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January 28, 2015

Home and Homelessness

In Perspective

By: Rebecca McInroy

This month’s episode explores what it means to be displaced or without a home. Our new roundtable participants ask: How do we define “home”? Is it a house? Is it family, a sense of community? Is it a place or a feeling? The discussants share their perspectives, from the practical concerns of living on the streets of Austin, to the role of creative production in dealing with homelessness, to challenging notions of displacement and transience as unnatural. Ultimately, the discussion turns toward the ways in which our perceptions of home and homelessness influence our views on immigration, the need for refuge, and national identity.

December 4, 2014

Artificial Intelligence

In Perspective

By: Rebecca McInroy

In this edition of In Perspective we teamed up with KUT’s Views and Brews for a discussion on various elements of and debates over Artificial Intelligence. What does it actually mean to think? How does understanding how computers work inform what we understand about the brain? And what is on the horizon for us in the world of Artificial Intelligence?

Listen back as KUT’s Rebecca McInroy discusses all things AI with: Dr Galen Strawson, philosophy professor and author of  Locke on personal identity: Consciousness and Concernment; Dr. Peter Stone, professor of computer science and author of: Keyframe Sampling, Optimization, and Behavior Integration: Towards Long-Distance Kicking in the RoboCup 3D Simulation League; and novelist and poet Dr. Louisa Hall, whose latest novel Speak takes the reader through 5 decades of building an AI doll.

 

 

October 17, 2014

War Memorials, Trauma and Identity

In Perspective

By: Rebecca McInroy

This month on In Perspective, our roundtable participants discuss public memory in relation to grief, war, and memorials such as the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Two of our guests represent that museum, which commemorates the September 11 attacks of 2001 and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993. Also joining us are two distinguished faculty from The University of Texas at Austin and by a call-in guest who is an assistant professor and filmmaker from Northwestern University.

The Discussion

Kyle Henry, MFA, is an assistant professor at Northwestern University. He is the editor of Heather Courtney’s 2012 film, Where Soldiers Come From, among many others. His latest documentary project, Half-Life of War (2014), explores war memorials and asks the question: Do we memorialize wars to remember, or do we construct monuments and memorials so that we can forget? In this discussion, Henry describes how he works to distill emotional realities through filmmaking in order to get at larger truths.

Clifford Chanin, director of education at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, discusses the significance of technology to how September 11th was experienced and how it is remembered in the museum. He addresses the question of whether or not memorials have particular life spans, and explains the dramatic change in the nature of memorials over the past several decades.

Jenny Pachucki, oral historian and assistant curator at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, shares what it means to speak about tragic events and the value of listening to each other’s recollections of where they were during historical moments. She explains that the exhibits bring together a vast array of remembrances and celebrate the victims’ lives, rather than attend only to their tragic passing.

Richard Flores, Ph.D., is a professor of anthropology and Mexican American studies at The University of Texas at Austin. He has written extensively on the topic of public memory, particularly in relation to Texas history and the Alamo. He helps frame the discussion of public memory and history with reference to the particular purposes served by myth-making and memorials. He explains how the distillation of events and lives toward the symbolic might also silence the voices of veterans and gloss over ongoing conflicts.

Tom Palaima, Ph.D., joins us from the department of classics at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a MacArthur fellow who focuses on Aegean prehistory and early Greek language and culture. He offers examples from Greek antiquity to give context to the discussion of early war memorials in the form of songs and epics. Palaima categorizes memorials as one of two varieties: those created to benefit those affected by the war, such as veterans and their families; and those created to benefit the state and national identity.

What’s your perspective?

These In Perspective participants together question how we deal with the trauma of terrorism and war, how we might mourn collectively, and why we build public memorials. They seek to understand and to teach an understanding of public memory and the human costs of war. At the Texas Humanities Project, we hope that this engagement with war and public memory from a variety of points of view in the humanities will spark thoughtful discussion among listeners about the impacts of memory and memorials in your lives.

Check back this time next month for our third In Perspective roundtable.