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Visiting Fellows' Seminar

Tuesday, October 27, 2015, 2:00 p.m.

Visiting Fellows' Seminar

October 27, 2015

Dean's Conference Room (2nd floor)
4 Washington Square North
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

02:00 – 03:00 pm: Ada Ackerman - Margaret Bourke-White’s experience in Soviet Russia

Margaret Bourke-White gained fame by traveling in Soviet Russia between 1930 and 1932, becoming known as the first foreign professional photographer authorized to take pictures of Soviet industrialization and collectivization. Surprisingly, this part of her life and art - and of her myth - has never been documented with primary sources and my goal is to shed new light on it using American and Russian archives. Among the questions to be asked : How and why did Soviet administrations decided to allow Bourke-White to take pictures in Russia? Why was she officially hired by them? What were Russian reactions to her art and her personality? How did Bourke-White contribute to American knowledge of Soviet Russia? And what were her links with Soviet culture upon her return to America?

03:00 – 04:00 pm: Guillaume Mouralis - Legal imagination in context. Making ‘crime against humanity’ a workable category during WWII

Focusing on the social history of the main Nuremberg trial (1945-1946), this presentation explores the link between the socialization and career paths of the allied jurists on one hand and the process of legal innovation on the other. After describing briefly the empirical research that led him to examine this and other questions, Guillaume Mouralis takes up a concrete example, discussing how the originally morally connoted notion of ‘crime against humanity’ was transformed into an operative and binding criminal category during the Second World War. The definition adopted at the London Conference in August 1945, setting the legal basis of the International Military Tribunal, was very restrictive, resulting not only from the political choices made by the main Allied governments but also in large measure from the actors' familial and professional experiences, as well as their social and – in the American case at least - racial representations.

04:00 – 5:00 pm: Olivier Roueff - The practice of causal claims in social sciences

Regularity, probabilities, counterfactuals, mechanisms, processes, interventions, powers and capacities… Numerous metaphysical and epistemological theories exist about causality. Some theories are well-known by social scientists despite capturing a very small part of causal inferences that are actually made. Other theories are largely ignored, or seen as old-fashioned, while nonetheless constituting a kind of ordinary practice of inference. More descriptions of existing scientific practices of causality are needed with an emphasis on the different kinds of causal claims and ways of justifying them. Olivier Roueff will present some elements of an on-going empirical study the purpose of which is to describe what social scientists actually do - not what they should do - when they claim that A causes B.