October 29, 2014

"Want and Waste: Poverty as Geography in India's Cities" Lecture Q&A

Majed Akhter, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, discusses Vinay Gidwani's upcoming lecture on the politics of food and agriculture in the developing country context. Akhter co-organized the event with Dr. Michael Dodson.

How will Gidwani’s lecture reflect the themes of Themester 2014?
Gidwani's lecture will focus on the livelihood strategies of one of the most marginalized populations in India: informal waste-pickers. Drawing on his ethnographic research, Gidwani will illustrate how and why the connections  between agricultural hardship, rural-urban migration, and getting by in an urban context characterizes the experiences of many Indian waste-pickers.  

What is the value of the lecture to students?
The value of the lecture lies in its potential to prompt students to think about how eating and drinking is  related to issues of class, agrarian production, and the livelihoods of millions of marginalized populations. Eating and drinking, although experienced at the most local and intimate scales, are truly global processes that should make us think about the relations between cities and farms, as well as the developed and developing worlds.  By focusing on the material and meaningful aspects of "waste", something we all produce and experience, Gidwani will provoke students into thinking more deeply about their own daily practice. 

What is most interesting about Gidwani's work to you?​
The most interesting aspect of Gidwani's work is that it is highly engaged with the latest social theories even while remaining grounded in intense ethnographic and historical research. Gidwani is very adept at drawing from his field observations, interviews, archival sources, government statistics to challenge and advance the most sophisticated social theory being discussed in the social sciences and humanities.

Gidwani's lecture will take place Thursday, November 6th, at 4pm in the IMU's Oak Room.
IU Cinema will then screen Peepli (Live) at 6:30, an Indian black comedy tied to the lecture.

Ashli Hendricks
2014 Intern

October 16, 2014

Upcoming Film: Connected by Coffee

Every morning, many college students at Indiana University wake up to a hot cup of coffee.  Although the cup can keep us moving for hours and warm us up on cold days, we often forget about the drink until the next morning when we need it (literally) again. But where does all of this coffee that we consume come from? Hint: It is not the IMU Starbucks.

On this Sunday October 19th   the Hoosier Fair Trade group in partnership with the College of Arts and Sciences Themester 2014 is putting on a film to answer just that question. The film, Connected by Coffee is part of a three part film series that focuses on the unfair trade that goes on in the coffee, sugar, and banana industries. 

When asked about the purpose of this film series, Professor Mary Embry responded, “These films in the series all are award winning documentaries that show the impetus for the Fair Trade movement and Fair Trade purchasing—the unequal terms of trade in our most basic and highly consumed food items: sugar, coffee, and bananas. These films will connect with people as consumers and students as global citizens.”
Introducing Connected by Coffee is Jonathan Rosenthal.  According to Professor Embry, he “has a lengthy history of participating in businesses that are more sustainable and socially just. His experiences with Equal Exchange can help contextualize how we might look at how coffee is produced and our responsibilities as consumers.”


This event is free to the public, and a must see for avid coffee consumers!

Madison Kesler
2014 Intern

October 8, 2014

A Fabulous Evening

Beautiful art, soulful music, and self-expression all came together at the IU Art Museum’s MIX: Fabulous Food on October 2, 2014. Upon entering the grand foyer of the museum, we were invited to bring art to life by tapping into our inner artist and finding inspiration in food.

One table was devoted to the still life, a classic representation of food in the arts. The table was lined with a mix of statues, masks, and an array of fresh fruits and vegetables. Each artist’s interpretation was delightfully different, and groups of friends had so much fun comparing each other’s masterpieces.

Another table elevated the humble potato to a versatile tool with potato printing. It was fascinating watching one group carve their own designs into the potatoes and leave them for the next group, who could use or alter those designs for themselves. Many people remarked that they hadn’t done this since childhood, and wondered what had taken them so long to do it again!


There was also a table specifically for those artists with a sweet tooth – a cookie decorating station! Everyone could take a cookie and pick from any one of the brightly colored frostings that were offered to craft their cookie creations. They were too beautiful to eat – although that didn’t stop many.

During it all, there was beautiful music on the second floor that floated throughout the museum. Tours were given every 15 minutes, taking groups through the exhibits to point out pieces specifically suited to the Themester theme. Don’t worry if you missed the tour though, because the exhibits will remain up through the end of the fall semester.


It was clear from the atmosphere that everyone was having a wonderful time interacting with food and art in new and fabulous ways.

Laura Seifers
2014 Intern

September 30, 2014

IU Art Museum: Interview with Courtney Veneri

Courtney Veneri, sophomore at Hutton Honors College Student Docent at IU Art Museum

Q: Why did you decide to become a student docent?
A: I’m interested in the IU Art Museum and I like taking tours so I thought it would be interesting to give tours of my own.

Q: Can you please give a quick run-down of the tour?
A: There are three pieces you look at on every floor. All of them are really diverse, sculptures, photos, etc., all from different times, all under Themester. Some are really practical, but they all go together.

Q: What do you think will be the favorite aspect of the people who go on this tour?
A: When you look at the art, you don’t really know what it is or what it was intended for. You don’t just get a lot of information and look at it. The tour guides lead you to guess for yourself what the artist intended.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being a student docent?
A: I liked getting more in-depth information about all of the pieces and sharing all of the pieces because I think it’s a really interesting tour.

Q: What’s your favorite piece in the tour?
A: There’s a woodblock print [of Americans baking bread] that’s my favorite because it’s Americans as seen by foreigners. We don’t usually get to see ourselves so it’s interesting to see how we were viewed back in the day.

Q: What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned thus far?
A: It’s interesting to see how much of society revolves around food. No matter what culture, so much of your daily life, daily routine revolves around eating and food.

Q: Has being a student docent had any influence on your life, besides the obvious time commitment?
A: It makes me think more about how food factors into my life, like what I eat and how I eat. It’s interesting to see how much of what you know about a different culture is based off of their food, like that’s the first thing you think of. A lot of our exposure to other cultures is their food.

Q: Can you give a further example?
A: We talked about how some pieces have been used in food festivals. You don’t think we have food festivals in America, but we have pumpkin carving and Thanksgiving which is almost completely centered around food.

Q: Why should people go on the tour?
A: Beyond it just being interesting, it forces you to analyze cultures and then your own culture. It will make you look at how your culture responds to food versus a historical or foreign reaction to food.

Q: When are the tours given?
A: It’s based on when classes want them. There is also the Honors College Mixer, when anybody can go on one. That’s on October 2nd, 6:30-8:30 pm. It’s free and open to the public.

Elizabeth Pekar
Themester 2014 Intern