March 10, 03

Vol. 18 , No. 09   

Gandhi: Imperialist, Nationalist, Hindu?
MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2003

As a historical figure, Gandhi is lauded for his tactics of passive resistance in the face of injustice and for his resolute leadership in the struggle to free India from British control. However, one has to wonder whether or not the usual narrative history does justice to the complexity of his life and actions. In his Athenaeum talk, Thomas Metcalf, a noted scholar of the history of the British Empire and Modern South Asia, will attempt to dig deeper into the facts and circumstances of Gandhi's life by illuminating Gandhi's relationship to the British Empire and to Indian nationalist identity. In particular, Professor Metcalf will focus on Gandhi's attitude toward the British and his ideas regarding Hindu nationalism. With a better understanding of these facets of his life, we can better understand who Gandhi was, and how his actions shaped the future of the Indian subcontinent.

Thomas Metcalf is professor of history and the Sarah Kailath Chair of Indian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Metcalf's current scholarship focuses on examining India as the center of the British Empire in the 19th Century, from which ideas, personnel, and institutions flowed out to the entire Indian Ocean region. At UC Berkeley, Professor Metcalf serves as a Trustee for the American Institute of Indian Studies.

Metcalf's publications include, The Aftermath of the Revolt: India, 1857-1870 (Princeton, 1964); Land, Landlords, and the British Raj (California, 1979); An Imperial Vision: Indian Architecture and Britain's Raj (California, 1989); Modern India Anthology (New York, 1970; revised 1990); and Ideologies of the Raj (Cambridge, 1995).

Professor Metcalf's lecture is jointly sponsored the Kravis Leadership Institute and the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum.

Paradigms Found and Paradigms Lost. Science Extraordinary and Science Pathological. Which Is Which? And How to Tell the Difference

Scientists claim that atoms can undergo nuclear fusion at room temperature in a container for jam. A teaspoon of oil can still the waves of an angry pond. A human being has been cloned . . . make that two! Are these claims true or are they examples of pathological science? Prof. Nicholas J. Turro will discuss how science handles extraordinary claims and how such claims can either lead to intellectual revolutions that change the way communities think and act, or to situations in which human beings can be lead astray by subjective effects, wishful thinking, or threshold interactions.

Nicholas J. Turro is the William P. Schweitzer Professor of Chemistry at Columbia University where he has been since 1964. He was born in Middletown, Connecticut, where he attended Wesleyan University before going to Caltech for his Ph.D. in 1960. He is the author of Modern Molecular Photochemistry (1991), a standard text in the field and has published over 700 research papers in established scientific journals. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In addition to his signal accomplishments as a research scientist, Turro has published an important analysis of the way science is done, and is recognized as an educational leader who has made a national impact. These accomplishments have recently been recognized by his selection in 2002 as Distinguished Teacher Scholar by the National Science Foundation.

Vexing Nature: On Ethics and Genetically Modified Foods

Genetically modified (GM) foods are produced using new techniques of biotechnology, such as gene silencing and insertion. While the American public has generally accepted GM corn and soybeans, the foods have proven controversial in Europe. In this interactive lecture, philosopher Gary Comstock will lead a discussion of the major moral objections to GM foods. He will argue that the U.S. needs a broader discussion of GM foods' ethical dimensions if its environmental risks are to be minimized and benefits realized.

Currently Comstock is professor of philosophy and director of the ethics program at North Carolina State University. He is the author of an influential book on agricultural biotechnology, Vexing Nature? On the Ethical Case Against Agricultural Biotechnology (2000), in which he explains his transformation from writing essays against genetic engineering, to becoming a "cautious proponent" of GM foods. In addition, Comstock is the current editor of Life Science Ethics and is a world-renowned expert in ethics.

Comstock's presentation is the fourth talk in the series The Environment in Crisis, sponsored by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Roberts Environmental Center, and the David E. French Lectureship.

The Sources of Ethnic Conflict: Insights from the Post-Communist Experience

The collapse of communist regimes from 1989-1991 in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union was followed-and sometimes accompanied-by growing conflicts between nations within multinational states. Why did this occur? How does the ethnic makeup of these states shape their prospects for peace, stability, and territorial integrity? What does an analysis of the post-communist region tell us generally about conflict and cooperation in multiethnic states?

Professor Valerie Bunce will address these and other questions in her evening talk at the Athenaeum, sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies. Valerie Bunce is a leading scholar of comparative politics and a specialist on issues of democratization, ethnic conflict, and political change. She has published dozens of scholarly articles and books, including Subversive Institutions: The Design and the Destruction of Socialism and the State and Do New Leaders Make a Difference? (1999) Executive Succession and Public Policy Under Capital ism and Socialism (1981).

Professor Bunce served as vice president of the American Political Science Association in 2000-2001 and president of American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies in 2001-2002. She is currently visiting the Athenaeum from Cornell University where she is the chair of the government department.

Damned by Dollars: Moby-Dick and the Price of Genius
MONDAY, MARCH 24, 2003

The novel Moby-Dick is the crown jewel of American literature. But when it was published in 1851, it soon became a critical and financial failure, sending Herman Melville, its young author (32) into a literary eclipse.

The story of Melville's meteoric rise to fame and rapid descent into a tortured obscurity as been recounted brilliantly in Hershel Parker's magisterial two-volume biography of Melville, one of the most important studies of an American author. The first volume was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 1997. In the second volume, published last year, Parker creates an intense narrative of Melville's life after Moby-Dick's failure, detailing his setbacks and triumphs, his struggles and successes, and the social context of his intellectual pursuits. Herman Melville: A Biography, Volume 2, 1851-1891 (2002) is the most recent winner of the Association of American Publishers' Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award for Biography and Autobiography.

Hershel Parker is the dean of Melville scholars. His lifelong devotion to Melville has brought forth, in addition to the biography, the spectacular Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville's complete works as well as the Norton critical edition of Moby-Dick (1967 and 2001) and the innovative critical volume Moby-Dick as Doubloon: Essays and Extracts 1851-1970 (1970). He has also authored Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons: Literary Authority in American Fiction (1984).

Parker is the H. Fletcher Brown Professor of English, emeritus, at the University of Delaware.

Feminist Education: Changing All Our Lives
bell hooks

Cultural critic, author, and feminist theorist, bell hooks, will deliver the inaugural address for an annual lecture series to honor the late Sue Mansfield, Claremont McKenna College professor of history, emerita.

Known as a feminist thinker, the writings of bell hooks cover a broad range of topics on gender, race, teaching, and the significance of media for contemporary culture. She strongly believes that these topics cannot be dealt with separately, but understood only in their interconnectedness.

Celebrated as one of the nation's leading public intellectuals by The Atlantic Monthly, and named one of Utne Reader's "100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life," hooks spends her time teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world.

During her career hooks has served as a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, and most recently as Distinguished Professor of English at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Like educational theorist Paulo Freire, bell hooks sees education as the practice of freedom, her "right as a subject in resistance to define reality." For hooks: "teaching is a performative act . . . that offers the space for change, invention, spontaneous shifts, that can serve as a catalyst drawing out the unique elements in each classroom."

A prolific writer, bell hooks is the author of more than 20 books, including Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (1994); Salvation: Black People and Love (2001); Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (1981); Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood (1996); Killing Rage: Ending Racism (1995), and, with Cornell West, Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life (1991). She is also the author of Happy to Be Nappy (1999), a children's book. Her last book Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem was released in December 2002.

Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the pseudonym bell hooks was the name of her great grandmother on her mother's side and used to honor them and to provide a separate voice from the author. The decapitalization and the pseudonym itself are her attempts to take the reader's focus away from the author and place it on the context of the work. hooks received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1973, her M.A. in 1976 from the University of Wisconsin, and her Ph.D. in 1983 from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

This visit to CMC by bell hooks is sponsored by the Dean of Faculty, the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, the department of history, and the Athenaeum.

Human Rights and Ethical Globalization

I go visit Colombia or East Timor or Afghanistan, but they stay there and work day in and day out. I also have a sense of having built a very effective office for human rights and putting, I hope, the stamp of integrity on the human rights agenda. This is recognized by all countries and all governments-that the office of the high commissioner for human rights is not politicized, we are not selective, and we operate an agenda that is broad-based.

-Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson became High Commissioner for Human Rights in September 1997, following her nomination to the post by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the endorsement of the General Assembly. Her appointment to the U.N. post had strong U.S. backing; President Clinton called her a "splendid choice" and pledged his administration's full cooperation with her mandate.

As High Commissioner, Robinson gave priority to implementing the reform proposal of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to integrate human rights concerns in all the activities of the United Nations. She also oversaw a reorientation of the priorities of her Office, which increasingly focused its work where it matters most: at the country and regional levels. As part of this focus, she traveled during her first year as High Commissioner to Rwanda, South Africa, Colombia, and Cambodia, among other countries. In September 1998, she was the first High Commissioner to visit China. Under a similar process, the High Commissioner has sent human rights workers to Indonesia and to countries in Europe and Africa. Robinson also strengthened human rights monitoring in such conflict areas as Kosovo, in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Robinson came to the United Nations after a distinguished seven-year tenure as President of Ireland (1990-1997). As President, Mrs. Robinson developed a new sense of Ireland's economic, political and cultural links with other countries and cultures. She placed special emphasis during her Presidency on the needs of developing countries, linking the history of the Great Irish Famine to today's nutrition, poverty and policy issues, thus creating a bridge of partnership between developed and developing countries.

Mrs. Robinson was the first Head of State to visit Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide there. She was also the first Head of State to visit Somalia following the crisis there in 1992, receiving the CARE Humanitarian Award in recognition of her efforts for that country.

Before her election as President in 1990, Mrs. Robinson served as Senator, holding that office for 20 years. In 1969 she became the youngest Reid Professor of Constitutional Law at Trinity College, Dublin. She was called to the bar in 1967, becoming a Senior Counsel in 1980, and a member of the English Bar (Middle Temple) in 1973. She also served as a member of the International Commission of Jurists (1987-1990) and of the Advisory Commission of Inter-Rights (1984-1990).

President Robinson's lecture is jointly sponsored by the Res Publica Society of Claremont McKenna College and the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum. Dinner reservations are for CMC persons only. The talk beginning at 6:45 p.m. is open to all, no reservations necessary.

Cesar Chavez Commemoration

The end of all knowledge must be the building up of character.

-Cesar Estrada Chavez

Students must have initiative; they should not be mere imitators. They must learn to think and act for themselves-and be free.

-Cesar Estrada Chavez

Cesar E. Chavez called the movement to organize America's farmworkers La Causa. Chavez was a humble man, who did not seek recognition for himself. Instead he sought to give voice to the millions of exploited and vulnerable farmworkers who from dawn until dusk, plant, plow and pick the crops for our dining table. "Huelga," the strike or boycott, was the tool he used as he pushed for safer working conditions and stood up to those who would deny his fellow laborers their basic human rights. His commitment transcended the hot, dusty fields, as he became an icon for the ongoing struggle for equal rights and equal opportunity. The migrant schools that Cesar Chavez worked so hard to establish are a testament to his exhaustive efforts, and a rare opportunity for many of America's laboring children to escape poverty through education.

In much the same way President Alex Gonzalez, from humble beginnings and working- class parents, has risen to become the President of California State University at San Marcos. President Gonzalez is the embodiment of what Chavez saw as the potential of all our children to succeed, and to achieve beyond their families' grasp. Dr. Gonzalez received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Pomona College, graduating with honors. After attending Harvard Law School, he completed his Master's and Doctoral studies in Social Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He also spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. Dr. Gonzalez is in his sixth year as President of California State University, San Marcos. Under his leadership, the campus has continued its rapid growth in enrollment and construction, strengthened its academic programs, tightened its fiscal management, and enhanced its relations with its off-campus community and friends in the region it serves. In addition, Dr. Gonzalez has been appointed to serve on the President's Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. The Commission will be creating a national multiyear plan to close the educational achievement gap between Chicano/Latino students and their peers.

The Cesar Chavez Commemoration Committee is proud to present the address by Dr. Alexander Gonzalez to commemorate the life and work of Cesar Chavez, and to give testament to the fact that through hard work and determination one may succeed against all odds. Please join us for what promises to be an educational and motivational evening.


Application forms for the position of Athenaeum Fellow for the 2003-2004 academic year will be available in the Athenaeum office on Monday, March 10. Completed applications must be returned by Thursday, March 27 at 5:00 p.m. Students desiring to be considered for the following year (2004-2005) but who will be away from campus during the next year's selection process may submit their application now in order to be considered for the future position.


The Athenaeum serves as a gathering place where ideas, inquiry, and fellowship bring students, faculty, staff, other scholars, and nationally prominent speakers together. Attendance at any event may be limited to persons associated with CMC, to the people who signed up for the meal, or to the maximum number of people allowed by fire regulations. On some occasions the speaker may address the group in another forum or the College may set up a video feed to handle an overflow crowd. All programs at the Athenaeum are filmed. Individuals attending should understand that their image might appear on the videotape. House rules and common courtesy prohibit disruptive actions inside the building during an Athenaeum sponsored program. Time allowing, there will be a period set aside for questions. Students will have priority during this portion of the program. Guests are expected to dress appropriately in all dining rooms. Shorts, jeans, and t-shirts are not acceptable at dinner; more casual attire is acceptable for lunch and tea. No bare feet at any time.