MacKay Symposium

Happiness in Troubled Times

Friday, October 29, 2021 | 1PM – 5:30PM Atlantic Time

A public virtual symposium hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Dalhousie University

Organized by Dr. Martha Radice, Department of Sociology & Social Anthropology
Free Virtual Event, Registration Required. CART Captioning Provided.

How can we think about happiness at a historical juncture overshadowed by troubles like the climate crisis, rising populism and xenophobia, increasing social inequality, and the COVID-19 pandemic? Four internationally renowned speakers from the arts and social sciences put happiness into social and cultural context. 

Watch the videos of the Symposium here.  

Dr. Carol Graham

Unequal Hopes and Lives in the U.S.A.: Insights for Research and for Policy from the New Science of Well-Being. “I use well-being data to highlight inequality in hope and aspirations and the implications for premature mortality in the U.S., where the high costs of being poor are more evident in stress, insecurity, and hopelessness than in material deprivation. Inadequate access to health insurance and stable…”


Dr. Helen A. Regis

Troubling Joy: Learning from Activists for Racial Justice in the Festival Archive. “The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is a rich site for exploring happiness in a racially polarized urban context. In the 1970s, white festival founders saw virtue in centering local, authentic Black music and cultural traditions and giving respect to Black musicians whose art had been undervalued. In oral histories, these lovers of…”


Dr. Joel Faflak

Got Happy? “In 1800, at a time when the West seemed on its way to becoming a happier place, chemist Humphry Davy wrote that “man is obliged to be benevolent.” From ancient notions of virtue, to Christian training in a felicitous afterlife, we arrive at the Enlightenment idea of a natural right to happiness. As Roy Porter argues, the Enlightenment “translated the ultimate question, ‘How can I be saved’ into the …”


Dr. Francisco Cruces Villalobos

Little Joys and Agonies of the Intimate Space: “Both happiness and intimacy are plural, fuzzy, and slippery concepts: as important in our lives as they are difficult to define. I will reflect on how they relate. Departing from a visual and collaborative ethnography on intimacy-building in three Latin cities (Madrid, Mexico City and Montevideo), I interrogate four of my informants’ micro-stories…”


The annual MacKay Lecture Series is funded by the generous endowment of Mrs. Gladys MacKay in appreciation of the education her husband, Reverend Malcolm Ross MacKay (B.A., 1927), received in the liberal arts at Dalhousie University.

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