Vinay Lal is a cultural critic, writer, blogger, and Professor of History at UCLA. He earned his BA and MA from Johns Hopkins in literature, philosophy, and history in 1982, and a PhD with Distinction from the University of Chicago in 1992 in South Asian studies. He is the author or editor of 21 books including nine volumes from Oxford University Press. He blogs for ABP, India’s largest media network, and at vinaylal.wordpress.com, and has an academic YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/dillichalo. He is a Fellow for 2024 at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study, South Africa.
Welcome to The Athenaeum
Unique in American higher education, the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum (the “Ath”) is a signature program of Claremont McKenna College. Four nights a week during the school year, the Ath brings scholars, public figures, thought leaders, artists, and innovators to engage with the CMC and Claremont College community. In addition, the Ath also hosts lunch speakers, roundtables, and smaller presentations in its two auxiliary dining rooms.
For decades, the Ath has hosted a spectrum of luminaries with expertise and insight on a wide range of topics, both historical and contemporary. In the Ath’s intimate yet stimulating setting, students, faculty, staff, and other community members gather to hear the speaker, pose questions, and to build community and exchange ideas over a shared meal.
At the core of the Ath is a longstanding commitment to student growth and learning. Central to the Ath are its student fellows, selected annually to host, introduce, and moderate discussion with the featured speaker. Priority is given to students in attendance during the question-and-answer session following every presentation. Moreover, speakers often take extra time to visit a class, meet with student interest groups, or give an interview to the student press and podcast team.
Professor Shenila Khoja-Moolji is Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani Associate Professor of Muslim Societies at Georgetown University. She is an interdisciplinary scholar with research interests in the fields of Muslim studies, feminist theory, South Asia, and migration. Professor Khoja-Moolji is the author of award-winning books which include Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia (2018) and Sovereign Attachments: Masculinity, Muslimness, and Affective Politics in Pakistan (2021). Her latest book, Rebuilding Community: Displaced Women and the Making of a Shia Ismaili Muslim Sociality, was published by Oxford University Press.
Professor Khoja-Moolji's Athenaeum lecture is sponsored by the Kutten Lectureship in Religious Studies at CMC.
Simon A. Cole is a Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. He specializes in the historical and sociological study of the interaction between science, technology, law, and criminal justice. He received his Ph.D. in Science & Technology Studies from Cornell University, and he is the author of Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification (Harvard University Press, 2001). He is a Co-Investigator in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Center for Excellence, the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE), and he is Director of the National Registry of Exonerations. He is Vice Chair of the Friction Ridge Consensus Body of the American Academy of Forensic Science Standards Board, and he is a member of the Friction Ridge Subcommittee of the NIST Forensics Organization of Science Area Committees (OSAC).
Yi Shun Lai '96 is the author, most recently, of the young adult historical novel A Suffragist's Guide to the Antarctic (Simon & Schuster, 2024). Her memoir, Pin Ups, was published in 2020, and her debut novel, Not a Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu, was published in 2016. She has delivered inclusivity workshops to everyone from AAA video-game studios to international nonprofits, and also teaches in an MFA program for Creative Nonfiction. She graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 1996 and recently returned to campus as CMC's Assistant Director of Fellowships Advising. When she's not on campus or writing, she can be found teaching her intractable dog useless tricks.
Ms. Lai's talk is part of the Athenaeum's 40th Anniversary Series, which celebrates the achievements of CMC alumni from across the years and invites them to return home to Claremont.