Columbia Maison Française is delighted to participate in the Night of Ideas 2021 on January 28: a virtual 24-hour marathon of philosophical debate and artistic performances coordinated by the Institut Français, Paris and co-produced by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.
This year’s theme, “Closing the distance” (“Proches,” in French), speaks to our shared sense of isolation and seeks to explore new means of fostering community and togetherness. Evoking the new forms of solidarity that our economic and social crises call for; as well as our changing relationship to space and mobility; this theme prompts audiences and participants to consider our relationship to today’s challenging world and those around us in thoughtful, creative, and engaging ways.
Information about the 24-hour global program, with highlights from around the world, can be found here: La Nuit des Idees. The line-up presented by the Cutural Services of the French Embassy in New York can be found here. There is also a Night of Ideas program being presented by the Brooklyn Public Library.
Featuring leading artists and thinkers, among them:
Two renowned philosophers, Souleymane Bachir Diagne and Barbara Cassin, engage in a lively transatlantic dialogue about the meaning and importance of translation in the world “after Babel”–when the Bible says God splintered human speech into different languages and scattered humans over the earth to punish them for their pride–and “after Bandung”–when African and American states convened in Indonesia in 1955 and denounced all forms of colonialism, including linguistic imperialism, and insisted on equal respect for all cultures and languages. Diagne and Cassin explore how translation can “close the distance” among speakers of the world’s many languages, and they spar about whether, given the plurality of cultures, there is such a thing as universalism.
Christia Mercer is a Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the United States, but in this brief talk she says her most satisfying teaching experiences have happened inside prisons. The first faculty member to teach in prison through Columbia’s Justice-in-Education program, Mercer talks here about why she has become so passionately devoted to bridging the gap between incarcerated people, who have little or no access to education in prison, and the life-changing perspectives and opportunities they can access through books and education.