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?


Upcoming Event

Tuesday Noon – Wendy Cheng

March 28, 2017
12:15 pm

Hampton Room
Malott Commons
Scripps College

‘Our Mutual L.A. Suburban Pasts’: Race and Cosmopolitanism in Greater Los Angeles

Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley is the largest majority-Asian American and Latinx region in the United States. Scripps professor of American studies Wendy Cheng addresses the development of a distinct multiracial identity grounded in working- and middle-class, suburban spaces and how the formative histories and lived experiences of residents of multiracial suburbs enrich our understanding of racial formation.

Wendy Cheng is Assistant Professor of American Studies at Scripps College. She received her A.B. from Harvard University in English and American Language and Literature, her M.A. in Geography from UC Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on race and ethnicity, comparative racialization, critical geography, urban and suburban studies, and diaspora. Her book, The Changs Next Door to the Díazes: Remapping Race in Suburban California (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) develops a theory of regional racial formation through the experiences and perspectives of residents of majority nonwhite, multiracial suburbs, and won the 2014 Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Asia and Asian America. Her coauthored book, A People’s Guide to Los Angeles (with Laura Pulido and Laura Barraclough; University of California Press, 2012), for which she was also the photographer, is a guide to sites of alternative histories and struggles over power in Los Angeles County. Her current research focuses on the political activism of Taiwanese student migrants to the US. Cheng is a board member of the Annals of the American Association of Geographers and the Journal of Urban History, and was a founding member of Arizona Critical Ethnic Studies. She was recently named a Diverse: Issues in Higher Education Emerging Scholar and is the recipient of the 2016 Early Career Achievement Award from the Association for Asian American Studies.

This event is presented in partnership with the Office of Public Events and Community Programs and Tuesday Noon Academy.