Over the past 3 years, the Brown International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARI), a collaboration between Brown University and Santander Universities overseen by Brown's Office of International Affairs, have hosted participants and visiting speakers from over seventy countries. In 2011, the presenters included Professors Chinua Achebe and Glenn Loury, both faculty members from Brown University, and Professor Diyah Larasati of the University of Minnesota. These three short video pieces, shot and edited by Lindsay Richardson (with additional footage from University media services), offer glimpses of their BIARI presentations.
Professor Chinua Achebe joined the Brown Faculty in the Fall of 2009, as the David and Mariana Fisher University Professor, and Professor of Africana Studies. Things Fall Apart, his 1958 novel, has become a classic: still widely read for its commentary on the post-colonial condition. It was followed by a number of other well-received works including No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, and Anthills of the Savannah. His essays have also had a powerful impact on scholarly debate, notably his 1965 essay on “The novelist as teacher” and his 1975 Chancellor’s Address, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.”
Professor Achebe has received 40 honorary degrees from universities all over the world. In the past five years, two other awards stand out in particular In 2007 he was awarded the second Man Booker prize, one of the highest literary honors in the U.K. Chair of the selection panel Elaine Showalter declared that Professor Achebe “ illuminated the path for writers around the world seeking new words and forms for new realities and societies.”
In 2010, he was awarded the Dorothy and Lillian Gish prize, which honors individuals for “outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”
His most recent book of essays, The Education of a British-Protected Child, was published in 2010. In a keynote address to BIARI participants, Professor Achebe read from the volume, recalling his participation in a meeting of the OECD in 1989, where he realized, in a flash of insight, how under the guise of fostering economic development, Westerners foisted their own fictions about Africa onto the continent.
Professor Glenn Loury is the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences at Brown University, where he teaches in the Economics Department. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Professor Loury is one of the leading experts on the economic and social impacts of U.S. policies of mass incarceration, and in particular their effects on black communities. His published works include The Anatomy of Racial Inequality (2002). Leading by example, he has consistently counseled fellow academics to make their work accessible to wider audiences, and take on the responsibilities of the public intellectual. At BIARI 2011, where he was introduced by Brown Professor Rich Snyder, he spoke at the Institute on Development and Inequality. He drew on his own research, and recent debates about the significance of Barack Obama’s presidency for race relations in the United States, to urge BIARI participants to make their research speak to the public interest.
Professor Diyah Larasati is Assistant Professor of Theatre, Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota, and continues to engage in debates over politics, memory and narratives of violence both within her native Indonesia, and also in the larger circuits of international engagement and globalized culture. Professor Larasati attended BIARI in 2010 as a participant in the Institute on Critical Global Humanities, and returned to the Institute in 2011 as a presenter. In her 2011 presentation, she explored ways of re-thinking the concepts of marginality, cosmopolitanism and mobility, both as social phenomena and as terms of political discourse, through the context of the experience of Indonesian women and traditional practices. In the spirit of the Institute, which explored new forms of humanistic expression and argument, she also performed a dance that she has choreographed, inspired by questions of body, archive, transmission and regulation. The dance, shown here, is conceived in the spirit of the Indonesian dance form of Gandrung, and addresses questions of narrative and memory and the female form of east Java. Its short title is “walking in transient.”