Chilies Around the World

Chilies Around the World

Stephanie Walker, Ph.D., New Mexico State University
June 9, 2019

New Mexicans love chilies, but do we know everything about them? Chile peppers, members of the genus Capsicum, are native to the New World. After discovery of the crop by European explorers, chile peppers spread around the globe, were embraced by many disparate populations and incorporated into local cuisines. Different regions preferred different heat profiles and flavors, and specific preferences led to selection of unique varieties that contribute to the incredible diversity we see in chile peppers today. Stephanie Walker will explore the unique varieties of chile peppers grown in New Mexico and around the world.  

The Islamic Republic at 40: The Struggle for the Future of Iran and Challenges for the US

The Islamic Republic at 40: The Struggle for the Future of Iran and Challenges for the US

Alex Vatanka, Middle East Institute
May 17, 2019

Under massive American sanctions, Iran is today faced with a long list of problems. And yet, there is a deep split among the Iranian people, and within the ruling elite, about the best way forward. The Trump administration’s Iran policy is disjointed, but Iran’s problems are overwhelmingly of its own making and go back to 1979 when the Islamist model was first born. The question is, can the Islamic Republic survive if it stays on the same course?  Another question is whether Iran can depend on China to be “rescued” while under US sanctions?

Nandini Kuehn

Vibrant Cinema in India

Nandini Kuehn, Ph.D.
May 12, 2019

Commercially successful films from India which originated in Mumbai and are now called “Bollywood” have influenced movies like Slumdog Millionaire – but what makes Bollywood films so popular remains a mystery. Why do millions of Indians, and a growing number outside of India enjoy three-hour films with fantastic themes, non-stop songs and dances, and unbelievable plots? Nandini Kuehn will help us understand what defines these films and their success, and glimpse the emerging market for new, vibrant cinema in India. 

Monika Ghattas

Beirut: Gateway to the Middle East

Monika Ghattas, Ph.D.
April 14, 2019

Dr. Ghattas will take us on a virtual tour of Beirut, a city that is a polyglot mixture of East and West—in languages, food, and in many cultural nuances.  She will focus on the city’s reputation as the gateway to the Middle East.

Afghanistan After 9/11

Afghanistan After 9/11

Douglas Wise, Senior Intelligence Officer
April 5, 2019

In the aftermath of the devastating attack on September 11th, 2001, the Nation came together and mounted a response which took the fight to the enemy in Afghanistan.  CIA was tasked with developing, leading, and coordinating this effort.  Fifteen days after 9/11 the first of several CIA teams landed in Afghanistan and, working with the forces of the Afghan Northern Alliance, began operations against al-Qaiida, the Taliban and the Afghan Army.  This is the story of one of those teams; a team deployed to the far eastern side of Afghanistan in an isolated camp near Asadabad at the southern end of the Konar Valley along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Eighteen years later, US troops are still in Afghanistan. What’s happening? What are the prospects for the future?

Declassified Stories of US Spies

Declassified Stories of US Spies

Domini Hofmann, Executive Producer & Director
March 24, 2019

NOTE: Due to the unavailability of the speaker, this talk has been CANCELLED. +More Info

What is Hinduism?

What is Hinduism?

V.M. (Nitant) Kenkre, UNM
March 10, 2019

Dr. Kenkre will discuss aspects of Hinduism including its scriptures such as the Bhagwad Geeta, considered a central representative of Hindu philosophical thought, and also Patanjali’s Yogasutras, associated often with the practice of Yoga. He will describe some of the varied religious practices of the Hindus including Yadnya and Pooja, and touch upon the origin and aspects of a few customs puzzling to outsiders, for instance the notorious caste system.

NATO in the 21st Century

NATO in the 21st Century

Lt. General Frank Kisner
March 1, 2019

The NATO Alliance’s first 40 years were focused on a defense of Western Europe from USSR attack, but following the events of the last decade of the 20th century there was much speculation on a change for NATO strategic guidance, and yet nearly two decades after the Fall of the Wall, and after NATO opened its membership to nations from the former Soviet Union, why does Russia maintain its top-of-the-list position as the principal antagonist? Frank Kisner will provide an overview on NATO, on what the Alliance is doing today, and share perspectives on how member nations have been influenced by the past, affected by the present, and what that might mean for future relations with Russia.

China’s Great Gamble:  Can China’s Government Create a Technological Superpower?

China’s Great Gamble: Can China’s Government Create a Technological Superpower?

Barry Naughton, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
February 22, 2019

Over the past several years, China’s government has launched an unprecedented effort to steer its economy through a new technological revolution and create a vast new infrastructure network knitting together China and its Asian neighbors.  Less widely noticed, China’s leaders are attempting to achieve this through an entirely new model of a “government-steered market economy.”  China’s efforts create new sources of risk and have already led to intensified friction with the United States.  Professor Naughton will describe and discuss what we know right now about the bigger picture, the likely balance of success and failure, and what is at stake.

Architecture of India

Architecture of India

Sanjay Kadu & Sajini Badrinarayan, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini
February 10, 2019

In their presentation, two brilliant Indian-American architects –  Sanjay Kadu and Sajini Bandrinarayan – will give you a splendid introduction to the Indo-Saracenic Architecture style of the great Mysore Palace, Dravidian architecture in south India, and the Indo-Portuguese architecture with Mughal influence adorning Goa’s landscape. They will also provide insight into the principles that guided ancient temple designs and its influence on Indian Architecture.

Taxes Around the World

Taxes Around the World

T.R. Reid, Award-winning Journalist
January 25, 2019

Do Americans pay more tax or less than citizens of other rich democracies? (Answer: far less). Could our tax system be fairer? Could it be simpler? (Answers: Yes, and Yes). Reid will take us on a world tour of tax systems and the efforts to reform them and will show how the design of a tax system can enhance rather than hobble economies. Doing our taxes will never be America’s favorite pastime, but Reid will give us useful ideas as we cope with the tax reform changes.

Gauguin, Modern Art, and its Ancient Sources

Gauguin, Modern Art, and its Ancient Sources

Dr. Diana McDonald, Ph.D.
January 13, 2019

Much of modern art is viewed in the present, in a sort of vacuum. But where did it really come from? Why were artists in the late 19th century and the early 20th century looking at, and borrowing from, what they deemed “Primitive Art”?  What are the traditions that lay behind much of modern European and American art: Abstraction, Cubism, Color Field painting, Earth Art, and more? Dr. McDonald will explore the ancient art that reverberated through the ages, down to us, with an emphasis on Pre-Columbian art (also called Ancient American or Pre-Hispanic Art) that inspired artists, especially Gauguin, Henry Moore, Paul Klee and others.