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Archive for the ‘ethnicity’ Category

What Hangs on Trees: Legacy and memory in the southern landscape by Glenis Redmond

In ethnicity, history, human rights, literature, North America, poetry, politics on January 19, 2013 at 00:13

From: What Hangs on Trees: Legacy and memory in the southern landscape by Glenis Redmond, Orion Magazine, http://www.orionmagazine.org

It was at this port of entry that my ancestors embarked on a life of servitude. I began to quake with awareness. The Atlantic holds the story of my lineage, fragmented by the Middle Passage. Reckoning with the land and all that it holds means peering into the shadow side. The shadow side permeates everything I do and write. It is in something as simple as being referred to as a southerner.

Slaves and descendants of slaves had to be creative and resourceful in order to survive treacherous circumstances. These qualities are embedded in our legacy of dance and song, in spirituals and ring shouts. Such art forms were expressions of the soul, meant to empower the participants to transcend the daily grind of slavery, punishment, and unbearable labor. As a writer, I dance the limbo. I am negotiating that “tight space.”

Russell calls those who live in the mainstream world but who have been brought up in the African-American community “the placeless.” A foot in each world, they have the burden and the privilege of translating our heritage, language, and understanding to the dominant culture. Former poet laureate Rita Dove calls it the “burden of explanation.”

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Reposted with permission from: Orion Magazine

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Dr. Cornel West, Philosopher of the Blues by Jeff Sharlet

In books, culture, ethnicity, government, history, North America, philosophy, politics, religion on January 5, 2013 at 05:24

From: The Supreme Love and Revolutionary Funk of Dr. Cornel West, Philosopher of the Blues by Jeff Sharlet, Killing the Buddha, http://killingthebuddha.com

West has been called “perhaps the preeminent black intellectual of our generation” by Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr., himself a candidate for that mantle. It might be more accurate to say that West is the preeminent intellectual of our generation, no qualifiers. No other scholar is as widely read, no other philosopher courted by presidential candidates, no other Ivy League professor referenced not just by other academics but by popular filmmakers (The Matrix trilogy, in which West played a bit role, was inspired in part by his work) and musicians (West has collaborated with Prince, Talib Kweli, and jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard, among others).

West came to his sense of self by way of a peculiarly American convergence of influences. His is not an “only in America” story but an “especially in America” one, part Emersonian self-reliance, part Motown funk. He’s an intellectual mutt in the best sense, a “freestyle, California spirit,” as he puts it, “rooted in gutbucket blues and jazz dispositions.” Even his trademark black suit is layered with influences—beneath jazz and the blues, there’s 19th century Russian literature. “It’s in emulation of Masha,” he says, one of the heroines of his favorite play, Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, a drama of provincial manners set amidst the Russian gentry. West identifies with the lonely woman at the heart of the story. “She’s wearing black, says she’s in mourning.” Her father has just died, she’s trapped in a pointless marriage with a boring man. “But it’s even deeper than that. How do you make deep disappointment a constant companion and still persevere? There is this sense with Masha, when you see her in that black dress, of having a sad soul with a sweet disposition.”

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Reposted with permission from: Killing the Buddha

Austin At Large by John Davidson

In architecture, community, economics, ethnicity, government, North America, performing arts, politics, space on December 21, 2012 at 17:55

From: Austin At Large by John Davidson, n + 1, http://nplusonemag.com

Austin is the fastest-growing city in the United States. More than 150,000 people moved there in the last decade and the city now has almost 800,000 residents. The greater metro area added almost half a million people in the past ten years and now has a population of about 1.7 million. This rapid growth has made Austin one of the few cities in the country where the housing market is strong and stable. The total dollar amount of single-family homes sold in Austin in October was more than $543 million, and with the population expected to keep growing and spreading into other parts of the city, the future looks good for realtors and developers in Austin.

For everyone else, the future looks expensive. Central Texas is struggling with an overloaded infrastructure and crippling congestion, which will keep getting worse unless Austin and Travis County can figure out how to build light rail, buy more buses and establish more routes, carve out more bike and pedestrian paths, and build larger highways—all of which comes with a price tag in the tens of billions. That money would have to come from ever-increasing property taxes and fees paid by current residents, and of course those living in growing neighborhoods will be hit hardest.

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Reposted with permission from: n + 1

Longing for ‘normality’ by Cynthia Cockburn

In culture, ethnicity, Europe, gender, government, history, human rights, law, politics, religion, society, war on December 8, 2012 at 22:02

From:  Longing for ‘normality’: women’s experience of post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina by Cynthia Cockburn, OpenDemocracy, http://www.opendemocracy.net

Many of the women I spoke with used the word ‘normality’ to express what they pine for, strive for, dream of. They used the word to allude to another time and place where things were or would be very different from present reality they deemed profoundly abnormal. In one sense the normality referred to a ‘fairer’ and less class-riven society, and one in which women have equality with men. More often, though, they were using the notion of normality and abnormality to characterize relations between the three ‘constituent peoples’ of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were comparing modern BiH, flawed by extremes of religious and national identification and hatred with an ideal community in which ethno-national difference is, was or could be, de-emphasized, of minimal significance. Thus Edita Ostojic referred to ‘people who think normally’, i.e. people who ‘don’t want to be infected by this nationalist way of thinking.’

Many remembered pre-war Federal Yugoslavia in this light. I had met Amira Frljak when she was a gynaecologist in Medica during the war. Now she has her own clinic in Sarajevo. She said, ‘We were normal in Yugoslavia.’ It had not been normal Yugoslavs who had brought about the disaster that ruined the country. Rather, ‘it was crazy people who started the war.’ Vahida Mustafic was a kindergarten teacher in Medica during the conflict. She agreed with Amira. What happened in Bosnia-Herzegovina had been brought about by people from outside, many from the diaspora. These women remember Yugoslavia and its ‘normality’ with a great sense of loss. Vahida said, ‘We didn’t have a lot of material goods, but there was love, respect and freedom. I felt safer. It was safe to walk around on the street. And we could travel a lot’. They recall how shocked and disbelieving they had been when the country they had taken for granted collapsed into division and war.

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Reposted according to CC copyright notice from: OpenDemocracy

Snow Job by Anastasia Taylor-Lind

In Asia, ethnicity, Europe, media, photography, sexuality, society on November 25, 2012 at 20:39

From: Snow Job by Anastasia Taylor-Lind, The Caravan, http://www.caravanmagazine.in

THE BLEMISHLESS SUPERMODELS in the glad-rag mags and the haute runways of the London, Paris, New York and Milan fashion weeks are among the most photographed women in the world. Increasingly, these girls originate in Siberia, that legendarily vast Cold War wasteland associated with the terrifying Stalinist Gulag, which today houses a hyper model-casting industry and training schools for kindergarteners to midteens.

Stalin’s paranoid regime, and those that came after, exiled into northeast Russia entire ethnic groups, the spetsposelentsy (special settlers): Volga Germans (the Russlanddeutsche, invited in the 18th century to immigrate by Catherine the Great), Chechens from the Caucasus, Baltic Latvians, Mongol tribes, Inuit, Tatars, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz….

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Reposted with permission from: The Caravan

The Ideology of Color by Fernando Castro

In aesthetics, art, culture, ethnicity, Europe, history of art, politics, religion, sociology, South America, visual arts on October 15, 2012 at 19:07

From: The Ideology of Color by Fernando Castro, Literal Magazine, http://www.literalmagazine.com

Many of the works of The Ideology of Color arose from Texas ́ history class when one of my Mexican students of Native-American descendance asked me when white people first arrived. Any artist who ever painted people knows that white is perhaps the only color not to be used for human skin –unless you are painting dead people. Even the ghostly skin of Giovanna Cenami in Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Marriage (1414), is conspicuously different from the truly white headpiece she is wear- ing. After this two-second thought I blurted out, “There are no white people.”

Noticing the skeptical expression on my student’s face I took out a piece of white paper and added, “There is nobody this color.” In order to show my young students how white people would look like if they existed, I decided to make photographs of truly white people. I went through my negatives to see which ones I could use for what would become the White People series. Back in 1988 I had taken pictures of people and their dogs in a canine competition in Peru. These images were fitting because some of the ideas behind the motivation of many people to call themselves “white” are connected to the project of selectively breeding dogs to obtain Dobermans, French Poodles, etc. I painted the skin in the black-and- white negatives with an opaque medium so that they printed totally white.

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Reposted with permission from: Literal Magazine

Armenia: Minority Group Opposes New Marriage Rules by Gayane Mkrtchyan – Caucasus

In anthropology, Asia, community, culture, ethnicity, gender, government on October 4, 2012 at 03:56

From: Armenia: Minority Group Opposes New Marriage Rules by Gayane Mkrtchyan – Caucasus, Institute for War & Peace Reporting, http://iwpr.net

A proposed change to the law in Armenia setting 18 as the minimum age at which women and men can marry has run into opposition from the Yezidi minority.

Until now, women have been able to get married at 17, a year earlier than men. The officials behind the proposed change say they want to ensure gender equality, and also to keep young women in full-time education, in light of a change to the rules which requires everyone to complete 12 years of schooling instead of ten.

“At 17, girls are still studying, so it’s no longer appropriate for them to get married,” Justice Minister Hrayr Tovmasyan said. “There’s also been a ruling by the health minister that early pregnancy can cause health problems later on.”

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Reposted with permission from: IWPR

Traditional Values and Human Rights in Africa by Leo Igwe

In Africa, culture, ethnicity, gender, politics, religion, society on October 1, 2012 at 01:39

From: Traditional Values and Human Rights in Africa by Leo Igwe, IEET, http://ieet.org

On March 24 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution titled, Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind in conformity with international human rights laws.’

This resolution, which was proposed by Russia and supported by the OIC states and the Arab League, has been generating heated debates and criticisms mainly because of its ‘grave’ implications for universal human rights.

For instance, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights described the adoption of the resolution as ‘highly dangerous’.  ‘Such a concept’, its states, ‘has been used in the Arab region to justify treating women as second class citizens, female genital mutilation, honor crimes, child marriage and other practices that clearly contradict with(sic) international human rights standards. Does this resolution now mean that such practices are acceptable under international law? I really think it does. Some states have also voiced concerns over the resolution citing that it could lead to cultural relativism. They said it could be used to justify human rights abuses particularly the rights of minorities.

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Reposted with permission from: IEET

The Objectification of Women. A Conversation with Martha Nussbaum by Patricia Gras & Rose Mary Salum

In civilisation, ethnicity, gender, interview, philosophy, psychology on July 1, 2012 at 02:24

 

From: The Objectification of Women. A Conversation with Martha Nussbaum by Patricia Gras & Rose Mary Salum, LITERAL, http://www.literalmagazine.com

… I have studied the emotion of disgust a lot. Research on disgust shows that all of us are uncomfortable with the signs that mirror animals, that show we are mortal. And so the bodily fluids, the corpse, all of those things that psychologists call “animal reminders,” are heavily avoided. They are viewed as contaminating and they are stigmatized. In a second step, people who somehow come to represent those stigmatized things, fluids, decay and so on, are subordinated as a result. Now, in many cultures it seems pretty arbitrary how those groups get constructed in that role, maybe it is because of fear or anxiety, sometimes it is Jews, sometimes it is lower castes in Indian society, sometimes Muslims in India today, but women, in more or less all cultures, come in for that kind of projected disgust, as I put it. That is to say they are associated with the things about the body that are feared and viewed as contaminating because they give birth but also because they are seen as sights of fluid, the menstrual period, they are also seen as the receptacles of male semen, which is something that males feel anxious about. For all these reasons, the researchers who work on disgust think that misogyny is connected ultimately with people’s own anxiety about their own bodies.

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America’s Problem of Assimilation by Bruce Thornton

In civilisation, culture, ethnicity, history, immigration, politics on June 8, 2012 at 21:08

 

America’s Problem of Assimilation by Bruce Thornto, A Hoover Institution Journal, http://www.hoover.org

The melting pot metaphor arose in the eighteenth century, sometimes appearing as the “smelting pot” or “crucible,” and it described the fusion of various religious sects, nationalities, and ethnic groups into one distinct people: Ex pluribus unum. In 1782, French immigrant J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur wrote that in America, “individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world.”

A century later, Ralph Waldo Emerson used the “melting pot” image to describe “the fusing process” that “transforms the English, the German, the Irish emigrant into an American . . . The individuality of the immigrant, almost even his traits of race and religion, fuse down in the democratic alembic like chips of brass thrown into the melting pot.” The phrase gained wider currency in 1908, during the great wave of Slavic, Jewish, and Italian immigration, when Israel Zangwill’s play The Melting Pot was produced. In it, a character enthuses, “America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming!”

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