My “humanities moment” occurred during my undergraduate studies at what was/is essentially a trade school in Pakistan (with no GenEd courses and only one course on Art or Art History offered among the subjects listed on your website. Specifically, during field trips to the Lahore Fort, where we saw 19th century frescoes brightly decorating the interior walls during our first visit and a month later they were gone (plastered over)! I had drawn those frescoes in my sketchbook, taken photographs and was planning to integrate these in my Architecture Thesis project for Punjab House in Islamabad. I can still feel the freezing of my body, the numbing of my mind, and the visual shock to see the plastered surface that hid my frescoes. Even as a 4th year undergraduate student, I pulled myself together to write a letter of inquiry to the Pakistani Minister of Antiquities. Long story short, my quest to uncover histories and safeguard monuments of the dispossessed began, WITHOUT being exposed to general education requirements or humanities curricula.

Since then, having spent more than 3 decades in American Higher Education machine, I wonder why have the humanities come under attack since the 1990s? Yes, neo-liberals may be blamed for everything these days, but there is a major disconnect between humanities scholarship and the public imagination/perception of the value of humanities (precisely why you are seeking “humanities moments”, right?). These “moments” are not going to “mind the gap” between public comprehension of the value of The Humanities to humanity. We as humans must remove (dismantle) the colonial industrial machine of higher education, which has perfected the European division of Arts/Humanities and the Sciences, through decolonizing curricula. And please do not get me wrong, I am not calling for “multi” or “trans” disciplinary approaches, rather for taking an ANTI-DISCIPLINARY comprehension of ECOLOGY, SPACE + TIME.

Sometimes I wonder why I sought higher education in the “land of the free” when the toil I pursued back home placed me closest to the humanity of my ancestors!

– Samia Rab Kirchner (Associate Professor of Architecture at Morgan State University)