments are confronted by a number of drivers of change, resulting in a variety of trends, such as globalization and decentralization, almost all of which tend to decrease the role and function of the state within society and the economy. The main aim of this paper is to evaluate these demographic, societal, economic, and technological trends shaping our future and find out how “the state of future” will look. The assumption here is that effectively responding to the drivers of change and shifting needs of citizens will challenge almost every process, system and structure of government. The paper argues that governments in the near future will need to find right answers to emerging problems in such areas as service delivery, finance, workforce, and citizen engagement. Both developed and developing nations should focus on rebuilding government capacity to finance critical infrastructure, attract and retain skilled labor force, and engage citizens in designing innovative solutions to address public problems. Innovations in public service delivery will have to move beyond public- private partnerships and privatization to models that more effectively balance accountability, equity, and efficiency concerns in government.


Andy Belyea

Royal Military College, Canada

“Self-Defense: Bodies at War in the Posthuman Era”

My talk will be informed by my own deployments to Afghanistan between 2009 and 2011 and by subsequent (and currently ongoing) qualitative research into how soldiers deployed to Kandahar experienced not only the conventional physical and emotional conflicts associated with war but the additional strain of having to navigate conflicting notions of home, belongingness, and identity unique to their ontological status as citizens in and of a 21st-century world increasingly defined by its reliance on information communication technologies (ICT) and informed by the discourses of posthumanism and transhumanism. My research to date reveals that the cognitive dissonance, moral injury, and trauma that war can inflict are particularly exacerbated by real and perceived differences—however subtle—in how the term “human” is understood between cultures with such profound technological differences, as I and others experienced first-hand in Kandahar. My paper will tease out how Western militaries see themselves—how they envision their individual bodies, institutional bodies, and the body politic—in a world where the very idea of “human” is on the cusp of radical reconfiguration, and I will frame this discussion with anecdotal experience—I managed four computer systems, five phones, and a host of other technologies that rendered me virtually cyborg at times; we employed unmanned weaponized drones; combat was “texted” in real-time; I deployed with the first-ever soldier to return to war with a prosthetic leg (having lost the original on his first tour)—and with research on the (bio)technologization of war: artificial intelligence; direct neural interfacing for thought-controlled robotics; technologies that allow soldiers to better survive blood loss; drugs that suppress traumatic memories; and both metabolic and external, physical enhancements that increase strength, endurance, and resiliency. All are technologies that have begun, or are poised to begin, altering how soldiers fight, live, and die in the posthuman era; they are also poised, of course, to alter how those in democratic nations sending soldiers to war will consequently mediate the moral and ethical implications of their choices.


Christine Bolus-Reichert

University of Toronto at Scarborough, Canada

“The Shock Doctrine in Apocalyptic Fiction”

Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) analyzes the behavior of “disaster capitalists” who exploit the “collective shock” resulting from catastrophic events in order to reorganize the state. The pattern Klein analyzes exists in—and is repeatedly validated by—apocalyptic fictions, which tend to represent not restoration, but a new order built on the ruins of the old. In order to understand the degree to which apocalyptic fiction promotes or resists the “shock doctrine,” I consider two works from the 1990s: The Children of Men by P.D. James and Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson. These fictions eschew the scale of destruction offered by, say, nuclear war in favor of disasters that are slow-moving in the case of James (no children have been born in twenty-five years) and highly localized in the case of Hopkinson (the core of Toronto has suffered an economic collapse). The government that emerges in James follows Klein’s pattern exactly, and though the conclusion of the novel ought to promise hope—a child is born—the protagonist seems to re-embrace the shock doctrine. Hopkinson, by contrast, imagines a Toronto that recovers only when the disaster capitalist is defeated, and society is reorganized from the ground up, by the people whom the original disaster left behind. Brown Girl acknowledges the vulnerability inherent in a state of shock, and models how citizens might resist the imposition of a social order they didn’t choose for themselves.


Paisley Cozzarin

University of Waterloo, Canada

“Cripping the Nonhuman: A Material Feminist Intervention in ‘Frankenfish’”

This past November, after over a decade of deliberation, the first genetically modified food animal was approved by the FDA for distribution in the United States. The AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon is the first transgenic animal in the world approved for human consumption—yet has already been banned by over 60 grocery store chains in the US. “Frankenfish,” as it is called by opponents, might “genetically contaminate” wild salmon stocks, or worse, poison humans. According to news publications and online discussions, the salmon is viewed as a toxic, unnatural, monstrous body. While critical research on GMOs has discussed the biopolitics of patenting and optimizing life, there has not been any study of the biopolitical implications of the discipline and control of these “deviant” nonhuman bodies. Meanwhile, the idea of the “natural” has been used throughout history to oppress and exclude disabled people. Situated within the context of the Anthropocene, in an era of “broken” and “unnatural” bodies, my paper will use GM salmon to examine how nonhuman bodies are constructed as deviant from a disability studies perspective. I call this intervention cripping the nonhuman. “Cripping,” according to Robert McRuer, is a rejection of “compulsory able-bodiedness” and a resistance to “natural” embodiment and behaviour. I will use a material feminist analysis to argue that nonhuman bodies that reject compulsory able-bodiedness are worthy of unique assemblages, subjectivity, and agency.


Hilary Earl

Nipissing University, Canada

“Reflections on Death Tourism in the Age of Experiential Education”

This talk explores “Holocaust tourism”, by which I mean the link—often blurry—between travel and tourism for pleasure and the academic inquiry of genocide. The talk questions the utility and value of tourism and travel to sites of genocide for research, pedagogy, personal edification, and pleasure and it explores the underpinnings of this kind of experiential travel in the context of north American post-secondary education.


Isaac Owusu Frimpong

Jilin University, China

“Migration Concerns in the Twenty-first Century”

Migration is a phenomenon that has existed since the beginning of time and is the third basic factor affecting the population of an area after birth and death. One (1) out of every 35 persons in the world is a migrant and migrants could form the fifth most populous state in the world collectively forming a fraction above 3%, IOM (2003). Migration issues tend to either raise hopes or bring about deep fears (de Haas, 2007). Issues bordering on criminality, militarism, governance, development, public health, and environment are considered threats. A huge inflow and outflow of migrants affects both countries and the migrants either positively or adversely. In recent years, the increase in human migration maybe attributed to (but not limited to) globalization and the declining cost of transport, intra and inter-state economic inequalities, climate change, growth of human trafficking and smuggling, and conflicts that are mushrooming in all corners of the globe. Many of the major migrations in the world have occurred as a result of forced migration or expulsion according to Adamson (2006). The uprising in the Middle East and especially in Syria since 2011 and the unrelenting situation in South Sudan has pushed internally displaced persons, asylum seekers and refugee figures to unprecedented levels (Global Appeal Update, 2013). All countries, institutions and the international community at large must work together in an effort to prevent the adverse effect migration bring around the world.


Catherine Jenkins

Ryerson University, Canada

“Human versus Cyborg Life: Quality versus Quantity”

Sociologist Norbert Elias (1985) stated “Death is a problem of the living. Dead people have no problems” (3). People grasp at immortality, and we live in a privileged context where the catastrophic effects of many diseases have been reduced. Through improved sanitation, better nutrition, and scientific advances in biology, diagnostics, and treatment, life expectancy has effectively doubled in the last two centuries (United Nations). Medical technologies can maintain essential bodily functions even after brain death. But is this a prolongation of life or simply an extension of the dying process? Is the quality of life suffering because of our fixation with the quantity of life? Medical science continues to advance in genetics, stem cell, cloning and other research—all towards the goal of life extension, or even immortality. By refusing to accept death, we stress the culture of humanity over the nature of our existence, supporting what biologist Donna Haraway (1997) dubbed the cyborg: an “implosion of the natural and the artificial, nature and culture, subject and object, machine and organic body...” (14). We strive to create a Utopia in which the natural biological movement towards death is removed by a cultural imperative towards immortality. In May 2010, Dr. Craig Venter announced his creation of a synthetic cell. Jong-Hwan Kim introduced “artificial chromosomes” based on human DNA into a robot allowing it to access human emotions, responses, and behaviours. Toyota designs humanoid domestic robots. With our increasing reliance on technologies to prolong life, and development of robots with human attributes, a convergence seems inevitable.


Laurie Kruk

Nipissing University, Canada

“Guy Vanderhaeghe and the Future of the Marginalized Canadian Male”

What does the future hold for men? With the 2015 Governor-General’s Award for English-Language Fiction going to Guy Vanderhaeghe’s Daddy Lenin and Other Stories, the topic of male anxiety has reached new heights. Vanderhaeghe is fascinated by the cultural depiction of manhood, making him perhaps “Canadian’s premier chronicler of masculinity”. His newest work features nine stories presented from the male perspective. Although not a short story cycle, this collection is unified by its nostalgic tone, as the protagonists, middle-aged or older (except in “The Jimi Hendrix Experience”), are caught looking back on their (misspent) youths of the nineteen-sixties/seventies. Pop culture references to everything from the “1957 Chevy Bel Air,” to the music of Jim Hendrix, to actor Richard Harris’s recording of “MacArthur Park” suggest a reflective mood, while the sarcastic bite provided by the narrative voice undermines any temptation for the speakers to wallow in self-pity. Women are of course present, and often central to the men’s desires, but they increasingly have their own careers, ambition and money. Is this the triumph of the feminist agenda in contemporary Canada? Or is it, rather, the men’s failure to grow? Although Vanderhaeghe’s men may be collectively defined as “white” and (mostly) “straight,” class remains the invisible divide in his fiction, while the stigma of physical disability—or for lower-class males, mental ability—continues to have a marginalizing effect. Vanderhaeghe’s men respond to this paradoxical marginalization with a “double-voiced” discourse that reflects self-consciousness about their complex subjectivity of presumed centrality combined with frequent failure to live up to that gender stereotype. I will explore this discourse in four stories: “Tick Tock,” “The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” “Counsellor Sally Takes Me to the Tunnel” and “Live Large.”


Manuel Litalien

Nipissing University, Canada

“Gender, Religions and Social Development: A Reflection on the Transnational Role of the Sakyadhita and the Alliance for Bhikkhunis"

In her recent book on religions and development, Emma Tomalin asks the following: is religion negative for women’s development and the pursuit of gender equality, and is there a gender consequence that results from engagement with religion? In an attempt to answer these two questions, the presentation will examine the role of two Buddhist organizations: namely, the Sakyadhita and the Alliance for Bhikkhunis. The study suggests that in order to move forward with many new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including the elimination of poverty, as well as “good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, reduced inequalities, peace justice and strong institution”, it is imperative to consider the many facets of religious contexts and the increased politicization of culture. In its current form, the SDG confirms its work with state actors, community leaders, and religious authorities to transform gender stereotypes. Gender politics of particular religious institutions will be explained in a Buddhist context to understand the challenges that lay ahead in implementing the SDG.


Gillian McCann

Nipissing University, Canada

“Secular Pilgrimage: Making Meaning in Late Modernity”

The line between tourism and pilgrimage has always been somewhat unclear. Every year millions of people across the world travel to sites that have personal meaning for them and for their communities. These can include: Graceland, the Vatican, or the Canadian graves at Vimy Ridge. In this paper I will argue that the impulse to visit places of significance is a basic human impulse. In our era of virtual reality this impetus perhaps becomes more important as individuals seek an embodied experience of meaning.


Paul Monaghan

Nipissing University, Canada

“A Stratigraphy of the Imagination: Greek Theatre, the Posthuman, and the Future”

The theatrical medium has always involved the virtual space of spectator imagination. As we experience the multi-layered interweaving of performance textures in the space-time of the performance, or imagine our own private version of it when reading a text, not only do our perceptual mechanisms sift the data in ways we cannot be aware of, but our imaginations are also activated to interpret and make associations– each of us in our own individual and shifting ways. What limits the free play of our imaginations is both the aesthetic and ideological dramaturgy of the performance itself as well as the “stratigraphy of the imagination”, that is, the way that our imaginations are formed, to an unknown extent, by the culture we inhabit and all that lies beneath that culture diachronically and all that synchronically interconnects within its web at the time of the performance. This stratigraphy of our imaginations is usually thought to respond primarily to the live, human actor. But other factors have also, always, been important, and the live actor has increasingly been marginalized in certain forms of theatre from the Modernists to contemporary, postdramatic theatre. Not only is the posthuman ‘actor’ (masks, puppets, objects, avatars, robots etc) rife with possibilities which extend rather than radically alter the medium, but the flight paths of the imagination have been opened up immeasurably by technology, the web of connectivity, and cognitive science. This paper explores these possibilities in relation to Greek tragedy, the theatrical genre that, in our rather “little” or “recent” history, has been seen to possess the most persistent diachronic authority. By means of this investigation, I hope to offer some thoughts on the ways in which Classical Studies and the Humanities in general might continue to live, or live again, in and because of the future.


Pavlina Radia

Nipissing University, Canada

"From Gas Chambers to 9/11: The Ecstasy of Postmemory and Contemporary American Culture"

If the twentieth-century was the “American century” as Gertrude Stein once called it, twenty-first-century America is a culture of spectacle that thrives on the ecstatic re-packaging of historical events and atrocities as a public consumable. As wars and political turmoil are reduced to what Susan Sontag (2003) calls the “iconography of suffering” (p. 42), nothing is sacred in the culture of consumer glut, including horrific atrocities like the Shoah or 9/11. Photographs, personal mementos, and memoirs are increasingly hijacked by the media blitz. From touring the gas chambers at Auschwitz to taking selfies at the 9/11 National Memorial & Museum, the memories of the Shoah and 9/11 have been reduced to a compulsive re-imagining of what Marianne Hirsch (2012) refers to as “postmemory” or the “politics of retrospective witnessing” (p. 3). This paper questions the ethics of such retrospective witnessing through close readings of Shalom Auslander’s Hope: A Tragedy (2012) and Alissa Torres’s graphic novel, American Widow (2008). While Auslander indicts the increasing commodification of what he calls “Misery Olympics” by exposing the politics of retrospective appropriation and witnessing (p. 76), Torres addresses the complexity of America’s obsession with visual economics and its appetite for “WE WANT IT RAW” (p. 127). Exploring contemporary American culture’s preoccupation with postmemory, this paper argues that, while promoting the imperative to remember, the so-called historical (and hysterical) re-imaginings risk perpetuating the ecstasy of mass forgetting as the spectacle becomes, to quote Alain Badiou (2006), “the obverse of imperial brutality” (p. 31).


Timothy Sibbald

Nipissing University, Canada

“Developing Secondary Teachers who Engage in Interdisciplinary Thinking”

Interdisciplinary collaboration has a clear role in addressing significant future problems. It is of particular importance in higher education where problems increasingly require bringing different disciplinary concepts together in a coherent way. This paper looks at the issue in terms of secondary schools and what they might be able to do in terms of supporting the early development of interdisciplinary perspectives by secondary school students. The context is examined in terms of teacher development where teacher candidates have been challenged to consider ways that discipline boundaries may be crossed. In the transition of teacher education from a one-year to two-year program, the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University added a mathematics education course that all senior (grade 10-12) teacher candidates, regardless of teaching subject focus, are required to take. This course has been established within the mathematics discipline but serves a broad range of content areas that teacher candidates will ultimately teach. The development and implementation of this course has been done with a vision of exploring interdisciplinary studies from within a lens of a single discipline. It has demonstrated that secondary teachers can encourage students to go beyond siloed subject oriented thinking, even within existing curricular frameworks. The course has demonstrated considerable opportunity for crossing disciplinary boundaries using numeracy as a basic bridge and deeper mathematical concepts as more elaborate bridges. This paper will consider the course development, initial implementation, as well as the lessons learned to develop the interdisciplinary stance further within the course and secondary schools.


Eli Park Sorensen

Chinese University, Hong Kong

“Blade Runner and the Right to Life”

This article takes a closer look at the notions of “human” and “rights” in connection with a discussion of the first volume of Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, and the film Blade Runner. Foucault develops a series of arguments about what he describes as “The ‘right’ to life, to one’s body, to health, to happiness, to the satisfactions of needs, and beyond all the oppressions or ‘alienations’, the ‘right’ to rediscover what one is and all that one can be.” This right to life is likewise one of the main themes in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner, which tells the story of a group of replicants—or human-like robots—returning to earth in search of more life. On earth, however, they are outlawed, and most of the film’s plot essentially consists of Deckard, the main character, hunting down and killing the replicants. In my article, I argue that Blade Runner is a film that explores what one could call the culmination of biopower, the imagination of a life whose absolute perfection at the same time becomes the expression of absolute monstrosity, i.e. a threat against life that legitimizes the death penalty. Questioning and discussing the notions of “human” and “rights” in a sci-fi context, Blade Runner develops some of the implications of Foucault’s ideas about “an animal whose politics places his existence as a living being in question.”


Leslie Thielen-Wilson

Nipissing University, Canada

“Invitations to Equality? Law, De/Humanization, and Agency in a White Settler Context”

The work of early critical race theorists—such as Frantz Fanon and James Baldwin—regarding white terror, remains vital for understanding the nature of the violence central to contemporary white settler states, neoliberal economies, and law. These authors emphasize the role that regimes of private property play in racial terror and processes of dehumanization that result in various legal exclusions from humanity for those targeted by settler colonization/enslavement. While such theorists examine dehumanization and legal exclusion, they—and Fanon in particular—also critique the perniciousness of the settler state’s invitations to legal inclusion, equality, and participation in the settler’s neoliberal capitalist economy. Fanon’s cautionary insights about the “inclusionary” politics of neoliberal settler society, remind us that what the “settler wants in the native,” is not an equal, but a worker (1952/67, 219, 220), and a “customer ready to buy goods” in the “colony as market” (1963, 65). In this paper I first argue that a critical race analysis of the dehumanizing forces of white settler colonialism, is not only consistent with, but presupposes, the prior and on-going humanity, dignity, and agency of people targeted by settler law and violence. Fanon’s account of dehumanization is rooted in the knowledge and conviction of “human-ness” that is experienced as prior to, outside of, and in opposition to, European neoliberal definitions of human/ism (Marriott 2012). Humanness and its space of “desire” (Fanon, 1952/1967, 218) operates as a place of current and future resistance and possibility. Importantly, this analysis offers a way to critique settler colonialism’s “brutalization of bodies,” without reducing people to that brutalization. Second, I explore what the coexistence of racial terror, dehumanization, and agency means for contemporary neoliberal “invitations to equality,” and the “colony as market,” in Canada. I take Canada’s recent legal reform of sexual commerce as my example. This example may appear irrelevant to settler-Indigenous relations, yet my analysis of The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights hearings of June 7 – 10, 2014 and The Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs hearings of September 9 – 11, 2014, shows how this site of neoliberal legal reform—and the dehumanization/agency debate within it—operates problematically to uphold the settler collective’s neoliberal economy, identity and sovereignty.


Madhuri Vairapandi

Georgetown University, USA

"Wuthering Heights and the Violence of Narcissistic Humanity: A Map to Guide the Present into an Ethical Futurity"

Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights can be read as a map of the struggle to establish the correct relationship between man and the natural world. Through the characters of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, Brontë depicts the damage enacted by narcissistic engagement with one’s surrounding world. Catherine Earnshaw’s form of narcissism is similar to the kind that enables man to treat the surrounding world as an object of utility, with her functioning as the subject in a world of manipulatable objects. Dark ecologists experiment with channeling this type of narcissism into a more ecological relationship by which man identifies with the object such that they become one and the same. Heathcliff becomes the champion of this vision of dark ecology by identifying with Catherine to the extent that she becomes immortalized even after death. His melancholic connection to her allows her to persist even after destruction, which, from the standpoint of fostering better ecological relationships, is a better way to direct man’s natural tendency towards narcissism. As will be evidenced in the characters of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, narcissism in any form has violent tendencies, leaving the real problem of dark ecology—how can narcissistic identification with an object be a positive when it reveals the violence that both man and nature are capable of? Wuthering Heights reveals that hiding that violence under the veil of idealized abstractions can be a greater vice—subtly, the violent history of the Earnshaws, Lintons, and Heathcliffs become overwritten, allowing for violence to regenerate forward unchecked. This paper seeks to reconcile human violence with the hope for a better future, while navigating how Emily Brontë depicts questions now being echoed by modern-day ecocritics.


Eric Weichel

Nipissing University, Canada

“The Posthuman: Donna Haraway, Cyborgs, and Contemporary Art”

In “Cybernated Aesthetics: Lee Bul and the Body Transformed”, Soraya Murray examines how one contemporary Korean visual artist responded to the themes of post-human identity and desire present in the work of the celebrated feminist author Donna Haraway. Murray notes that “according to Haraway, the construction of the cyborg, being post-gender, operates both beyond the sex binary and the social realities that accompany it. This positions the cyborg as a possible metaphor for standing outside phallocentric, rational thought.” In this paper, I expand upon Murray’s reading of Haraway through a critical exploration and interrogation of the theme of the cyborg in contemporary visual art, specifically in the work of Shary Boyle (Canada), Andrea Crespo (United States), and Patricia Piccinini (Australia). All three artists have won major national and international prizes and are well-represented in solo exhibitions at leading galleries, suggesting that their disparate, yet closely parallel meditations on the theme of the post-human are indicative of a wider interest in the field. Boyle’s grotesque, yet mythic drawings and sculptures weave a colourful narrative of fairy-tale domesticity that is challenged by episodes of violent trauma and seemingly forced hybridity. Crespo’s technological assemblages of computer, videogame and video parts and projections conjure the twinned horrors of the surgery theatre and the interrogation room, playfully linking ephemera from digital comics and manga with the emerging sentience of our everyday machines. Piccinini’s disturbingly hyperrealistic sculptures construct a vision of a not-so-distant future peopled by genetic chimaeras, fusions between the animal and the human that somehow express, despite the collapse of bodily boundaries, a surprising amount of peace. Through the juxtaposition of images from Boyle, Crespo and Piccinini’s work with quotes from Donna Haraway, I explore how one author’s influence has visually shaped how contemporary society uses visual art as a crucial tool to forecast its future.


Eric Weichel

Nipissing University, Canada

“Rehabilitating the ‘Universal Classic:’ Dancing Bodies in Motion and Mutation”

In this paper, I examine monumentalized representations of dancing bodies in the visual traditions of the “Classic” periods of Ancient Greece, Mesoamerica, India, and China. I specifically discuss the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Chahk Vase (7th – 8th century), described by the institution as “one of the finest extant deity portraits from the Classic Maya corpus”; the Pompeii Lakshmi and her stylistic companions, a series of closely-related 1st-century Indian ivories found in Tel Begram, Afghanistan; the famously bewitching Veiled Dancer from Hellenistic Alexandria (late 3rd- early 2nd century BCE), and the Middle Tang murals from Mogao Cave #112 in Dunhuang, described by one scholar as evocative of “rock-and-roll” innovation (8th – 9th century). Music and dance, which are performative ephemera that present unique challenges of documentation and dissemination, provided many “Classic” societies with a conceptual framework with which to celebrate and commemorate the swift passage of time. The interdisciplinary nature of such works also frequently stretched the ontological limits of a culture’s existing visual and stylistic repertoire. Responding to such commissions, frequently dictated by a courtly elite who were deeply invested in an ideological and propagandistic programme monumentalized through figurative narration, artists in “Classic” societies were forced to generate new sets of symbols and to change the ways, and the contexts, of how extant visual orders were ritually manipulated. By deploying certain culturally-determined representations of dancing bodies as innovative discursive statements, artists in periods now referred to as “Classic” established semiotically-potent traditions that established broader social value in two major ways: an ability to be referenced as political markers of social stability, and a conflicting, yet simultaneous ability to adapt, in many variations, to the complex and dynamic flow of political change. Through a comparative analyses of highly divergent and socially specific traditions that are linked through commonality of medium and function – temple sculpture and vase painting – I suggest some potential controversies surrounding the reclaiming or rehabilitation of the term “universal” in Archaeology, Classical Studies, and Art History. Through my analyses, I suggest that new forms of future neoclassicism might well rework the face of humanity’s future, adding to increased forms of popular interaction between past and present through the subjective experience of corporeality.


Aaron Weiss

York University, Canada

“Interdisciplinarity as the Future of Academia, the Arts, and the Sciences”

This presentation will examine the role of Art in helping war-time survivors and their descendants cope with trauma. It will also interrogate the research on Epigenetic Inheritance (EI) which speaks to inherited trauma for the descendants of war-time survivors through genes. The paper will utilise a case study of a Holocaust survivor and her family to explore how the subjects have been affected by their mother’s and/or grandmother’s exposure to war-time trauma. This research collapses perceived boundaries surrounding Biology and Medical Science, Psychology, Psychiatry and Art and suggests disciplinary complementarity in understanding the nature of the impact of war on a person and its legacy on subsequent generations. It will explore what role, if any, Art has played in ameliorating the impact of trauma. As noted by scholars such as Breat (1985), art therapy can be used to offset the affects of PTSD through the creation of a safe place for people to process their emotions. Through its interrogation of EI research and the examination of original and unreleased Holocaust art of the survivor, the paper will reflect intersectionality among disciplines. The presentation will address the following key questions: Does the survivor demonstrate signs of war trauma and does her family show signs of inherited trauma relating to EI? Does any descendant use art to mediate the impact of trauma and to what extent does the creation of the art act as a healing mechanism? Does the imagery on display relate to or deviate from the inciting event(s) itself?


David R Witzling

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, USA

“Exercises in Secular Heresy: Technological Determinism, Civil Liberties, and the Taboo of Diminishing Returns”

While phrases like “technological evolution” and “technological progress” are frequently used in both the mainstream press and scientific journals to explain or justify broad social changes, closer examination reveals serious problems with this way of thinking. The use of evolution in reference to technology is fundamentally metaphorical, fallacious, and a threat to both democratic institutions and human ecology. The fallacy is precisely the secular equivalent of “intelligent design” among religious creationists, with similarly troubling implications. “Technological evolution” is furthermore used to frame “progress” in terms of natural processes rather than economic policies, forming the nucleus of an ideology that is profoundly influential but largely overlooked due to its effective invisibility as an ideology. “Progress” must end, and ending “progress” requires a realistic appraisal of the diminishing returns associated with investments in technology, and, accordingly, a shift in how resources are allocated.


Maggie Zeng

New Business Development and Grants Manager, Christian Children's Fund of Canada (CCFC), Canada

“Gender Mainstreaming in Peace and Security”

Since the UN conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, significant progress has been made in gender equality through the resources and collective efforts made by governments, NGOs, academic institutions and international organizations including UN agencies. The experience of UN peacekeeping missions shows that uniformed female personnel are critical to gaining trust in communities and shaping peace operations to better respond to local needs for protection. This study compiles growing evidence that peace negotiations influenced by women are much more likely to end in agreement and to endure; in fact the chances for such an agreement to last for 15 years go up by as much as 35 per cent. There is also growing evidence that women are best placed to detect early warning signs of radicalization in their families and communities, and to act to prevent it from spreading. The SDGs recently adopted by the UN have provided much needed guiding principles and a framework for member states to comply and commit resources to address gender inequality. Research has also identified gaps and challenges in addressing gender mainstreaming in peace building and security including: awareness raising on gender equality and women's participation and empowerment, institutional capacity and inter-agency collaboration, knowledge sharing and learning. It is important to address women’s needs and challenges and promote women’s participation and empowerment in prevention and protection interventions so as to create tangible results in sustainable peace and development. Recommendations for strengthening gender mainstreaming in peace and security include: establishing and strengthening linkages and exchanges between local and international NGOs, exploring more and different channels of participation to engage local women’s groups, NGOs, academic institutions, and companies to contribute to peace building and to effectively address local needs.

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