Emory Report
November 10, 2008
Volume 61, Number 11



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November 10, 2008

‘Social death’ a cruel sentence
Our prison systems are undermining our democracy, said Joshua Price, a visiting scholar at Emory’s James Weldon Johnson Institute, during a recent colloquium. “Prisons are factories of social death. They create a class of individual who faces social discrimination after they’ve been released,” he said.

“I’m not advocating some Luddite scheme of taking a hammer to the granite walls of prisons and jails,” Price added. “To do that would only be to attack the outward manifestations of larger social processes, where selective indictment, prosecuting and discriminatory sentencing maintains inequity in a racist caste system.”

Instead, Price calls for dismantling the inner workings of a system that supports practices that are humiliating, violent and exclusionary. — Carol Clark

Next steps for world’s hot spots
Hans-Ulrich Klose thinks Europe and America have grown apart and it’s time to stand together, particularly on “three big hot spots”: Afghanistan, Iran and Russia.

The Claus M. Halle Institute speaker noted that to stop narco-trafficking, “we need to cooperate with Iran, which has been waging a drug war against Afghanistan for 10 years.”

Klose, vice chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the German Bundestag, also said Germany is “95 percent convinced Iran is trying to be a nuclear power.” The British, French and Germans are negotiating with Iran, but need the U.S.

Europe is trying to transform Russia step by step to be a reliable partner. “Nothing is more dangerous than a former super-power that feels humiliated,” Klose said. — Leslie King

Composing poems into an opera
The process that melded Steve Everett’s music and Natasha Trethewey’s poems into the chamber opera “Ophelia’s Gaze” was the subject of a Nov. 5 Creativity Conversation. The concept of looking and being gazed upon was the intense focus of both Everett and Trethewey.

In composing her poems for “Bellocq’s Ophelia,” Trethewey said she began to imagine the life of the woman in a series of early 1900s photographs by E.J. Bellocq she called Ophelia after Hamlet’s tragic character.

“This rarely happens,” Everett said about composing the opera upon reading Tretheway’s work, “but I just sort of envisioned this entire piece. I really felt I knew this character Natasha created.” — Leslie King