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March 2017 
Info Sessions March 7 and March 9

Spring classes start March 27. Meet instructors and learn more about our programs at one of our info sessions next week. 

Tuesday, March 7:  Berkeley 
10:00 - noon at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St
Video of the faculty presentations will be available on March 10

Thursday, March 9:  Lafayette 
1:30 - 3:00
Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd
Includes a free talk by Stanford's Dayna Barnes: "The US as a Pacific Power in the Age of Trump"

We hope you can join us! You can also browse course listings and sign up online at olli.berkelley.edu/courses.

Faculty Profile: Admir Skodo

Jennifer Monahan, OLLI Staff

Admir Skodo
What are some of the main differences in attitudes towards immigration in the US, which defines itself as a nation of immigrants, and Sweden, which has been culturally homogenous for most of its history?
I think it's hard to speak of attitudes in those terms. Despite the US's self-image as a "nation of immigrants," the first real federal immigration laws from the late 19th century were restrictive, culminating in the quota act of 1924. I also think that the image of a culturally homogeneous Sweden doesn't reflect historical reality. In the early modern era, for example, the cultural and political gap between peasants and aristocrats was unbridgeable, which led to number of peasant rebellions. In the modern era, people from the working class were considered by economic and political elites as incapable of political participation because they lacked respectability, reason, and civility. That's why we need history, because complex facts like these don't appear in attitude surveys.
With that caveat about the limits of attitude surveys, a recent article of mine looks at immigration practices and perceptions in Sweden: " Swedish Immigration Is Not out of Control -- It's Actually Getting More Restrictive." 

Your research looks at the "immigrant question" during the Cold War and the War on Terror. In both those periods, "the enemy" was an ideology and an immigrant /asylum seeker might subscribe to that ideology or might be fleeing from it -- but what's different in the current era?
One major change is that refugees aren't seen as politically useful in the US as they were during the Cold War. However, that only applied to refugees fleeing communist regimes. Refugees fleeing US-backed brutal dictatorships were far from welcome in the US, Chileans and Salvadorans for example. What has also changed since then, which to me is very bizarre, is on the one hand a dramatically increased number of refugees in the world fleeing extremely dangerous countries and, on the other, a tendency in Western countries to mistrust a lot of these refugees' claim to refugeehood. Since the 1980s there has been a resurgence of far-right populism and a series of economic crises in western capitalist countries. Governing political elites, whether liberal or conservative, have tended to subtly and not so subtly use refugees as scapegoats for these crises while also trying to win back popular support lost to anti-immigrant parties. 

What do you wish all Americans knew about the history of immigration in the US?
I'd like every American to know that immigration is a highly complex and diverse social phenomenon. It's not reducible to any one explanation, in particular one which sees immigration as a threat to Western civilization, or as a kind of crisis which portends the breakdown of the rule of law and democratic society. But understanding why the latter kind of explanations have become widespread is extremely important right now, and I think the way to do that is to look at how immigration has been politicized, by who, when, and why. 

Is there anything else you want to add about your teaching experience?
I've had the privilege of teaching a wide range of students, including young students at Berkeley City College and students of all ages at San Quentin Prison University Project. It's a privilege to teach not only because I get to help others grow in their understanding of themselves and the world, but also because I learn as much from my students as they learn from me.

Field Trip: Takara Sake

Takara Sake tour 
On Friday, February 10 a group of OLLI members toured the Takara tasting room and sake museum in west Berkeley. This was the first excursion organized in 2017 by the Member Services committee. The next outing, planned for April 15, is a trip to the Oakland Coliseum to see the A's play the Houston Astros with a pre-game scouting report by instructor Mick Chantler

Faculty News

Tamim Ansary published an op-ed in Huffington Post entitled " The Answer to Trump."

"Near Normal Man," one of the films screened in Michael Fox's Bay Area Documentary Filmmakers class, was the topic of a recent article in the Washington Post.

Dan Kammen has a recent op-ed in Scientific American on "Why the Democrats and Republicans are Both Right on Climate." 

Philippa Kelly and artists from the UK's acclaimed Filter Theatre participate in a discussion of Filter Theatre's reimagining of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." At the Musical Offering Cafe, 2430 Bancroft Way, on Monday March 20 at 6:00 p.m. Moderated by Cal Performances associate director Rob Bailis. More info.

Kathryn Roszak's choreography will be performed at the 92-Y as part of Moving Forward: Women Ballet Choreographers East and West on April 28 in New York City. More info at dlkdance.com

Community Events

The UC Berkeley Library has published a guide to fake news and how to evaluate news sources. http://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/fake-news  

Lunch Bunch

Tender Greens Berkeley
2017 University Avenue, near Shattuck
This is a new place, convenient to OLLI, part of a chain, offering an array of large salads, plates, and sandwiches. It works like an assembly line: you choose your ingredients, the type of dish you want, and move down the line where you choose your drinks and pay at the end. The place is clean and the servers super-friendly. The line can get backed up at peak times, and the wait can be long. The food is decent, somewhat under-seasoned, and pricey for what you get. There's beer and wine also. What redeems this place for me is the beautiful large patio out back, which will be perfect when the weather warms up. Many people call ahead for takeout, which avoids the waits.