Slavery, Community, Floriculture, Music + Nature @ Berkeley Circus

The 7th annual Berkeley Circus took place on Friday, March 3rd. The Circus showcases the outstanding studio work, professional projects, and research of the CED community including courses sponsored by the Global Urban Humanities Initiative.

UC Berkeley alumna Beatriz Herrera (Latina American Studies) presented “Red Roses and Brown Hands: Flowers and People within Mexico's Floriculture Industry” which stems the Mexico City: Materiality, Performance and Power studio course. Herrera’s talk highlighted experiences of workers within Mexico's present-day floricultural industry. She conducted in-depth interviews with fifteen flower producers and vendors in Mexico City and the surrounding Valley of Mexico.

Ben Lamb and Cristina Bejarano (Landscape Architecture + Environmental Planning/City + Regional Planning) co-presented “FruitVeil.” Last Fall, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) hosted a community engagement art installation event with The Museum and the City studio class for Oakland First Fridays. OMCA’s space was activated through the inclusive social interaction of assembling the sculptural installation and production of orange juice. Illuminated orange and yellow water balloons, meant to symbolize fruit, were hung from the limbs of an old oak tree rooted at the interface of the museum and the city. The event raised awareness on food security and multiculturalism through the “fruit-veil” imagery. 

“This event was an incredible learning experience, understanding the process of engaging the public, providing a thought provoking installation, and working around an institutions unique rules and regulations,” said Lamb.

David O'Keefe, PhD student (Music) presented "Naturalizing the Cybersonic: David Tudor's Rainforest." O'Keefe examined the experimental pianist and composer David Tudor's 1968 composition Rainforest, which he performed in New York with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, as an entry into the intersections of sound, cybernetics, and notions of nature in the New York musical avant-garde. O’Keefe paralleled Tudor's ideas about uncovering nature through electronic composition with Michel de Certeau's writings about the detotalized cityscape.

O’Keefe participated in the Sound and the City course where he had the opportunity to engage in cross-disciplinary collaborative thought experiments.

In “Sexual Slavery and the Memorialization of Comfort Women,” Amanda Su, PhD student (English) examined comfort women memorials erected across South Korea and the U.S. since 2010. Many are replicas of a highly contentious statue that stands in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. These memorials created a political maelstrom in January 2017, when Japan suspended high-level economy talks and recalled its ambassador to Seoul in protest. Amanda explored the centrality of the term "sexual slavery" to the comfort women discourse, probing the implications of linking an atrocity committed by a now-nonexistent imperial entity, the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan, to the present-day sex trafficking and "modern slavery." 

Su’s research was developed in the City of Memory course. “I would almost certainly not have pursued this topic had I not taken Andrew Shanken and Lauren Kroiz's course. GUH provided me funding to do on-the-ground research on comfort women memorials in New York, New Jersey, California and South Korea. The activists, writers and politicians I met in the process have given me invaluable insight into the situation. I hope to continue this project in Taipei, Taiwan during Summer 2017,” said Su.