Otelia Cromwell Portrait Unveiling + Mellon Forums

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Friday: What's Going On in Dport / Posts!

Otelia Cromwell Portrait Unveiling

On Monday evening, Head of College John Witt unveiled the portrait of Otelia Cromwell, the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. at Yale. The portrait was created by Davenport Graduate Affiliate Kenturah Davis, MFA ’18. It’s an amazing work of art, ingeniously crafted out of Cromwell’s own words. Davis used the text of Cromwell’s letter to her father about her time at Yale, her bond with her family, and her endeavors as a scholar.

Mellon Forum: Alejandra Padin-Dujon & David Shimer

Davenport seniors Ale Padin-Dujon and David Shimer presented on their senior projects last week.

Ale (a Modern Middle Eastern Studies major) discussed, Rojava, the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), a Kurdish feminist pseudostate in the midst of the Syrian Civil War. She talked about the ideological underpinnings of the DFNS, specifically its political forebear Abdullah Öcalan, who founded this specific localist political party and is now the object of a cult of personality from his space in a Turkish prison. She also described its constitution, which sets quotas for political representation to ensure there are at least 40% of one gender and how all of their ideals are pretty well actualized. However, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have pointed out that the state probably does ethnic cleansing of Arabs. Questions in response to her talk included the following: Can we have utopias with local control like this? Or will these types of utopias always have something evil in them (i.e. ethnic cleansing) or be  ethnically homogeneous? Can a state like this exist outside of the particular conditions of the Syrian war? For more info on this group, click here.

David (a History major) discussed a Cold War Era political corruption scandal. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Social Democrat Willy Brandt barely won the election in West Germany by forming an alliance with the FDP against the conservatives. However, Brandt’s Ostpolitik reforms were controversial, and the Bundestag (Congress/Parliament) wanted to vote him out via a vote of no confidence. This vote was extremely close, so he just barely clung on to power. Recently, it came out that East German spies, the Stasi, bribed two Bundestag conservatives into abstaining. The spies cleverly figured out which Bundestag people had the worst gambling/drinking debts and picked those ones to bribe. One of these spies just released his memoirs in German, and David interviewed him, along with family members of the bribed representatives, while in Berlin this summer. He also looked at archival sources in the place where the German government keeps old Stasi documents. For more information on this incident, click here.

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