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Correctional. Ravi Shankar in conversation with Neni Panourgiá and Ivan Calaff

Public Humanities, Justice Forum

dateFebruary 23, 2022 timeWednesday, 6:00pm–8:00pm EST locationVirtual Event
  • Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
  • Columbia School of the Arts | Alumni Affairs
  • Institute for the Study of Human Rights
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Teachers College | The Gottesman Librairies
  • Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
  • Society of Fellows and the Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Justice-in-Education Initiative
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
  • This event will be recorded. By being electronically present, you consent to the SOF/Heyman using such video for promotional purposes.

Cover of Correctional: A Memoir by Ravi Shankar with event info

Correctional recounts Shankar's experience with the criminal justice system stemming from an incident of racial profiling that took place in New York City during the “stop-and-frisk” years. The incident would eventually lead to him doing jail time. While in prison, his elevation to full professor was finalized, making him the first American academic to be promoted while incarcerated. This is his story of that experience and the fury it engendered, which ended with his resignation from Central Connecticut State University. It challenges us to rethink the way we view and treat the previously incarcerated, and to reexamine the justness of our criminal justice system - especially for people of color.

Ravi Shankar is a Pushcart prize-winning poet, translator and professor who has published 15 books, including the Muse India award-winning translations Andal: The Autobiography of a Goddess and The Many Uses of Mint: New and Selected Poems 1997-2017. Along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he co-edited W.W. Norton's Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond called "a beautiful achievement for world literature" by Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer. He has taught and performed around the world and appeared in print, radio and TV in such venues as The New York Times, NPR, BBC and the PBS Newshour. He has won awards to the Corporation of Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, fellowships from the Rhode Island and Connecticut Counsel on the Arts, founded one of the oldest electronic journals of the arts Drunken Boat, and is Chairman of the Asia Pacific Writers & Translators (APWT). He has his MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University (SOA, 2000) and recently finished his PhD from the University of Sydney. He teaches creative writing at Tufts University and his memoir Correctional was published in January 2022 with University of Wisconsin Press.

Neni Panourgiá is an anthropologist, the Academic Adviser at the Justice-in-Education Initiative, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Prison Education Program at Columbia University. She has carried out ethnographic work on the meaning of history and politics, the institutionalization of the commons, and on confinement, torture, and the apparatus of discipline. Her books have received many awards including the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing, the Edmund Keeley Book Prize in Modern Greek Studies, the PROSE award, the Chicago Folklore Prize, and the International Society for Ethnohistory. Her essays can be found in Mousse, Documenta, American Ethnologist, angelaki, Public Culture, and elsewhere. Her new book Λέρος: Η γραμματική του εγκλεισμού (Leros. The Grammar of Confinement) was published in July 2020 in Greek (Nefeli Publishers). It is in its second edition and is forthcoming shortly in English.

Carlos Ivan Calaff (moderator) is a Research Analyst and Reentry Coordinator at the Center for Justice and Justice-in-Education Program at Columbia University. In 2018 he was released from Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York. He is currently studying at the School for Professional Studies at Columbia University. He is a proud Puerto Rican father of two boys, a lifelong Bronx native, an unapologetic Knicks fan, and a musician.