Department of Religious Studies: “Capitalist Humanitarianism”

Event time: 
Tuesday, April 16, 2024 - 5:30pm
Humanities Quadrangle, Room 132 See map
320 York Street
New Haven, CT 06520
Event description: 

The Department of Religious Studies presents

Lucia Hulsether, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Skidmore College: 

“Capitalist Humanitarianism”.

In 2024-25, Lucia Hulsether will be a Senior Fellow in Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University. Her first book, Capitalist Humanitarianism, was published with Duke University Press in 2023.

About Capitalist Humanitarianism:
The struggle against neoliberal order has gained momentum over the last five decades—to the point that economic elites have not only adapted to the Left’s critiques but incorporated them for capitalist expansion. Venture funds expose their ties to slavery and pledge to invest in racial equity. Banks pitch microloans as a path to indigenous self-determination. Fair-trade brands narrate consumption as an act of feminist solidarity with women artisans in the global South. In Capitalist Humanitarianism, Lucia Hulsether examines these projects and the contexts of their emergence. Blending historical and ethnographic styles, and traversing intimate and global scales, Hulsether tracks how neoliberal self-critique creates new institutional hegemonies that, in turn, reproduce racial and neocolonial dispossession. From the archives of Christian fair traders to luxury social entrepreneurship conferences, from US finance offices to Guatemalan towns flooded with their loan products, from service economy desperation to the internal contradictions of social movements, Hulsether argues that capitalist humanitarian projects are fueled as much by a profit motive as by a hope that racial capitalism can redeem the losses that accumulate in its wake.

Hulsether will be joined in conversation by Adrián Emmanuel Hernández Acosta, who is Assistant Professor of Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Broadly, Hernández Acosta’s interests include the history of poetics through and beyond the Caribbean, care for the psychic life of racialized queer and trans subjects, and literary translation and theory in the Black Atlantic. His first book manuscript, tentatively titled Furies: Poetic Mediations in the Wake of Death, analyzes how two queer Cuban poets—José Lezama Lima and Virgilio Piñera—critically drew on Greco-Roman myth to argue with each other over poetry’s aesthetic, ethical, and political mediation of mourning in the wake of death. His second book manuscript analyzes portrayals of African diaspora religions in scenes of mourning within select Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban literary texts as well as in visual art, cinema, and music.

Open to: 
General Public