Author: Robert Creenan
The University at Buffalo Humanities Institute has announced the first annual Buffalo Humanities Festival, to be held September 26-27 at Buffalo State College, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield Penney Art Center.
The festival theme is “Migration Nation: Moving Stories.” It will include food, music, performances and a parade of international puppets; short films and conversations-under-the-tent with those who have found refuge here; a Saturday symposium featuring speakers from UB, Buffalo State, Niagara University and Canisius College; and an opportunity to meet our neighbors from Burma, Somalia, Bhutan, Iraq, Sudan, Cuba, Afghanistan and a number of other countries, who are helping to revitalize Buffalo.
Drawing on the area’s rich academic tradition and its historic practice of welcoming immigrants from across the globe, the festival will address what UB Humanities Institute Director Erik Seeman says is a deceptively simple question, “How did we get here?”
“At a time when most commentary about migration and immigration is marred by ideologically rigid formulations,” he says, “the festival aims to raise the level of civic discourse in Western New York by exploring our origins through history, literature and the arts. And it aims to do so in an atmosphere that is fun, lively and youthful.”
Special guests will include multiple award-winning Russian-born writer Gary Shteyngart, author of “Little Failure: A Memoir,” “Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel” and “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook.” Another will be La Eh Soe, a photojournalist of the Saffron Revolution and a political refugee of Burma’s Karen minority, whose family is one of thousands separated by the police state. He is the subject of “Click,” one of the short films to will be screened at the festival.