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UB's "Fluid Culture" Series Will Feature Stars in the Ecological Firmament

Water, globalization, culture is the theme of 2011-12 Humanities Institute program

Release Date: September 7, 2011

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The Humanities Institute will present "Fluid Culture," a year-long interdisciplinary series focusing on water, globalization and culture, particularly in the Buffalo Niagara region.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "Fluid Culture," a free public lecture, arts and media series, will be presented by the University at Buffalo Humanities Institute beginning in September and extending through April.

The institute's ambitious, year-long interdisciplinary series will bring six acclaimed environmental scholars to Buffalo for a series of lectures on water, globalization and culture, with a special focus on the Buffalo Niagara region.

"Fluid Culture" also will feature the work of more than 20 local artists who will install and/or perform their work along area waterways from the Southtowns to Niagara Falls to highlight Buffalo's relationship to water. The art will include dancing kayaks, interactive media installations and a canal-side art exhibition.

The series was organized by Justin Read, PhD, associate professor, and Colleen Culleton, PhD, assistant professor, both in the UB Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

They say its aim is threefold:

-- To question relationships between culture and ecology, particularly with respect to water;

-- To question relationships between local/urban cultures, such as those of Buffalo/Niagara, with respect to globalization and global ecology; and

-- To understand the flows of goods and information by which globalization operates -- that is, to understand global culture as defined by its "fluidity."

The "Fluid Culture" Lecture Series will open at 4 p.m. Sept. 22 in the Screening Room, UB Center for the Arts, North Campus, with the lecture "Talking Back to Your Intelligent Cities," featuring noted author Saskia Sassen, PhD, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University.

Her research and writing focuses on globalization (including social, economic and political dimensions), immigration, global cities (including cities and terrorism), the new technologies and changes within the liberal state that result from current transnational conditions.

Sassen will be followed on Oct. 17 by Matthew Sparke, PhD, who has published widely on topics related to globalization, governance and mapping, as well as on what cultural scholar Priscilla Wald calls "the protean nature of spatial formations through which the nation-state continually reimagines and reasserts itself."

Sparke's talk, "Love and Other Cross-Border Drugs: What Does Canada-U.S. Travel Tell Us About Affect, Economics and Citizenship," will take place at 4 p.m. in 120 Clemens Hall, North Campus. His talk is co-sponsored by the UB Department of Geography.

Sparke is a professor of geography and international studies and adjunct professor of global health in the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Seattle. He is a cultural geographer and public health scholar who specializes in global health initiatives and responses to natural disaster.

Maude Barlow, international water-rights activist and chair of the National Council of Canadians, will follow on Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. in 120 Clemens Hall. The author of "Blue Covenant" (2008), a call to the nations of the world to declare water a basic human right, she will address what many already fear: "The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water." Barlow is chair of the board of Food & Water Watch and an executive member of the San Francisco-based International Forum on Globalization. Her talk is co-sponsored by the UB Program in Canadian Studies.

March 5 will find Ian Baucom on the dais in 120 Clemens for a 4 p.m. lecture (title to be announced). Baucom, professor and chair of the English department at Duke University, also directs Duke's John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute and is an expert in the cultural history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Baucom's talk will be co-sponsored by the UB Departments of English, History and Transnational Studies.

On March 28, Lucia Sa, PhD, professor of Brazilian cultural studies, University of Manchester, England, will speak at 4 p.m. in 120 Clemens Hall. Her talk will be co-sponsored by the UB Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Sa is a scholar of Amazon River literature, including indigenous oral traditions; the title of her lecture has not yet been announced.

The final lecture in the series, on April 19, will be presented by Ursula Heise, PhD, professor of English at Stanford University, president of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment and a leading expert in eco-criticism. She will speak at 4 p.m. in 120 Clemens Hall on a topic to be announced. Her talk will be co-sponsored by the UB Department of Comparative Literature.

The Fluid Culture Art and Media Series will feature several events, including those cited below. Additional events are anticipated, including poetry readings and additional art programs:

Canal Side Art Exhibit will take place Sept. 24-Nov. 15 at the Erie Canal Central Wharf, Buffalo Inner Harbor. It will feature installations by Michael Bosworth, Scott Bye, Laura Garofalo, Elizabeth Heifferon, Adam Levin, Warren Quigley and Jason Seeley. The exhibit will be co-sponsored by Buffalo Place and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.

Two Dance Works will be performed Oct. 2 at sunset (approximately 6 p.m.) at the Erie Canal Central Wharf, Buffalo Inner Harbor:

-- "Niagara Boat Dance," choreographed for kayaks by Gerry Trentham, critically acclaimed founder and artistic director of Canada's pounds per square inch performance company

-- "Water Body," choreographed and performed by Amy Taravella, the award-winning artistic director of ALT Theatre and the New Alt Performance Group and co-director of Buffalo Contemporary Dance.

Media Installations:

-- "Future Public Technologies: WATERBAR," an interactive media installation by Marc Böhlen, associate professor of media study at UB, will be exhibited Oct. 10-14 in the main atrium of the Ellicott Square Building, 295 Main St., Buffalo. The installation was made possible through the generosity of the Ellicott Development Corporation. Bohlen is founder of RealTechSupport, which designs and builds information processing systems that critically reflect on information as a cultural value.

-- "Fluid Borders," a video installation by multimedia artist Anna Scime, adjunct instructor of media study at UB, will be exhibited Nov. 1-19 at Space@224, 224 Allen St., Buffalo. Scime's work, varied in style, material and genre, treats landscape as a character, body as a landscape and narrative as a myth of time.

The series' official website is http://www.fluidculture.org.

The "Fluid Culture" series lectures will be compiled with essays from additional invited contributors and published in a book that also will feature the public art, images of regional waterscapes and landscapes and community mementos associated with the series. It is intended to be a go-to textbook for eco-criticism and a showcase of cultural life in the Buffalo/Niagara region.

"Fluid Culture" is made possible through the support of organizations at both the local and global level. These include: The Baird Foundation, Buffalo Place/Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., Ellicott Development Corp., Microsoft Research and Urban Roots.

In addition to the Humanities Institute, other UB co-sponsors include the College of Arts and Sciences, Office of the Provost, Office of the Vice President for Research, Program in Canadian Studies, Department of Comparative Literature, Department of English, the Department of Geography, Department of History, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the Department of Transnational Studies.

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