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Arts & Culture

'Speculative Futures' at Muhlenberg College features lectures on socialism and immigration

Bhaskar Sunkara
Bhaskar Sunkara
Political writer Bhaskar Sunkara is among the guest speakers at Muhlenberg College's Speculative Future series.

ALLENTOWN, Pa, — What would the future look like without the COVID pandemic, climate change or racial injustice?

That is the question Muhlenberg College's Center for Ethics poses in its "Speculative Futures" author and film series.

  • The "Speculative Futures" series at Muhlenberg College features guest lectures with authors Bhaskar Sunkara on Wednesday, March 22 and Mohshin Hamid on Tuesday, April 11
  • There will also be a screening of the indie film, "Sleep Dealer" which looks at the exploitations of migrant workers in the United States
  • The free events are sponsored by the school's Center for Ethics

Connecting the campus

One of the goals of the Center for Ethics is to draw attention to issues facing humanity, such as wars and military conflict, human rights violations, climate change and global health.

Each year, the center focuses on a different theme to explore and encourages students, faculty, staff — and the community— to participate in campus-wide events.

"People at the college propose themes and then the [Center for Ethics] arranges programming with the goal of trying to connect as broadly as possible with the entire campus community: from the sciences, to the arts, to the social sciences and humanities," Mark Stein, professor of history and the Center for Ethics director, said.

"This year, as a counterpoint to the last year's theme, which was pandemics, and the year before, which was disrupted by the pandemic, we chose 'Speculative Futures,' as a way of looking at possibly better futures as opposed to darker futures."

Spotlight on politics, emigration

Mohshin Hamid
Courtesy of Ed Kashi
Author Mohshin Hamid is among the guest speakers at Muhlenberg College in March.

Political writer Bhaskar Sunkara will discuss the past, present and future of democratic socialism in the 21st century at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22.

Sunkara is the president of Nation magazine and the founding editor of Jacobin magazine.

Audience members can expect to hear some topic points from his book, "Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality." It provides an overview of the history of global socialism and looks at political and economic movements in Germany, Sweden, the Soviet Union, China and the U.S.

Additionally, Mohshin Hamid, author of "Moth Smoke" and "The Last White Man" will talk about his 2017 book "Exit West," which explores refugee emigration, on Tuesday, April 11.

Hamid's visit to the school had to be rescheduled in 2020, Stein said.

During that period, "Exit West," was part of a campus-wide reading series and living writers program in part of the center of ethics' boarders, nationalisms and identities series of 2019.

Film screening

For the movie portion of "Speculative Futures," Amy Corbin, professor of media and communications and film studies, will introduce the flick, "Sleep Dealer," on Tuesday, March 28.

The sci-fi stunner, directed by Alex Rivera, addresses the treatment of Mexican migrant workers in the United States.

"It's a Spanish-language film that won an award in 2008 at Sundance full of bright visuals and strong social and political themes," Stein said.

The film tells the story of Memo Cruz (played by Luis Fernando Peña) who attempts to cross the U.S./Mexico border, but ends up in a strange factory in Mexico where he connects his body to a robot in America.

More information about the author lectures and film screening can be found at muhlenberg.edu/news/2023/centerforethicsspringschedule.html