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In What Language Does Rain Fall Over Tormented Cities? – Raiot
"Text of The W. G. Sebald Lecture on Literary Translation by Arundhati Roy
5 June 2018, The British Library, London."

[more excerpts coming soon]

"Twenty years after the publication of The God of Small Things, I finished writing my second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but if a novel can have an enemy, then the enemy of this novel is the idea of “One nation, one religion, one language.” As I composed the cover page of my manuscript, in place of the author’s name, I was tempted to write: “Translated from the original(s) by Arundhati Roy.” The Ministry is a novel written in English but imagined in several languages. Translation as a primary form of creation was central to the writing of it (and here I don’t mean the translation of the inchoate and the prelingual into words). Regardless of which language (and in whose mother tongue) The Ministry was written in, this particular narrative about these particular people in this particular universe would had to be imagined in several languages. It is a story that emerges out of an ocean of languages, in which a teeming ecosystem of living creatures—official-language fish, unofficial-dialect mollusks, and flashing shoals of word-fish—swim around, some friendly with each other, some openly hostile, and some outright carnivorous. But they are all nourished by what the ocean provides. And all of them, like the people in The Ministry, have no choice but to coexist, to survive, and to try to understand each other. For them, translation is not a high-end literary art performed by sophisticated polyglots. Translation is daily life, it is street activity, and it’s increasingly a necessary part of ordinary folks’ survival kit. And so, in this novel of many languages, it is not only the author, but the characters themselves who swim around in an ocean of exquisite imperfection, who constantly translate for and to each other, who constantly speak across languages, and who constantly realize that people who speak the same language are not necessarily the ones who understand each other best.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has been—is being—translated into forty-eight languages. Each of those translators has to grapple with a language that is infused with many languages including, if I may coin a word, many kinds of Englishes (sociolects is perhaps the correct word, but I’ll stay with Englishes because it is deliciously worse) and translate it into another language that is infused with many languages. I use the word infused advisedly, because I am not speaking merely of a text that contains a smattering of quotations or words in other languages as a gimmick or a trope, or one that plays the Peter Sellers game of mocking Indian English, but of an attempt to actually create a companionship of languages.

Of the forty-eight translations, two are Urdu and Hindi. As we will soon see, the very fact of having to name Hindi and Urdu as separate languages, and publish them as separate books with separate scripts, contains a history that is folded into the story of The Ministry. Given the setting of the novel, the Hindi and Urdu translations are, in part, a sort of homecoming. I soon learned that this did nothing to ease the task of the translators. To give you an example: The human body and its organs play an important part in The Ministry. We found that Urdu, that most exquisite of languages, which has more words for love than perhaps any other language in the world, has no word for vagina. There are words like the Arabic furj, which is considered to be archaic and more or less obsolete, and there are euphemisms that range in meaning from “hidden part,” “breathing hole,” “vent,” and “path to the uterus.” The most commonly used one is aurat ki sharamgah. A woman’s place of shame. As you can see, we had trouble on our hands. Before we rush to judgment, we must remember that pudenda in Latin means “that whereof one should feel shame.” In Danish, I was told by my translator, the phrase is “lips of shame.” So, Adam and Eve are alive and well, their fig leaves firmly in place.

Although I am tempted to say more about witnessing the pleasures and difficulties of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness being translated into other languages, more than the “post-writing” translations, it is the “pre-writing” translation that I want to talk about today. None of it came from an elaborate, pre-existing plan. I worked purely by instinct. It is only while preparing for this lecture that I began to really see how much it mattered to me to persuade languages to shift around, to make room for each other. Before we dive into the Ocean of Imperfection and get caught up in the eddies and whirlpools of our historic blood feuds and language wars, in order to give you a rough idea of the terrain, I will quickly chart the route by which I arrived at my particular patch of the shoreline."



"So, how shall we answer Pablo Neruda’s question that is the title of this lecture?

In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?7

I’d say, without hesitation, in the Language of Translation."
arundhatiroy  language  languages  translation  literature  2018  india  colonialism  nationalism  authenticity  elitism  caste  nativism  identity  culture  society  inbetween  betweenness  multilingual  polyglot  everyday  communication  english  hindi  nationstates  imperialism  urdu  persian  tamil  sinhala  bangladesh  pakistan  srilanka  canon 
july 2018 by robertogreco
1947 Partition Archive
"An archive that helps you record & share oral histories of the world's largest mass refugee crisis - 1947 India/Pakistan Partition."

"We are concerned global citizens committed to preserving this chapter of our collective history. We come from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, nationalities, and professions. It is our view that a strong foundation in history will pave the way for a more enlightened future for the subcontinent and hence the world. At the moment our team consists of 100% volunteer based staff, interns, advisers and experts who are passionate about preserving the people's history of Partition."

[See also: https://twitter.com/1947Partition ]
refugees  pakistan  india  1947  oralhistory  via:navalang  witness  migration 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Identity 2016: 'Global citizenship' rising, poll suggests - BBC News
"People are increasingly identifying themselves as global rather than national citizens, according to a BBC World Service poll.

The trend is particularly marked in emerging economies, where people see themselves as outward looking and internationally minded.

However, in Germany fewer people say they feel like global citizens now, compared with 2001.

Pollsters GlobeScan questioned more than 20,000 people in 18 countries.

More than half of those asked (56%) in emerging economies saw themselves first and foremost as global citizens rather than national citizens.

In Nigeria (73%), China (71%), Peru (70%) and India (67%) the data is particularly marked.
By contrast, the trend in the industrialised nations seems to be heading in the opposite direction.

In these richer nations, the concept of global citizenship appears to have taken a serious hit after the financial crash of 2008. In Germany, for example, only 30% of respondents see themselves as global citizens."

[See also: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/people-increasingly-identify-as-globalnot-nationalcitizens ]
identity  cosmopolitanism  nigeria  china  perú  india  spain  españa  kenya  uk  greece  brazil  brasil  canada  pakistan  ghana  indonesia  us  mexico  chile  germany  russia  ethnicty  citizenships  globalization 
may 2016 by robertogreco
'Mobile reading revolution' takes off in developing world | Books | The Guardian
"Unesco study reports huge growth in adults and children reading books on phones in Africa and the Indian subcontinent"



"Unesco is pointing to a "mobile reading revolution" in developing countries after a year-long study found that adults and children are increasingly reading multiple books and stories on their phones.

Nearly 5,000 people in seven countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe – took part in the research, the largest study of its kind to date, which found that 62% of respondents are reading more, now they can read on their mobile phones. One in three said they read to children from their mobile phones, and 90% of respondents said they would be spending more time reading on their mobile phones in the next year.

The study, says Unesco in its report, found that "people read more when they read on mobile devices, that they enjoy reading more, and that people commonly read books and stories to children from mobile devices".

"The study shows that mobile reading represents a promising, if still underutilised, pathway to text," says the report, for which Unesco partnered with Worldreader – a global not-for-profit organisation that works to bring digital books to readers around the world – and Nokia. "It is not hyperbole to suggest that if every person on the planet understood that his or her mobile phone could be transformed – easily and cheaply – into a library brimming with books, access to text would cease to be such a daunting hurdle to literacy."

The report's author Mark West said that the key conclusion from the study was that "mobile devices can help people develop, sustain and enhance their literacy skills".

"This is important because literacy opens the door to life-changing opportunities and benefits," said West.

Reasons given by respondents for reading on mobiles were convenience, affordability and lack of access to books. In Zimbabwe, for example, Unesco said the cost of reading a book on a mobile was between 5 and 6 cents, while a paperback bestseller would cost around $12 (£7); in Nigeria, a mobile book would cost around 1 or 2 cents, based on a mobile broadband rate of $13 per 500 MB of data, while a child's book would cost between $1 and $5.

Unesco pointed to data from the UN, which shows that of the seven billion people on earth, more than six billion now have access to a working mobile phone. "Collectively, mobile devices are the most ubiquitous information and communication technology in history," says Unesco. "More to the point, they are plentiful in places where books are scarce."

The most popular genre for readers was romance, the survey found, with the "romance" icon on Worldreader Mobile receiving 17% of all 730,787 clicks during the research period. Nineteen of the top 40 books read during the study period were romance novels, with Ravinder Singh's Can Love Happen Twice? the most popular book, followed by the Mills & Boon title The Price of Royal Duty in second, and the Bible in third.

Kwame Nkrumah's The Great African and Nnedi Okorafor's The Girl with the Magic Hands were also among the most read books between April and June 2013, with the most popular search terms over the period "sex", "Bible" and "biology". Chinua Achebe came in fourth, with "Things fall apart", ahead of "love" in fifth. Religion was the second most popular genre, said Unesco.

The survey also found that mobile reading is a "huge tool of empowerment for women", said Worldreader's Nadja Borovac. While 77% of mobile readers in developing countries are male, women spend an average of 207 minutes per month reading on their mobile phones, compared to men's 33 minutes. Unesco's report points out that in sub-Saharan Africa, a woman is 23% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man, with the gap widening in the case of data-enabled phones. "Men use mobiles for reading most, but the most active readers are women," said Borovac.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of respondents cited lack of content as the primary barrier to mobile reading, and a third said they were keen to read to their children from their mobiles if there were more child-friendly material available.

One respondent, Charles, a teacher in Zimbabwe, said he reads to his class from his mobile, and cited lack of printed content as his main reason for turning to his phone. "We live in a remote area where there are no libraries, and the books I have in my own small library are the ones which I have already read. So this is now giving me a chance to choose from a variety of fiction titles," he said.

Borovac said that mobile reading was "not a future phenomenon, but something which is happening today".

"It can really change people's lives," she said. "We work in countries where there is a serious shortage of books but where cell phones are plentiful ... We are hoping people will realise the potential of mobile reading [as a result of the report], and that governments and partners will get behind not only us but other organisations using mobile technology to help provide learning and books, and help improve literacy skills.""
mobile  reading  2014  africa  asia  india  ehtiopia  ghana  kenya  nigeria  pakistan  zimbabwe  unesco  ebooks  publishing 
january 2016 by robertogreco
A Flag for No Nations | booktwo.org
"This is the moment at which our ideas of technology as a series of waymarks on the universal march of human progress falter and fall apart. A single technology – the vacuum-deposition of metal vapour onto a thin film substrate – makes its consecutive and multiple appearances at times of stress and trial: at the dawn of the space age, in orbit and on other planets, at the scene of athletic feats of endurance, in defence and offence in the mountains of the Hindu Kush, on the beaches of the European archipelago. These are moments of hope as well as failure; moments when, properly utilised, technological progress enables us to achieve something which was beyond our capabilities before. And yet: we are still pulling bodies from the water wrapped in material which was meant to send us into space."



"Technologies are stories we tell ourselves – often unconsciously – about who we are and what we are capable of. By analysing their traces we may divine the progress they are capable of assisting, but they are not in and of themselves future-producing, magical, or separate from human agency. They are a guide and a hope. The reality of these technologies and the place of their deployment shows us plainly that another world is not only possible, but coming into being, should we choose to recognise and participate in it. Technology alone will not achieve such change, merely reflect back our failure to capitalise upon it. Its proper use is not as a bandage for the present, but as a banner for the future."
jamesbridle  techology  humanism  humanity  nasa  space  skylab  refugees  skylab2  1973  jackkinzler  josephkerwin  nationalmetallizing  jerryross  1988  hubbletelescope  spaceblankets  heatsheets  afghanistan  rubenpeter  2011  2013  2005  pakistan  lesbos  greece  lampedusa  2014  2015  2016  mediterranean  migration  chios  hope  flags  kimstanleyrobinson  technology 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Refugee camps are the "cities of tomorrow", says aid expert
"Governments should stop thinking about refugee camps as temporary places, says Kilian Kleinschmidt, one of the world's leading authorities on humanitarian aid (+ interview).

"These are the cities of tomorrow," said Kleinschmidt of Europe's rapidly expanding refugee camps. "The average stay today in a camp is 17 years. That's a generation."

"In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city," he told Dezeen.

Kleinschmidt said a lack of willingness to recognise that camps had become a permanent fixture around the world and a failure to provide proper infrastructure was leading to unnecessarily poor conditions and leaving residents vulnerable to "crooks".

"I think we have reached the dead end almost where the humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis," he said. "We're doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the second world war. Nothing has changed."

Kleinschmidt, 53, worked for 25 years for the United Nations and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in various camps and operations worldwide. He was most recently stationed in Zaatari in Jordan, the world's second largest refugee camp – before leaving to start his own aid consultancy, Switxboard.

He believes that migrants coming into Europe could help repopulate parts of Spain and Italy that have been abandoned as people gravitate increasingly towards major cities.

"Many places in Europe are totally deserted because the people have moved to other places," he said. "You could put in a new population, set up opportunities to develop and trade and work. You could see them as special development zones which are actually used as a trigger for an otherwise impoverished neglected area."

Refugees could also stimulate the economy in Germany, which has 600,000 job vacancies and requires tens of thousands of new apartments to house workers, he said.

"Germany is very interesting, because it is actually seeing this as the beginning of a big economic boost," he explained. "Building 300,000 affordable apartments a year: the building industry is dreaming of this!"

"It creates tons of jobs, even for those who are coming in now. Germany will come out of this crisis."

Kleinschmidt told Dezeen that aid organisations and governments needed to accept that new technologies like 3D printing could enable refugees and migrants to become more self-sufficient.

"With a Fab Lab people could produce anything they need – a house, a car, a bicycle, generating their own energy, whatever," he said.

His own attempts to set up a Zaatari Fab Lab – a workshop providing access to digital fabrication tools – have been met with opposition.

"That whole concept that you can connect a poor person with something that belongs to the 21st century is very alien to even most aid agencies," he said. "Intelligence services and so on from government think 'my god, these are just refugees, so why should they be able to do 3D-printing? Why should they be working on robotics?' The idea is that if you're poor, it's all only about survival."

"We have to get away from the concept that, because you have that status – migrant, refugee, martian, alien, whatever – you're not allowed to be like everybody else."

Read the edited transcript from our interview with Kilian Kleinschmidt:

Talia Radford: Why did you leave the UN?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: I left the the UN to be as disruptive as possible, as provocative as possible, because within the UN of course there is certain discipline. I mean I was always the rebel.

Talia Radford: What is there to rebel about?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: I think we have reached the dead end almost where the humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis. We're doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the second world war. Nothing has changed.

In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city.

These are the cities of tomorrow. The average stay today in a camp is 17 years. That's a generation. Let's look at these places as cities.

Talia Radford: Why aren't refugee camps flourishing into existing cities?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: It's down to the stupidity of the aid organisations, who prefer to waste money and work in a non-sustainable way rather than investing in making them sustainable.

Talia Radford: Why are people coming to Europe?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Everybody who is coming here right now is an economic migrant. They are not refugees. They were refugees in Jordan, but they are coming to Europe to study, to work, to have a perspective for their families. In the pure definition, it's a migration issue.

Right now everybody is going to Germany because in Germany they have 600,000 job vacancies. So of course there is an attraction, and there is space. Once the space is filled, nobody will go there anymore. They will go somewhere else.

Talia Radford: How do refugees – or economic migrants – know where to go? Via the media?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: No, it's all done through Whatsapp!

Talia Radford: What is the relationship between migration and technology?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Every Syrian refugee in the Zaatari camp has been watching Google self-driving cars moving around, so [they] don't believe the information only belongs to the rich people anymore.

We did studies in the Zaatari camp on communication. Everybody had a cellphone and 60 per cent had a smartphone. The first thing people were doing when they came across the border was calling back home to Syria and saying "hey we made it". So the big, big thing was to distribute Jordanian sim cards.

Once we had gotten over the riots over water and lots of other things that politicised the camp, the next big issue was internet connectivity.

Talia Radford: What are the infrastructure requirements of a mass influx of refugees?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: The first is the logistics of accommodation: that's the survival bit. Everyone is struggling with this now, in reception centres, camps – every country in the world is dealing with this. Eighty-five to 90 per cent of any people on the move will be melting into the population so the real issue is how you deal with a sudden higher demand for accommodation.

Germany says that they suddenly need 300 to 400,000 affordable housing units more per year. It's about dealing with the structural issues, dealing with the increased population, and absorbing them into existing infrastructure.

Talia Radford: How do you see the refugee situation in Europe now?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: The discussion in Germany is quite interesting, because they currently have 600,000 jobs to fill, but they are all in places where there is no housing. It's all in urban centres where they have forgotten to build apartments.

Half of east Germany is empty. Half of southern Italy is empty. Spain is empty. Many places in Europe are totally deserted.

You could redevelop some of these empty cities into free-trade zones where you would put in a new population and actually set up opportunities to develop and trade and work. You could see them as special development zones, which are actually used as a trigger for an otherwise impoverished, neglected area.

Germany is very interesting, because it is actually seeing this as the beginning of a big economic boost. Building 300,000 apartments a year: the building industry is dreaming of this! It creates tons of jobs, even for those who are coming in now. Germany will come out of this crisis.

In Pakistan, in Jordan, they say "Oh no! These people are all going back in five minutes so we're not building any apartments for them! Put them in tents, put them in short-lived solutions." What they are losing is actually a real opportunity for progress, for change. They are losing an opportunity for additional resources, capacities, know-how.

Talia Radford: What other technologies have you dealt with in relation to refugees and migration?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Energy is the big one. Things are finally moving because of the energy storage, which we suddenly have with the Tesla batteries for instance. Decentralised production of energy is the way forward. Thirty per cent of the world's population does not have regular access to energy. We could see a mega, mega revolution. With little investment we can set up a solar-power plant that not only provides power to the entire camp, but can also be sold to the surrounding settlements.

And water. In the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Danish groundwater pump supplier Grundfos partnered with a water company and you now have a smart-water terminal in the slum, where with smart cards you can buy clean drinking water.

You buy your water from a safe location for a fraction of what the crooks of the water business in Nairobi would sell the water for. So suddenly it becomes affordable, it becomes safe, and you can manage the quantities yourself.

A lot of change is facilitated by mobile phones. No poor person has a bank account any more in Kenya. Everybody has an M-Pesa account on their mobile phone. All transactions are done with their mobile phone. They don't need banks. They pay their staff now with your mobile phone. You charge their M-Pesa account.

Talia Radford: Are any of these services being set up at refugee camps?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: At Zaatari, the UNHCR never planned to provide electricity for the households. So people took it themselves from the power lines running through the camp. Electricity means safety, it means social life, it means business. Big business! People were charging €30 per connection and more.

With a $3 million investment in pre-paid meters, you could have ensured every household would get a certain subsidised quantity of energy. The UNHCR didn't think it would have $3 million to invest in the equipment, and so it is spending a million dollars a month of taxpayers' money on an unmanaged electricity bill.

Talia Radford: You helped set up a Fab Lab… [more]
immigration  cities  humanitarianaid  urban  urbanism  kiliankleinschmidt  unhcr  zaatari  jordan  refugees  refugeecamps  switxboard  europe  germany  economics  españa  spain  italy  italia  fabricationtaliaradford  interviews  migration  employment  jobs  work  fablabs  safety  infrastructure  kenya  nairobi  kibera  grundfos  energy  decentralization  solarpower  solar  batteries  technology  pakistan  housing  homes  politics  policy  syria 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Martin Roemers - Metropolis | LensCulture
"Dutch photographer Martin Roemers won the 1st prize in the LensCulture Street Photography Awards 2015 for his series, Metropolis, which documents street life in "mega-cities", defined as urban areas that are home to more than 10 million inhabitants. Here we present an extended slideshow of this project, as well as an interview with the photographer."

[via: http://globalvoices.tumblr.com/post/133898896954/archatlas-metropolis-martin-roemers ]
martinroemers  photography  streetphotography  2015  cities  urban  urbanism  global  kolkata  lagos  pakistan  bangladesh  cairo  nigeria  egypt  karachi  dhaka  mumbai  india  guangzhou  china  istanbul  turkey  jakarta  indonesia  buenosaires  argentina  manila  philippines  basil  brazil  riodejaneiro  mexicocity  mexicodf  mexico  nyc  sãopaulo  london  tokyo  japan  df 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Other Refugee Crisis - The New York Times
"Dadaab may be the world’s largest, but there are many other examples of these temporary-but-permanent cities. In Pakistan, along the border with Afghanistan, the camps founded in 1979 for Afghan refugees are now a string of 79 permanent slums run by the United Nations and home to nearly a million people. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur have been living in a collection of 12 camps across the border in Chad since 2004, with no end in sight. Similar numbers and situations exist in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Thailand, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere, where people are living, and reproducing, in limbo. The numbers are growing not only because of a world in turmoil, but also because whole generations are growing up in camps.

Gaza is perhaps the best example of this. The eight original refugee camps have morphed into towns that, together, are now one of the most densely populated areas in the world, home to 1.7 million people. Separate from the U.N.H.C.R. and with a different mandate, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was founded in 1949 for around 750,000 Arab Palestinians forced to flee their homes in 1948. But with no peace deal or return in sight, the agency looks after their five million descendants at a cost to the international community of over $1 billion a year. The agency was supposed to be an exception, but Gaza now looks like the rule. In Dadaab, the United Nations resettles around 2,000 refugees annually to Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States. But the birthrate in the camp of 1,000 a month will always outstrip that effort.

As refugee populations spiral higher, host nations usually move toward ever stricter encampment policies. Kenya is one of the strictest; last year the police rounded up thousands of refugees found outside designated camps and incarcerated them in the national stadium. Pakistan has threatened several times not to renew refugee status for Afghan refugees, and periodically attempts to force people back to Afghanistan. In Jordan, refugees have the right to move and work in theory, but authorities have reportedly issued no new work permits since 2014 and have begun coercive administrative measures to keep them in the camps.

To leave Dadaab, residents require a “movement pass,” just like under apartheid. Acquiring one usually involves a bribe. Thus, members of the third generation that is now beginning life in Dadaab may well spend their whole life in the camp. If they win one of the fiercely contested slots at secondary school, they could gain diplomas and degrees online or through the mail, but when there’s no viable path to a free future elsewhere, education in the closed camp is a cruel trick: There are no jobs except volunteer positions with the aid agencies that run the hospitals, schools and social programs, and these pay a fraction of what Kenyan staff members receive for doing the same job.

One might expect that in such circumstances, talent would curdle into bitterness, but the most striking thing about Dadaab is that the miserable conditions do not seem to have engendered radicalization. People are frustrated, but until now, the isolation of the camp and the United Nations mantras on rights and gender balance have fostered a subdued but tolerant society in which women are more emancipated than their sisters back in Somalia.

This is the ultimate contradiction of camp life: how to locate hope for the future in a desperate situation that appears permanent. People are trying. Life in Dadaab and all the other camps is a daily exercise in manufacturing hope. But for many, the fiction of temporariness no longer holds. And we are seeing the results of that realization washing up on Europe’s beaches.

Separate enclaves are beginning to appear in the rich world, too: slums such as “the Jungle” in Calais, where refugees and migrants wait to try to enter Britain illegally, or the detention centers that are now common in Europe, Australia and the United States where people must wait sometimes for years while their status is determined. In a world centered on nation-states, the full range of human rights is increasingly unavailable to those without citizenship. A whole gray population of second-class citizens has emerged, and their numbers are growing.

The proper and legal response should be to allow refugees and asylum seekers freedom of movement within their host nations and all the rights accorded to other citizens, including the right to travel abroad and seek work legally. But the tide of public opinion in most countries is moving in the opposite direction.

Of course rich nations should take more. But even if Europe and the United States stepped up and admitted much larger numbers than the paltry offers that have been suggested in recent weeks, it would still make only a small dent in the global refugee population.

Until our current wars die down, the world needs to adjust to the new reality of permanent refugee cities in legal limbo. Even if host nations wish to deny citizenship to long-staying refugees, it would make sense to allow the United Nations and refugees themselves to invest in infrastructure to reduce disease, provide employment and make these ramshackle slums more habitable. They could perhaps become autonomous open cities or international zones where those with United Nations documents were permitted to move and trade within the normal international visa regime. If camps were economically viable they might at least offer some pull to remain there. As one man told me as I was nearing the end of my time in Dadaab: “I belong nowhere. My country is the Republic of Refugee.”"
dabaad  kenya  somalia  citizenship  refugees  limbo  2015  geopolitics  impermanence  permanence  hope  hopelessness  calais  afghanistan  benrawlence  pakistan  darfur  un  unitednations  africa  unhcr  migration  palestine  refugeecamps  future  futures 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Unmournable Bodies - The New Yorker
"A northern-Italian miller in the sixteenth century, known as Menocchio, literate but not a member of the literary élite, held a number of unconventional theological beliefs. He believed that the soul died with the body, that the world was created out of a chaotic substance, not ex nihilo, and that it was more important to love one’s neighbor than to love God. He found eccentric justification for these beliefs in the few books he read, among them the Decameron, the Bible, the Koran, and “The Travels of Sir John Mandeville,” all in translation. For his pains, Menocchio was dragged before the Inquisition several times, tortured, and, in 1599, burned at the stake. He was one of thousands who met such a fate.

Western societies are not, even now, the paradise of skepticism and rationalism that they believe themselves to be. The West is a variegated space, in which both freedom of thought and tightly regulated speech exist, and in which disavowals of deadly violence happen at the same time as clandestine torture. But, at moments when Western societies consider themselves under attack, the discourse is quickly dominated by an ahistorical fantasy of long-suffering serenity and fortitude in the face of provocation. Yet European and American history are so strongly marked by efforts to control speech that the persecution of rebellious thought must be considered among the foundational buttresses of these societies. Witch burnings, heresy trials, and the untiring work of the Inquisition shaped Europe, and these ideas extended into American history as well and took on American modes, from the breaking of slaves to the censuring of critics of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

More than a dozen people were killed by terrorists in Paris this week. The victims of these crimes are being mourned worldwide: they were human beings, beloved by their families and precious to their friends. On Wednesday, twelve of them were targeted by gunmen for their affiliation with the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Charlie has often been often aimed at Muslims, and it’s taken particular joy in flouting the Islamic ban on depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. It’s done more than that, including taking on political targets, as well as Christian and Jewish ones. The magazine depicted the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in a sexual threesome. Illustrations such as this have been cited as evidence of Charlie Hebdo’s willingness to offend everyone. But in recent years the magazine has gone specifically for racist and Islamophobic provocations, and its numerous anti-Islam images have been inventively perverse, featuring hook-nosed Arabs, bullet-ridden Korans, variations on the theme of sodomy, and mockery of the victims of a massacre. It is not always easy to see the difference between a certain witty dissent from religion and a bullyingly racist agenda, but it is necessary to try. Even Voltaire, a hero to many who extol free speech, got it wrong. His sparkling and courageous anti-clericalism can be a joy to read, but he was also a committed anti-Semite, whose criticisms of Judaism were accompanied by calumnies about the innate character of Jews.

This week’s events took place against the backdrop of France’s ugly colonial history, its sizable Muslim population, and the suppression, in the name of secularism, of some Islamic cultural expressions, such as the hijab. Blacks have hardly had it easier in Charlie Hebdo: one of the magazine’s cartoons depicts the Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, who is of Guianese origin, as a monkey (naturally, the defense is that a violently racist image was being used to satirize racism); another portrays Obama with the black-Sambo imagery familiar from Jim Crow-era illustrations.

On Thursday morning, the day after the massacre, I happened to be in Paris. The headline of Le Figaro was “LA LIBERTÉ ASSASSINÉE” Le Parisien and L’Humanité also used the word liberté in their headlines. Liberty was indeed under attack—as a writer, I cherish the right to offend, and I support that right in other writers—but what was being excluded in this framing? A tone of genuine puzzlement always seems to accompany terrorist attacks in the centers of Western power. Why have they visited violent horror on our peaceful societies? Why do they kill when we don’t? A widely shared illustration, by Lucille Clerc, of a broken pencil regenerating itself as two sharpened pencils, was typical. The message was clear, as it was with the “jesuischarlie” hashtag: that what is at stake is not merely the right of people to draw what they wish but that, in the wake of the murders, what they drew should be celebrated and disseminated. Accordingly, not only have many of Charlie Hebdo’s images been published and shared, but the magazine itself has received large sums of money in the wake of the attacks—a hundred thousand pounds from the Guardian Media Group and three hundred thousand dollars from Google.

But it is possible to defend the right to obscene and racist speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech. It is possible to approve of sacrilege without endorsing racism. And it is possible to consider Islamophobia immoral without wishing it illegal. Moments of grief neither rob us of our complexity nor absolve us of the responsibility of making distinctions. The A.C.L.U. got it right in defending a neo-Nazi group that, in 1978, sought to march through Skokie, Illinois. The extreme offensiveness of the marchers, absent a particular threat of violence, was not and should not be illegal. But no sensible person takes a defense of those First Amendment rights as a defense of Nazi beliefs. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were not mere gadflies, not simple martyrs to the right to offend: they were ideologues. Just because one condemns their brutal murders doesn’t mean one must condone their ideology.

Rather than posit that the Paris attacks are the moment of crisis in free speech—as so many commentators have done—it is necessary to understand that free speech and other expressions of liberté are already in crisis in Western societies; the crisis was not precipitated by three deranged gunmen. The U.S., for example, has consolidated its traditional monopoly on extreme violence, and, in the era of big data, has also hoarded information about its deployment of that violence. There are harsh consequences for those who interrogate this monopoly. The only person in prison for the C.I.A.’s abominable torture regime is John Kiriakou, the whistle-blower. Edward Snowden is a hunted man for divulging information about mass surveillance. Chelsea Manning is serving a thirty-five-year sentence for her role in WikiLeaks. They, too, are blasphemers, but they have not been universally valorized, as have the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo.

The killings in Paris were an appalling offence to human life and dignity. The enormity of these crimes will shock us all for a long time. But the suggestion that violence by self-proclaimed Jihadists is the only threat to liberty in Western societies ignores other, often more immediate and intimate, dangers. The U.S., the U.K., and France approach statecraft in different ways, but they are allies in a certain vision of the world, and one important thing they share is an expectation of proper respect for Western secular religion. Heresies against state power are monitored and punished. People have been arrested for making anti-military or anti-police comments on social media in the U.K. Mass surveillance has had a chilling effect on journalism and on the practice of the law in the U.S. Meanwhile, the armed forces and intelligence agencies in these countries demand, and generally receive, unwavering support from their citizens. When they commit torture or war crimes, no matter how illegal or depraved, there is little expectation of a full accounting or of the prosecution of the parties responsible.

The scale, intensity, and manner of the solidarity that we are seeing for the victims of the Paris killings, encouraging as it may be, indicates how easy it is in Western societies to focus on radical Islamism as the real, or the only, enemy. This focus is part of the consensus about mournable bodies, and it often keeps us from paying proper attention to other, ongoing, instances of horrific carnage around the world: abductions and killings in Mexico, hundreds of children (and more than a dozen journalists) killed in Gaza by Israel last year, internecine massacres in the Central African Republic, and so on. And even when we rightly condemn criminals who claim to act in the name of Islam, little of our grief is extended to the numerous Muslim victims of their attacks, whether in Yemen or Nigeria—in both of which there were deadly massacres this week—or in Saudi Arabia, where, among many violations of human rights, the punishment for journalists who “insult Islam” is flogging. We may not be able to attend to each outrage in every corner of the world, but we should at least pause to consider how it is that mainstream opinion so quickly decides that certain violent deaths are more meaningful, and more worthy of commemoration, than others.

France is in sorrow today, and will be for many weeks come. We mourn with France. We ought to. But it is also true that violence from “our” side continues unabated. By this time next month, in all likelihood, many more “young men of military age” and many others, neither young nor male, will have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere. If past strikes are anything to go by, many of these people will be innocent of wrongdoing. Their deaths will be considered as natural and incontestable as deaths like Menocchio’s, under the Inquisition. Those of us who are writers will not consider our pencils broken by such killings. But that incontestability, that unmournability, just as much as the massacre in Paris, is the clear and present danger to our collective libert… [more]
tejucole  2015  charliehebdo  politics  society  freedom  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  freespeech  freedomofspeech  islam  gravenimages  middleages  medieval  power  language  religion  racism  liberty  violence  inquision  spanishinquision  ideology  edwardsnowden  chelseamanning  johnkiriakou  cia  yemen  nigeria  mexico  centralafricanrepublic  suadiarabia  pakistan  us  drones  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
What the drone saw – video | Art and design | guardian.co.uk
"In this new video installation by artist Omer Fast, a former US drone operator in Afghanistan and Pakistan reveals why 5,000 feet is the optimum flying height for a combat drone. It means he can make out a person's shoes and facial hair, and watch a cigarette flare like a beacon. His words take on an eerie nature as the camera tracks a cycling child from the same height

• 5,000 Feet Is the Best is the inaugural work on show in the IWM Contemporary programme of artworks that explore conflict. At Imperial War Museum, London, until 29 September"

[More here: "Five Thousand Feet is the Best" https://vimeo.com/34050994 ]
art  drones  droneproject  2013  omerfast  surveillance  afghanistan  pakistan  military 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Drones As Folk Art | Mother Jones
"When Pakistani painter Mahwish Chishty returned from the United States to her native Lahore in 2011, her friends and family couldn't stop talking about the American-led drone war raging along the border with Afghanistan. That's how she got the idea to reimagine drones in her country's colorful truck art tradition. So has the US Department of Defense asked her to repaint any Predators yet? See her answers and more of her hauntingly beautiful paintings below."
drones  art  folkart  mahwishchishty  droneproject  2013  pakistan  afghanistan 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Progressive prejudice
"I moved to Germany in winter 2011 as part of a fellowship that placed me at Die Welt – a German national daily. Here, I was shocked at the lack of women in the newsroom, especially during the morning conference."

"These are anecdotes and explanations I have given to women and men in many a bar, café and newsroom in Germany. Often, as a response, I am asked whether this is the case in all Muslim countries. My answer is simply that I do not know. The ‘Muslim world’ and ‘Muslim women’ are artificial and flawed constructs that reinforce prejudice. But, living in Germany, I find myself put into these false categories over and over again. And, much as I try to escape it, in most German eyes I remain the ‘Muslim woman’."
feminism  sexism  bias  intellect  journalism  via:kissane  2012  prejudice  respect  pakistan  germany  woemn  gender 
september 2012 by robertogreco
One billion slum dwellers - The Big Picture - Boston.com
"One billion people worldwide live in slums, a number that will likely double by 2030. The characteristics of slum life vary greatly between geographic regions, but they are generally inhabited by the very poor or socially disadvantaged. Slum buildings can be simple shacks or permanent and well-maintained structures but lack clean water, electricity, sanitation and other basic services. In this post, I've included images from several slums including Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, the second largest slum in Africa (and the third largest in the world); New Building slum in central Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; Pinheirinho slum - where residents recently resisted police efforts to forcibly evict them; and slum dwellers from Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi, India. India has about 93 million slum dwellers and as much as 50% of New Delhi's population is thought to live in slums, 60% of Mumbai."
dharavi  pakistan  islamabad  haiti  port-au-prince  phnompenh  cambodia  informalcity  urbanism  urban  urbanization  cities  bigpicture  photography  newdelhi  pinheirinho  africa  malabo  equatorialguinea  brasil  sãopaulo  nairobi  kibera  mumbai  kolkata  via:lukeneff  kenya  india  slums  brazil 
february 2012 by robertogreco
In Arming Libyan Rebels, U.S. Would Follow an Old, Dark Path - Max Fisher - International - The Atlantic
"The U.S. has a long, complicated, and dark history of arming rebel groups around the world…Argentina and Honduras…Chile…Nicaragua…Khmer Rouge…

…cycle is a familiar one: rather than commit American lives to a murky & uncertain conflict, White House asks CIA to find or create local proxies that can do the fighting for us. We invariably find the most skilled fighters, most ruthless killers, who can best challenge or outright topple whatever regime—often communist, usually despotic & deserving of ouster—has earned American ire. But the conflict often escalates & turns for worse…

Violence begets violence, instability begets instability, and the U.S. tactic of arming rebels has been incredibly successful at fomenting both, but has done little to end either, often creating problems far outsizing those we originally meant to solve.

Neither the French nor the British share this sordid history with the U.S."
politics  history  intelligence  france  foreignpolicy  us  2011  libya  cambodia  honduras  nicaragua  chile  argentina  afghanistan  pakistan  cia  dirtywar  gorevidal  amnesia  taliban  gaddafi  uk  williamcasey  barackobama  josephlieberman  williamhague  pinochet  communism  coldwar  genocide  despotism  khmerrouge  vietnam 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Greening the Armed Forces - Multimedia Feature - NYTimes.com
"The American military, facing increasing insurgent attacks on fuel supply convoys in Pakistan and Afghanistan, is pushing aggressively to develop, test and deploy renewable technologies to decrease its dependence on fossil fuels."
military  technology  sustainability  pakistan  afghanistan  fuel  renewable 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Along The Grand Trunk Road: Coming Of Age In India And Pakistan : NPR
"An ancient road spans South Asia, connecting the present and the past in a dynamic -- and sometimes dangerous -- part of the world. NPR journalists travel the route and tell the stories of young people living there, who make up the majority of the populations in India and Pakistan."
pakistan  sms  world  npr  travel  grandtrunkroad  literacy  mobile  india  southasia  asia  history  culture 
may 2010 by robertogreco
BBC NEWS | Special Reports | Walls around the world
"Two decades since the Berlin Wall came down, BBC Mundo looks at walls and barriers around the world which are still standing - or have been put up - since 1989."
walls  borders  us  mexico  israel  korea  geography  urbanism  photography  politics  architecture  migration  landscape  botswana  zimbabwe  india  pakistan  iran  saudiarabia  ireland  westbank  ceuta  melilla  spain  riodejaneiro  cyprus  sahara  españa 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - More Schools, Not Troops - NYTimes.com
"For roughly the same cost as stationing 40,000 troops in Afghanistan for one year, we could educate the great majority of the 75 million children worldwide who, according to Unicef, are not getting even a primary education. We won’t turn them into graduate students, but we can help them achieve literacy. Such a vast global education campaign would reduce poverty, cut birth rates, improve America’s image in the world, promote stability and chip away at extremism.
afghanistan  education  schools  politics  military  us  policy  pakistan  girls  women  nicholaskristof  2009  gender 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Global Guerrillas: HOLLOW STATES vs. FAILED STATES
"So, if the question is whether Mexico, Pakistan, Nigeria, etc are in danger of becoming hollow states, the answer is yes. In fact, I suggest that they are already there. Are we headed in the same direction?"
johnrobb  mexico  government  politics  us  pakistan  nigeria  failedstates  hollowstates  terrorism  crisis  2009 
march 2009 by robertogreco

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