Lecture: Jacob Darwin Hamblin, “Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism”

Jacob HamblinApril 1, 2015 | 6:00-7:30
PrintText; 652 East 52nd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46205
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When most Americans think of environmentalism, they think of the political left, of vegans dressed in organic-hemp fabric, lofting protest signs. In reality, writes Jacob Darwin Hamblin, the movement–and its dire predictions–owe more to the Pentagon than the counterculture. In Arming Mother Nature, Hamblin argues that military planning for World War III created “catastrophic environmentalism”: the idea that human activity might cause global natural disasters. This awareness, Hamblin shows, emerged out of dark ambitions, as governments poured funds into environmental science after World War II, searching for ways to harness natural processes–to kill millions of people. Proposals included the use of nuclear weapons to create artificial tsunamis or melt the ice caps to drown coastal cities; setting fire to vast expanses of vegetation; and changing local climates. Oxford botanists advised British generals on how to destroy enemy crops during the war in Malaya; American scientists attempted to alter the weather in Vietnam. This work raised questions that went beyond the goal of weaponizing nature. By the 1980s, the C.I.A. was studying the likely effects of global warming on Soviet harvests. Driven initially by strategic imperatives, Cold War scientists learned to think globally and to grasp humanity’s power to alter the environment. Arming Mother Nature changes our understanding of the history of the Cold War and the birth of modern environmental science.

Dr. Jacob Darwin Hamblin is Associate Professor of History of Science, Technology, and Environmental History at Oregon State University. His most recent publication is Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism, published by Oxford University Press in 2013. He has also published Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age, published by Rutgers University Press in 2008, and Oceanographers and the Cold War, published by University of Washington Press in 2005. Dr. Hamblin’s current work explores the promotion of nuclear-related science and technology so-called developing countries, blending the histories of science, environment, and international relations.

Co-sponsored by Earth Charter Indiana, PrintText, and NUVO.

Bessie House-Soremekun reveals “The Africa the World Seldom Sees”

Bessie House-Soremekun

Bessie House-Soremekun

Dr. Bessie House-Soremekun analyzes the production of knowledge about African Societies by interrogating the multifarious stereotypical images of Africa often presented by network television, radio, popular media, movies and novels. These images often encapsulate static narratives and encoded messages that diminish Africa’s historical and contemporary contributions to the world. In many cases, Africa is still projected as a static “other” that has not embraced change and development. Dr. House-Soremekun compares these interpretations to earlier conceptualizations of African people and their cultures which were depicted by the Europeans during the era of imperialism and colonialism. She also probes the various ways in which peoples of the African Diaspora are continually affected by these images and are marginalized in the era of globalization when modern technologies daily project these images to many countries of the world.  This lecture supplements “The Africa the World Seldom Sees” Art Exhibition, which is on display at the IUPUI Cultural Arts Gallery in February 2015.

Dr. Bessie House-Soremekun is the Director of Africana Studies, Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies, Public Scholar in African American Studies, Civic Engagement, and Entrepreneurship, and the Founding Executive Director of the Center for Global Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.  She has published 6 books and numerous scholarly articles and book chapters.

February 19, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
IUPUI Library, Room UL 4115P

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“Selling Yoga” traces growing popularity of modern yoga from its counterculture roots

Dr. Andrea Jain

Andrea Jain, “Selling Yoga” Author

In the popular imagination of yoga practice today, gone are the visions of bearded, stoic old men seeking a transcendent state detached from ordinary, everyday life. Instead, most envision a room of spandex-clad, perspiring, toned women perched atop yoga mats in the pursuit of fit, beautiful bodies.

The popular “modern postural yoga” systems now practiced in urban settings around the globe represent a late 20th century break from premodern and early modern yoga systems that were usually tied to a particular all-encompassing ideology, philosophy, or worldview, according to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor Andrea R. Jain.

In her new book, “Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture,” the IUPUI professor examines the growing global popularity of modern yoga, which previously had been viewed as countercultural and oftentimes scandalous.

“Yoga underwent popularization when certain yoga entrepreneurs (more traditionally known as gurus) became strategic participants in the global marketplace and succeeded in selling yoga by successfully creating an intersection of yoga brands and dominant trends of consumer culture,” said Jain, assistant professor of religious studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

Unlike premodern and early modern yoga systems, popularized yoga is not prescribed as an all-encompassing worldview or system of practice, but as one among many components of personal development that can provide increased physical beauty, fitness, and flexibility, along with such benefits as decreased stress. In other words, popularized yoga is often combined with various non-related worldviews and practices.

Fueling its popularization has been yoga’s intersections with the rising transnational consumer culture and its basic tenant that individuals can and should pick and choose practices, beliefs, and commodities that fit their own lifestyle preferences, Jain said.

Practitioners of contemporary popularized yoga see its products and services as a road to self-development in line with mainstream social values such as the dominant health and fitness paradigms.

However, Jain argues that yoga systems cannot be reduced to mere commodities—that yoga can, in fact, serve religious purposes even in its popularized varieties, and as such provides an avenue for studying ways in which religious systems adjust to contemporary consumer culture.

“Yoga is merely a case study. Even evangelical Christianity has succeeded in part by creating an intersection with consumer culture . . . evangelical pastors, for example, advocate for the importance of individuals choosing particular exercise or physical fitness regimens based on lifestyle preferences, therefore reflecting dominant themes in our consumer culture,” Jain said.

Modern yoga systems are no less authentic than premodern ones, since all yoga systems are ultimately specific to their particular social contexts, according to the professor.

“There never was a single, homogenous yoga tradition. Yoga has always been in transition as it moved across social contexts,” Jain said.

Published by Oxford University Press, “Selling Yoga,” is now available in paperback, hardback and as an ebook.

David Craig, “Obamacare and American Values”

David CraigFebruary 4, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
Location: IUPUI University Library, Room 4115P
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The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has been criticized as socialist and revolutionary and its individual mandate as un-American. Prof. Craig’s new book, Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy, reports the lessons he learned during a three-year interview study at Catholic and Jewish hospitals. In fact the Affordable Care Act largely conserves the shared values built into U.S. health care through many decades of public policy and the mission-driven operations of religious health care organizations.

Dr. David M. Craig is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at IUPUI. He completed Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy while serving as the Thomas H. Lake Scholar in Religion and Philanthropy in the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He writes on economic, environmental, and health care ethics.

 

Ronda Henry, “Barack Obama, Gender, and Pop Culture”

Ronda HenryJanuary 27, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
Location: IUPUI University Library, Room 4115P
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Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father (1994) used women’s bodies to establish a socially and culturally popular “brand” upon which he could build his political career.  Women function as signs of a non-threatening black masculine identity constructed to counter contemporary images of black masculinity associated with anger, aggressiveness, criminality, and the influence of the hip hop thug.  While 50 Cent, Kanye West, Jay Z and other hip-hop moguls can use many of the “negative” associations attached to black masculinity to generate power, Obama had to block or disallow their easy application to his own body to gain wide acceptance.

Dr. Ronda Henry is Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies and the Director of the Olaniyan Scholars Program.  She is the author of Searching for the New Black Man: Black Masculinity and Women’s Bodies, published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2013.  She writes on African American literature, gender, and race.

 

Lecture: Andrea Jain, “Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture”

Andrea JainJanuary 21, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
Location: IUPUI University Library, Room 4115P
Free tickets available below
Premodern and early modern yoga comprise techniques with a wide range of aims, from turning inward in quest of the true self, to turning outward for divine union, to channeling bodily energy in pursuit of sexual pleasure. Early modern yoga also encompassed countercultural beliefs and practices. In contrast, today, modern yoga aims at the enhancement of the mind-body complex but does so according to contemporary dominant metaphysical, health, and fitness paradigms. Consequently, yoga is now a part of popular culture. In Selling Yoga, Andrea R. Jain explores the popularization of yoga in the context of late-twentieth-century consumer culture. She departs from conventional approaches by undermining essentialist definitions of yoga as well as assumptions that yoga underwent a linear trajectory of increasing popularization. While some studies trivialize popularized yoga systems by reducing them to the mere commodification or corruption of what is perceived as an otherwise fixed, authentic system, Jain suggests that this dichotomy oversimplifies the history of yoga as well as its meanings for contemporary practitioners.By discussing a wide array of modern yoga types, from Iyengar Yoga to Bikram Yoga, Jain argues that popularized yoga cannot be dismissedthat it has a variety of religious meanings and functions. Yoga brands destabilize the basic utility of yoga commodities and assign to them new meanings that represent the fulfillment of self-developmental needs often deemed sacred in contemporary consumer culture.Dr. Andrea R. Jain is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and author of Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture (Oxford, 2014).