Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen will present at The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation Seminar in New York and American Material Culture on Wednesday, November 23 at 12:15 pm. His talk is entitled “Unlearning by Undoing: Towards a Pluriversal, Enlivening Cultural Practice, Poetics, and Politics.”

Tchen writes, “We share many overarching, overwhelming anxieties during what Arundhati Roy frames as this “pandemic portal.” We are simultaneously in a moment of regeneration and exhaustion, and a moment of reflexive possibilities and of seeking comfort. All are necessary but not sufficient. In this moment, I’ve had the privilege of organizing two online gatherings, Hacking the University Reckoning with Racial Equity, Climate Justice, and Global Warming (2020) and Dismantling Eugenics (2021), as collaborative aligning efforts, or what Arturo Escobar would call exercises in “pluriversal design.” What’s at stake? Decolonizing and what we can call de-eugenicizing our universities. Our collaborative task is to reimagine and to enact a regenerative way of being.”

Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen is a historian, curator, dumpster diver, and teacher. Professor Tchen is the Inaugural Clement A. Price Professor of Public History and Humanities at Rutgers University–Newark and Director of the Clement Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience. He was the founding director of the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute and part of the founding faculty of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University (1996-2018). In 2019, he established The Public History Project, emerging from serving as a Commissioner on the New York City Mayor’s Commission on Monuments. This project reframes the history of the New York and New Jersey estuarial region, starting with the twined foundational histories of dispossession and enslavement, and grapples with our settler colonial illiteracy about the land and waters upon which we live. Tchen was the senior historian for The New-York Historical Society exhibition, Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion (2014-15) and the senior advisor for the “American Experience” PBS documentary The Chinese Exclusion Act (2017) with Ric Burns and Lishin Yu. His acclaimed books include Yellow Peril: An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear (2014) a critical archival study of images, excerpts, and essays on the history and contemporary impact of paranoia and xenophobia; and New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882 (1999). In 1980, he co-founded the Museum of Chinese in America.

Attendees are invited to browse The Anti-Eugenics Project and read Jack Tchen’s personal eugenics story here.

This event will be held via Zoom. A link will be circulated to registrants by 10 am on the day of the event. This event will be live with automatic captions.