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Little House in the Empire: Imperialism on the Literary and Educational Frontier

Monday, November 9, 2015 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101


Daniel Perlstein, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Studies in Education
Graduate School of Education
University of California, Berkeley

Laura Ingalls Wilder claimed to have written her beloved Little House novels in part to teach American children about the New Deal’s totalitarian evils.   John Dewey embodied America’s left-liberal tradition.  And yet, the two were strange pedagogical and ideological bedfellows.  Like Dewey, Wilder consistently contrasts Laura’s activity and learning at home with the routinized oppressive lessons at school.  And like Wilder, Dewey celebrated pioneer self-direction and the authenticity of pioneer life.  Less sentimental than Dewey, Wilder makes explicit the contrast between the activity of settlers and the presumed emptiness of Native lands, to be filled through the activity of settlers.  Comparing Dewey and Wilder illuminates the role of the frontier in progressive educational thought.  In short, just as the Little House books mirrored the mainstream of American progressive educational thought, progressive educational thought articulated the imperialist ideology that shaped the Little House books.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Prairie Studies and the Departments of Education and History. This event is free and open to the public.

Urvashi Butalia and Billy Kahora

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101
Urvashi Butalia, Founder and CEO of Zubaan, and Billy Kahora, Managing Editor of Kwani Trust

Scholars from India and Kenya talk about Publishing Houses as creative collectives.

Urvashi Butalia, “Publishing Against the Grain: A Story from India”
Billy Kahora, “Of Creative ‘Interventions’ and ‘Social Contracts’: Looking At Kwani”

Urvashi Butalia is co-founder of India's first feminist publishing house, Kali for Women which she set up in 1984. Today, she runs Zubaan, an imprint of Kali, and publishes books on and by women, as well as running projects on archiving women's histories. She is an independent scholar and researcher, whose best known works are the edited volumes: Speaking Peace: Women's Voices from Kashmir, Women and the Hindu Right: A Collection of Essays, Partition: The Long Shadow, and the award-winning history of Partition: The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India (winner of the Oral History Book Association Award, 2001 and the Nikkei Asia Award for Culture, 2003). She writes regularly for newspapers and magazines at home and abroad. In 2011 she was awarded the Padmashree, a government civilian award for her services in the field of women's education.

Billy Kahora lives and writes in Nairobi.  His short fiction and creative non-fiction has appeared in Chimurenga, McSweeney’s, Granta Online, Internazionale and Vanity Fair and Kwani. He has written a non-fiction novella titled The True Story of David Munyakei and was highly commended by the 2007 Caine Prize judges for his story Treadmill Love; his story Urban Zoning was shortlisted for the prize in 2012, The Gorilla’s Apprentice in 2014. He wrote the screenplay for Soul Boy and co-wrote Nairobi Half Life. He is working on a novel titled The Applications.
He is also Managing Editor of Kwani Trust and has edited 7 issues of the Kwani journal and other Kwani publications including Nairobi 24 and Kenya Burning. He is a Contributing Editor with the Chimurenga Chronic. Billy is a past recipient of the Chevening Scholarship and an Iowa Writer’s Fellowship. He has an M.Sc Creative Writing from University of Edinburgh, U.K and a Journalism and English degree from Rhodes University, South Africa. He was a judge of the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and 2012 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. He has recently been a judge for the inaugural Etisalat prize based in Nigeria.  

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