Beatriz Colomina, Professor of Architecture and Founding Director of the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University, discusses how modern architecture, launched by an international group of avant-garde architects in the 1920s, has usually been understood in terms of functional efficiency, new technologies of construction, and the machine aesthetic. In contrast, the hypothesis of her research is that the architecture of the early twentieth century was shaped by the dominant medical obsession of its time: tuberculosis. Colomina's project investigates architectural discourse and how it has, from its beginning, associated building with body. The body that it describes is the medical body—a body that is reconstructed by each new theory of health. Avant-garde architects of the early decades of the twentieth century presented their new architecture as a health inducing instrument, a kind of medical equipment for protecting and enhancing the body. Buildings even started to look like X-rays revealing internal secrets.
Myles Jackson, Bosch Public Policy Fellow in the Fall 2014, explains how he has used the CCR5 gene as a heuristic tool to probe three critical developments in biotechnology from 1990 to 2010: gene patenting, HIV/AIDS diagnostics and therapeutics, and race and genomics. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Jackson ties together intellectual property, the sociology of race, and molecular biology by showing how certain patent regimes have rewarded different forms of intellectual property. The decision to patent genes was not inevitable, Jackson argues, nor ‘natural.’ Likewise, there is nothing inevitable about using race as a major category of human classification. Jackson explains the economic and political interests that provide the impetus for making those choices and explains the alternatives. As a historian, Jackson attempts to resurrect the past in order to illustrate the alternative paths not taken and explain why they were never chosen.
In his lecture, artist Anthony McCall discusses the evolution of his solid-light works in the 1970s, the appearance of vertical installations, as well as horozontal installations from 2004 onwards. McCall was the Guna S. Mundheim Visual Arts Fellow in the fall semester 2014.
How differently do we now understand and approach emergencies, and what does it mean in 2014 -- philosophically, medically, politically, emotionally -- to “be prepared for” emergencies? In this lecture, cultural historian and translator Hillel Schwartz (Holtzbrinck Fellow in the fall 2014) addresses the question of “emergency,” beginning from the traditional understanding of emergency as “an unanticipated juncture that demands immediate, direct, often concerted action so as to stave off drastic threats or to cope with aftermaths of disaster.” He explains how emergencies have come to be associated with fashion, contraception, and daycare as well as oil spills, nuclear “incidents,” climate change, and international terrorism – a remarkable shift in nature and notion since “emergency” was floated into written English in the 1600s.
How should the West manage its increasingly complex relationships—economic, political, and diplomatic—with China? This is the central question that is addressed in this discussion between leading American China-specialist David Shambaugh and former German ambassador to China Michael Schaefer, moderated by Eberhard Sandschneider, from the German Council on Foreign Relations. Shambaugh claims that America and Europe’s relations with China share commonalities that transatlantic partners should pursue in tandem, while in other areas they should compete. Taken together, is there a common set of priorities that Washington and the EU should pursue in common vis-à-vis Beijing? Do the US and EU have a “grand strategy” that guides their varied approaches to China? What are Beijing’s priorities in dealing with the US and Europe? (Graphic by Yang Liu)