The Humanities Institute


Founded in 1986, the Humanities Institute presents a thematic program each semester on a topic related to the humanities. As part of Scripps’ tradition of interdisciplinary education, this program includes lectures, conferences, exhibitions, performances, and film series bringing prominent and younger cutting-edge scholars to campus.

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Latest Program

Walls, Borders, Fences

Walls, Borders, Fences

The spring 2017 theme for the Humanities Institute ­– “Walls, Borders, Fences” – interrogates the relationships between social, spatial, and political divisions in a variety of historical and geographic contexts. These contexts include the United States, the U.S. borders with both Mexico and Canada, Israel/Palestine, Europe and the Mediterranean Sea as deadly border, apartheid South Africa, Kashmir, and cities – including Los Angeles and Jerusalem – that are divided along economic, racial, social, and political lines. What can we learn by thinking comparatively across these multiple contexts? How might comparison allow us to ask new questions about critical contemporary issues such as ongoing forms of settler-colonialism, anti-immigration policies and rhetoric, and state-sponsored or sanctioned violence in border zones?

Juxtaposing these contexts reveals the relationship between various forms of violence and borders, walls, and fences. Violence contributes to erecting these boundaries; these boundaries contribute to enacting violent subjugation and military occupation. How can we think about borders, walls, and fences as both material boundaries and networks of historical, ideological, political, and economic conditions that define nation-states, communities, and collectivities? How are borders being reconfigured in the contemporary world in ways that change how we can think about sovereignty, power, citizenship, and violence? How do borders shape the relationships between space and identity?


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The current series of programming is over for now, but please check back next semester for more information — or learn more about our recent public events by reviewing the full list of events!