Jacob Lurie, who has made transformative contributions to mathematics through his work on derived algebraic geometry and infinity categories, will join the Faculty of the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study, effective July 1, 2019. Lurie’s ideas in modern algebra, geometry, and topology provide novel frameworks that guide current research, unite seemingly disparate fields, and expand upon the foundations of mathematics.
“We feel strongly that the spirit characteristic of America at its noblest, above all the pursuit of higher learning, cannot admit of any conditions as to personnel other than those designed to promote the objects for which this institution is established, and particularly with no regard whatever to accidents of race, creed, or sex.”
Francesca Trivellato, Professor in the School of Historical Studies, joins the New Books in History podcast to discuss her new book, The Promise and Peril of Credit (Princeton University Press, 2019):
“What these [medieval] moral theologians were grappling with is something with which we are still grappling in many ways, that is, how to support the expansion of market forces, including financial instruments that have the potential of benefiting the state and society at large, and at the same time curb the excess of the market and finance.”
“The legacy of Tiananmen is not something that belongs to China or to the Chinese people alone. It belongs to the world,” writes Rowena Xiaoqing He, Member in the School of Social Science, on the thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. At the Institute, He is working on a book about the roots and development of Chinese student nationalism in post-1989 China.
There is a pressing need to go beyond the Western-centered historical perspective on inequality regimes and explore the relationship between rising inequality and the changing structure of political conflict, from class-based to identity-based conflict.
The Institute is a remarkably modest place. Like all Members, I was provided a lovely apartment, a simple office (with computer), access to libraries, lunch in the dining hall, tea in the afternoon. So how does new knowledge come out of such a simple mix?
From the Chinese Revolution of 1911 to the May 19 Movement of 1957, from the Xidan Democracy Wall of 1978 to the Democracy Movement in 1989, Chinese people have never ceased in their struggle for democracy. When the Tiananmen Massacre shocked the world, I was a brainwashed high school student. It was only several years later that I realized I was a survivor of the massacre.
“Our result is potentially important not only for our galaxy, but to any galaxy which has this type of underfed black hole in its heart,” said Lena Murchikova, Bezos Member in the School of Natural Sciences, lead author of a Nature paper that reveals the first observation of the rotation behavior of the accretion disk around Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Charles Simonyi Professor Edward Witten and Director and Leon Levy Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf discuss topics ranging from the gap between theory and experimentation in physics to some of the outstanding questions in the fields of quantum gravity, quantum field theory, and number theory.
How could a leaderless grassroots movement, involving often quite small groups of protesters, monopolize the national news, capture the attention of the wider world, and destabilize a government that had swept to power by a landslide victory in 2017? As Jacques Rancière has suggested, it is as difficult to understand why some people mobilize when confronted with situations they regard as unacceptable, as it is to understand why others in similar or even worse circumstances do not.
Could empirically minded, plain-speaking, fact-checking journalists, bulked-up suffrage, court and educational systems, a tradition of street demonstrations, and the development of a new kind of First Amendment jurisprudence that paid more attention to maintaining facticity and reversing silencing techniques be enough to revitalize the democratic take on truth? Could any of the elements of the democratic imaginary, including liberty, equality, and dignity as well as truth become, once again, a widely shared goal? It is hard to say yes to either question as long as people seem to be living in such different worlds, economically and psychologically.
In the realm of politics, the value of freedom is collective and enabling. It makes it possible for men and women to join together and claim equal standing. Take political freedom away and equality becomes a lost project.
After decades of retreat from the mainstream, economic history is making its way back to college curricula and scholarly publications. Today as always, present concerns stimulate academics’ choice of subject matter and approaches to historical inquiry.