November 22, 2010

Vol. 26 , No. 06   

Group Inequality in Democracies: Lessons from India and the United States
LUNCHEON 11:30 a.m., LECTURE 12:00 p.m.

Both India and the United States have had a history of sizable group inequalities, the salient social divide being race in the U.S. and caste in India. In both cases, the principal instruments of state policy have been the expansion of publicly provided goods and affirmative action programs. In spite of these broad similarities, the evolution of public policy in the two nations has been dramatically different. Professor Somanathan uses a comparative perspective to better understand the source of these differences and the potential of group-based preferential treatment in addressing inequality.

Rohini Somanathan is a professor of economics at the Delhi School of Economics and a Podlich Distinguished Visitor at Claremont McKenna College. Professor Somanathan’s interests lie at the intersection of Development Economics, Public Economics and Political Economy. A major strand in her research explores mechanisms through which public institutions and community behavior influence patterns of mobility and group inequality. This includes work on the politics of caste identities in India and racial segregation in the United States. Other projects include work on rural credit markets and microfinance institutions and on the wage and productivity effects of economic liberalization in India.

S.B. 1070 and Latino Civil Rights: A New Nullification Creates a National Constitutional Crisis

The national debate over immigration prepares to go to the courts after the Obama administration sued Arizona to stop enforcement of that state's controversial S.B. 1070. Thomas Saenz is uniquely placed to comment on ongoing legal efforts to stop the law's enforcement by government and by non-profit groups. Saenz is the President and General Counsel of MALDEF – the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Under his direction, MALDEF, along with a coalition of other civil rights groups, filed their own suit to stop enforcement of S.B. 1070.

In his talk, titled “ S.B. 1070 and Latino Civil Rights: A New Nullification Creates a National Constitutional Crisis,” Saenz will discuss Arizona's controversial new law, as well as similar measures being considered across the country, and the role of the states with regard to the federal government's immigration regulations.

Before beginning as MALDEF's President and General Counsel in 2009, Saenz served as Counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for four years. Saenz had previously served at MALDEF for 12 years, during which time he successfully challenged California’s Proposition 187, which sought to deny public education and other government services to undocumented immigrants, and led numerous civil rights cases in the areas of immigrants’ rights. Saenz graduated summa cum laude from Yale University, and he received his law degree from Yale Law School.

The office of Chicano/Latino Student Affairs and the Athenaeum are pleased to co-sponsor this lecture by Thomas Saenz.

The Myth of the Resource Curse

It is conventional wisdom among highly-respected academics, international NGOs, international financial institutions and the popular media that mineral wealth in developing countries is not a blessing but a curse. Pauline Jones Luong will combat that myth in her talk titled “The Myth of the Resource Curse.” The myth is particularly pervasive when it comes to oil wealth: countries rich in petroleum are considered to be doomed to suffer from poor economic performance, unbalanced growth, impoverished populations, weak states, and authoritarian regimes. At the root of this consensus, however, is a series of faulty assumptions and generalizations. Luong will argue that the underlying cause of the so-called "curse" is not oil wealth per se, but rather, who owns and controls this wealth.

Pauline Jones Luong is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Brown University. From 1998-2004, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Yale University. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1998 and was a Harvard Academy Scholar from 1998-1999 and 2001-2002. Her primary research interests include: institutional origin and change; regime transition and state formation; and the political economy of market reform. Her empirical work focuses primarily on the former Soviet Union.
She has published articles in several leading academic and policy journals, including the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Current History, Europe-Asia Studies, Foreign Affairs, Perspectives on Politics, Politics and Society, and Resources Policy. Her books include Institutional Change and Political Continuity in Post-Soviet Central Asia: Power, Perceptions, and Pacts (Cambridge 2002) and The Transformation of Central Asia: States and Societies from Soviet Rule to Independence (Cornell 2003). Her most recent book, Oil is Not a Curse: Ownership Structure and Institutions in Soviet Successor States was released in August 2010 from Cambridge University Press.

The lecture this evening is jointly sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies and the Athenaeum.

An Evening with the Author

Ngugi wa Thiong'o, a novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, editor, and social activist, currently serves as Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Director of the International Center for Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine.

Ngugi was born in Kenya, where he received his primary school education. He attended Makerere University College in Uganda, which, at the time, was a campus of London University. He then went on to study at the University of Leeds, Britain. Ngugi is the recipient of eight honorary doctorates, and is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has received many awards, including the 2001 Nonino International Prize for Literature.
The Kenya of his birth and youth was a British settler colony (1895-1963). As an adolescent, he lived through the Mau Mau War of Independence (1952-1962), the central historical episode in the making of modern Kenya and a major theme in his early works, which include Secret Lives (1969) and Petals of Blood (1977).
Sharply critical of the inequalities and injustices of Kenyan society, in 1977 Ngugi was arrested and imprisoned without charge at Kamiti Maxium Security Prison for work that was considered subversive by the Moi dictatorship. After Amnesty International named him a Prisoner of Conscience, an international campaign secured his release in December of the following year. Following his release, he continued his writing, and during a promotional trip to Britain, he learned that the Moi regime planned to assassinate him when he returned. Ngugi and his wife lived in exile for twenty-two years, but when they returned to Kenya in 2004, they were attacked by four hired gunmen and narrowly escaped with their lives.

Ngugi novels have been translated into over thirty languages. His most recent book, Dreams in a Time of War (2010) is a memoir of his childhood, documenting his experiences during the Kenyan struggle for independence.
This lecture by Distinguished Professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o is presented in collaboration with the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies (IDAS) of The Claremont Colleges.


A Winter Holiday Concert

For most of us, the holidays are a time of joyous celebration…and not just to be finished with exams. Tonight, the Claremont Chamber Choir will launch the holiday season at the Athenaeum with a concert of choral music.

The concert program will feature the "Reincarnations" by Samuel Barber, whose 100th birthday anniversary is being celebrated in 2010. This group of three American choral part songs set the poetry of James Stephens who was in turn inspired by the work of one of the last Irish bards, Raftery. Also on the program are renaissance motets by William Byrd, Peter Philips, and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, and a selection of seasonal carols.

The Claremont Chamber Choir is sponsored by the Joint Music Program and numbers 25 student singers representing all the colleges of the Claremont Consortium. It is directed by Charles W. Kamm, associate professor of music and director of choirs in the joint music program at Scripps College. He also teaches music history, with a research focus in Scandinavian choral music.

Kamm earned his B.A. from Earlham College, and went on to earn his Master of Music at Michigan State University. He then attended Yale, where he received his Master of Musical Arts as well as his Doctor of Musical Arts. Additionally, Kamm was a Fulbright Scholar in Finland.

To add to the celebratory mood of the evening, a special holiday dinner will be served. Make reservations on line and join your friends for a terrific evening of good food and song!

Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future

Matthew Kahn is a professor in the Institute of the Environment, the Department of Public Policy, and the Department of Economics at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Furthermore, he is the co-editor of the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy as well as the associate editor of both the Journal of Urban Economics and of Regional Science and Urban Economics. Prior to teaching at UCLA, he taught at Colunbia University as well as at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He has also been a visiting professor at Harvard and Stanford.

Kahn earned his B.A. in Economics from Hamilton College in 1988. He also earned a G.C. in Economic History from the London School of Economics (1987) before going on to earn his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago in 1993.
Kahn’s research focuses on environmental, urban, real estate, and energy economics. He has published three books: Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment (2006), Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War (co-published with Dora L. Costa, 2009), and Climatopolis: How our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future (2010). He has also published numerous papers in several prestigious economics journals. Kahn has received several awards, including a National Science Foundation Grant. He delivered the keynote lecture in Beijing at the Peking University/Lincoln Institute Conference on Green Cities on September 11, 2009. Kahn’s talk tonight will certainly provide an interesting economic outlook on climate change, and how cities will adapt in the future to what he considers our extant and inevitably hotter global temperature.

Not So Silent Night: A Murder Mystery at the Athenaeum

Murder at Rutherford House by Tom Chiodo and Peter DePietro
Tuesday, December 7 & Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This holiday season, the Athenaeum and ASCMC are pleased to host Under the Lights, CMC’s very own acting troupe, and the group’s performance of Murder at Rutherford House. Athenaeum attendees are welcomed into the manor of Lady Rutherford for a dinner party, quickly becoming a part of the action. Actors mingle with guests and all revel in the merriment of the evening - until there’s a MURDER! It is the guests who question subjects and keep their eyes peeled for clues. The murderer must be stopped!

Suspects include Jennifer Baute ’12, Laila Heid ’14, Javed Jasani ’13, Will Kahn ’12, Zeben Kopchak ’12, Julia Starr ’12, Wade Vaughn ’13, Andie Wheatley ’13, and Steven Zima ’13. Katherine Wernet ’11 directs.

Seating is on a first-come basis.

Use the reservation coupon to sign up and be sure to include your payment and meal card number when turning in your reservation at the Athenaeum office- If you wish to sit with a group, please turn in a list of all names and meal card numbers with your payment. We have tables that seat 8.

CMC students with meal card $15.00 per person
CMC students without meal card $20.00 per person
CMC Faculty and staff (limit two tickets per person) $25.00 per person
Claremont Colleges students with meal card $20.00 per person
Claremont Colleges students without meal card $25.00 per person
Claremont Colleges faculty and staff (limit two tickets per person) $25.00 per person
Community persons $25.00 per person

Each Murder Mystery Dinner will begin at 6:00 p.m. following a reception at 5:30 p.m. and concluding around 9:00 p.m.

Where you sit at the dinner is entirely dependent upon when your paid reservation is received. Get a group of friends to sign up to sit together so that you may all have an unforgettable time at the Under the Lights production of Murder at Rutherford House at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum.


  • It is the policy of the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum that no lecture, appearance or performance by any speaker or performer at the Athenaeum is to be videotaped, audiotaped, or otherwise recorded and/or broadcast without the prior written permission of the relevant speaker, performer, or other authorized owner of the intellectual property rights to the event.

  • Anyone requesting permission to record an event is required to submit an “Event Recording Request Form” to Bonnie Snortum, the Director of the Athenaeum, at least 48 hours in advance of the relevant event.

  • It is understood that the speaker, the performer, the Athenaeum, and any other event sponsor, as appropriate, reserve all intellectual property rights for each Athenaeum event.

  • If you have any questions regarding this policy, please contact Bonnie Snortum at or at (909) 607-4180.


  • The Athenaeum serves as a gathering place where ideas, inquiry, and fellowship bring students, faculty, staff, other scholars, and nationally prominent speakers together.

  • Attendance at any event may be limited to persons associated with CMC, to the people who signed up for the dinner, or to the maximum number of people allowed by fire regulations.

  • On some occasions the speaker may address the group in another forum or the College may set up a video feed to handle an overflow crowd. All programs at the Athenaeum are filmed. Individuals attending should understand that their image might appear on the videotape.

  • House rules and common courtesy prohibit disruptive actions inside the building during an Athenaeum sponsored program.

  • Time allowing, there will be a period set aside for questions. Students will have priority during this portion of the program.

  • Guests are expected to dress appropriately in all dining rooms. Shorts, jeans, and t-shirts are not acceptable at dinner; more casual attire is acceptable for lunch and tea. No bare feet at any time.