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Previously Funded Workshops

Global Approaches to Sacred Space

Lead organizer: Bissera V. Pentcheva

This series shines a spotlight on the diverse instantiations of sacred space across time and geographies and addresses its many-layered contestations. In the past, sacred space was considered an insulated place of the metaphysical. A renewed engagement with the concept reveals that these are sites of cultural production that have an immediate effect on the outside world and politics. Sacred Spaces and their constituent factors are active in producing identity, memory, sensual experience, and knowledge that tie together the spiritual with the social.

Sacred spaces can encompass theories of post-humanisms, especially in culturally related landscapes, topographies, and cosmologies that initiate the sacred from outside of the anthropocentric. World heritage programs, conservation, and political negotiations factor in the life of sacred sites, challenging us to consider both the material shells and the intangible aspects of cultural production. In some extreme cases, sacred spaces have completely transformed through desacralization, desecration, and resacralization. Time tends to adhere to them, enabling a long durée of ancient, medieval, colonial, modern, and post-colonial. The study of sacred spaces demands global and interdisciplinary approaches. Transformative methodologies and practices, both traditional and innovative, include archaeology, archaeoacoustics, archeoastronomy, architecture, art history, artists and practitioners, music, anthropology, cult and community, digital and film media, design, engineering, geography, history, literature, poetry, sociology and cultural heritage and human rights.


Global Trends in Judicial Reform

Lead organizer: Diego Zambrano 

This series will build upon comparative research conducted via the Law School Policy Lab of the same name, and highlight recent judicial reforms in countries from all over the world. This is part of an ongoing project through the Rule of Law Program at the Law School, focused on building a Global Judicial Reform Tracker. The modern narrative in rule of law literature is focused on democratic backsliding and the rise of authoritarianism. This workshop is focused, instead, on the lesser-told story: What interventions in the 21st century are working to improve the independence of the judiciary, access to justice, and rule of law more broadly? Our goal is to invite judges, practitioners, academics, and other experts who have worked in judicial reforms around the world. Scholars and practitioners will share their experience working on successful judicial reforms in their home countries and discuss how certain policies and strategies could be leveraged to improve the quality of the judiciary and rule of law in other nations.


Law and Literature in the Global South

Lead organizers: Hector Hoyos and Joseph Wager

Building off the success of the series offered in 2021-22, we will continue moving the Law and Humanities critical paradigm from conversations of legal and cultural practices in/from the Global North. Our workshop engages with works from the South not only as objects of study but as theorizing subjects. In this way, we oppose the de facto affirmation of the hegemony of U.S.-European academic milieus. This workshop focuses on practitioners who engage with global concerns and spark innovative discussions. Carrying forward the contributions of more speakers and cultivating a community will facilitate law and humanities debates here on campus, informed by the legal cultures and cognate works of literature from different locales. This is key to various faculty and graduate student research agendas that benefit from this platform.


Loss and the Global Human Record: Broken Books and Damaged Data

Lead organizer: Elaine Treharne

To what extent, and with what consequences, are books and documents—the knowledge and record of the human experience—around the world permanently lost on a daily basis? This extends to the tangible record (the manuscripts of Timbuktu, libraries in Ukraine) and the digital (broken links, decayed data of research projects and cultural heritage catalogues). How can scholars respond to the fragmentation of historic texts; to the violence targeted at repositories of cultural record; and to the neglect of sustainability in determining methods of metadata creation? From fragmented western medieval manuscripts to unintelligible online catalogues to the wholesale destruction of cultural heritage sites and institutions, the history of the human experience is jeopardized by colonization, aggression, and lack of forward planning. A desire for profit results in theft of data or the unscrupulous breaking up of books and archives by contemporary bookdealers. When to this we add the frequent decay of digital information within and surrounding archives and library materials, there is an urgent need to investigate the global loss of books, documents, and data that verify the long history of human existence and endeavor.

This innovative workshop plans to bring together, over the course of the year, historians of global information technologies, who will evaluate the current parlous state of many archives; the pernicious aspects of commercial book-dealing; and the accessibility and sustainability of metadata in international repositories. The workshop aims to explore this holistic view of cultural data loss in detail--for the first time in the modern academy--through bringing together the specialist skills and scholarship of our contributors. This major international scholarly exchange will seek not only to investigate practices and principles of data loss, but also begin the process of deliberating solutions and guidelines that we should hope to see widely adopted.


Reconnecting People and Nature in the Anthropocene

Lead organizer: Rodolfo Dirzo  

The natural world supports human life by providing ecosystem goods and services. This workshop series will explore a) our dependence on nature, b) how humanity threatens the persistence and prosperity of our species, and c) how more sustainable practices may reconcile our relationship with nature. In each quarter, the workshops will address a common topic from different disciplinary and geographic perspectives.

In the fall, the workshops will focus on food security: how can we meet the nutritional demands of a growing global population, without further contributing to habitat loss and biodiversity collapse? Along with suggesting structural changes to food systems, speakers will discuss practical aspects of consumer choice. In winter, the workshops will focus on nature in art: what can art tell us about the tangible and cultural benefits of wildlife to people? The workshops will interpret prehistoric cave paintings of wildlife, showcase contemporary animal artwork from indigenous people, and discuss depictions of wildlife in modern media. By presenting these expansive art records, we hope to highlight humanity’s long-standing respect for wildlife, and demonstrate how even in nature-depleted urban areas, humans benefit from, appreciate, and yearn for nature. In spring, the workshops will focus on the wildlife trade: how are wildlife products trafficked, and how does this increase zoonotic spillover? Speakers will address why local communities supply wildlife products, where the demand for wildlife products originates from, and how wildlife trade can be disincentivized. This series of nine workshops will bring together different disciplines and perspectives that will broaden our appreciation about the relationship between people and nature, and highlight humanity’s existential risk in the absence of Earth’s biological richness.


Decarbonization in India and Africa

Lead organizers: Ines M. Azevedo and Gireesh Shrimali

The impetus towards sustainable development and decarbonization is particularly visible in developing countries. Increasing electrification and energy access efforts in these countries have been coupled with the aim to concurrently develop net-zero emissions energy systems. That said, systems-level change will require systems-level collaboration amongst different organizations, fields, and geographies. Especially from the purview of developing regions such as India and Africa, a lot of research has already been conducted across the world that can be catalytic for transforming their respective electric power sectors and decarbonization efforts. The intent of this series of workshops will be to engage utilities, government leaders, private energy service providers, and academic researchers from the United States, India, and Africa, with the objective to think about systems-level solutions for energy, development and decarbonization.


Law and Literature in the Global South

Lead organizer: Hector M. Hoyos

Law and Literature in the Global South broadens the horizons of the Law and Humanities critical paradigm. Rather than conversations that center legal and cultural practices from the Global North, which are then brought to bear on “objects of study” from the South, this workshop engages with practitioners whose expertise constellates around global concerns and addresses theorizing subjects in the South. At its heart, Law and Literature in the Global South is an interdisciplinary group that adopts an expansive approach to the understanding of literature (i.e., novels and poems as well as cinema, visual culture, etc.). In this way, the group will open spaces for Law and Humanities debates at Stanford and proffer a shared platform to develop the research agendas of various faculty and graduate students related to legal cultures and cognate literatures from different locales (mainly China, the Middle East, and South America).


Neoliberal Heritagescapes: Culture and Urbanism in Post-Conflict Cities

Lead organizers: Anna Bigelow and Thomas Blom Hansen

This series brings into dialogue the relationship between heritagization, transposing economies, and urban struggles in selected post-conflict and post-colonial cities around the globe. Our goal is to examine the similarities and differences of approaches in which differently positioned actors and various national and international stake holders mobilize past, particularly by using cultural heritage as a practical vantage point to act upon urban spaces. We aim to explore the conditions and practices through which growing heritagization of historic neighborhoods enables local governments, local elites, and real-estate developers to engender massive spatial and social changes in the urban landscape. And how and why cultural heritage is placed at the heart of the urban development schemas that claim to accommodate the nostalgia of past in the ever-evolving urban present, guided by neo-liberal sensibilities. Programs and frameworks that promise social uplift and common good often provide tools for marginalizing the bearers of heritage themselves and thus become vessels of capital accumulation and commodification of heritage. We bring into question the problems of history, culture, economic development, an old/new urban aesthetics, real estate values, and housing struggles, gentrification, and ghettoization, forced evictions, segregation, citizenship, nation-branding, religion, and other political and national interests. 


Reframing Enslaved Pasts

Lead organizers: James T. Campbell and Grant Parker

In this series we plan to discuss critical data practices around enslaved pasts, focusing on the methods and choices that underlie digital data projects. While there are already many such projects for the Atlantic world, there remains much scope to generate a transregional discussion (with some emphasis on the Indian Ocean World). The goal of this series is to bring well established projects on enslavement into conversation with emerging ones.