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Winter-Spring 2004

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Alumni to be Honored at Celebration of Distinction
Examining Institutionalized Hatred--And Why it Endures
School of Art Adds Sand Point Studios
New Holm Center for Northwest Coast Art
A First Course on First Nations Politics

Alumni to be Honored at Celebration of Distinction

To salute the College and its exceptional alumni, the College of Arts and Sciences will hold its annual Celebration of Distinction on May 20.

Four alumni—one representing each division in the College—will receive the College’s Distinguished Alumnus Award at the evening gala. The four honorees have vastly different interests, from championing human rights to using the power of laughter in healing. All are inspirational reminders of what is possible with a strong liberal arts education.

 
 
Michael Christensen

Michael Christensen (BFA, ‘70, Drama) is co-founder of The Big Apple Circus, a not-for-profit performing arts institution committed to kids and their families. He also is founder and director of the circus’s internationally acclaimed Clown Care Hospital Program, which brings laughter and joy to acutely and chronically ill children through visits from specially trained clowns. A native of Walla Walla, Christensen graduated from the School of Drama’s Professional Actor Training Program and returns to the School to teach master classes in clowning and comedy.

 
 
Tess Gallagher

Tess Gallagher (BA, ‘67, Education; MA, ‘71, English) is an award-winning poet, essayist, novelist, and playwright—and a native Washingtonian from Port Angeles. As a graduate student at the UW, she studied creative writing with Theodore Roethke before going on to earn an MFA from the University of Iowa. Gallagher has authored numerous books of poetry, essays, and short stories, in addition to co-authoring two screenplays with her late husband, Raymond Carver.

 
 
Saad Eddin Ibrahim

Saad Eddin Ibrahim (PhD, ‘68, Sociology) is a distinguished Egyptian sociologist and advocate for human rights and democracy in the Middle East. His numerous books and articles—in both English and Arabic—address many sensitive issues confronting Arab societies today. In addition to serving as professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo, Ibrahim is the founding director of the Ibn Khaldun Centre for Development Studies, the leading center for sociological research on democracy and human rights in the region.

 
 
Isiah Warner

Isiah M. Warner (PhD, ‘77, Chemistry), raised by his grandmother during a time of enforced segregation in Louisiana, succeeded in becoming a true scholar, teacher, and leader. His impact on his students’ success—particularly underrepresented students in the sciences—is legendary. Because of his leadership at Louisiana State University (LSU) as a professor and chair of the Chemistry Department, LSU is now recognized internationally as the number one producer of African Americans with PhDs in chemistry. Warner also has supported the UW’s Learning Skills Center as advisor and consultant, his involvement extending back almost 30 years to his days as a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry.

All alumni and friends of the College are welcome to attend the Celebration of Distinction. For more information, visit www/artsci.washington.edu/cod2004/ or call 206-616-4469.

 

Examining Institutionalized Hatred—And Why it Endures

Antisemitism is often viewed as a religious issue—an attack on the Jewish religion and Jewish people. But Martin Jaffee, professor of comparative religion and Jewish Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies, says modern antisemitism is primarily about politics, not theology. He explores this view in a new course, “Antisemitism as a Cultural System.”

Jaffee developed his course as a way to explore not just antisemitism but the nature of collective, institutionalized hatred. A consistent feature of such hatred, he says, is the identification of a group of people as ‘Other.’

“I knew the story I wanted to tell—antisemitism as an explanatory system that allows cultures to defend themselves against threat or place blame when they feel they have failed and are not where they should be,” says Jaffee. “Antisemitism doesn’t make its home in any one political or cultural system. It is used by the right, the left, pagans, and Christians.”

To make his point, Jaffee has students research and compare antisemitic websites from ideologically opposed points of view, analyzing how each uses antisemitism for its own purposes. He also has students compare antisemitism from different periods of history. “I’m in comparative religion,” he says with a shrug. “I like to compare things. This is comparing hate.”

Why have so many groups focused their fear and hatred on the Jewish people? Beyond the enduring negative messages introduced in early Christianity, there is the role of the Jewish people as perennial outsiders in Western culture. “In Europe, for example, Jews were a politically difficult question when the continent secularized,” explains Jaffee. “The Jewish community was a separate culture that belonged nowhere.”

A more recent phenomenon has been the rise in antisemitism in the Islamic world. “Islam has no tradition of antisemitism,” explains Jaffee. “Modern Islam, trying to figure out why it lost to the west, has borrowed antisemitic ideologies of the west as part of its effort to explain Islam’s misfortunes. In a sense, part of becoming ‘modern’ in the Islamic world is incorporating antisemitism into one’s larger cultural system.”

The course also covers American White Supremicist ideologies. These offer a uniquely American combination of anti-semitism and racism into a single ideological formula.
To prepare for the course, Jaffee did historical research but also had to stomach visits to hundreds of antisemitic websites. “There are thousands of sites,” he says. “Some are well done, others are obviously lunatics. It could be a whole life’s work to look at this.”

But not his life’s work. Although Jaffee hopes to teach the course again, he is glad that the course lasts only ten weeks, given the subject matter. “If it went on for a whole year, I couldn’t sustain that,” he says.

 

School of Art Adds Sand Point Studios

After years without studio space for faculty and graduate students, the School of Art now has a new studio facility. Located in Building 5 of the former Sand Point naval base, the 15,000 square- foot studio facility officially opened on February 12.

 
At an open house on February 12, the School of Art celebrated its new studio facility at Sand Point. Photo by Christopher Ozubko..
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The project has been in the works since 1997, says Christopher Ozubko, director of the School of Art. “One of the driving forces was to provide research space for faculty,” he says. “Many institutions, when they hire art faculty, provide a studio as part of the package. It can make a difference in recruiting.”

Without such space, many art faculty must work in garages or rented space, often with poor lighting and air circulation. The Sand Point facility is designed with artists’ needs in mind, with skylights ensuring good natural light, an air circulation upgrade, and the necessary exhaust fans for protection from hazardous art materials.

The building includes 10 faculty studio spaces and 12 graduate studio spaces, plus a wood shop, a large seminar room, several administrative offices, and a 2,000 square- foot gallery space for exhibitions, critiques, seminars, and lectures.

“The location is quiet and introspective,” says Ozubko. “It’s the perfect climate for creating art.”

 

New Holm Center for Northwest Coast Art

 
 
Bill Holm. Photo by Kathy Sauber.

In the field of Northwest Coast Native art history, Bill Holm is renowned for his pioneering efforts. A professor emeritus of art history and curator emeritus of Northwest Coast Indian Art at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Holm established the UW’s Ph.D. program in Northwest Coast art history and has written eight books, including Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (1965), a seminal book in the field.

Now Holm has also inspired a research center. With support from a $300,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant, the Burke is building an endowed research fund for the new Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art. The grant will match private gifts and pledges; those pledges now total more than $536,000.

Already in the works for the Center are a digital imaging project, a Totem Pole website, carving projects, and planning for a Haida house model exhibit.

To build the Center’s research endowment, the museum will hold a benefit art auction on May 23 with more than 50 Northwest artists—including Joe David, Susan Point, Bill Holm, Preston Singletary, and Calvin Hunt—donating artworks.

For more information about the Center and auction, contact The Bill Holm Center at 206-543-5595 or bholmctr@u.washington.edu. Or visit the Center’s website at www.burkemuseum.org/bhc/.

 

A First Course on First Nations Politics

Most Americans have limited knowledge of Canadian politics. And their knowledge of First Nations politics is non-existent. Charlotte Coté hopes to change that with a new course, “First Nations Government and Politics in Canada,” offered through American Indian Studies and funded by a course-development grant from the Canadian Studies Center, Jackson School of International Studies.

Coté, assistant professor of American Indian Studies and an affiliate faculty member in Canadian Studies, is a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth tribe on Vancouver Island. In previous UW courses she has focused on American Indian government and law, so this opportunity to teach about First Nations politics has been both personally and professionally satisfying.

“The majority of people taking this course first need an introduction to First Nations people, how they came under colonial control, and how federal Indian policy was established in Canada,” says Coté.

Canada’s Indian Act—a catch-all that covers everything from how reserves are set up to how Native governments are established—has been instrumental in shaping First Nations politics. “You can’t work outside of those guidelines,” says Coté. “In Canada, Indians are still considered wards of the state.”

Comparisons to the United States are instructive. In the U.S., says Coté, “Indians are recognized as sovereign, although they must fight to exercise that sovereignty as state laws come up against tribal laws. In Canada, all laws created on reserves are created under the Indian Act so they are seen as powers being delegated by the federal government. First Nations people do not have the inherent right to self-determination.”

The result is a paternalistic relationship that has hampered Indians’ ability to move forward, explains Coté. “It makes it harder for them to get loans to create businesses and it affects education,” she says. “As a result, there is more dependence on government and more complacency.”

Yet Coté’s course ends on a positive note, looking at First Nations people not as victims but as making major strides toward self-determination and self-government. “It’s been slow,” says Coté, “but First Nations people are finding ways to gain more control of their lives.”

Class assignments, including one that has students follow a current First Nations news story in the Canadian media, underscore this message. Coté also assigns readings by First Nations authors—both academics and activists. “I want students to hear the Native perspective,” she says.

Including her own. “Things that I was taught in my schooling in Canada have a chance to resurface,” she says. “I haven’t been able to bring that knowledge to any of my UW courses before. I’m just thrilled to teach this class.” .


[Winter-Spring 2004 - Table of Contents]