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A Conference in Beijing

by Christopher Helali **GSC Travel Grant Recipient**



I would like to thank the Graduate Student Council for awarding me the Conference Travel Grant which gave me the opportunity to attend the 24th World Congress of Philosophy in Beijing, China. This conference, which occurs once every five years, was hosted by Peking University and had approximately 8,000 registered participants. I was able to present my research to distinguished scholars and students from around the world. In my paper entitled, “The Ancient of Days: Semiotic Multivalence and Oikonomia in Byzantine Iconography,” I spoke about my ongoing research on icons, some of which has been conducted at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, MA. The panel I was presenting in was on Byzantine Philosophy with most of the participants being Chinese scholars of Byzantine philosophy and theology. Their questions were phenomenal and delved into a wide field of philosophical inquiry, bringing up theories and insights from early Christian theologians all the way to Derrida and contemporary anthropologists of modern Greece. During the conference, I had the opportunity to hear Judith Butler give the first ever Simone de Beauvoir endowed lecture at the congress on the topic of gender, language and translation, as well as to listen to Peter Singer from Princeton University speak about animal ethics and rights. For me, the highlight of the conference was seeing my former philosophy professor, close friend and comrade Rodney Peffer along with my comrade and friend Thalia Fung from the University of Havana who both presented on roundtables together on topics ranging from contemporary developments in Socialism, feminism, and the rise of the alt-right. This congress, attended historically by philosophers like Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell, is an opportunity to build internationalism and solidarity amongst people's not only from the core of the world-system, but from the Global South, whose voices are rarely heard. It was a great honor and privilege to have attended this conference and I am thankful for the Graduate Student Council for helping to make this a reality.

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