September 24, 2019 –
September 4, 2020
This year-long research season uses the work of the artist Trinh T. Minh-ha as a lens to think about our contemporary moment.

Our point of departure is the work of the artist, filmmaker, and writer 
Trinh T. Minh-ha. From there, a series of open questions map out a broad thematic territory for a year-long schedule of public events: reading groups, lectures, performances, screenings, and other events explore artists and ideas that emerge as related or as relevant in productive ways. 

Please join the collective conversation as it evolves over the course of the year: attend an event, consult some of the online resources, and visit the Wattis bar for additional materials. Please sign up to our newsletter to receive notifications and updates. 

(Learn more about our research seasons here and see past seasons here.)

The CCA faculty group who collaborated on this research includes Abbas Akhavan, Naz Cuguoğlu Cacekli, Jeanne Gerrity, Shylah Hamilton, Viêt Lê, Ranu Mukherjee, Kim Nguyen, McIntyre Parker, Dorothy Santos, tamara suarez porras, Astria Suparak, James Voorhies, Christine Wang, and Kathy Zarur.

With special thanks to Trinh T. Minh-ha.

Season 6: Trinh T. Minh-ha is on our mind is curated by Kim Nguyen.

Click here for information about Why are they so afraid of the lotus?, a reader published on the occasion of this research.
Trinh T. Minh-ha is on our mind.

What does the promise of “speaking nearby” rather than “speaking about” look like today? What are the politics of hospitality? What are the problematics of “postfeminism,” and how do we challenge the West as the authoritative subject of feminist knowledge?

What are the ways that language can be a site of rupture? How do we generate mistrust in the “well-written” and how can poetry be a radical act of refusal?

How can we be subjects that believe in land and not borders? What influence has technology and digital space had on the “making and unmaking of identity”?

How do we navigate a cyclical eruption of decolonizations?


These questions are informed by the work of the filmmaker, writer, theorist, composer and professor Trinh T. Minh-ha.

Read more about her here.

“Speaking, writing, and discoursing are not mere acts of communication; they are above all acts of compulsion. Please follow me. Trust me, for deep feeling and understanding require total commitment.”
–Trinh T. Minh-ha

And here, together, we follow. Over the academic year, we weave through the lyrical and the theoretical, through postcoloniality and feminism, to poetry and auto-ethnography. We begin with a lecture about Trinh T. Minh-ha by Ute Meta Bauer in September. Then, we reconvene in October at SFMOMA for a screening of Shoot for the Contents, with an introduction by Việt Lê on the multidimensional question of color and the politics of translation. In November, Trinh T. Minh-ha herself presents a talk on the voice of multiplicity. Before the year ends, we share a dinner together at Cafe Ohlone in xučyun (Berkeley), where we learn about this land and the food that grows from the tidal marshes, flats, and hills along the eastern flank of this Bay.

We start the new year with DJ Lynnée Denise exploring the links between gospel, the queer roots of disco and house music, and the heartbeat as a rhythmic sign of life. After, Trinh T. Minh-ha returns with Isaac Julien (with an introduction by Ranu Mukherjee), continuing a conversation on fragility, political commitment, and sensitivity in filmmaking that has unfolded over their decades-long friendship. Then, the world stopped.

We intended to hear Adam and Zack Khalil re-imagine an ancient Ojibway prophecy that is both a record of the past and a foretelling of what is to come, transcending linear colonized history to propose new Indigenous futures. Instead, throughout the spring and summer Kameelah Janan Rasheed reminds us that text is a living organism and form is not finite, releasing an anthology of unfinished writing, ideas, and iterations that brings us closer to one another. Throughout the spring and summer, a series of missives, ruminating on time, labour, grief, capitalism, speed, nonsense, and power appears in our inboxes. In between, Divya Mehra shares a series of postcards for these end times, revealing to us that in actuality our end began long, long ago. Our summer was to begin with Justine Chambers leading a series of dance sessions based on her grandmother’s stories of dancing on Saturday evenings on the south side of Chicago, creating a cross-generational echo. Even still, Hồng-Ân Trương uses this time to bring together an intergenerational group of artists, activists, writers, and scholars to articulate the power of legacy and think through the impact of our histories as migrants, immigrants, refugees, strangers, and friends, while contending with the conditions of racial politics. And Genevieve Quick takes us all of us on an interplanetary migration, sending pings and pulses out into an expansive universe that traverses time and space.

...and Saturdays from September through March, informal screenings of Trinh T. Minh-ha’s films.

In July 2020, Wattis Curatorial Fellows Shaelyn Hanes and Emily Markert host a weekly Trinh T. Minh-ha Film Club. Every Thursday, they host a YouTube viewing party to screen one film, they share materials that help them understand and appreciate it, and they host a live discussion.

On June 10, 2021, we launch Why are they so afraid of the lotus? with Asian Futures, Without Asians. In this lecture Astria Suparak shares clips from popular science fiction films & TV shows from the 1970s to today, asking what it means when so many white Americans and Europeans envision futures inflected by Asian culture, but devoid of actual Asian people.      


Where in the world is Trinh T. Minh-ha?