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Leon Levy Lecture - Honor and International Violence

Institute for Advanced Study
April 30, 2009

Barry O'Neill, Leon Levy Foundation Member, School of Social Science.  Many of the world’s societies function by codes of honor. Violence between ethnic groups or countries often follows the rules of honor among individuals, in particular among males. In general this means willingness to face risk to defend the group, to take vengeance, and to make clear to others that one values honor. Points of honor vary across cultures, however. In this lecture, Barry O’Neill, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles, will argue that in a dispute, a state must understand its rival’s honor code even if it rejects it. O’Neill uses game theory to study international decision-making with a view to preventing war.

Science and Technology in the Developing World: The Institute's Role

Phillip A. Griffiths
Institute for Advanced Study
May 1, 2009

For the past decade, the Institute’s Science Initiative Group (SIG) has worked with the World Bank and other partners to strengthen science in developing nations. In this talk, Phillip Griffiths, who helped create SIG when he was Director of the Institute from 1991 to 2003, will address the context for and evolution of SIG’s programs, with emphasis on the new Carnegie–IAS Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE), which prepares Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers in sub-Saharan Africa through university-based research and training networks.

Art as Knowledge: The Unspeakable Subject of Hieronymus Bosch

Joseph Leo Koerner
Victor S. Thomas Professor, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University
January 20, 2009

From the time of its original display through the present day, the subject of Hieronymus Bosch's so-called "Garden of Delights" has eluded audiences. In a lecture devoted to what is arguably the most enigmatic work in the history of art, Joseph Leo Koerner, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, examines why Bosch's subject was made deliberately unspeakable. The lecture is part of the Art as Knowledge series, which features talks by leading art historians on the subject of how art develops and conveys knowledge.  The respondent for the lecture was Christopher Heuer, Assistant Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University and one of the organizers of the Art as Knowledge series.

Art as Knowledge: Sovereign Power, Death, and Monuments

Zainab Bahrani
Edith Porada Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University
March 10, 2009

This lecture considers two ancient Mesopotamian monuments, the stele of Naramsin and the Law Code of Hammurabi. Combining archaeological and formal analyses of these monuments with the perspective of philosophy and critical theory via the writings of Giorgio Agamben, Walter Benjamin, and Jacques Derrida, Bahrani turns to the larger theoretical question of the life span of images and the efficacy of works of art. Rather than taking the two monuments as antiquities isolated in space and time from their own cultural context, Bahrani argues that they are also timeless works of art that reflect on the relationship of law and the state of exception, and the very ancient tie between absolute political power and biopolitics. The respondent for the lecture was Beate Pongratz-Leisten, Lecturer in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. The lecture is part of the Art as Knowledge series, which features talks by leading art historians on the subject of how art develops and conveys knowledge.

Search for Randomness

Jean Bourgain
Institute for Advanced Study
March 25, 2009

Although the concept of randomness is ubiquitous, it turns out to be difficult to generate a truly random sequence of events. The need for “pseudorandomness” in various parts of modern science, ranging from numerical simulation to cryptography, has challenged our limited understanding of this issue and our mathematical resources. In this talk, Professor Jean Bourgain explores some of the problems of pseudorandomness and tools to address them.