The Political Life of Scale: The Center for Cultural Analysis Annual Symposium, March 3, 2023, Academic Building West, Room 4052
  • The Political Life of Scale
  • March 3, 2023

Conference Details

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We cannot escape scale. Every discipline, job, and assumption uses certain scales as frames of references. In some cases, we use broader scales to grasp trends, to distill the diversity of the world, and to make predictions about the future. Take, for instance, medical research at the populational level (and scholars of biopolitics that usually critique such practices). Sometimes these broader scales are aimed toward justice (think policy to address equitable housing or human rights discourses), and sometimes they have the express goal to legitimate more policing and confinement, almost always in black and brown communities (think algorithms that generate regressions about who is most likely to commit crime and where). And then there are scholars and professionals that take a different vantage, using the scale of the individual or the body to speak back to discourses that tend to homogenize. The ethnographic, the phenomenological, the therapeutic, the affective. In this symposium, we ask: How does scale affect how we imagine humanity, in all of its capaciousness? How do certain perspectives open up (or perhaps preclude) new material possibilities for care, recognition, and freedom? How, in other words, do we envision the political and political possibility through particular scales? And might the different answers from those across disciplines and professions help us better address the politics of violence, extraction, racism, colonization, and life itself today? Across three panels and one keynote that address scale's role in producing colonialism, translation, the ecological, and the legal, we hope to rethink the foundations of political thought in our world today.

Keynote speaker: Dr. Lisa Hajjar

UC Santa Barbara, Dept. of Sociology


L. Hajjar


Lisa Hajjar has an international reputation for her work on sociology of law and conflict, human rights, political violence, and contemporary international affairs. She is an interdisciplinary scholar who contributes to multiple fields in the social sciences and humanities, including Middle East Studies, American Studies, and Law and Society. Her current research focuses primarily on the US “war on terror,” particularly around the issues of torture, targeted killing, and Guantanamo. She is the only social scientist who has traveled to Guantanamo (14 times to date), where she conducts research and writes about the military commissions. Another area of current research focuses on human rights in the Arab world. Her journalistic writings have been published by The NationAl Jazeera EnglishMiddle East Report, and Jadaliyya.

Part of the 2022-2023 Annual Seminar: Scale: A Seminar in Urban Humanities


Conference Schedule

Day Sessions: Rutgers Academic Building West Wing, 15 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Keynote and Reception: Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Coffee and Welcome
Room: AB 4052

“Scale and Comparative Colonialism”
Participants: Dr. Lou Cornum (NYU, Dep. of Social and Cultural Analysis), Dr. Maysam Taher (NYU, Dep. of Social and Cultural Analysis), & Dr. Asli Igsiz (NYU, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies)
Room: AB 4052

12:151:00: Lunch
Boxed lunch on 6th floor of Rutgers Academic Building

“Translating Scale”
Participants: Lina Mounzer (Writer and Translator), Dr. Samah Salim (AMESALL, Rutgers U.), & Dr. Nader Uthman (Harvard, Arabic)
Room: AB 4052

Coffee Break
AB 4th floor

“Ecological Scales”
Participants: Dr. Julie Livingston (NYU Dep. Social and Cultural Analysis) , Dr. Jerry Zee (Princeton University, Dep. of Anthropology), Dr. Teona Williams (Rutgers University Presidential Post Doctoral Fellow), and Dr. D. Asher Ghertner (Rutgers Geography department). 
Room: AB 4052

Keynote Address by Lisa Hajjar (UC Santa Barbara, Dep. of Sociology), “Legislative Scales”
Zimmerli Art Museum, Lower Dodge Wing

6:00 -  7:00: Reception (Food & Drink)
Zimmerli Art Museum, Lower Dodge Wing

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