Four scholars to speak at internal symposium

Scholars will discuss research on areas such as protecting populations in Central African Republic.

Four Gates Cambridge Scholars will speak at an internal symposium next week on subjects ranging from Disney utopias and cell biology to curbing mass atrocities in the Central African Republic.

The symposium takes place from 7.30-9.30pm on 8th February in the Gates Scholars Common Room.

The speakers are:

Eddie Cano Gámez [2016], who is doing an MPhil in Biological Science. He will give a talk entitled We are what we read: studying the immune system through its favourite books. He says the genome - the entire genetic material of an organism which is the same in all the cells that form it - can be imagined as a library, an old collection of books from which cells, which are very diverse, pick their favourite titles. He says that under this analogy, cells are what they read so analysing their gene expression, or the books they prefer under the library analogy, can provide important information on how they function and when they are dysfunctional. This can in turn help to cure disease.

Kevin Chew [2016], who is doing a PhD in Film and Screen Studies, will give an analysis of the vision of utopia portrayed in Disney's film Zootopia. The film is described by critic Peter Debruge as being about 'a place where mammals of all shapes, sizes and dietary preferences not only live in harmony, but also are encouraged to be whatever they want’.  In his talk, On War and Cuteness: The Utopian Politics of Disney’s Zootopia, Kevin will touch on the conflict between film industry depictions of utopia and arguments that the industry is a tool of social control. He will also talk about the ethical value of utopian impulses in Disney films against the current political backdrop.

Georgiana Epure [2016], who is doing an MPhil in International Relations and Politics, will address how successful the international Responsibility to Protect populations from mass atrocities has been in the Central African Republic. R2P is a global political commitment which was endorsed by all member states of the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Georgiana's talk, The Responsibility to Protect in the Central African Republic. How Successful? will cover what different levels of success might look like for R2P and how R2P operations were implemented on the ground in CAR. She will say that R2P in CAR has been a mixed story of failure and success. "Lacking the political will to prioritise the situation in CAR and respond to early warnings, the international community failed to prevent the escalation of the crisis. When it acted, the response of the international community was not proportional with its goal of halting the crisis and creating good governance to advance the prevention of mass atrocities," she says. However, she adds: "Despite operational, institutional and capacity challenges, R2P in CAR has significantly reduced the levels of violence." Nevertheless, she will argue, R2P should be about more than halting mass atrocities and should include effective strengthening of sovereignty, something that has not happened in CAR.

Arazi Pinhas [2015], who is doing a PhD in Astronomy, will also speak about his research into clouds in exoplanet atmospheres.


*Picture credit: Bangui, Central African Republic c/o Wikimedia commons