A Proposition by Slavs and Tatars: Reverse Joy
February 11 2012
With special guest Dr. Hamid Dabashi.
Reverse Joy looks at Muharram, the perpetual protest at the heart of the Shi’a faith, for its radical reconsideration of history, progress, if not time itself. Inserting oneself, flesh and faith, into events that transpired thirteen centuries ago, the collapse of traditional understandings of time, the reversal of roles of men and women, and joy through mourning all demand an equally elastic and muscular understanding of the sacred and the profane that is the down payment towards any meaningful social change. Reverse Joy looks at the complex constellation of Muharram—the vernacular architecture, crafts, rituals, and narrative—which over the course of a millennium has taken on a near-cosmic significance, beyond regional rivalries, and possibly beyond the faith itself to impact notions of identity, mysticism, protest, and resistance in the world at large.
Propositions is a public forum that explores ideas in development. Each two-day seminar introduces a topic of current investigation in an invited speaker’s own artistic or intellectual practice. Over the course of a seminar session, these developing ideas are responded to, researched, and discussed to propel them forward in unique ways.
Slavs and Tatars is a faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia. The collective’s work spans several media, disciplines, and a broad spectrum of cultural registers (high and low) focusing on an oft-forgotten sphere of influence between Slavs, Caucasians, and Central Asians. Their work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York, the oldest and most prestigious Chair in his field. He has taught and delivered lectures in many North and Latin American, European, Arab, and Iranian universities. He is a founding member of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, as well as a founding member of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University. He has written twenty books, edited four, and contributed chapters to
many more. He is also the author of over 100 essays, articles, and book reviews in major scholarly and peer-reviewed journals on subjects ranging from Iranian Studies, medieval and modern Islam, comparative literature, world cinema, and the philosophy of art (trans-aesthetics). A selected sample of his writing is co-edited by Andrew Davison and Himadeep Muppidi, The World is my Home: A Hamid Dabashi Reader (Transaction 2010). Dabashi is the series editor of “Literatures and Cultures of the Islamic World” for Palgrave Macmillan and the founder of Dreams of a Nation, a Palestinian Film Project, dedicated to preserving and safeguarding Palestinian Cinema.