Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Alumni Note: Diversity Project has been the work of Scott Miller (HHS '96) and Wynne Washburn for seven years. "We think of our work as an exploration of the cultural potential of diversity" they write. "When political leaders recognize a multiplicity of ideas and ways of life among their citizens as fertile ground for innovation and creation, and not as evidence of insubordination and the need to homogenize, a great culture can flourish." Last week Scott and Wynne visited HHS to discuss the show of 40 photographs from their research in Spain, India and Bosnia-Herzogovina which they had mounted in the HHS atrium. Many of these can be seen at "Our overall intention for this project is to inspire thinking about what it means to be tolerant--and what it could mean to cooperate--with people who are ideologically and superficially different. Our project began in 2001 with a moment of intrigue in Andalusia. In the coolness of an ancient mosque, we stood beneath a scalloped Moorish arch gazing up into a soaring gothic cathedral. This magnificent hybrid structure, the Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba, Spain, inspired an exploration of pluralism and tolerance leading us on a journey of scholarship and documentary study.

"From ancient Andalusia we dove into the present day to investigate a society whose history of tolerance has been up and down: Bosnia-Herzegovina. For three months we photographed and recorded interviews while staying with families of Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks--the three religious identities dividing the Slavic people of Bosnia. We learned that trust is a difficult thing to earn back, and that the chaos and fear generated by war may take generations to subside.
"We are now editing our work from India. We will be focusing our study on the south-western state of Kerela, which is famous for its high literacy rate (90%), low infant mortality, excellent healthcare and education, as well as a history of tolerance between Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. We are exploring the connection between the positive social indicators and the religious tolerance in Kerala.
"We want to translate our work into many languages and distribute it world-wide to areas in need of new perspectives on tolerance. The areas we have in mind are many: Northern Ireland, Los Angeles, Australia, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel--anywhere where the ethics of how to deal with 'the other' are being debated.
"We are self-funded artists and welcome your ideas and comments."