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Councils and Committee

Council on African Studies

African studies at Yale began in the late eighteenth century with study of African languages. Yale was one of the first universities to incorporate African studies into its mainstream curriculum prior to World War II. Today, the council serves as a National Resource Center for African Studies as well as one of the key U.S. sites for the study of Africa. As the home for the undergraduate major, M.A. in African Studies, Graduate Certificate of Concentration in African Studies, and the Program in African Languages—including programs in Swahili, Wolof, Yorùbá, and Zulu—the Council on African Studies is an interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences program that nurtures a community of Africanist scholars and provides training to individuals who are specializing in African topics.

Students enter the B.A. and M.A. programs with a variety of experiences and backgrounds, and find the curriculum to be an excellent first step toward an academic career or an important supplement to professional training in politics, policy, medicine, public health, or environmental and nongovernmental advocacy work. An important component of the program is its multinational as well as multidisciplinary approach. Students’ interests reflect this diversity, as they focus not only on particular regional zones in Southern, Western, Eastern, or North Africa but on particular thematic topics whose disciplinary homes range from political science to arts and literature, anthropology, economics, and the study of religion.

Annual council events range from general faculty, staff, and student-run events, including the weekly brown bag lunch seminars (a graduate student-run weekly series designed to provide an informal environment in which students, staff, and faculty at all levels at Yale and in the community can present work-in-progress), to the Spring Skit Night sponsored by the Program in African Languages, to conferences, weekly lectures, and roundtable discussions.

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Committee on Canadian Studies

Building on three centuries of close ties with Canada, Yale continues to play a significant role in the development of Canadian Studies in the United States and has graduated the second-highest number of Canadians among American universities. The Committee on Canadian Studies annually brings a distinguished Canadian academician to the campus as the Bicentennial Visiting Professor, due to a generous gift from the Canadian government to Yale University in 1976. In addition, the committee offers a number of dynamic conferences, film screenings, and special courses.

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Council on East Asian Studies

The formal study of East Asia at Yale dates back to 1878. Since then, East Asian Studies has expanded and evolved into a comprehensive program of study that plays an essential role in the University. Founded in 1961, the Council on East Asian Studies (CEAS) provides an important interdisciplinary forum for academic exploration and support related to the study of China, Japan, and Korea. Its mission is to facilitate the training of undergraduate and graduate students and to foster outstanding education, research and intellectual exchange about East Asia. For more than fifty years, it has promoted education about East Asia both in the Yale curricula and through lectures, workshops, conferences, film series, cultural events, and other educational activities open to students, faculty, K–16 educators, and the general public. With nearly thirty core faculty and twenty language instructors spanning ten departments on campus, East Asian Studies remains one of Yale’s most extensive area studies programs. Its interdisciplinary emphasis encourages collaborative linkages across fields and departments and contributes to diversity across the curricula and in the classroom. Approximately 150 courses on East Asia in the humanities and social sciences are offered each year.

CEAS administers Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Master of Arts (M.A.) programs. While the B.A. program focuses on the study of either a country or an area within East Asia, the M.A. program focuses on the study of China, Japan, or a transnational region in East Asia. Graduates of both programs have gone on to distinguished careers in the fields of academia, business, nonprofit organizations, and government service.

Study and research in East Asian Studies at Yale are supported by one of the finest library collections in the country. The Chinese, Japanese, and Korean language print resources in the East Asia Library at Sterling Memorial Library constitute one of the oldest and largest collections found outside of East Asia. The Asian Art Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery also supports classroom instruction, faculty research, and community outreach activities.

CEAS is committed to providing leadership in the study and understanding of East Asia on campus and in the region through support of educational and outreach activities with emphasis on joint endeavors across institutions both domestically and internationally.

During the 2017–2018 academic year, CEAS will welcome to campus visiting scholars and postdoctoral associates to conduct research on such topics as the social and cultural history of early modern Japanese urban society; the effects of transnational institutions and mechanisms on domestic politics; science, market, and the state in post-socialist China; ancient human population genetics of the Eastern Eurasian Steppe; agriculture and development in Korea, 1876–1945; and the oral epic literature of the Ainu. CEAS visiting scholars and postdoctoral associates will offer such courses as State and Society Relations in Post-Socialist China (A. Coplin); Biological, Archaeological, and Historical Perspectives of Early East Asia (L. Rogers); Everyday Life in Modern Korea, 1800 to the Present (H. Stephens); Microfoundations of Japanese Politics; and The History and Literature of the Ainu (D. Wallner).

In addition to a full calendar of nearly thirty lectures, plus films and cultural events, CEAS will sponsor numerous workshops and conferences in 2017–2018, including Xu Wei and the Frontiers of Cultural Possibility in Sixteenth-Century China, organized by Tina Lu (East Asian Languages & Literatures); The Meiji Restoration and Its Afterlives: Social Change, Spatial Transformations, and the Politics of Commemoration, organized by Daniel Botsman (History); New Directions in Environmental History, organized by Peter C. Perdue (History); and Japan’s Global Baroque, organized by Mimi Hall Yiengpruksawan (History of Art). The fall will also mark year three of Japan at the Crossroads: Yale Project on Japan’s Politics and Diplomacy, a five-year project organized by Frances Rosenbluth (Political Science).

CEAS looks forward to collaborating again with the Yale-China Association and New Haven Museum to coordinate cultural outreach programming for Lunarfest 2018. In addition, CEAS will serve as a local venue for the 11th Annual China Town Hall, sponsored by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

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European Studies Council

The European Studies Council formulates and implements new curricular and research programs on European politics, culture, economy, society, and history. The council builds on existing programmatic strengths at Yale, while serving as a catalyst for the development of new initiatives. It supports individual and group research projects, conferences, film series, symposia, workshops, courses, and community outreach as they relate to the study of Eastern and Western Europe. European Studies offers an undergraduate major in Russian and East European Studies administered by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and a master’s degree program in European and Russian Studies. The council strongly supports the interdisciplinary study of Western Europe, as well as Russia and Eastern Europe, and their interaction. Additionally, the council offers students in the University’s graduate and professional degree programs the opportunity to obtain a Graduate Certificate of Concentration in European Studies. European Studies is also the home of active programs in Baltic Studies, European Union Studies, Russian Studies, and Hellenic Studies, which offers instruction in modern Greek language, literature, and culture. The council sponsors a dynamic cultural initiative in Polish, as well as the Center for Historical Enquiry and the Social Sciences (CHESS) and other topic-specific Reading Groups.

The M.A. program is unusual in its embrace of the entire spectrum of European nations and cultures. Students develop a national or thematic focus geared to their interests and language skills relating to East or West Europe, while also acquainting themselves with the traditions and issues associated with the other parts of Europe. In this way, the program translates the political realities and challenges of the post-Cold War era into a flexible and challenging academic experience. M.A. students have the opportunity to gain insight into such diverse topics as labor migration within Europe, the changing role of socialist parties, transnational tendencies in literature and the arts, and Europe’s relations with other world regions. Areas of special focus include the European Union, Poland, Greece, the Balkans, and the states of the former Soviet Union.

In the fall 2017 term the council will host the next roundtables in its series on Global Governance: “Is the UN Able to Manage Global Affairs?” on September 6, and “Challenges to Global Peace” on November 1. On September 27 the council sponsors a University Library-wide pop-up exhibit of materials relating to the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, including events at the Beinecke, Manuscripts and Archives, Bass, CSSSI, Gilmore Music, Haas Family Arts, and Medical Historical Libraries. In collaboration with Judaic Studies and the Council on Middle East Studies, on November 2–3 the council will host a conference on Language and Group Boundaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Three conferences will take place in April 2018: Free Trade and Protectionism in Historical Perspective; Understanding Totalitarianism in a Postmodern World: Lessons from Central European Philosophy; and Regime Evolution, Institutional Change, and Social Transformation in Russia, funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation. The conference After 2017: New Approaches to Reformation Research will be held in June 2018. Also in the spring term the European Cinema Committee will hold its fourteenth annual film conference, focused this year on 2006, providing a snapshot of Europe at a time when the EU was expanding and confidence in Europe was high, before the financial crisis of 2008. This unconventional conference series, juxtaposing films from different countries around a given historical moment, releases these films from their national “silos” and allows them to be discussed in comparative terms. Throughout the year, the Council’s CHESS, Early Modern Empires, and Modern Europe Colloquia series will continue their biweekly meetings, and the Baltic Studies Fellows will present a lecture series. Russian Studies will host an ambitious speaker series and a series of Russian films, several accompanied by live musicians. European Union Studies and the Russia-East Europe workshop series will present commentary and works-in-progress by EU and other experts, as well as guest speakers relevant to the E&RS master’s students and faculty.

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Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies

Established in 1962, the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies (CLAIS) continues a long tradition of Yale collaborations in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. The council offers an undergraduate major in Latin American Studies and a Graduate Certificate of Concentration in Latin American and Iberian Studies for graduate and professional students at Yale. The council works to strengthen intellectual exchange and innovation through a broad array of courses, cultural events, scholarly lectures, international conferences, and academic research. More than eighty-five Yale faculty conduct research and/or teach courses with substantial Latin American content. Recent years have seen increased collaboration with other Yale departments and professional schools in the areas of forestry and environmental studies, global health, nursing, medicine, law, and human rights. CLAIS offers travel fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students, hosts visiting scholars, and supports faculty curriculum development. CLAIS sponsors an intensive Nahuatl language course in the summer and supports the development of new resources for language teaching in Spanish, Portuguese, Nahuatl, and Quechua. CLAIS promotes linkages with other U.S., Latin American, and Iberian institutions to bolster cooperation and understanding of these interconnected regions. Through a comprehensive outreach program, the council works with local, regional, and national K–16 educators and students and members of Latino community organizations, cultural centers, business, and media to develop and implement programs, services, and resources designed to advance understanding of issues pertaining to Latin America and Iberia.

In 2017–2018 the council will host the 2017 Latino and Iberian Film Festival at Yale (liffy.yale.edu). It will also build upon the recently inaugurated Yale Cuba Initiative, which will be comprised of a speakers series, a seminar, and opportunities for undergraduate students to travel to Cuba. Most CLAIS events are open to the public.

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Council on Middle East Studies

As globally significant developments in the Middle East unfold daily, the Council on Middle East Studies (CMES) continues its role as an academic platform in which students and faculty can debate the myriad contemporary, historical, political, and cultural issues of relevance to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and beyond. As a National Resource Center for Middle East Studies (funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s HEA Title VI), CMES serves as a central resource for the Yale community, the region, and the nation on issues pertaining to MENA. More than fifty Yale faculty members in a wide range of departments and professional schools teach more than 175 Middle East-related courses, including in the four major Middle East languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish, to the advanced level).

The major in Modern Middle East Studies (MMES), offered for the first time in 2008–2009, will have more than thirty-five courses (not including language courses) to choose from this year. CMES also offers a Graduate Certificate in MMES for M.A. and Ph.D. students interested in a regional focus.

CMES has been pivotal in the organization of major international conferences on wide-ranging topics, such as the region’s relations with the United States, the health impacts of violent conflict in the region, changing political regimes in MENA, and Islamic attitudes toward science and technology. CMES also offers a biweekly lecture/luncheon series, a yearlong film program, and many other educational events, all free and open to the public. CMES’s initiative to promote richer understanding of contemporary issues in the Middle East is growing considerably and includes regional initiatives in Iranian Studies, Turkish Studies, and North African Studies. In addition, CMES has strong links with Yale professional schools, particularly Architecture, Divinity, Law, and Public Health. CMES also assists in the acquisition of new materials in the Near Eastern Collection at Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library.

CMES will be host to several symposia, workshops, and conferences in 2017–2018. Throughout the year CMES will host a lecture series on the Arabian Peninsula, organized by Rosie Bsheer (History); an Iranian Studies Cinema series, organized by Nahid Siamdoust (CMES); and a panel discussion on Religious Minorities in Iraq, organized by Naysan Adlparvar (CMES). CMES is also cosponsoring several conferences, including The Caspian Sea in the History of Early Modern and Modern Eurasia, organized by Abbas Amanat (History); Translation/Tarjama: The Aesthetics and Politics of Translating Arabic Literature, organized by Robyn Creswell (Comparative Literature); Minority, Movement, and Marginalization in Islamic Countries in the Second Millennium, organized by Jonas Elbousty (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations); and Language and Group Boundaries in the Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean, organized by Francesca Trivellato (History).

CMES will host an active visiting scholar program in 2017–2018. Scholars in residence will include visiting professor Shaul Mishal (Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya), whose research focuses on societies and politics in the Middle East, and visiting associate professor Ayşen Candaş (Boğaziçi University), whose research focuses on contemporary Turkish politics. CMES will also host four postdoctoral associates: Naysan Adlparvar (University of Sussex), who is writing a book that discusses the impacts of post-2001 political reconstruction and socioeconomic development upon social organization in the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan; Salimeh Maghsoudlou (École Pratique des Hautes Études), whose research is on ‘Ayn al-Qud.a-t al-Hamada-nı-’s intellectual system: popularization of Avicenna’s philosophy by Sufis; Nahid Siamdoust (University of Oxford), who is a cultural historian working on the intersection between politics and various modes of cultural production and media forms in Iran and the wider Middle East; and Alex Dika Seggerman (Yale University), who is investigating the intersection of Islam and modernism in art history. CMES will cohost, with Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Gül Deniz Demirel as a foreign language teaching assistant in Turkish.

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South Asian Studies Council

The South Asian Studies Council promotes the University’s teaching and scholarship on all aspects of South Asia and its diasporas. Drawing on faculty from across the University, the council’s members annually offer courses in the humanities, social sciences, professional fields, and the languages of South Asia, including Sanskrit and Hindi. In partnership with Columbia and Cornell universities, using videoconferencing technologies, Bengali, Tamil, and Tibetan are also being offered for Yale College and South Asian Studies credit.

A variety of directed independent language study programs are possible, depending on interest and availability. Nepali, Punjabi, Telugu, Tibetan, and Urdu were among the languages taught in the past three years. The council will continue to support directed independent study of these languages and any others that students may request. Travel fellowships awarded by the council allow Yale College students to engage in intensive study of languages, conduct research, undertake internships, or perform social service in South Asia. Fellowships also support graduate students in attending professional meetings and conferences to present their research on South Asia, and in traveling to South Asia for research and advanced language study.

Yale undergraduate students have the opportunity to elect South Asian Studies as a second major. The major combines the study of premodern, modern, and contemporary South Asia and emphasizes the study of South Asian languages. Each year, visiting scholars typically teach new courses in music, literature, cinema, gender and family, politics, and religion.

Throughout the academic year the council sponsors lectures, conferences, and cultural events related to South Asia, including a number of performances showing and teaching the classical and modern arts of India, as well as numerous talks and special events featuring public figures, scholars, and creative artists. The council will host a series of presentations by postdoctoral scholars and other visitors in residence at the council, as well as the weekly South Asian Studies Colloquium. The South Asian Brown Bag series, which is coordinated by graduate students, will include distinguished visitors from India and researchers from near and far.

The council will host the tenth annual Modern South Asia Workshop for new interdisciplinary work on South Asian history, politics, society, and literatures. It will also organize the eleventh annual Hindi Debate, an increasingly popular, and now intercollegiate, event featuring participants from top universities across the eastern seaboard. The year will culminate with an international conference—Democratic Representation in South Asia: History, Theory, Politics—which will bring together noted scholars and public intellectuals from India with eminent European and U.S.-based experts. Several Yale scholars, faculty, and students will participate.

Delegations of Yale faculty, researchers, and expert staff from different parts of the University will also travel to India to participate in a growing number of collaborations between Yale and Indian counterparts, ranging across libraries and museums and the fields of art history, industrial ecology, urban studies, law, environmental studies, politics, and modern history. The South Asian Studies Council is also cosponsor of the InterAsia Initiative, working with the Council on East Asian Studies and the Social Science Research Council.

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Council on Southeast Asia Studies

Yale established its Southeast Asia Studies Program in 1947, the first area studies program in the United States to embark on the study of Southeast Asia in all disciplines. Southeast Asia Studies at Yale became an endowed program in 1961 and today helps to maintain one of the most extensive library collections in the country. Students with interests in the countries of Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam may turn to the Council on Southeast Asia Studies, whose mission is to promote research, education, and intellectual exchange on the politics, cultures, and economies of the region, both historical and contemporary.

In addition to teaching courses relevant to the region, faculty members of the council representing a range of academic disciplines and departments are available to advise students on their curricula and research concentrations or projects. Council faculty will this year teach courses on politics and cultures of modern Southeast Asia and postwar Vietnam, Southeast Asian and Vietnamese history, gamelan performance, and environmental anthropology of the region. The council supports study of the region’s languages, including courses in both Indonesian and Vietnamese at all levels, as well as a variety of directed independent language study programs, depending on interest and availability, in Burmese, Khmer, Tagalog, and Thai.

Summer fellowships in research and language study are provided by the council to eligible Yale graduate and undergraduate students with a demonstrated commitment to the field of Southeast Asia Studies. Fellowship assistance may be awarded for predissertation or master’s thesis fieldwork, supplemental language training, or other academically relevant projects as merited.

The Council on Southeast Asia Studies helped to launch the Cambodian Genocide Project at Yale and currently supports programs of the new Indo-Pacific Art department at the Yale University Art Gallery. The council regularly cosponsors numerous activities in association with related organizations throughout the University and works with the student board of ALSEAS (Alliance for Southeast Asia Students) to coordinate support for activities of the various Southeast Asian student groups on campus.

The council continues to edit and publish its long-running Monograph Series, the first volume of which was printed in 1961. This series is comprised of books on the history, cultures, and politics of Southeast Asia, as well as economic and anthropological subjects relevant to the region.

The council coordinates and sponsors a wide variety of annual activities, including a yearlong Southeast Asia seminar series, featuring an eclectic range of speakers and topics chosen to contribute to discussions of the ongoing research and general interests of Yale students and faculty, as well as workshops, conferences, and presentations organized by subsidiary consortiums of students and faculty, such as the Yale Indonesia Forum and the Yale Vietnamese Studies Group. Throughout the year, the council also hosts special lectures, film screenings, and cultural programs. In spring 2018, faculty of the Southeast Asia Language Studies Programs expect to host the sixteenth annual SEA Spring Cultural Festival, featuring displays and performances of regional arts, crafts, music, and dance by students and members of the local Southeast Asian community.

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