You are here

Feb. 2008: Be(com)ing American

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
4:30-6:30 PM
Gildenhorn Recital Hall, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
[jwplayer|config=arhu_news| file=| image=
What does it mean to be Americans in a globalizing culture?  How can an education in the arts and humanities contribute to reimagining what it means to be Americans?  How do the arts and humanities contribute to the making of “informed, critical, literate” global citizens (Arjun Appadurai)?

Free and open to the public

Reception immediately following event

Rethinking Citizenship in Our Global Century

Welcome and Introduction

Ambassador Joseph B. Gildenhorn


Ira Berlin, Distinguished University Professor (History)


Maria Otero, Maryland Alumna (English), President & CEO of ACCION International, a global microfinance institution

Sangeeta Ray, Associate Professor of English, UM

Nancy Struna, Professor and Chair of American Studies, UM

Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development; Professor of Government and Policies, UM; Senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution

Bios Ira Berlin
Distinguished University Professor of History, University of Maryland, College Park. He has written extensively on American history and the larger Atlantic world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly the history of slavery. His award-winning books include, Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South(1975),  Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in Mainland North America (1999), and , Generations of Captivity: A History of Slaves in the United States(2002).

Berlin has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Arco Foundation, the National Historical Publication and Records Commission, and the University of Maryland. He was Bi-Centennial Professor (Fulbright) at Centre de Recherche sur l'Histoire des Etats-Unis, Universite Paris VII (Institut D'Anglais Charles V), Cardozo Professor of History at Yale University, and Mellon Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois. In 2002, he was inaugurated as president of the Organization of American Historians and in 2004 he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Back to top

Maria Otero
Maryland Alumna (English), president & CEO of ACCION International, a global microfinance institution that seeks to open the financial systems in developing countries to reach the poor.  Born in Bolivia, she moved to the US at the age of 12.  Profiled in Newsweek’s series on women in leadership, she is a leading voice on sustainable microfinance, and has published extensively on the subject, including as co-editor of The New World of Microfinance, published by Kumarian Press. Ms. Otero chairs the board of ACCION Investments, a US$20 million investment company for microfinance.  In the Newsweek interview, she said: “In my sophomore year at the University of Maryland, I fell in love with romantic poetry and decided to become a literature professor. But at that time, in the early 1970s, there was a lot of political turmoil in Latin America. My older brother raised my political consciousness. He was studying economics at George Washington University and becoming increasingly involved in politics. But I really wanted to bury myself in the bubble of the humanities. I had an identity crisis. Was I Bolivian or American? I struggled with this and ultimately decided to give up literature, to abandon doing my dissertation and my Ph.D. and to study political economics.”

Back to top

Sangeeta Ray
Associate Professor of English, University of Maryland, College Park. She is the author of En-Gendering India: Woman and Nation in Colonial and Postcolonial Narratives (Duke, 2000) and Gayatri Spivak: An Introduction (Blackwell, 2008), and co-editor of A Companion to Postcolonial Studies (2000), Professor Ray has published and spoken widely on postcolonial literature and culture.  She is currently completing An Ethics of Postcolonial Reading. She was a co-founder and president of the MLA Discussion Group on Postcolonial Literature and is the MLA delegate from the Division of English Literature Other than British and American. She helped organize and was the first director of the UM Asian American Studies Certificate. She was awarded a Lily teaching grant and membership grant for an NEH summer seminar. She won a university wide teaching award in 1992 and was named UM Woman of Color of the Year in 1997-98. She is a co-organizer of the first Cultural Studies Association Conference.

Back to top

Nancy Struna
Professor and Chair of American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Struna is the recipient of the first annual (2004-05) Lord Baltimore Research Fellowship from the Maryland Historical Society for  research on "The Transformation of the Ordinary: The Tavern Industry and Culture". Her research and teaching focus on social and cultural production in the Atlantic world and directly engage the department’s central intellectual directions: the cultures of ordinary life and cultural constructions of identity and difference. From her early work in the social history of labor-leisure relationships and sport, she has moved to exploring the making and transformation of the most ordinary of early American institutions, the tavern. This work draws on county court, probate, and land records, in addition to literary sources. It examines changes in the demography, economy, and geography of taverns, tavernkeepers, and patrons; shifting power relations within taverns; the making of popular culture in the context of the transition to capitalism; and the changing constructions and significance of taverns in the multiple discourses of the late colonial and early national U.S. A second and related line of inquiry focuses on the body and sexuality in the context of street and tavern culture(s), beginning with the construction of prostitution in the colonial and early national periods. Dr. Struna teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in popular culture; critics of American culture; American Studies’ history, theory, and method; and the body, sexuality and society (historic and contemporary).

Back to top

Shibley Telhami
Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, and non-resident senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. Professor Telhami has also been active in the foreign policy arena. He has served as Advisor to the US Mission to the UN (1990-91), as advisor to former Congressman Lee Hamilton, and as a member of the US delegation to the Trilateral US-Israeli-Palestinian Anti-Incitement Committee, which was mandated by the Wye River Agreements.  Most recently, he served on the Iraq Study Group as a member of the Strategic Environment Working Group.  He has contributed to The Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times and regularly appears on national and international radio and television. He has served on the US Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World, which was appointed by the Department of State at the request of Congress, and he co-drafted the report of their findings, “Changing Minds, Winning Peace.” His best-selling book, The Stakes: America and the Middle East (Westview Press, 2003; updated version, 2004) was selected by Foreign Affairs as one of the top five books on the Middle East in 2003. He is a co-author of Liberty and Power: A Dialogue on Religion and US Foreign Policy in an Unjust World, (Brookings Institution Press, 2004) and he has a book forthcoming Reflections of Hearts and Minds: Media, Opinion and Identity in the Arab World (Brookings Institution Press, 2005).  His other publications include Power and Leadership in International Bargaining: The Path to the Camp David Accords (1990); International Organizations and Ethnic Conflict, ed. with Milton Esman (1995); Identity and Foreign Policy in the Middle East, ed. with Michael Barnett (2002), and numerous articles on international politics and Middle Eastern affairs. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of Human Rights Watch (and as vice-chair of Human Rights Watch/Middle East), the Education for Employment Foundation, and Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, and several academic advisory boards. He has also served on the board of the United States Institute of Peace.  Professor Telhami was given the Distinguished International Service Award by the University of Maryland in 2002 and the Excellence in Public Service Award by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents in 2006. 

Back to top