To Listen is to Heal: A Reading and Discussion w/ Novelist Ruth Ozeki

On April 6th, 2023, Ruth Ozeki read from her novels and discussed the healing power of listening, story-telling, and bearing witness (in community). The Buddhist idea of dependent co-arising or radical interdependence was also discussed. Please see below for a recording of the talk.

Recording link: https://uconn-cmr.webex.com/uconn-cmr/ldr.php?RCID=9343d9f90694d3ab766fe90c6f3a199f

Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest, whose books have garnered international acclaim for their ability to integrate issues of science, technology, religion, environmental politics, and global pop culture into unique, hybrid, narrative forms. Her novels, My Year of Meats (1998), All Over Creation (2003), A Tale for the Time Being (2013) and The Book of Form and Emptiness (2022) have been translated and published in over thirty countries.

Sponsored by the Mahavir Ahimsa and Peaceful Living Experience (MAPLE) Fund, CLAS, the UConn Foundation, American Studies, UConn Humanities Institute, and Asian and Asian American Studies

A New World Order? A Roundtable on Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine

A New World Order?  A Roundtable on Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine

Panelists:  Oxana Shevel (Political Science, Tufts), Ellen Litman (English, UConn), Sara Silverstein (History, UConn)

Friday, April 1 @ 1:00-2:30pm

Zoom (see link below)


A New World Order?  A Roundtable on Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine

What are the stakes of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, regionally and globally?  What are conditions on the ground in Ukraine, and what is its impact on Jewish and other minoritized communities in both Russia and Ukraine?   How supportive are the Russian people of the invasion?  Globally, does it really signal a new world order with a new power bloc centered in Russia and China, with the corresponding erosion of U.S. empire?  Why are segments of the political right – in the United States and around the world – enamored with Vladimir Putin?   What histories, ideologies, and global relationships do we need to know in order to understand the current conflict?

This panel brings together Professor Oxana Shevel (Tufts, Political Science) into conversation with UConn scholars Professor Ellen Litman (English) and Professor Sara Silverstein (History) to address these and other questions in the hopes of better understanding the current war in Ukraine and its possible afterlives.

Oxana Shevel is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University and President of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies (AAUS).  Her research and teaching focus on the post-Communist region surrounding Russia, and issues such as nation- and state-building, the politics of citizenship and migration, memory and religious politics, and challenges to democratization in the post-Soviet region. She is the author of Migration, Refugee Policy, and State Building in Postcommunist Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Ellen Litman is an Associate Professor of English and the Associate director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Connecticut. She is the author of two novels, Mannequin Girl (W.W. Norton 2014) and The Last Chicken in America (W.W. Norton 2007). Her scholarly interests include immigrant narratives, contemporary Russian literature, and translation studies. Her fiction, nonfiction, and translations have appeared in American Odysseys: Writing by New Americans, East European Jewish Affairs, Guernica, The Forward, the New Yorker online, and elsewhere. Born in Moscow, she immigrated to the US in 1992.

Sara Silverstein is an Assistant Professor jointly appointed in the Department of History and the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut and is co-director of the Human Rights Institute’s Research Program in Humanitarianism. Dr. Silverstein’s work involves the history of public and global health, internationalism, and minority rights, with a special focus on Eastern Europe. She is completing a book manuscript titled For Your Health and Ours: The International History of a Right to Health and has published on public health, state-building, and internationalism in Eastern Europe.

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Meeting ID: 861 5531 1333

Passcode: Lw8tvE

Freedom Inside? Yoga and Meditation in the Carceral State

“Freedom Inside?  Yoga and Meditation in the Carceral State”

Professor Farah Godrej at the University of California-Riverside

Friday, February 18 @ 1:30pm (EST)

A virtual event: zoom link below


The talk examines the role of yoga and meditation in U.S. prisons. How do self-disciplinary practices such as yoga and meditation work when they are taught inside unjust systems?   Do they produce political passivity and compliance if offered as palliatives to accept, cope and comply with unjust power structures? Or, might they prove disruptive to mass incarceration if offered as tools to develop awareness and attunement toward injustice, to engage in non-conformist responses that include critique and challenge?  The research is based on four years of immersion in prisons and prison volunteer communities and over sixty in-depth interviews with those who teach and practice inside prisons.  Discussion will follow.

Sponsored by the Bhagwan Neminath Jain Faculty and Academic Programming Endowment, the Mahavir Ahimsa and Peaceful Living Experience (MAPLE) Fund ,the American Studies program, the Asian & Asian Studies Institute, & the Department of Political Science.


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Meeting ID: 882 1208 0222

Passcode: wzL2Rn

Afghanistan and the Course of US Empire


Please join us for a discussion of Afghanistan and the state of US empire featuring Gilbert Achcar (University of London, Department of Development Studies), Quan Tran (Yale University, Race, Ethnicity, and Migration) and Robert Vitalis (University of Pennsylvania, Political Science), moderated by Chris Vials (American Studies, UConn).  The event will on zoom (see link below) on Wednesday, September 29 @ 4:00-5:30pm.   It has been organized by UConn American Studies and is co-sponsored by Middle East Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies, Political Science, and the Humanities Institute.

The guests will consider a range of questions.   What do recent events in Afghanistan reveal about the course of U.S. empire?   What does the rapid seizure of the Afghan state by the Taliban reveal (and not reveal) about the place of the United States in the Middle East and around the world?   Do recent events signal an emerging trajectory in the terms of US military, economic, and/or cultural power?  What shape might the Taliban government take, and what are some implications for the people of Afghanistan?   In terms of representation, what are some implications of the narrative, so widespread in US media, that “we lost” Afghanistan?   How do the chaotic scenes of evacuation at the Kabul airport compare to the iconic “fall of Saigon” in 1975, and how does the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan compare to the end of the US war in Vietnam?     What is to become of Afghan refugees, in comparison to refugees from earlier US wars, given the current geo-politics of immigration and asylum?

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Meeting ID: 880 0157 4346
Passcode: uhgF6iv