Whistleblowers Crimson guard Dee Giger ’13 and the rest of the bench take issue with the ref’s call. Above and beyond Crimson guard Brandyn Curry ’13 fires a pass over a Princeton defender. Curry had 12 points and 6 assists. With 11 seconds to go in the game, Curry made a shot that put Harvard up by one. Buzzkill The scoreboard tells the story: final score — Princeton, 63, Harvard, 62. As the final second ticked off, Princeton’s Doug Davis threw a shot that went in as time expired.Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer The season will continue for the Harvard men’s basketball team, despite a heartbreaking loss to Princeton on Saturday (March 12) that cost the squad a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Crimson have accepted a place in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), and will play the Oklahoma State Cowboys on March 15 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.“We’re very fortunate,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker. “Only 100 teams play in the NCAA and NIT tournaments. We’re thrilled to be among them.”Amaker acknowledged that he and his players were still feeling the sting of their last-second loss to Princeton. Both players and coaches are aware of the things they could have done better against the Tigers, he said.“We didn’t do a great job defending in the paint, around the goal against Princeton,” he said. “We missed some free throws and we didn’t defend that last shot. There were lots of things.”The team had hoped for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament, but was passed over by the selection committee. Amaker says that the news of the Crimson’s first-ever NIT bid gave a welcome lift to players’ spirits.“We had the kids in for a lift and stretch [Sunday],” he said. “They were sore physically and also a little down, but they felt better when we got the brackets set for the NIT. We’re on to the next thing now and I expect them to bounce back, the way they have all season.”Harvard has its work cut out against Oklahoma State (19-13). Despite having the best won-lost record in its bracket, the Crimson were passed over for a top four seed, and so must travel to Stillwater, Okla., to play the Cowboys on their home court. Amaker says that news of the game came late on Sunday night, and left him and his players scrambling to make arrangements and prepare.“We’re just finding out about Oklahoma State, compiling information and statistics,” he explained. “They’re similar in some ways to George Mason or to a healthy George Washington University team. They’re athletic and quick. They play a hard, up-tempo game. They’re a physical team up front. We don’t have a lot of time to prepare, but we’ll do our best.”Amaker hopes that there’s plenty of basketball ahead for Harvard, but said that the season has already been a big success. The team clinched a share of the Ivy League championship for the first time in program history and, for the second year in a row, set a record for wins. Tuesday night against the Cowboys — only the third post-season game in the history of the program — Amaker’s squad will set its sights on another milestone.“Harvard has never won a post-season game,” he notes. “Hopefully, our year is not done. We’ll continue to grow, push, and move along.” Let it out Crimson guard Christian Webster ’13 (from left) can’t bear to look as he and teammates Andrew Van Nest ’12, Brandyn Curry ’13, and Matt Brown ’13 walk dejectedly off the court. The mother of all fans Sabeina Tabron (from left, mother of Keith Wright ’12), Celine Rivard (mother of Laurent Rivard ’14), and Sharon Casey (mother of Kyle Casey ’12) proudly display their allegiance to the Crimson. Player of the Year Crimson fans, including one sporting a photo of basketball forward Keith Wright ’12, the Ivy League Player of the Year, root on their team. Three busloads of students made the trip to Yale, the neutral site of the game. There’s always next season Crimson guard Brandyn Curry ’13 (right) consoles Oliver McNally ’12 as they disappear into the locker rooms and prepare for the long trip back to Harvard. Wright stuff Crimson forward and co-captain Keith Wright ’12 goes up to defend a shot. Wright led the Crimson with 16 points and added 6 rebounds and 4 blocks. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer Buzzkill Mid-air Crimson guard and co-captain Oliver McNally ’12 drives to the basket. Clockwatch Crimson guard and co-captain Oliver McNally ’12 looks up at the clock showing just minutes left in the game, with the lead going back and forth between the two teams. McNally scored 13 points as Princeton won, 63-62. And the bad guys rejoiced… A Princeton player is embraces by a Tiger fan on the court after Princeton’s last-second win. All the way Crimson forward Kyle Casey ’12 drives hard to the basket.
Keith Wright scored 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting and had eight rebounds, while Kyle Casey had 19 points, as the Harvard men’s basketball team earned a 77-70 win in overtime on the road at Columbia Friday. The Crimson improves to 25-4 overall, a program record for wins, and 11-2 in the Ivy League, and holds a half game lead over Penn (18-11, 10-2 Ivy) with a game remaining.Harvard will conclude the regular season by visiting Cornell Saturday evening in a game that will be shown live on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. A Crimson victory would clinch at least a share of the program’s second straight Ivy League title, while a Harvard victory combined with a Penn loss to Yale Saturday or a Quaker loss at Princeton Tuesday would clinch the outright Ancient Eight crown and the NCAA tournament automatic berth for the Crimson.Brandyn Curry dished out eight assists for Harvard, while Oliver McNally went 7-of-8 from the line, finishing with 12 points. Brian Barbour led Columbia (14-15, 3-10) with 23 points. The Crimson shot 56 percent for the game (27 of 48) from the field, while controlling the boards, 28-23.To read the full story, visit GoCrimson.com.
Rolla Milton Tryon Jr., Professor of Biology and curator of ferns in the Gray Herbarium, an authority on the taxonomy and geography of ferns and fern allies, died the 20th of August of 2001, six days before his 85th birthday.Tryon spent his life studying the Pteridophyta, ferns and fern allies. This group of vascular plants represents an early evolutionary branch in the land plants. They once dominated the vegetation of the planet, and their fossilized remains gave rise of much of the carbon deposits of the world. Outside of horticultural and ornamental importance ferns largely hold a place as organisms of interest in understanding the history of terrestrial vegetation and in understand the earth over time and space.He was born on August 26, 1916, in Chicago, where his father was a professor of American history and education at the University of Chicago. An A.A. degree in 1935 was followed by a B.S. in 1937, both from the University of Chicago. These were followed in quick succession by a Ph.M. from the University of Wisconsin in 1938, and an M.S. in 1940 and Ph.D. in 1941, both from Harvard. At Harvard he studied under the direction of Professor M. L. Fernald and Mr. Charles A. Weatherby at the Gray Herbarium. To say that Tryon spent his life studying ferns is perhaps an understatement. His first scientific paper, published in 1934 when he was 18 years old was on ferns that he had observed around his family’s summer cottage near the dunes in Chesterton, Indiana.As was the case with most of the Harvard botanists, he brought his botanical training to the war effort during WWII as a lab technician in the U. S. Chemical Warfare Service at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is said that his father suggested a second Ph.D. in chemistry – this in order to earn a living.He served briefly as an instructor at Dartmouth College and then at the University of Wisconsin. In 1945 he became an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin. Here he met Alice Faber, who was his student and then his wife. Together they studied ferns; their interest in all aspects of ferns was limitless and extended to all aspects of their professional and private lives. Ferns were everywhere indoors, on the wall, and in the garden. From 1947 to 1957 Tryon was an associate professor of Botany at Washington University in Saint Louis and assistant curator in the herbarium of the Missouri Botanical Garden. There, the Tryons organized a symposium dedicated to topics in plant sciences; it became a yearly event that continues today.In 1957 the Tryons traveled to Peru and initiated a study of the rich fern flora of that country. With this Tryon began research on the fern flora of the American tropics and that interest would last the rest of his life. Of particular interest were the tree ferns and on this topic Tryon published extensively throughout his career. Following a year at the University of California Herbarium at Berkeley as a research associate, he was appointed, in 1958, Curator of Ferns at the Gray Herbarium at Harvard. There he remained until after his retirement in 1987. In 1972 he was appointed professor of biology in the Biology Department under the committee on Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and through that appointment he supervised several graduate students who were to become the leaders of the next generation of pteridologists.Tryon is recognized for his taxonomic research, particularly on American and tropical species of ferns. Best known are his book Ferns and Allied Plants: with Special Reference to Tropical America, coauthored with Alice F. Tryon (published in 1982) and his work on the ferns of Peru, Pteridophyta of Peru, completed in retirement and consisting of 28 contributions in 6 parts and 837 pages. Early books on the ferns of Minnesota and Wisconsin were standard works for regional floristic studies. He demonstrated in all of his work precision, encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s fern flora, and a firm grounding in botanical nomenclature in the tradition of his Harvard mentor Charles Weatherby.The deep evolutionary questions of fern relationships led him to the study of plant geography – how ferns in particular where distributed in space and time. He taught a course in biogeography and his last paper was on fern migration routes and the assemblage of the present day flora of the Serra Ricardo Franco in Brazil.Tryon showed attachment and loyalty to several institutions. He served various roles in the American Fern Society, a society to which he belonged for 69 years. He was president in 1974-1975 and was made an honorary member of the society in 1978. The New England Botanical Club, which is headquartered here at Harvard, also received his attention. He served as recording secretary (1964-1968), associate editor of the Society’s Journal Rhodora (1961-1977), editor-in-chief (1977-1981), vice-president (1984-1986) and president (1986-1988).Following his retirement from Harvard he became an adjunct professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he continued work on ferns with his wife, Alice.Respectfully submitted,O. T. SolbrigDonald H. Pfister, Chair
People who are married when diagnosed with cancer live longer than those who are not, report researchers at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Married patients also tended to have cancers diagnosed at an earlier stage — when it is often more successfully treated — and to receive more appropriate treatment.The study’s findings will be published online today by the Journal of Clinical Oncology.“Our data suggests that marriage can have a significant health impact for patients with cancer, and this was consistent among every cancer that we reviewed,” said Ayal Aizer, chief resident of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program and the paper’s first author. “We suspect that social support from spouses is what’s driving the striking improvement in survival. Spouses often accompany patients on their visits and make sure they understand the recommendations and complete all their treatments.”Utilizing the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, the researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of 734,889 people who were diagnosed with cancer between 2004 and 2008. They focused on the 10 leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States: lung, colorectal, breast, pancreatic, prostate, liver/bile duct, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, head and neck, ovarian, and esophageal cancer. They also adjusted the data to account for a number of demographic factors, including age, sex, race, residence type, education, and median household income, which could have an effect on the health outcome.Their analysis found that in comparison with married patients, unmarried cancer patients, including those who were widowed, were 17 percent more likely to have metastatic cancer (cancer that spread beyond its original site) and were 53 percent less likely to receive the appropriate therapy.“We don’t just see our study as an affirmation of marriage, but rather it should send a message to anyone who has a friend or a loved one with cancer: By being there for that person and helping them navigate their appointments and make it through all their treatments, you can make a real difference to that person’s outcome,” said the study’s senior author, Paul Nguyen, a radiation oncologist at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s, and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “As oncologists, we need to be aware of our patients’ available social supports and encourage them to seek and accept support from friends and family during this potentially difficult time.”The study was funded in part by a Heritage Medical Research Institute/Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award, a JCRT Foundation Grant, Fitz’s Cancer Warriors, David and Cynthia Chapin, and a grant from an anonymous family foundation.
Four members of the Harvard Business School MBA Class of 2014 and two graduating doctoral candidates have been named winners of the School’s prestigious Dean’s Award. They will all be recognized by HBS Dean Nitin Nohria at Commencement ceremonies on the HBS campus.The MBA winners are Greg Adams, Tara Hagan, Ana Mendy, and Cory Rothschild. Matthew Lee and Everett Spain will each receive the HBS Doctoral Programs Dean’s Award.“All these students have made enormous and long-lasting contributions to the sense of community that is so essential to the HBS experience,” said Dean Nohria. “And the impact of their efforts often extends beyond this campus to the rest of Harvard University and to Boston as well. From making the orientation program at the start of the MBA Program a more meaningful and enjoyable experience to improving the inclusiveness of our community to literally saving lives, these young men and women have shown themselves to be extraordinarily capable and caring leaders. We are proud to recognize them and their many achievements with this important award. They have already begun to fulfill the Harvard Business School’s mission of educating leaders who make a difference in the world.” Read Full Story
The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) has hosted a series of Your Harvard events over the past two years in cities across the globe from Los Angeles to Mexico City and Dallas to London, attracting more than 3,500 alumni and friends to eight regional gatherings.For the coming academic year, the HAA is already planning the next events in the series with local alumni groups in Atlanta (in November), Boston (March 2016), and Toronto (April 2016).Your Harvard events invite alumni, parents, and friends to connect with each other and engage with some of the most exciting scholarship underway on campus. At each event, President Drew Faust speaks to her vision for Harvard’s future — the foundation of The Harvard Campaign — and eminent faculty members discuss cross-disciplinary research and innovations that address some of the world’s most pressing challenges.In Seattle, professors of music and neurobiology discussed the role of creativity in generating breakthrough ideas. In Beijing, professors of science and architecture explored advances that will shape the future global research agenda. In New York, professors of economics and law tackled the issues of decision-making and leadership. All of these discussions highlighted the increasingly cross-disciplinary nature of the participants’ work.The most recent event took place in Chicago, home to the longest continuously operating Harvard Club (founded in 1857), drawing nearly 400 attendees.“At each Your Harvard event, I have been impressed by the incredible dedication of our alumni and their enthusiasm to connect with each other and the Harvard of today,” said HAA Executive Director Philip Lovejoy.The Harvard Campaign was publicly launched in September 2013. To date, this historic effort — the first such undertaking to include the participation of all Harvard Schools — has raised more than $5 billion in support of University aspirations, including advancing new approaches to teaching and learning, attracting and supporting the best students and faculty, creating a campus for the 21st century, and supporting multidisciplinary research.Visit the Harvard alumni website to learn more about the Your Harvard series as well as other alumni events.
As authorities continued hunting for suspects in Tuesday’s airport and subway bombings in Brussels, analysts said the attacks expose serious flaws in the effectiveness of the European Union’s security and intelligence agencies. The experts said the ease of the attacks raised urgent, foundational questions about whether the EU is fully prepared to confront mobile, well-trained terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.The officials also suggested that such a long-term struggle, in which terrorists can arbitrarily attack public transit and gathering places in major cities, could cause profound economic and political damage to the EU.Since similar attacks in Paris in November, Belgium has been harshly criticized across the EU for intelligence and policing failures around monitoring local jihadi communities, a perception bolstered after the latest bombings by Turkish officials who said they had alerted Belgium that at least one suspect had been deported several months ago. The disclosure prompted two Belgian ministers to offer their resignations.“I’m not going to point fingers at which governments are good and which are bad. I think we’re all trying to do our best in an extraordinary and difficult situation,” said Sir Peter Westmacott, senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Studies and the Institute of Politics. “The fact that it was Brussels was because it was easy for them; it’s not because Brussels is the capital of the European Union, I don’t think.”Struggling with effective intelligence-sharingMuch like the United States did in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, the EU still struggles with effective intelligence-sharing, along national lines and bureaucratic lines, despite its easy cross-border ties on banking and travel. Breaking down the compartmentalization of myriad agencies in 28 nations and guaranteeing cooperation will require more resources, the analysts said.Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States, France, and Turkey, said he sees strong recognition and political will among the EU governments to work together more effectively and more cohesively around counterterrorism, intelligence, and data sharing.“I think we’re all on our toes; we’re all trying to raise our game in terms of defenses, our exchanges of intelligence. But it’s not, I fear, exclusively something about EU countries. Any country that is part of the campaign to push back against and eventually destroy ISIL is going to have to feel vulnerable,” he said.During an emergency meeting in Brussels on Thursday, European justice and home affairs ministers issued a statement calling on the European parliament to adopt legislation granting access to a comprehensive database of airport passenger records to security forces across the EU. Bitter debate between national security and privacy advocates had stalled efforts to develop a single data-collection system for years.“It’s terribly disappointing because although they say they’re going to do this and this and this, it’s essentially things we’ve been talking about for a long time,” said Jolyon Howorth, professor of political science and international affairs at Yale University, and an affiliate faculty member at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES). “That’s not going to work.“Even with [the attack on the French magazine] Charlie Hebdo and Nov. 13 and now with Brussels, that has not really led to any major breakthrough in thinking about how to handle the scale of this problem. And that’s something that’s going to have to happen.“What the refugee crisis has drawn our attention to is the indivisibility of internal policy and external policy — of defense policy and of policing policy,” said Howorth, a European security and defense analyst. The EU’s effort to develop a common security and defense policy focuses on building capacity for external military and civilian-military missions, neither of which are appropriate to deal with domestic terrorism, he said. “So we’re going to have to invent a whole new approach, a whole new policy area of coordinated and integrated European-wide counterterrorism.”A shift to special forces-style techniquesIn January, Europol, the EU’s intelligence agency, concluded that since the Paris attacks, the ISIL strategy appeared to have shifted from relying on “lone wolf” attacks to providing foreign fighters with extensive, specialized training in special forces-style techniques. Such fighters have since slipped back into European cities and scattered, where they operate as independent terror cells, officials said.That tactical shift transfers the burden of surveillance and interdiction disproportionately onto local police departments, which are often grossly understaffed to be able to keep track of the many suspected jihadis living in Brussels and France. Bringing staffing and training up to speed would take years and cash that few nations have wanted to or could afford to spend, the experts say.Brussels, believed to have the highest concentration of jihadis in Europe, is further hobbled by structural flaws. The city of 19 districts has no central municipal authority, and police, often disconnected by language, face difficulty penetrating ethnic neighborhoods like Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, where locals are often strongly resistant to policing.“So the ability to hide out, like a fish in the sea, in those sorts [of] neighborhoods is quite considerable,” said Howorth.While Europeans are shocked and upset by the latest bombings, Westmacott believes that they are determined not to let terrorists stop them from going about their normal lives.“Part of our reaction has to be to counter the narrative which allows these people to believe that this is some form of respectable, even religiously blessed, principled religious activity, which it is not. This is psychotic terrorism from losers who’ve got their own bizarre reasons for wanting to destroy their fellow human beings,” he said.“We have to take these people on, we have to defeat them, we have to put them out of business, we’ve got to regain the territory which has been the breeding ground for some of their activity and some of their grievances, I suppose you could say. If we can move in that direction and help these countries become real countries again, then we are going to be in better shape,” said Westmacott.Fresh fuel for right-wing political parties Analysts expect that the Brussels attacks, and the prospect that Europe is the new ISIL battlefront, will further boost the appeal and momentum of right-wing political parties, including France’s National Front, the U.K. Independence Party in Britain, the Alternative for Germany, and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, which will soon have national elections.“Centrist politicians have to be thinking in order to prevent the radical right upsurge: Maybe we need to take more modest steps at home, including restricting the flow of refugees,” and other ideas, said Daniel Ziblatt, a CES resident faculty member and a professor of government at Harvard who studies European politics. It’s a path that is likely to prove politically tricky to navigate.In the long run, the bombings could threaten the EU’s future if its open borders in the Schengen Area, which allow the free flow of people and goods among the 28 nations, are suspended or closed to halt the flow of suspected fighters, desperate refugees, and others, or if the attacks induce nations to follow the lead of Britain, which in June will consider leaving the EU.“The fundamental prerequisite of making the Schengen … Area work is to have a very effective external border control. And to date, the border control, particularly in the Mediterranean, has been lamentable,” in large part because so little has been allocated — €50 million per year — to patrol the entire EU border, said Howorth. “That needs to be massively beefed up.”While ISIL’s attacks on European soil are new, the continent has decades of experience dealing with domestic terrorists to fall back upon, from the Red Brigades in Germany and Italy to the Irish Republican Army in Great Britain and the Basque separatist movement in Spain.“So we’ve seen episodes of major urban terrorism in the past,” said Joseph Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard Kennedy School. “I suspect that this wave will, like waves before, scare people, make life less pleasant, but I don’t think it’s going to end Europe as we know it.“Terrorism is like jujitsu, which is that the weak player, the terrorist, tries to use the strength of the stronger player, to leverage it, so the strong player defeats himself,” he said. “It’s horrible, but if you realize that terrorists rarely, rarely win in the long run, the key question is to make sure the reactions we have are proportionate and don’t fall into the jujitsu trap.”The key to success will also require Europeans to confront some ugly, homegrown realities.“They’re bringing their fight to the streets of the European cities to try to get more publicity, to try to provoke more outrage, to try to evoke anti-Muslim reactions from the rest of us. We will not rise to that temptation,” said Westmacott.“But we have to try to convince our young people in all our countries who are indulging in this stuff … that this is not the way in which human beings living in the European Union, or indeed anywhere else, should be behaving. This is not what Islam is all about. And we have to try to persuade them that there is some greater sense of human dignity and values than these people seem to believe there is at the moment.”
Through a collaboration with Harvard’s Public School Partnerships and the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), more than 150 Boston Public School (BPS) teachers and staff were invited to attend the Anna Deavere Smith’s groundbreaking performance of “Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education,” on Friday, Aug. 26. The critically acclaimed play outlines the civil rights crisis currently erupting at the intersection between America’s education system and its mass incarceration epidemic. Each performance begins with what Deavere Smith calls a “Radical Welcome” from a local social, political, educational or spiritual leader who personally introduces the show to the audience while speaking about the school-to-prison pipeline from their vantage point.On the night of this performance, BPS Superintendent Dr. Tommy Chang’s “Radical Welcome” encouraged the audience — comprising largely of educators — to consider the critical role of each individual to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. “Acknowledging, engaging and reflecting on our own privilege is the first step in disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline” he stated in his welcome. “We have to reflect on our systematic and individual biases and how it will impact our practices, this is an ongoing effort for all of us.” Read Full Story
Pam Grier burst onto the scene as a star of “blaxploitation” movies in the early 1970s. While drawing criticism for promoting racial stereotypes, the films were praised by some viewers as empowering for their depiction of strong African-American characters. In the eyes of Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor, Grier was “the most powerful and impressive image of a black woman to emerge out of the blaxploitation era.” Grier is among the recipients of this year’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medals, to be presented by the Hutchins Center at Sanders Theatre Thursday at 4 p.m., as well as the subject of a current Harvard Film Archive retrospective. Gates, set to interview Grier prior to HFA screenings at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, spoke to the Gazette about her indelible screen presence.GAZETTE: To start, can you briefly define the blaxploitation genre?GATES: Blaxploitation was the name given to the first real flourishing of films about the black experience produced by black directors and white directors. So the black in the title was the subject of the film rather than the subjectivity of the director. It was a period in the late ’60s and early ’70s. It was the cinematic version of the Black Arts movement and the Black Arts movement was a cultural aspect of the Black Power movement, and it coincided with the birth of black studies starting in 1968, 1969. Really the blaxploitation era started then as well, more or less, and then went through the early ’70s, when interest petered out.It was the first renaissance of black films, when Hollywood seemed to be wide open to films about the black experience. But, as the name suggests, many of these films were quite sensational. Some of them, like “Blacula” — we are not talking about Fellini here. They were made for entertainment and often perpetuated unfortunate stereotypes about black people. But some were quite good. Melvin Van Peebles’ “Sweet Sweetback” is an example of a very powerful work of art among many others, and the works of Gordon Parks were superb.GAZETTE: How did Pam Grier fit into this world?GATES: Pam Grier became an icon of black female power, of black agency and black subjectivity. She always seemed in control of her part, in control of the characters that she was playing. No matter how they were scripted she took control of those images and became an important model of a thinking, proactive black woman. … She certainly is the most powerful and impressive image of a black woman to emerge out of the blaxploitation era.GAZETTE: How do you feel she balanced the objectification of her characters with the empowerment that she brought to her roles?GATES: I think that films in general at that time in the late ’60s and early ’70s represented women as objects and black people as objects in general. And what Pam Grier did, and Melvin Van Peebles in his way, was to turn that object relationship into a subject relationship. Pam Grier took control of her roles, no matter how they restricted, and I am not privy to the scripts, but if they were written by a male and meant to consciously or unconsciously objectify women, she took control of her performance and made it powerful, made it a statement about feminism and the tradition of black women being actors in history and being subjects in history and not merely objects. What I am trying to say is that she wrestled control often off of what would otherwise have been, in a lesser actor, an objectification, and made the part powerful, made it her own, made it something that we’re all proud of.“No matter how they were scripted she took control of those images and became an important model of a thinking, proactive black woman.” said Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Pam Grier (pictured). Credit: Canadian Film Centre from Toronto, Canada/Creative CommonsGAZETTE: How do you think this work resonates today?GATES: I can’t answer that because I haven’t watched these films with a group of young people. For me, when I see these films, I think about being an undergraduate at Yale watching them with other black students with our Afros all in each other’s ways.GAZETTE: Can you tell me a little more about what the experience of watching these films then was like for you?GATES: I graduated in the class of ’73 at Yale. We flocked to these movies — finally, to see images of ourselves. Images of black people in film and on television were so rare. When I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s if someone appeared on TV, whether it was a minor character in a feature film in the late, late show or a guest on the Johnny Carson show or a person on a quiz show, everybody in the neighborhood would call each other: “Colored person on television!” “Where?” “Channel 5!” And everybody would go watch it and hope that they won the quiz show or comported themselves with great dignity. And likewise in movies, you never saw black people in movies. The old race films from the ’20s and ’30s made by people like Oscar Micheaux and Spencer Williams weren’t available or certainly weren’t readily available unless you had access to an archive like the Schomburg library in Harlem or the James Weldon Johnson Collection at Yale.Now you can get all of it online and YouTube and in box sets, but not then. All of a sudden there’s the Black Power movement, which starts in ’66, and then the Black Arts movement starts about the same time, and then the blaxploitation era, which included dozens and dozens of films, some of them generated by black people, which were really quite noble and powerful, and others like “Blacula” which seem laughably ridiculous.And we went to see them all. And we laughed. We were never confused about the difference between art and camp, between art and schlock. We thought “Blacula” was funny, but “Sweet Sweetback” we thought was the image of a powerful black man and a black man experiencing his subjectivity. And all of Pam Grier’s movies were examples of her transcending however the role was scripted. Whatever was intended, and we have no way of knowing that, the effect was riveting.GAZETTE: Do you remember what it felt like to see this powerful woman up on the screen, an African-American woman in an action figure role?GATES: It was mind-blowing, to put it in the vernacular. To see a black female action figure, I’d never even imagined it. It’s a bit like seeing Shirley Chisholm run for president. Pam Grier was breaking the role, defying the stereotypes, registering a new realm of possibility. And everyone respected her. No one thought you were looking at a prostitute in “Foxy Brown.” We thought you were looking at a woman who was brilliantly planning revenge for the murder of her husband. These films weren’t anthropological studies of African-Americans; this was Hollywood. But within those confines she showed a great deal of control over the image that was projected and that’s what we admired then and that’s what we admire now. She became a hero to us, in addition to being a goddess of beauty.GAZETTE: What’s your favorite Pam Grier film?GATES: “Foxy Brown,” without a doubt. It delights me to no end that Harvard University is honoring a pioneer of black cinema and a person who played a historical role in showing the range of possibilities for black female characters, strong black female characters, defying the maid and the mammy stereotypes. No one would confuse Foxy Brown with Mammy in “Gone With the Wind,” or “Julia,” with all due respect, who was a middle-class, very articulate nurse, but Foxy Brown had agency, big time.SaveSaveSaveSave
The Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard and the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine are delighted to announce that the Arcadia Fund of London awarded a $495,000 grant to their Historical Ice Core Project. The interdisciplinary project’s aim is to study the history of climate change, atmospheric pollution and environmental transformations in the last two millennia, and their impact on human populations.In 2013, a joint endeavor of Heidelberg University, University of Maine, University of Bern and Harvard University retrieved an ice-core from Colle Gnifetti, in the Swiss-Italian Alps. The location of the glacier, in the heart of Europe and in close proximity to areas of great historical significance and long-term human settlement, holds much promise for the study of past climate and human activity.Thanks to a previous grant by the Arcadia Fund, Harvard historians have been compiling a geodatabase of Eurasian climate events from written historical sources, in languages such as Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Middle English. Climate patterns identified in the historical evidence provide invaluable and essential contextual information to understand climate signals from the ice. Written evidence of weather deterioration, flooding, warming, droughts and poor harvests, among other recorded phenomena, allow historians and scientists to understand the full impact of climate change on human health and survival, political stability and migration.Analysis of the chemical composition of the ice core and resulting climatological interpretations, already underway at the Climate Change Institute’s W.M. Keck Laser Ice Facility, has yielded results of extraordinary quality and detail. The Institute’s next-generation technology has allowed historians and scientists to identify historical and climatic events with an unprecedented level of detail, opening new avenues of research and pioneering new methodologies that will be essential for scholars around the world dedicated to understanding and addressing climate change.At Harvard University, the project is overseen by Prof. Michael McCormick, chair of the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past and Goelet Professor of Medieval History, and managed by Dr. Alexander More. At the University of Maine, the project is overseen by Dr. Paul Andrew Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute and Distinguished University Professor along with Dr. Andrei Kurbatov, Dr. Nicole Spaulding, Dr. Pascal Bohleber (also at Heidelberg University), and Dr. Sharon Sneed.