Events

    Daniela Bleichmar, “The history of cochineal and the changing value of Mexican indigenous environmental knowledge, ca. 1500–1800”

    Location: 

    Harvard Graduate School of Design—Online

    Before the development of synthetic dyes in the second half of the 1800s, natural dyes were some of the most prized and sought-after commodities in the global economy. This talk uses historical images and texts to excavate changing approaches to indigenous environmental knowledge in colonial Mexico and early modern Europe through the study of cochineal.

    This insect, native to the Americas, produced the world's best quality and most valuable red dye from the 1520s until the rise of the modern chemical dye industry. Long used by indigenous people in the Americas, under Spanish...

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    Rachel Dorothy Tanur Memorial Lecture: Andrea Roberts, “The Community Core: Making and Keeping Place Heritage in Texas’s Freedom Colonies”

    Location: 

    Harvard Graduate School of Design—Online

    In Texas’ freedom colonies — African American settlements founded 1866-1930 — descendants of community founders engage in heritage conservation by keeping folklife, sacred rituals, and other cultural expressions that sustain communities’ Black sense of place. However, rural, vernacular African American placekeeping strategies are rarely framed in planning and architectural history as transgressive or expressions of Black liberation.

    Presenting an excerpt from her forthcoming book, Never Sell the Land, Dr. Roberts shares case studies in which descendants of Deep East...

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    The Art of Making Day of the Dead Altars

    Location: 

    Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology—Online

    Live interpretation in English and Spanish

    Interpretación en vivo en inglés y español

    Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican tradition that seeks to commemorate and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed away. The creation of an altar is a key component of this celebration, which is both bittersweet and joyful. In this program, Los Angeles-based artist, educator, and altarista Ofelia Esparza will share her philosophy and approach to making altars and to keeping Día de los Muertos alive in the U.S. She will be joined by her daughter,...

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    Airbrush, Instamatics, and Funk: Art, Pop, and New York City’s Long 1970s

    Location: 

    Harvard Radcliffe Institute—Online

    A presentation from 2021–2022 Walter Jackson Bate Fellow Uri McMillan.

    Uri McMillan, an associate professor in the Department of African American Studies and Department of English at UCLA, is a cultural historian who researches and writes in the interstices between black cultural studies, performance studies, queer theory, and contemporary art. He is writing a book about the effervescent artistic practices and networks of affiliation of three artists living and working in 1970s New York City: the Jamaican American visual artist Grace Jones, the Nuyorican illustrator Antonio...

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    Entangled Histories: The Bamiyan Buddhas—Past, Present, and Future

    Location: 

    Harvard Art Museums—Online

    Western scholarship has focused on the monumental sculptures in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley as Buddhas created in the late sixth and early seventh centuries. This lecture tells an alternative story based on Islamic sources from the tenth to the twentieth century, which saw these sculptures not as Buddhas but as legendary heroes representing the mythic conversion of the Bamiyan Valley to Islam.

    At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Taliban destroyed the sculptures—as Buddhas. After the fall of the Taliban, the sculptures’ entangled histories and the viewpoints of...

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    Muchos Méxicos: Virtual Exhibition Preview and Conversation

    Location: 

    Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology—Online

    Join us for a virtual preview and conversation about the Muchos Méxicos exhibition! Three scholars who contributed to the making of the show will discuss their favorite objects, and how they each tell stories of exchange and innovation—as well as loss and perseverance—across time and space.

    Live interpretation available in English and Spanish.

    Learn more about and RSVP for this virtual event.

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    Artist Discussion for Brown II Exhibition

    Location: 

    Harvard Radcliffe Institute—Online

    The artist Tomashi Jackson and Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, will engage in a wide-ranging conversation to mark the opening of Jackson’s new Radcliffe exhibition, Brown II, which explores the challenges of implementing the landmark 1954 US Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Her work centers on the subsequent 1955 case (referred to as Brown II), which stated that the effort to desegregate schools in the United States was to be undertaken with “all deliberate speed.”

    Jackson and Brown-Nagin will consider the Brown II...

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    Our Bodies, Ourselves Book Talk

    Location: 

    Harvard Radcliffe Institute—Online

    The final installment in the summer series of Virtual Radcliffe Book Talks will feature a discussion of Our Bodies, Ourselves, first published in 1971. This event is organized in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the book’s first edition and in connection with the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective Records housed in the Schlesinger Library. The event will also include audience Q&A.

    ...

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    Book Talk with Daniel Carpenter

    Location: 

    Harvard Radcliffe Institute—Online

    The third installment of the Virtual Radcliffe Book Talks will feature Daniel Carpenter, author of Democracy by Petition: Popular Politics in Transformation, 1790–1870 (Harvard University Press, 2021). Carpenter is the faculty director of the social sciences at Harvard Radcliffe Institute and the Allie S. Freed Professor of Government in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

    Carpenter's reading will be followed by a discussion with Nikki M. Taylor, professor of history and chair of the Department of History at Howard University. The event will also include an...

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    Book Talk with Tiya Miles

    Location: 

    Harvard Radcliffe Institute—Online

    The second installment of the Virtual Radcliffe Book Talks will feature Tiya Miles, author of All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (Random House, 2021). Miles is a Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at Harvard Radcliffe Institute and a professor of history in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

    Miles's reading will be followed by a discussion with Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, professor of history in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and...

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    Book Talk with Clint Smith

    Location: 

    Harvard Radcliffe Institute—Online

    The first installment in the summer series of Virtual Radcliffe Book Talks will feature Clint Smith, author of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America (Little, Brown and Company, 2021) and staff writer at The Atlantic. Smith's reading will be followed by a discussion with Kyera Singleton, executive director of the Royall House and Slave Quarters, in Medford, Massachusetts. The event will also include audience Q and A.

    ...

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    Performance and Ritual in Ancient Egyptian Funerary Practice

    Location: 

    Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East—Online

    One of the best documented Egyptian rituals—occurring in both cultic and funerary contexts—is known as the Opening of the Mouth ritual. Performing this ritual was believed to animate statues and temples, while also restoring the senses of the deceased, thus ensuring that they could eat, drink, and breathe in the afterlife. Textual and iconographic references to the ritual are found in different time periods, from the Old Kingdom through the Roman Period.

    In this lecture, Mariam Ayad uses the Opening of the Mouth ritual as a case study to illustrate the power of imagery and the...

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    The Dawn of Olmec Civilization

    Location: 

    Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology—Online

    The hearth of Olmec civilization is located in the tropical lowlands of Mexico’s southern Gulf Coast region, in the majestic archaeological site of San Lorenzo. The inhabitants of this first Olmec capital developed a distinctive geo-political territory and managed complex trade systems. The Olmec also created spectacular earthen architecture and magnificent stone sculpture—including the famous Colossal Heads—that reflect their stratified social organization and centralized political system backed by religion and directed by hereditary rulers.

    Building on the pioneering work of...

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    Resetting the Table: A Virtual Talk and Tour with the Curators

    Location: 

    Food Literacy Project—Online

    The "Resetting the Table: Food and Our Changing Tastes" exhibition at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology explores food choices and eating habits in the United States, including the sometimes hidden but always important ways in which our tables are shaped by cultural, historical, political, and technological influences.

    Join us on this special virtual talk and tour at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology with Joyce Chapli, guest curator and Harvard University James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History; Janis Sacco, Director...

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    Gender Rights in the Time of Pandemic

    Location: 

    Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard—Online

    This session will consider what it means to organize for gender rights in global contexts in the 21st century during a pandemic. The speakers will feature diverse geographic and disciplinary perspectives, addressing key issues related to gendered power and difference in Africa, South Asia, and among minoritized people in the United States, including the gendered nature of care labor, rights-based activism in the face of rising global authoritarianisms, and the transnational reach of global protest.

    ...

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    Stories of Women from Jaina Island Maya Figurines

    Location: 

    Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology—Online

    Maya female ceramic figurines from the island of Jaina in Campeche, Mexico, produced in the Late Classic Period (600–900 CE) are admired for their lifelike, poignant, and sometimes amusing characteristics. Long assumed to be elite women or moon goddesses, these figurines reveal a complexity of Maya social life, especially for women, that is rarely seen in other painted ceramics or monumental sculpture. They also offer insights into the culture of Jaina Island, including disturbing enslavement practices.

    Mary Miller will discuss various interpretations of Jaina figurines—...

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    Recovering the Histories of Seven Enslaved Americans

    Location: 

    Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology—Online

    For seven seasons, award-winning Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has uncovered the ancestral stories of celebrity guests on his hit-television series, Finding Your Roots. In this program, Gates will be joined by Dr. Gregg Hecimovich to discuss the process of unearthing the histories of formerly enslaved people. The focus will be on  Alfred, Delia, Drana, Fassena, Jack, Jim, and Renty, seven Black men and women who were photographed against their will in Columbia, South Carolina in 1850. These controversial photographs are the subject of a new book, To Make Their Own...

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    Art Talk Live: Liberty, Equality, Sorority? A Woman Printmaker in the French Revolution

    Location: 

    Online via Zoom

    The French Revolution saw an explosion of printed media and printmakers—including women, who used their artistic production to participate in the politics they were legally excluded from because of their gender. 

    In this talk, curatorial intern and Ph.D. candidate Sarah Lund will unfold the layers of this large color print, from the radical Jacobin revolutionary who made it and the martyred war hero it depicts to the woman artist who, by blood, by marriage, and by trade, was equally entangled in the print’s politics even as she was excluded from its image.

    ...

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    Race, Representation, and Agassiz’s Brazilian Fantasy

    Location: 

    Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology—Online

    How do we confront the history and legacy of Louis Agassiz’s extensive archive of images of African and Indigenous Brazilians made in Manaus, Brazil in 1865 and housed at Harvard’s Peabody Museum?

    Four distinguished panelists reflect on the historical moment when these pictures were taken, discuss racist displays of Indigenous people in Brazil and elsewhere, and, by bringing to light respect for different epistemologies, explore ways to contend with them today. Panelists will be writer and historian Christoph Irmscher (contributor to the recent Peabody Museum Press book about...

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    Black Is Queen: The Divine Feminine in Kush

    Location: 

    Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East—Online

    The prominence of powerful goddesses and queens in the Nubian Kingdom of Kush (now Northern Sudan) highlights the unusually high status of women in this ancient African society and serves as a fitting focus for the study of female power in the ancient world. Using temple inscriptions found in Egypt and Nubia, the rich funerary goods found in royal burials, and temple and tomb imagery, Solange Ashby will discuss how ancient Africans of the Nile Valley understood female power and presence. Songs from Beyoncé’s recent production "Black Is King" will be woven into this presentation on...

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