The World Rebalancing: A PopTech 2011 preview

What does “The World Rebalancing” look like today?  To us, it’s health care techniques borrowed from Iran and implemented in rural Mississippi; a look at how the international black market threatens state security; an American revisiting the India of his ancestors; the global effect of empowering women in traditionally patriarchal societies; a Ghanian-born, Brooklyn-based rapper returning to the land of his youth; and a singer-songwriter duo from Pakistan using music to bridge cultural divides.

These are but a few of the topics, personalities, and cultural touchstones that will be on stage and up for discussion at PopTech 2011.  Far from relying on the traditional sources to help us define what it means to be a global citizen in 2011, we have scoured the planet for the freshest voices and perspectives, amazed at every turn by the myriad ways in which this rebalancing world manifests itself.

Today, we’re excited to preview some of the names you’ll see on our stage this year:

  • Reuben Margolin creates large-scale kinetic sculptures that use pulleys and motors to create the complex movements and structures we see in nature.  He will present a new collaboration with Gideon Obarzanek at this year’s conference.
  • Gideon Obarzanek is an Australian choreographer whose modern dance company Chunky Move dazzles audiences with its use of interactive sound and light technologies to create genre-defying dance performances.  He will present a new collaboration with Reuben Margolin at this year’s conference.
  • Dr. Aaron Shirley is a physician who recently began adapting health care delivery techniques imported from Iran as part of his ongoing lifelong efforts to improve the quality of life for citizens of the rural Mississippi Delta.
  • Capt. Wayne Porter and Col. Mark Mykleby are the authors of the groundbreaking “Mr. Y” article entitled “A National Strategic Narrative” which proposes that the United States must refocus its foreign policy priorities and invest less in overt militarization and more in education, development aid, and sustainability infrastructure.
  • Thomas Thwaites, a designer whose work examines how technology interacts with beliefs to shape our society, built a toaster completely from scratch (even going so far as sourcing his own crude oil to create homemade plastic) in his acclaimed Toaster Project.
  • Jan Chipchase is the Executive Creative Director of Global Design at frog design and a global design anthropologist.
  • Unity Dow, a lawyer, human rights activist, and writer from Botswana, was the first female high court judge in Botswana’s history and is the author with Max Essex of Saturday is for Funerals, an examination of the AIDS epidemic in Botswana.
  • Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and is the author of A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.
  • Nils Gilman is an intellectual historian from the University of California, Berkeley and the author of Deviant Globalization, an anthology that explores how globalized black market economies are challenging traditional state authority.
  • Anand Giridharadas is an American-born writer whose first book, India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking, is a work of narrative nonfiction about his return to the India that his parents left.
  • Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter is one of the world’s most respected thought leaders in international relations. A former director of policy planning for the State Department, she has long argued for a values-based approach to foreign policy.
  • Tony Orrico, sometimes described as the “Human Spirograph,” is a visual artist, performer, and choreographer whose Penwald Drawings are a series of bilateral drawings in which Tony explores the use of his body as a tool of measurement to inscribe geometries through movement and course.
  • The David Wax Museum fuses traditional Mexican folk with American roots and indie rock to create an utterly unique Mexo-Americana aesthetic.  Combining Latin rhythms, call-and-response hollering, and donkey jawbone rattling, they have electrified audiences across the country and are “kicking up a cloud of excitement with their high-energy border-crossing sensibility” (The New Yorker).
  • Blitz the Ambassador is a Ghanian-born, New York-based MC, composer, and producer who combines a lightning-fast mind, the political boldness of Chuck D, and the sixth groove sense of Fela Kuti to unleash psychedelic Afrobeat colors and triple-time rhymes on his album Native Sun (Embassy MVMT).
  • Zeb and Haniya are a singer-songwriter duo from Lahore, Pakistan whose debut album, Chup (Hush) broke to glowing reviews in Pakistan. Their music speaks to a shared base of human experience while evoking the rich and textured soundscapes of West Asia.

Stay tuned for more announcements as the conference draws closer. We hope you’ll join us October 19-22!

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