Lectures explore Russian wilderness, Sichuan art, social impacts of science

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Four lectures  in the coming weeks offer provocative, enlightening views on topics ranging from Chinese art to a feminist view of science and values. All four lectures are open to the public at no charge.

David Serlin, assistant professor of history at Bard High School Early College, presents Reconstructing the ‘Hiroshima Maidens’: Cosmetic Surgery and Cultural Imperialism at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Avenue.

An expert in the political, cultural and social ramifications of medicine, Serlin will recount the story of 25 young women, disfigured in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, who were brought to the United States for plastic surgery in an effort led by Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins. They spent 18 months in this country and underwent a total of 140 surgeries.

Seen as a healing mission by its organizers – “the Marshall Plan through plastic surgery,” as Serlin puts it – the effort appears today as a fascinating juncture of international politics, cultural differences, medical history and gender attitudes. The material is drawn from Serlin’s book Replaceable You: Engineering the American Body After World War II (The University of Chicago Press, 2004).

Serlin’s talk is part of Science, Power, and Difference, an interdisciplinary lecture series presenting innovative research into the social, cultural and political dimensions of the natural sciences.

Angela Howard, associate professor of Asian art history at Rutgers University, presents the lecture Bringing the Periphery Back to the Center: Sichuan’s Buddhist Cave Temples (ca. 600-1250) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, in Room 105, Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St.

An expert in Chinese Buddhist art, Howard’s talk examines the considerable importance of Sichuan province to Chinese art and how it was nevertheless marginalized by art historians. She shows how, through sharp theologians and gifted sculptors, even the most challenging teachings of Zen Buddhism were effectively visualized for ordinary viewers.

Howard’s talk is the annual Lockwood Lecture, made possible by the Alison Lockwood Fund for Art History, given by Stephen and Frances Lockwood and their daughter, Alison Lockwood ’97.

Margaret Williams, a forestry expert with the World Wildlife Fund and the Center for Russian Nature Conservation, discusses wilderness areas in the Russian conservation system at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 2, in Room G52 (Keck Classroom), Pettengill Hall, 4 Andrews Rd.

The environmental studies program at Bates sponsors Williams’ lecture, which focuses on the Russian system of conservation areas called “zapovedniki,” wilderness areas completely set off from all but the most minimal human activity. Williams will offer historical background of these areas, which were first established in the early 20th century, will show some images of them and will talk some about contemporary challenges and threats to the system.

Helen Longino, a professor in the Program in Women’s Studies and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, offers Science and Values: A Feminist Perspective at 6:10 p.m. Monday, March 3, in the Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Ave.

Longino teaches graduate and undergraduate courses involving scientific thought and the philosophy of science, feminist philosophy and social epistemology. She is a member of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science. Her current research examines biologically-based approaches to studying human behavior, as well as relationships between feminist analysis of Western science and the analysis of science reflecting non-Western perspectives.

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