NYU Abu Dhabi Institute announces series of public events in April

The NYU Abu Dhabi Institute is pleased to announce a rich program of talks, panel discussions, and film screenings free of charge and open to the public throughout the month of April.


Beginning April 1, the program will cover a wide range of topics pertaining to arts, sociology, science, and politics. Highlights include a panel discussion titled Gender and Globalization in Contemporary Visual Art, which will bring together art curators and historians to discuss the work of award-winning visual artist Shahzia Sikander.


A Career in Public Service from President Carter to President Obama will highlight the recently published book President Carter: The White House Years by Former US Ambassador to the European Union Stuart E. Eizenstat; and Khooni Vaisakhi: A Poem from the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 1919 will feature keynote speaker UAE Minister of Tolerance His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.


Established in 2008 as a center of advanced research, scholarly, and creative activity in Abu Dhabi, The Institute assembles academics, professionals, and leaders from around the world to its academic conferences and public program to discuss research areas and topics of local and global significance.

For more information about the public program and to register for events, please visit nyuad.nyu.edu/en/events


(1) Are We the Same or Different? Ethnicity and Personality in the Human Face


April 1, 2019

Location: NYU Abu Dhabi Institute

As a social species, humans are drawn naturally to differentiate people through different dimensions, including identity, sex, age, ethnicity, emotion, and personality. This talk aims to review the science on facial processing, paying attention to two particular issues: (1) Why do faces of ethnicity different from ourselves all appear to “look the same”? (2) Are personality judgments that we make about a face (e.g., Is the person trustworthy?) just part of our intuition, or do we perceive this information directly from the face itself?


William Hayward, Dean of Social Sciences, Professor of Psychology, University of Hong Kong


(2) Eating Animals

Film Screening

April 3, 2019

Location: NYU Abu Dhabi Institute

How much do people know about the food that’s on their plates? Based on the bestselling book by Jonathan Safran Foer and narrated by co-producer Natalie Portman, Eating Animals is an urgent, eye-opening look at the environmental, economic, and public health consequences of factory farming. Tracing the history of food production in the United States, the film charts how farming has gone from local and sustainable to a corporate machine that offers cheap eggs, meat, and dairy at a steep cost which exploits animals, uses hormones and antibiotics and pollutes our air, soil, and water. Highlighting farmers who have pushed backed against industrial agriculture with more humane practices, Eating Animals offers attainable, commonsense solutions to a growing crisis, while making the case that ethical farming is not only an animal rights issue, but one that affects every aspect of our lives.


Christopher Dillon Quinn


(3) Optical Tweezers: Shedding Light on Life’s Molecules, One at a Time


April 8, 2019

Location: NYU Abu Dhabi Institute

Recent advances have led to a new field of single molecule biophysics. Single-molecule techniques record characteristics that are otherwise obscured by traditional approaches, revealing the behavior of individual biomolecules. Prominent among these new techniques is ‘optical tweezers,’ which uses radiation pressure from a laser to manipulate tiny objects, noninvasively, under the microscope. Dr. Arthur Ashkin (Bell Labs) received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of optical tweezers, and for their biological applications. This talk highlights some of the uses for optical tweezers, illustrating the power of this technology to help scientists understand the key molecules of life.


Steven M. Block, The Stanford W. Ascherman, M.D., Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and of Biology, Stanford University


(4) Gender and Globalization in Contemporary Visual Art 

Panel Discussion

April 10, 2019

Location: NYU Abu Dhabi Institute

This program features the work of the renowned feminist visual artist Shahzia Sikander. As an artist that originates from the Pakistani diaspora, Sikander’s work engages multiple national and transnational frames simultaneously, drawing attention to the imbrication of race, class, gender, and religion. The artist’s talk is followed by a panel discussion featuring noted art curators and historians Salwa Mikdadi (NYU Abu Dhabi) and Atteqa Ali (Zayed University, College of Art and Animation) who will situate Sikander’s work in the context of contemporary visual art in the region.


Shahzia Sikander, Award-Winning Visual Artist

Salwa Mikdadi, Associate Professor Practice of Art History, NYUAD

Atteqa Ali, Associate Professor of Art History, Zayed University

Maya Allison, Galleries Executive Director and Chief Curator, NYUAD


Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Professor of English, Montclair State University; Visiting Professor, Department of Arts & Humanities, NYUAD

Gayatri Gopinath, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU


(5) A Career in Public Service from President Carter to President Obama


April 11, 2019

Location: NYU Abu Dhabi Institute

During a decade and a half of public service stretching four U.S. administrations, Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat will discuss his career in politics and law and his new book “President Carter: The White House Years” (Thomas Dunne Books, 2018).


Stuart E. Eizenstat, Former United States Ambassador to the European Union; Author of “President Carter: The White House Years” (Thomas Dunne Books, 2018)


(6) Building Oil Pasts and Futures: The Norwegian Petroleum Museum


April 15, 2019

Location: NYU Abu Dhabi Institute

Norway struck oil in 1969 with the discovery of the giant Ekofisk oil field in the North Sea, and throughout the past 50 years Norway has developed an advanced offshore oil and gas industry. The activities and income from the industry have had a big impact on Norwegian society. Since 1996 the state revenue has been transferred into the Government Pension Fund Global – to benefit future generations. The fund’s value today has amassed one trillion dollars.

The Norwegian Petroleum Museum was inaugurated by His Majesty King Harald in 1999. The museum tells the unique story of how Norway has met the challenge of the new offshore industry, based on solid maritime experience. Of particular note, Norway’s oil and gas has been developed within the framework of democratic institutions – with the strong political vision that the petroleum resources belong to the people. This talk delves into this topical scope in greater detail.


Finn E. Krogh, Museum Director, Norwegian Petroleum Museum


(7) Khooni Vaisakhi: A Poem from the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 1919

Panel Discussion

April 18, 2019

Location: NYU Abu Dhabi Institute

The great Punjabi writer Nanak Singh was present at Jallianwala Bagh on 13 April 1919 and twenty-two years old at the time. As the British troops opened fire on the unarmed gathering protesting against the Rowlatt Act, killing hundreds, Nanak Singh fainted and his unconscious body was piled up among the corpses. After going through the traumatic experience, he proceeded to write Khooni Vaisakhi, a long poem that narrates the political events in the run up to the massacre and its immediate aftermath. The poem was a scathing critique of the British Raj and was banned soon after its publication in May 1920.

As we approach the 100th  anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, this talk features the poems translated into English by Navdeep Suri, Ambassador of India to the UAE, in conversation with Justin Rowalatt, whose great-grandfather, Sir Sydney Arthur Taylor Rowlatt, drafted the Rowlatt Act.

Keynote Speaker

His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance in the UAE


His Excellency Navdeep Suri, Ambassador of India to the UAE

Justin Rowlatt, BBC South Asia Correspondent


Toral Gajarawala, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, NYU


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