UC Merced Connect: Humanities center turns world upside down

The UC Merced Center for the Humanities has turned the world upside down.

The center, which received a $2 million gift in 2012 to expand its activities, selected “The World Upside Down: Topsy-Turvy” as its first two-year-long research theme, which serves as a guidefor its offerings in the 2013 and 2014 academic years.

For its first Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities, the center brought Yale University professor James Scott to campus on Tuesday.

Scott’s talk, “How We, Homo Sapiens, Came to be Domesticated: An Account of the Late-Neolithic Multi-species Resettlement Camp,” looked at how we ended up living in great concentrations of people, domesticated plants, and animals, in social formations that were less healthy and amenable to the creation of states by which we are all now governed.

That’s one of the many events the center has supported since the school year began. It’s held a biweekly seminar series and cosponsored the Black Arts Movement conference, which included academic presentations and performances.

Coming events supported by the center include:

• The Marcus Shelby Quartet: Harriet Tubman and the Blues – Teacher and musician Marcus Shelby will tell the story of Harriet Tubman, who rose from humble beginnings, escaped slavery and dedicated her life to challenging injustices. 8 p.m. Monday in Lakireddy Auditorium. Free and open to the public.

• Thirty Years of Mass Incarceration: Where Do We Go from Here? – The daylong symposium looks at the past, present and future of mass incarceration. The 1984 Crime Control Act, which established mandatory minimum sentences, was the first in a series of laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s that created mass incarceration. The number of people behind bars increased 450 percent. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday in the California Room.

• Graduate Students Conference – Professor Rachel Klein from the University of California, San Diego, will deliver the keynote talk, “The Metropolitan Museum on Trial: Cypriot Antiquities and the Transformation of Culture in the Late Nineteenth Century United States” at 6:30 p.m. April 19 at the Merced Theatre. Free and open to the public.

Bobcat Art Show

UC Merced artists will showcase their work at the Bobcat Art Show, which started its monthlong run on Monday.

The show, now in its ninth year, features works submitted by students and faculty and staff members. This year, the show received 52 entries that cover a variety of media including painting, drawing, photography, digital media, sculpture and mixed media.

The exhibit is being held simultaneously in the UC Merced Art Gallery, located in Room 106 of the Social Sciences and Management Building, and on the second floor of Kolligian Library. A reception is scheduled from 4 to 5:30 p.m. April 24 in the gallery.

“The feedback regarding the show has always been very positive,” said Gail Benedict, the exhibit’s organizer. “I think what people like about it is that it includes everyone. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the quality of the work we receive. It’s amazing to see the talent we have at our campus.”

To see the exhibits, visit the gallery from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and in the library during operating hours.

• UC Merced Connect is a collection of news items written by the University Communications staff. To contact them, email .