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The Critical Refugee Studies Collective
"STORIES TO TELL
Refugees have long been the objects of inquiry for fields such as sociology, history, and political science. Refugees are also often featured in the media serving as objects of suffering or agents of terrorism. The “Stories We Tell” about refugees are different from the ones featured in books or newspapers. The Critical Refugee Studies Collective believes that refugee storytelling allows for new forms of knowledge to be produced. This site enables for us to share our stories and our histories — together.

REFUGEE ARCHIVES
Refugee archives is designed to be a repository for the artwork, photos, ephemeral items, films, literary works, and musical pieces that have been produced by and for refugees. It is a non-profit, digital storage space for the uploading of users’ artifacts about refugee life. Users can upload materials by registering here and following the parameters for file uploads.

ABOUT OUR PROJECT
Funded by the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), the Critical Refugee Studies Collective is a four-year initiative (2017–2020) that seeks to make the University of California system the premier intellectual space and resource for critical research, teaching, and public initiatives that privilege and address the concerns, perspectives, knowledge production and global imaginings of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced and stateless human beings.

Spectacular, supranational, hyper-focus on refugee suffering, desperation and neediness in media and international relations, and legal and social science scholarship have all represented refugees as passive recipients of western generosity and increasingly as the targets of racial profiling, surveillance and detention today. This has created a multi-billion dollar professionalized field for rescue recreation, and precluded any critical examination of the global geopolitical-historical conditions that create and sustain the refugee “crisis.” In contrast to the problem-oriented approach to refugees, the Collective charts an interdisciplinary field of Critical Refugee Studies (CRS), a humane and ethical site of inquiry that re-conceptualizes refugee lifeworlds not as a problem to be solved by global elites but as a site of social, political and historical critiques that, when carefully traced, make transparent processes of colonization, war, and displacement. Such reconceptualization requires approaches that integrate theoretical rigor and policy concerns with refugees’ rich and complicated lived worlds — approaches that fuse the critical and the creative.

OUR COLLECTIVE WORK
To establish this interdisciplinary field, the Collective facilitates, promotes and funds innovative projects, devises K–12 and university curricula, and organizes conferences, gatherings, symposia, transnational networks, webinars, lectures, installations, testimonies, and negotiations that: a) trace the impact of colonialism, imperialism, gradualism, centrism, and militarization on refugee movements: and b) integrate scholarly, policy, artistic, legal, diplomatic and international relations interests with refugees’ everyday experiences.

We aim to link communities, movements, networks, other collectives, artists and academic institutions as critical partners, forging new and humane reciprocal paradigms, dialogues, visuals and technologies that replace and reverse the dehumanization of refugees within imperialist gazes and frames, sensational stories, savior narratives, big data, colorful mapping, and spectator scholarship. United Nations data shows that nearly 66 million human beings in the world have been forced from their respective homes. More than 22 million of those human beings are refugees (half of whom are under the age of 18), and 10 million are stateless. As a Collective (common, shared, joint, combined, mutual, communal, united, allied, cooperative, collaborative), we show how data, maps, charts, definitions, forms, designations, honors, titles, programs, street signs, treaties, conventions, and other forms of discourse can avoid the objectification of refugees as the producers of those discourses attempt to illustrate crises and address refugee needs.

VISION
We view public engagement, community collaboration, and respect as central to our intellectual endeavor and critical intervention. We aim to be a compassionate, humane and genuine intellectual, cultural and community resource for international, multi-national, national, state, regional and local governmental and non-governmental refugee agencies challenged with navigating social, economic, cultural and linguistic diversity and difference as they interact with human beings impacted by displacement, state conflict, and separation from homelands. In the way we centralize refugees and their subjectivities and collaborate with our communities, our objective is to change traditional paradigms of doing research on refugees and challenge the current discourse on refugees within the academy and beyond it.

We envision a world where all refugees are treated and embraced as fellow human beings with all fundamental rights and privileges."

[via: https://uchri.org/foundry/what-theyre-reading/

"This website provides a model of feminist and social justice scholarship and thinking on refugees. It shows us how to center the voices and narratives of refugees and to approach refugeehood as a lens rather than as an object of study.

Erdrich, Heid. “Microchimerism,” “Upon Hearing of the Mormon DNA Collection,” and “Traffic.” Selected poems from Cell Traffic, 11-13, 47, 51. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

Erdrich is an indigenous poet (Ojibwe) who writes on epigenetics and intergenerational relationality. We arrived to her work by way of the STS-inflected theorizing of scholar Ryan Rhadigan. We drew on this poem to engage what it might look like to take science seriously while provincializing its authoritative structures of claims-making.

Nagar, Richa. “Reflexivity, Positionality, and Languages of Collaboration in Feminist Fieldwork.” In Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms Across Scholarship and Activism, 81-104. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2014.

Nagar offers notions of “co-authoring feminisms” and “studying-with” to consider the depth of trust and reciprocity necessary to contravene the distancing and hierarchical conventions of ethnographic research. She offers material examples and counterpractices for research, collaboration, and the co-creation of knowledge that guide our thinking about accountability in collaborative research—particularly in navigating the shifting dynamics of power across space, institutions, languages, and communities.

Nye, Coleman and Sherine Hamdy. Lissa: A Story of Medical Promise, Friendship and Revolution. University of Toronto Press, 2017.

Since all of us are interested in collaborations within and outside academia, this graphic novel (a collaborative project between two anthropologists and two graphic artists) offers one model for both collaboration and for thinking about ways of representing academic work to a broad, public audience without reducing or losing the complexity of ideas. The graphic novel form also encourages perverse readings of critical medical anthropology ideas and reminds us that scholarship does not always have to be pedantic.

Bonds, Anne, Jennifer Hyndman, Jenna Loyd, Becky Mansfield, Alison Mountz, Margaret Walton-Roberts. “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University.” In ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 2015.

Feminist collaboration recognizes that all of us come into a project from an ecology. A feminist collaboration is not just project oriented, but invests in helping sustain the ecologies that support its members (who have different responsibilities, commitments, abilities, capacities, etc.). This is a different model of collaboration that must be distinguished from that of the neoliberal university. Supporting collaborators as part of their ecologies requires slow scholarship.

Weasel, Lisa H. “Laboratories Without Walls: A Personal Path to Feminist Science Action.” In Feminist science studies: A new generation. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Weasel writes about her work as a feminist academic in the Netherlands to convene students, scientists, feminists, and broader communities to work on problems requested by communities. Our group took inspiration from Weasel’s desire to reconfigure scholarly work in collaboration with others, but also sought models of sociality beyond service to communities.

Community Based Participatory Research is an approach drawn from public health that works to redress power imbalances in the provision of health and care. Our group took inspiration from Wallerstein’s and Duran’s work to hold and justify space within institutions to practice research that counters institutionalized hierarchies and forms of domination.

Wallerstein, Nina, and Bonnie Duran. “The Theoretical, Historical, and Practice Roots of CBPR.” In Community Based Participatory Research for Health, 25–46. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Wallerstein and Duran trace overlapping and divergent politics of action research traditions, especially consensus and Southern strands of CBPR. Southern strands work through problems of hybridity and domination in knowledge, settler colonial legacies, racism, and processes of accumulation.

Wallerstein, Nina, and Bonnie Duran. “Community-Based Participatory Research Contributions to Intervention Research: The Intersection of Science and Practice to Improve Health Equity.” In American Journal of Public Health 100, no. S1 (April 1, 2010): S40-S46.

Wallerstein and Duran make the case to public health researchers for building trust over long durations and ceding analytical authority to communities represented and implicated by the knowledge coming out of the collaboration.

Lee… [more]
refugees  interdisciplinary  discourse  storytelling 
8 days ago by robertogreco
Language Is Migrant - South Magazine Issue #8 [documenta 14 #3] - documenta 14
"Language is migrant. Words move from language to language, from culture to culture, from mouth to mouth. Our bodies are migrants; cells and bacteria are migrants too. Even galaxies migrate.

What is then this talk against migrants? It can only be talk against ourselves, against life itself.

Twenty years ago, I opened up the word “migrant,” seeing in it a dangerous mix of Latin and Germanic roots. I imagined “migrant” was probably composed of mei, Latin for “to change or move,” and gra, “heart” from the Germanic kerd. Thus, “migrant” became “changed heart,”
a heart in pain,
changing the heart of the earth.

The word “immigrant” says, “grant me life.”

“Grant” means “to allow, to have,” and is related to an ancient Proto-Indo-European root: dhe, the mother of “deed” and “law.” So too, sacerdos, performer of sacred rites.

What is the rite performed by millions of people displaced and seeking safe haven around the world? Letting us see our own indifference, our complicity in the ongoing wars?

Is their pain powerful enough to allow us to change our hearts? To see our part in it?

I “wounder,” said Margarita, my immigrant friend, mixing up wondering and wounding, a perfect embodiment of our true condition!

Vicente Huidobro said, “Open your mouth to receive the host of the wounded word.”

The wound is an eye. Can we look into its eyes?
my specialty is not feeling, just
looking, so I say:
(the word is a hard look.)
—Rosario Castellanos

I don’t see with my eyes: words
are my eyes.
—Octavio Paz

In l980, I was in exile in Bogotá, where I was working on my “Palabrarmas” project, a way of opening words to see what they have to say. My early life as a poet was guided by a line from Novalis: “Poetry is the original religion of mankind.” Living in the violent city of Bogotá, I wanted to see if anybody shared this view, so I set out with a camera and a team of volunteers to interview people in the street. I asked everybody I met, “What is Poetry to you?” and I got great answers from beggars, prostitutes, and policemen alike. But the best was, “Que prosiga,” “That it may go on”—how can I translate the subjunctive, the most beautiful tiempo verbal (time inside the verb) of the Spanish language? “Subjunctive” means “next to” but under the power of the unknown. It is a future potential subjected to unforeseen conditions, and that matches exactly the quantum definition of emergent properties.

If you google the subjunctive you will find it described as a “mood,” as if a verbal tense could feel: “The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express a wish, a suggestion, a command, or a condition that is contrary to fact.” Or “the ‘present’ subjunctive is the bare form of a verb (that is, a verb with no ending).”

I loved that! A never-ending image of a naked verb! The man who passed by as a shadow in my film saying “Que prosiga” was on camera only for a second, yet he expressed in two words the utter precision of Indigenous oral culture.

People watching the film today can’t believe it was not scripted, because in thirty-six years we seem to have forgotten the art of complex conversation. In the film people in the street improvise responses on the spot, displaying an awareness of language that seems to be missing today. I wounder, how did it change? And my heart says it must be fear, the ocean of lies we live in, under a continuous stream of doublespeak by the violent powers that rule us. Living under dictatorship, the first thing that disappears is playful speech, the fun and freedom of saying what you really think. Complex public conversation goes extinct, and along with it, the many species we are causing to disappear as we speak.

The word “species” comes from the Latin speciēs, “a seeing.” Maybe we are losing species and languages, our joy, because we don’t wish to see what we are doing.

Not seeing the seeing in words, we numb our senses.

I hear a “low continuous humming sound” of “unmanned aerial vehicles,” the drones we send out into the world carrying our killing thoughts.

Drones are the ultimate expression of our disconnect with words, our ability to speak without feeling the effect or consequences of our words.

“Words are acts,” said Paz.

Our words are becoming drones, flying robots. Are we becoming desensitized by not feeling them as acts? I am thinking not just of the victims but also of the perpetrators, the drone operators. Tonje Hessen Schei, director of the film Drone, speaks of how children are being trained to kill by video games: “War is made to look fun, killing is made to look cool. ... I think this ‘militainment’ has a huge cost,” not just for the young soldiers who operate them but for society as a whole. Her trailer opens with these words by a former aide to Colin Powell in the Bush/Cheney administration:
OUR POTENTIAL COLLECTIVE FUTURE. WATCH IT AND WEEP FOR US. OR WATCH IT AND DETERMINE TO CHANGE THAT FUTURE
—Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel U.S. Army (retired)


In Astro Noise, the exhibition by Laura Poitras at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the language of surveillance migrates into poetry and art. We lie in a collective bed watching the night sky crisscrossed by drones. The search for matching patterns, the algorithms used to liquidate humanity with drones, is turned around to reveal the workings of the system. And, we are being surveyed as we survey the show! A new kind of visual poetry connecting our bodies to the real fight for the soul of this Earth emerges, and we come out woundering: Are we going to dehumanize ourselves to the point where Earth itself will dream our end?

The fight is on everywhere, and this may be the only beauty of our times. The Quechua speakers of Peru say, “beauty is the struggle.”

Maybe darkness will become the source of light. (Life regenerates in the dark.)

I see the poet/translator as the person who goes into the dark, seeking the “other” in him/herself, what we don’t wish to see, as if this act could reveal what the world keeps hidden.

Eduardo Kohn, in his book How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human notes the creation of a new verb by the Quichua speakers of Ecuador: riparana means “darse cuenta,” “to realize or to be aware.” The verb is a Quichuan transfiguration of the Spanish reparar, “to observe, sense, and repair.” As if awareness itself, the simple act of observing, had the power to heal.

I see the invention of such verbs as true poetry, as a possible path or a way out of the destruction we are causing.

When I am asked about the role of the poet in our times, I only question: Are we a “listening post,” composing an impossible “survival guide,” as Paul Chan has said? Or are we going silent in the face of our own destruction?

Subcomandante Marcos, the Zapatista guerrilla, transcribes the words of El Viejo Antonio, an Indian sage: “The gods went looking for silence to reorient themselves, but found it nowhere.” That nowhere is our place now, that’s why we need to translate language into itself so that IT sees our awareness.

Language is the translator. Could it translate us to a place within where we cease to tolerate injustice and the destruction of life?

Life is language. “When we speak, life speaks,” says the Kaushitaki Upanishad.

Awareness creates itself looking at itself.

It is transient and eternal at the same time.

Todo migra. Let’s migrate to the “wounderment” of our lives, to poetry itself."
ceciliavicuña  language  languages  words  migration  immigration  life  subcomandantemarcos  elviejoantonio  lawrencewilkerson  octaviopaz  exile  rosariocastellanos  poetry  spanish  español  subjunctive  oral  orality  conversation  complexity  seeing  species  joy  tonjehessenschei  war  colinpowell  laurapoitras  art  visual  translation  eduoardokohn  quechua  quichua  healing  repair  verbs  invention  listening  kaushitakiupanishad  awareness  noticing  wondering  vicentehuidobro  wounds  woundering  migrants  unknown  future  potential  unpredictability  emergent  drones  morethanhuman  multispecies  paulchan  destruction  displacement  refugees  extinction  others  tolerance  injustice  justice  transience  ephemerality  ephemeral  canon  eternal  surveillance  patterns  algorithms  earth  sustainability  environment  indifference  complicity  dictatorship  documenta14  2017  classideas 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
On M.I.A. | Momtaza Mehri | Granta
"To upwardly ascend from child refugee to Central Saint Martins art-school archetype is a kind of science fiction. Bored with both bourgeoisie navel-gazing and hackneyed postcolonial theory, M.I.A. was introduced to the ethical conundrum of the refugee artist long before she hit the headlines. Her cousin was killed the very week she graduated. They had played together as children before their paths diverged. She left for London. He joined the Tamil Tigers. Nothing elicits the gnawing bottomlessness of survivor’s guilt more than the death of someone who could have so easily been you. Caught in the immediacy of her grief, M.I.A. has spoken of the obscenity of preparing for a film-making career catered to the intelligentsia that ‘only 30 people would get to see at the Institute of Contemporary Art’. This is an existential crisis I know only too well. Grappling with what it means to be the one on this side of the waters is a life-long contortion act. I can’t remember a time before it. We are always in conversation with what it means to be the ones who escaped. Aged fifteen, my first pay packet from my weekend job went to my cousins in Mogadishu. I remain consumed by a sense of duty that overwhelms my belief in art’s redemptive capacity, in its ability to affect real change in the lives of those left behind both here and elsewhere. This guilt propelled M.I.A. out of England (the Land of the Spice Girls as she calls it) and towards a homecoming. In true gap-year fashion, she turned to the subcontinent to find her bearings. Intending to film a documentary on the fate of her cousin, she travelled to Sri Lanka in 2001. There, her artistic vision was crystallized amid the stories of relatives who had survived the unimaginable. She had always known what she had wanted to say. Now, she had a better idea of how to say it."



"Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. is a portrait of a survivor. A bona fide hustler. The M.I.A. that dazzled me. The M.I.A. that tapped into the alienation I wore like a scarlet letter. The M.I.A. who grew up with a similar slideshow of night terrors. From secretly taping Lynn Hirschberg during the Infamous Truffle Fries Incident to sending a private detective to steal her footage back from Loveridge when she suspected that he had sold her out, I shared her justified paranoias. To a generation haunted by debt and seemingly immortal warmongers, Fuck The New York Times is not just a T-shirt slogan. It’s a lifestyle. So much of what divides us from those we have left behind is dumb luck. M.I.A. has survived civil war, art school, misrepresentation, the Bush years, hatchet jobs, censorship, irrelevance, a louch into anachronism in the eyes of a generation that demands piously intersectional sound bites from its stars, the NFL, jealous lovers and the heartache of intending more than she could ever deliver. We are lucky that she has. We are lucky to have her."
mia  culture  documentary  film  music  politics  refugees  momtazamehri  2018 
february 2019 by robertogreco
‘Has Any One of Us Wept?’ | by Francisco Cantú | The New York Review of Books
"The dehumanizing tactics and rhetoric of war have transformed the border into a permanent zone of exception, where some of the most vulnerable people on earth face death and disappearance on a daily basis, where children have been torn from their parents to send the message You are not safe here, you are not welcome. The true crisis at the border is not one of surging crossings or growing criminality, but of our own increasing disregard for human life. To describe what we are seeing as a “crisis,” however, is to imply that our current moment is somehow more horrifying than those that have recently set the stage for it—moments that, had we allowed ourselves to see them and be horrified by them, might have prevented our arrival here in the first place.

In an essay examining the omnipresence of modern borders and the immigration crisis in the Mediterranean, British journalist Frances Stonor Saunders argues that documents such as passports and visas are central components to how our society values and recognizes human life.2 “Identity is established by identification,” Saunders writes, “and identification is established by documenting and fixing the socially significant and codifiable information that confirms who you are.” Those who possess such documentation possess a verified self, “an identity, formed through and confirmed by identification, that is attested to be ‘true.’”"



"When the violence of our institutions is revealed, when their dehumanizing design is laid bare, it can be too daunting to imagine that we might change things. But what I have learned from giving myself over to a structure of power, from living within its grim vision and helping to harm the people and places from which I came, is that even the most basic act of decency can serve as the spark that will lead one back toward humanity, and even the most basic individual interaction has the power to upend the idea of the “other.” Heeding even these small impulses can serve as a means of extricating ourselves from systems of thought and policy that perpetuate detachment, even in spite of all the mechanisms that have been devised to make us believe in individual and nationalistic self-interest. As obvious as it might seem, to truly and completely reject a culture of violence, to banish it from our minds, we must first fully refuse to participate in it, and refuse to assist in its normalization. When we consider the border, we might think of our home; when we consider those who cross it, we might think of those we hold dear."
franciscocantú  border  borders  us  mexico  2019  borderpatrol  humanism  humanity  policy  politics  donaldtrump  migration  refugees  violence  vi:sarahpeeden  power  detachment  nationalism  individualism  self-interest  decency 
january 2019 by robertogreco
26 | Black Mountain College — Do Not Touch
"We're going back to school and learning about an arts college in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. For 24 years the college attracted famous teachers and produced students who would go on to achieve their own fame. I have two guests speaking to me about Black Mountain - Kate Averett from the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and Professor Eva Diaz from Pratt Institute."
bmc  2018  blackmountaincollege  bauhaus  annialbers  johndewey  art  arts  education  highered  highereducation  alternative  experimental  unschooling  deschooling  democracy  horizontality  evadiaz  kateaverett  history  arthistory  pedagogy  lcproject  openstudioproject  form  exploration  liberalarts  roberrauschenberg  willemdekooning  abstractexpressionism  howwework  discipline  self  identity  johncage  mercecunningham  self-directedlearning  self-directed  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  vision  cognition  expressionism  expression  music  dance  buckminsterfuller  technique  chance  happenings  anarchism  ego  spontaneity  unknown  improvisation  radicalism  transilience  northcarolina  transience  hippies  communes  integration  jacoblawrence  almastonewilliams  outsiders  refugees  inclusion  inclusivity  openness  gender  rayjohnson  elainedekooining  karenkarnes  dorothearockburn  hazellarsenarcher  blackmountaincollegemuseum  susanweil  maryparkswashington  josefalbers  charlesolson  poetry  johnandrewrice 
october 2018 by robertogreco
M.I.A. and the Defense of Nuance | Affidavit
"Cancelling people is exhilarating, especially when it’s done by marginalized folks, those who so often experience the world through white supremacy—sometimes as a soft and subtle barrage, other times through vicious and terrifying means. The ability to dictate someone’s fate, when you’ve long been in the shadows, is a kind of victory. Like saying “Fuck You” from underneath the very heavy sole of a very old shoe. But while outrage culture has its merits, nuance has evaporated. So often it involves reducing someone to their mistakes, their greatest hits collection of fuck-ups.

In her song “Best Life,” Cardi B raps:

“That’s when they came for me on Twitter with the backlash/ "#CardiBIsSoProblematic" is the hashtag/ I can't believe they wanna see me lose that bad...”

This is her response to being cancelled for a now-infamous Twitter thread detailing her colorism, orientalism, and transphobia. Most recently, after her song “Girls” with Rita Ora was also deemed problematic, she made a statement: “I know I have use words before that I wasn’t aware that they are offensive to the LGBT community. I apologize for that. Not everybody knows the correct ‘terms’ to use. I learned and I stopped using it.”

Cardi brings up something that I keep coming back to: How accessibility to political language is a certain kind of privilege. What I believe Maya is trying to say is that American issues have become global. What she lacks the language to say is: how do we also care about the many millions of people around the world who are dying, right now? Why does American news, American trauma, American death, always take center-stage?

There are things we need to agree on, like the permutations of white supremacy, but are we, societally, equipped for social media being our judge, jury and executioner? I started to realize that the schadenfreude of cancelling was its own beast. It erases people of their humanity, of their ability to learn from experience.

This brings up the politics of disposability. How helpful is distilling someone into an immovable misstep, seeing them not as a person but as interloper who fucked up, and therefore deserves no redemption? How helpful is to interrogate a conversation, but not continue it? Is telling someone to die, and sending them death threats, or telling them they’re stupid or cancelled the way to do it? Who, and what, are we willing to lose in the fire?

M.I.A. and Cardi are similarly unwilling to conform to polite expectation. They both know that relatability is part of their charm. They are attractive women who speak their mind. This, in essence, is privilege, too—which then requires responsibility. The difference is that Cardi apologized."



"“Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters?”

In 2016, when Maya made these comments in an ES Magazine interview, I remember being frustrated that she only accentuated the divide between non-black people of color and black folks, partially because so often we (Asians) say dumb shit.

The dumb shit I’m referring to w/r/t Maya is not only her tunnel vision when it comes to the complexity of race (plus the void and difference between black and brown folks’ experience) but also the incapacity—or stunted unwillingness—to further self-reflect on her positioning.

Because of her insolence, I had considered Maya undeserving of my alliance. Her lack of inclusivity and disregard of the complexity of political identity, especially in North America, was abominable. As a woman who had found success within the black mediums of rap and hip-hop, her smug disregard felt brash. It felt lazy.

But, as I watched the documentary on her life, I also began to see her complexity. One thing that strikes me about Maya is her personal perseverance. Her family went through hell to get the U.K. Her father’s political affiliations forced them to flee Sri Lanka. Arular was a revolutionary, and thus deemed a terrorist. He was absent her whole childhood. At one point in the film she describes riding on a bus in Sri Lanka with her mom. When the bus jerks forward, the policemen standing alongside casually sexually assault them in broad daylight. Her mother, Mala, warns Maya to stay silent, lest they both be killed. Her reality—of physical threats, of early loss—is stark. As she recalls the details in her candid, detached drawl, you imagine her grappling with the past like a lucid dream.

Herein lies Maya’s dissonance. She is the first refugee popstar, which allows her to subsume a state of Du Bois’ double consciousness. She is neither this nor that, she is a mixture of both East and West. Her experience seeps into her music like a trance, and these definitions are vital to understanding her.

She is agonized by the realities of war, of being an unwanted immigrant who fled from genocide into the frenzied hells of London, only to be pushed into a mostly-white housing estate system, replete with Nazi skinheads. “A tough life needs a tough language,” Jeanette Winterson writes in Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, her memoir about her abusive stepmother. As I watch the documentary, I wonder, again, if what Maya lacks most is language.

In the current political climate, where Syrian refugees are denied entry into the U.S., and the Muslim Ban, or “Travel Ban,” is an attack on the very notion of being different in America, I began to understand this other part of Maya. How angry she might be for the lack of articulation when it came to refugees, when it’s still very much an issue. She came to music to survive. Art was a way to dislocate from the trauma, to inoculate herself from the past, and provide a new, vivid reality that was both about transcending where she came from, whilst also creating a platform to speak to her roots, to her lineage, to her people.

Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world. The people that speak it are, right now, being wiped out.

Her understanding of race comes from the victim’s perspective. She not only experienced white supremacy in her work, but was forced out of the country where she was born. Someone like her was never supposed to succeed. But, whether it’s Bill Maher mocking her “cockney accent” as she talks about the Tamil genocide, or the New York Times’ Lynn Hirschberg claiming her agitprop is fake because she dare munch on truffle fries (which were ordered by Hirschberg), Maya has been torn apart by (white) cultural institutions and commentators. You can see how these experiences have made her suspicious in general, but also particularly suspicious of me, a journalist.

Thing is, she’s been burnt by us too—by South Asians. So many of us walked away, attacking her instead of building a dialogue. Her compassion, therefore, is partially suspended. It’s as if she’s decided, vehemently—because she’s deemed herself to not be racist, or anti-black—that the conversation ends. She feels misheard, misrepresented. For her, it’s not about black life mattering or not mattering. It’s about prioritizing human life, about acknowledging human death. But, in America, that gets lost.

You can understand Maya’s perspective without agreeing with her, but I had another question. How do you hold someone you love accountable?

*

The talk itself was many things: awkward, eye-opening, disarming. When I asked about her alleged anti-blackness, she brought up Mark Zuckerberg as evidence that she was set up... by the internet. That her online fans should know that she’s not racist, so that perhaps her one-time friendship with Julian Assange was why she was being attacked online. Her incomprehension that people could be upset by her remarks reflected her naivety about how the internet kills its darlings. Two weeks prior to our meeting, Stephon Clark was murdered, shot twenty times in the back by two police officers. To this she responded: “Yeah, well no-one remembers the kid in Syria who is being shot right now either. Or the kid that’s dying in Somalia.” It made me wonder if she was unwell, not on a Kanye level, but just enough to lack the mechanisms it takes to understand perspective.

Backstage after the talk, she said, “I don’t know why you asked me those questions.” I told her that I thought critique, when done with care, was an empowering act of love. I needed clarity for our community’s sake—many of whom felt isolated by her, a cherished South Asian icon. We need answers from her because we are all trying to grapple with our love and frustration with her.

I don’t want to absolve Maya. What I’m more interested in is how we can say “problematic fave” while acknowledging that we are all problematic to someone. Is there compassion here? Is there space to grow?

*

In They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Abdurraqib writes, “There are people we need so much we can’t imagine turning away from them. People we’ve built entire homes inside of ourselves for, that cannot stand empty. People we still find a way to make magic with, even when the lights flicker, and the love runs entirely out.”

In the recent months, I’ve re-examined Maya with sad enthusiasm. The beginning riff of “Bad Girls”: a women in full niqab racing a car through side swept dunes. Without question, it’s an aching kind of visibility, but the tenor is different. Listening to her now it feels weighted, changed.

Laconic and aloof, I remind Maya on stage that anti-blackness is not an American issue, it’s universal. Perhaps it’s ego, or shameful anger, but I know she cares. Before she begins to speak I realize that you have to build empathy when someone fails you. That they’re not yours to own. You have to try your best to talk to them, and that it’s never helpful to reduce them to a punchline. I believe in Maya’s possibility to grow. I believe in the possibility of change. Maybe that’s my own naivety, but it’s also my political stance. It’s not about … [more]
mia  fariharóisín  2018  privilege  language  cancelling  marginalization  colorism  transphobia  orientlism  cardib  socialmedia  disposability  whitesupremacy  race  racism  apologies  learning  power  islamophobia  islam  socialjustice  noamchomsky  modelminorities  modelminority  nuance  complexity  perseverance  srilanka  silence  refugees  politics  tamil  victims  compassion  blacklivesmatter  julianassange  yourfaveisproblematic  us  australia  anti-blackness  growth  care  caring  dialog  conversation  listening  ego  shame  anger  change  naivety  howwechange  howwelearn  hanifabdurraqib  visibility  internet  problemematicfaves 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Harvest of Empire – Harvest of Empire
[Available on YouTube, for now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyncOYTZfHE ]

[See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvest_of_Empire:_A_History_of_Latinos_in_America ]

"The Untold Story of Latinos in America

“We are all Americans of the New World, and our most dangerous enemies 
are not each other, but the great wall of ignorance between us.”
Juan González, Harvest of Empire

At a time of heated and divisive debate over immigration, Onyx Films is proud to present Harvest of Empire, a feature-length documentary that reveals the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.

Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! Co-host Juan González, Harvest of Empire takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape.

From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the U.S. control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the U.S.

As Juan González says at the beginning of the film “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades — actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north.”

Harvest of Empire provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community. The film features present day immigrant stories, rarely seen archival material, as well as interviews with such respected figures as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz, Mexican historian Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, journalists María Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, Grammy award-winning singer Luis Enrique, and poet Martín Espada."
film  documentary  us  history  immigration  latinamerica  puertorico  mexico  guatemala  honduras  juangonzález  cuba  nicaragua  elsalvador  rigobertamenchú  jessejackson  anthonyromero  junotdíaz  lorenzomeyer  maríahinojosa  geraldorivera  2011  martínespada  luisenrique  dominicanrepublic  latinos  imperialism  politics  policy  foreignpolicy  braceros  wwii  ww2  civilrights  race  racism  migration  communism  redscare  centralamerica  caribbean  colonialism  socialism  capitalism  fidelcastro  rafaeltrujillo  spanish-americanwar  inequality  exploitation  sugar  cotton  revolution  resistance  fulgenciobatista  dictatorships  oppression  deportation  texas  california  newmexico  arizona  mexican-americanwar  nevada  colorado  florida  nyc  óscarromero  harrytruman  democracy  jacoboárbenz  unitedfruitcompany  eisenhower  cia  intervention  maya  ethniccleansing  land  ownership  civilwar  iran-contraaffair  ronaldreagan  sandinistas  contras  war  bayofpigs  refugees  marielboatlift  1980  jimmycarter  language  spanish  español  miami  joaquínbalaguer  hectortruji 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Nations and Migrations | cinema politica
"Working with the curatorial guideposts of mobility, origins, community and belonging, Cinema Politica has selected a program of independent film and videos that highlight issues of nationhood and migration from both a historical and contemporary perspective.

Canada is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse places on the planet. Since the country's much-debated official policy of Multiculturalism was formed into policy over three decades ago, the Canadian “national project” as articulated through successive federal governments, has taken on as many forms as there are critical responses. Whereas Multiculturalism began with the promise of recognition and celebration of diversity (racial, religious and cultural), we have now moved into an era that Indigenous scholar Sean Glenn Coulthard has framed as “beyond recognition.”

The assertion of minority populations to determine their own social realities, institutions, cultural expression, political identification and imagined futures, amounts to a fierce reworking of what has been derisively dubbed Canada's "Benetton-Multiculturalism." Add to this the arrival of thousands of “new Canadians” each year, many of whom are refugees and who become migrant workers, and the old notion of nation-building demands a shift to one of nations-building in a new inclusive context of pluralism.

Following this, Nations & Migrations is a project that contributes to shifting political discourse and grassroots organizing engaged in articulating and building alternative visions and communities to the mainstream, liberal notion of what it means to be "Canadian." By privileging voices (in film and speech) from the peripheries of this ongoing discussion Nations & Migrations looks at troubling topics like Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, chauvinist nationalism and more. But the project also explores important collective struggles around social justice, migrant rights and anti-racism work across the country and beyond.

Whether it's #BlackLivesMatter, #IdleNoMore, #MigrantWorkersJustice or #NoOneIsIllegal, Canada's social movement fabric is rich, diverse and very much engaged. It is our hope that Nations & Migrations can pull togetehr some of the multi-facted threads and provide a platform for critical, engaged and movement-based discourse on these important issues.

Using film screening events as spaces for public dialogue, independent films as the generative spark, and guest speakers (including artists) as mediators in the discourse, we hope to contribute a unique, timely and urgent creative program of film and video devoted to these multifarious topics and issues.

Nations & Migrations is comprised of three main components, the first of which is our "Comfortable Truths" campaign (#comfortabletruths), which launches November 28th, 2016. The second component involves 4-6 "groundswell screening events" at locations across Canada, held between November 2016 and February 2017. The third is the continuing discussion online, across all the platforms we all know and love!"



"Comfortable truths" are mainstream attitudes and ideas about nationhood, belonging and identity that, despite not being true (such as "immigrants have it easy in Canada"), have become so engrained in the Canadian imaginary and mainstream culture that they become orthodoxy. As part of Cinema Politica's Nations & Migrations project we reached out to activists and artists across the country and asked them to share their thoughts and reactions to these so-called truths. Watch this space as we continue to add new responses to "comfortable truths."

[via: https://www.lokidesign.net/projects/#/nations-migrations/
https://www.cinemapolitica.org/special-events/nations-and-migrations/ ]

[See also:
https://www.cinemapolitica.org/blog/network/cinema-politica-launches-nations-migrations
https://vimeo.com/195690433 ]
borders  canada  migration  refugees  film  race  racism  xenophobia  documentary  nations  cinemapolitica  bodies  resistance  body 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: Not Caring is a Political Art Form | Literary Hub
"Sometimes it seems to me a better way to organize the political spectrum than along a continuum of right and left would be the ideology of disconnection versus the ideology of connection. In the short term we are working to protect the rights of immigrants and to prevent families from being torn apart at the border—and to address the relationship between our greenhouse gas emissions and the global climate, between our economic systems and poverty, between what we do and what happens beyond us, because the ideology of isolation is in part a denial of cause and effect relations, and a demand to be unburdened even from scientific fact and the historical and linguistic structures governing truth. In the long term our work must be to connect and to bring a vision of connection as better than disconnection, for oneself and for the world,  to those whose ideology is “I really don’t care”—whether or not it’s emblazoned on their jackets. Somewhere in there is the reality that what we do we do for love, if it’s worth doing."
rebeccasolnit  2018  immigration  politics  connection  disconnection  empathy  compassion  refugees  donaldtrump  race  racism  climatechange  ideology  care  caring  economics  inequality  poverty 
june 2018 by robertogreco
City of Exiles — The California Sunday Magazine
"Every month, thousands of deportees from the United States and hundreds of asylum-seekers from around the world arrive in Tijuana. Many never leave."
tijuana  sandiego  cities  refugees  border  borders  us  mexico  2018  deportation  asylum  danielduane  yaelmartínez 
june 2018 by robertogreco
So what if we’re doomed? (Down the Dark Mountain) — High Country News
" Kingsnorth embraced Jeffers’ inhumanism, and Tompkins his ideas on beauty. But the immensity of the ecocide demands more. Our grief comes from the takers and their modern machine, which is one of violence and injury. If our sanity is to survive the ecocide, we must address these two pains in tandem: grief for the loss of things to come and the injustices that surround us.

We can do this through beauty and justice, which are closer together than they first appear."



"However, he is also arguing for integrity, which is close to Jeffers’ ideal of beauty: “However ugly the parts appear the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand / Is an ugly thing, and man dissevered from the earth and stars and his history ... for contemplation or in fact ... / Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is / Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe.”

Perhaps, then, the way through the ecocide is through the pursuit of integrity, a duty toward rebalancing the whole, toward fairness, in both senses of the word."



"This is no cause for despair; it is a reminder to be meaningful, to be makers instead of takers, to be of service to something — beauty, justice, loved ones, strangers, lilacs, worms."
apocalypse  climatechange  ecology  anthropocene  additivism  2017  briancalvert  paulkingsnorth  environment  environmentalism  california  poetry  justive  beauty  via:kissane  balance  earth  wholeness  integrity  robinsonjeffers  darkmountain  multispecies  posthumanism  morethanhuman  josephcampbell  ecocide  edricketts  davidbrower  sierraclub  johnstainbeck  anseladmas  outdoors  nature  humanity  humanism  edwardabbey  hawks  animals  wildlife  interconnected  inhumanism  elainescarry  community  communities  socialjustice  culture  chile  forests  refugees  violence  douglastompkins  nickbowers  shaunamurray  ta-nehisicoates  humanrights  qigong  interconnectivity 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Forget Coates vs. West — We All Have a Duty to Confront the Full Reach of U.S. Empire
"What are the duties of radicals and progressives inside relatively wealthy countries to the world beyond our national borders?"



" Is it even possible to be a voice for transformational change without a clear position on the brutal wars and occupations waged with U.S. weapons?"



"Our movements simply cannot afford to stick to our various comfort zones or offload internationalism as someone else’s responsibility.

The unending misery in Haiti may be the most vivid illustration of how today’s crises are all interrelated. On the island, serial natural disasters, some linked to climate change, are being layered on top of illegitimate foreign debts and coupled with gross negligence by the international aid industry, as well as acute U.S.-lead efforts to destabilize and under-develop the country. These compounding forces have led tens of thousands of Haitians to migrate to the United States in recent years, where they come face-to-face with Trump’s anti-Black, anti-immigrant agenda. Many are now fleeing to Canada, where hundreds if not thousands could face deportation. We can’t pry these various cross-border crises apart, nor should we.

IN SHORT, THERE is no radicalism — Black or otherwise — that ends at the national boundaries of our countries, especially the wealthiest and most heavily armed nation on earth. From the worldwide reach of the financial sector to the rapidly expanding battlefield of U.S. Special Operations to the fact that carbon pollution respects no borders, the forces we are all up against are global. So, too, are the crises we face, from the rise of white supremacy, ethno-chauvinism, and authoritarian strongmen to the fact that more people are being forced from their homes than at any point since World War II. If our movements are to succeed, we will need both analysis and strategies that reflect these truths about our world.

Some argue for staying in our lane, and undoubtedly there is a place for deep expertise. The political reality, however, is that the U.S. government doesn’t stay in its lane and never has — it spends public dollars using its military and economic might to turn the world into a battlefield, and it does so in the name of all of U.S. citizens.

As a result, our movements simply cannot afford to stick to our various comfort zones or offload internationalism as someone else’s responsibility. To do so would be grossly negligent of our geopolitical power, our own agency, as well as our very real connections to people and places throughout the world. So when we build cross-sector alliances and cross-issue solidarity, those relationships cannot be confined to our own nations or even our own hemisphere — not in a world as interconnected as ours. We have to strive for them to be as global as the forces we are up against.

We know this can seem overwhelming at a time when so many domestic crises are coming to a head and so many of us are being pushed beyond the breaking point. But it is worth remembering that our movement ancestors formed international alliances and placed their struggles within a global narrative not out of a sense of guilt or obligation, but because they understood that it made them stronger and more likely to win at home — and that strength terrified their enemies.

Besides, the benefit of building a broad-based, multiracial social movement — which should surely be the end goal of all serious organizers and radical intellectuals — is that movements can have a division of labor, with different specialists focusing on different areas, united by broad agreement about overall vision and goals. That’s what a real movement looks like.

The good news is that grassroots internationalism has never been easier. From cellphones to social media, we have opportunities to speak with one another across borders that our predecessors couldn’t have dreamed of. Similarly, tools that allow migrant families to stay connected with loved ones in different countries can also become conduits for social movements to hear news that the corporate media ignores. We are able, for instance, to learn about the pro-democracy movements growing in strength across the continent of Africa, as well as efforts to stop extrajudicial killings in countries like Brazil. Many would not have known that Black African migrants are being enslaved in Libya if it had not been for these same tools. And had they not known they wouldn’t have been able to engage in acts of necessary solidarity.

So let’s leave narrow, nostalgic nationalism to Donald Trump and his delusional #MAGA supporters. The forces waging war on bodies and the planet are irreversibly global, and we are vastly stronger when we build global movements capable of confronting them at every turn."
cornelwest  ta-nehisicoates  2017  us  politics  global  international  jelanicobb  barackobama  imperialism  africa  malcolmx  haiti  naomiklein  opaltometi  climatechange  colonialism  immigration  refugees  activism  outrage  crises  donaldtrump  fascism  military  borders  naturaldisasters  isolationism  debt  finance  destabilization 
december 2017 by robertogreco
You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring :: Paul Hawken's Commencement Address to the Class of 2009 — YES! Magazine
"When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” No pressure there.

Let’s begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seat belts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see ifit was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages,campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown — Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a … [more]
paulhawken  humanity  2009  commencementaddresses  environment  sustainability  earth  peace  deforestation  poverty  climatechange  refugees  activism  davidjamesduncan  mercycorps  strangers  abolitionists  grnvilleclark  thomasclarkson  josiahwedgewood  progressives  england  anthropocene  civilization  globalwarming  movement  bodies  humans  morethanhuman  multispecies  interconnected  interdependence  charlesdarwin  janinebanyus  life  science  renewal  restoration  exploitation  capitalism  gdp  economics  maryoliver  adriennerich  ecology  interconnectedness  body  interconnectivity 
november 2017 by robertogreco
How online citizenship is unsettling rights and identities | openDemocracy
"Citizenship law and how it is applied are worth watching, as litmus tests for wider democratic freedoms."



"Jus algoritmi is a term coined by John Cheney-Lippold to describe a new form of citizenship which is produced by the surveillance state, whose primary mode of operation, like other state forms before it, is control through identification and categorisation. Jus algoritmi – the right of the algorithm – refers to the increasing use of software to make judgements about an individual’s citizenship status, and thus to decide what rights they have, and what operations upon their person are permitted."



"Moment by moment, the citizenship assigned to us, and thus the rights we may claim and the laws we are subject to, are changing, subject to interrogation and processing. We have become effectively stateless, as the concrete rights we have been accustomed to flicker and shift with a moment’s (in)attention.

But in addition to showing us a new potential vector of oppression, Citizen Ex illustrates, in the same way that the internet itself illustrates political and social relationships, the distribution of identity and culture in our everyday online behaviour. The nation state has never been a sufficient container for identity, but our technology has caught up with our situation, illuminating the many and varied failures of historical models of citizenship to account for the myriad of ways in which people live, behave, and travel over the surface of the planet. This realisation and its representation are both important and potentially emancipatory, if we choose to follow its implications.

We live in a time of both mass migrations, caused by war, climate change, economic need and demographic shift, and of a shift in mass identification, as ever greater numbers of us form social bonds with other individuals and groups outside our physical locations and historical cultures. If we accept that both of these kinds of change are, if not caused by, at least widely facilitated by modern communication technologies – from social media to banking networks and military automation – then it follows that these technologies may also be deployed to produce new forms of interaction and subjectivity which better model the actual state of the world – and one which is more desirable to inhabit."



"It remains to be seen whether e-residency will benefit those with most to gain from reengineered citizenship, or, like so many other digital products, merely augment the agency of those who already have first-class rights.

As the example of NSA’s procedures for determining citizenship illustrate, contemporary networked interventions in the sphere of identity are typically top-down, state-led, authoritarian moves to control and discipline individual subjects. Their operational processes are opaque, and they are used against their subjects, reducing their agency. The same is true for most corporate systems, from Facebook to Google to smart gas and water meters and vehicle trackers, which abstract data from the subject for financial gain. The Estonian example shows that digital citizenship regimes can point towards post-national, post-geographic territories, while continuing to reproduce the forms of identity most conducive to contemporary capitalism and nationhood. The challenge is to transform the internet, and thus the world, from a place where identity is constantly surveilled, judged, and operationalised, to a place where we can act freely as citizens of a greater sphere of social relationships: from a space which is entirely a border zone to one which is truly borderless."
jamesbridle  2017  nationalism  politics  citizenship  estonia  digital  physical  demoracy  rights  jusalgoritmi  algorithms  nsa  migration  refugees  identity  borders  borderlessness  society  mobility  travel  digitalcitizenship 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Ephemeral Urbanism: Cities in Constant Flux - YouTube
urbanism  urban  cities  ephemerality  ephemeral  2016  rahulmehrotra  felipevera  henrynbauer  cristianpinoanguita  religion  celebration  transaction  trade  economics  informal  formal  thailand  indi  us  dominicanrepublic  cochella  burningman  fikaburn  southafrica  naturaldisaters  refugees  climatechange  mozambique  haiti  myanmar  landscape  naturalresources  extraction  mining  chile  indonesia  military  afghanistan  refuge  jordan  tanzania  turkey  greece  macedonia  openness  rigidity  urbandesign  urbanplanning  planning  adhoc  slums  saudiarabia  hajj  perú  iraq  flexibility  unfinished  completeness  sustainability  ecology  mobility 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Coordenadas - Limbo Gurugú - 17/07/17, Coordenadas - RTVE.es A la Carta
"El juramento del Gurugú es la última novela del escritor ecuatoguineano Juan Tomás Ávila, sobre las personas migrantes que esperan allí el momento de entrar en Europa. Exiliado de Obiang en Barcelona, lo trae al programa Victor Guerrero. Y descubrimos el último trabajo de Verdcel, The plantes, Talaies i cims, con la presencia de su lider Alfons Olmo.

Escuchamos a The Drums, "Heart Basel"; Chojin ft. Barón, "Solo para adultos"; Stand up, "Something else"; Verdcel, "Foc Amic", "Optimistic"."

[via: https://twitter.com/DedalusAfrica/status/887611112774148096 ]
juantomásávila  2017  interviews  equatorialguinea  race  migration  gurugú  victorguerrero  alfonsolmo  refugees  europe  africa  futbol  soccer  football  writing  books  literature  music  literacy  libraries  guineaecuatorial 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Palestino: A Home Away from Home • Copa90
[See also: https://thefunambulist.net/magazine/racialized-incarceration ]

"THE ONLY CLUB OF ITS KIND

Sport Club Palestino is unique in the world. There is no other club with the same name or which flies the Palestinian flag so freely, and all of this occurs 13,000 kilometres from their “homeland”. The club owes its existence to the fact that the Palestinian community in Chile is the largest in the world, outside of the Middle East. It is believed that the population of Palestinian descendants in Chile is around 500,000, their ancestors arriving approximately a century ago, standing out as successful business people that today are the owners of communication companies, supermarkets and factories.

However, Palestino is different to the other colonial football clubs in Chile, and perhaps around the world, due to their claims for independence, which although hidden, are intrinsic to their very existence. Union Española and Audax Italiano, for example, are also colonial football clubs in Chile, founded by immigrants, but neither of them harbour claims for independence as part of their natural fabric. There are others that may point to Atlanta in Argentina, which has an important Jewish influence, however Atlanta wasn’t founded by Jews and doesn´t have a name or an emblem that evokes images of Israel or the Jewish people. Palestino can also be distinguished from clubs such as Athletic de Bilbao, which is located in the geographic heart of the Basque territory and its claims for independence; Palestino is not located in Palestine, but on the other side of the world.

THE SHIRT AND THE MAP

Palestino is not involved in politics and there is no nationalistic indoctrination for their players or officials. In general, Palestino has taken care to strictly brand the club as a sporting club, steering clear from politics; well, almost always – there were a couple times in recent history where this did not hold true.

The first example was in 2002 where a little controversy was stirred when the goalkeeper, Leonardo Cauteruchi, wore a shirt displaying a drawing of the map of Palestine on his chest. However, the situation in 2014 was different, as it was an institutional decision. When commencing the Chilean Championship during January (which may sounds ridiculous), Palestino released a new playing shirt that replaced the number one with a silhouette of a map of Palestine according to the original boundaries that existed before the creation of the state of Israel under United Nations resolution. Palestino managed to play three games in the new shirt before the Jewish community created an uproar.

The matter reached the international press, causing an enraged Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry to call and inform Israel and its diplomats in Chile to encourage them to express their discontent with the provocation. The simple symbol of a map on the shirt of a humble – sometimes the most humble – club in the Chilean first division was on the front page around the world.

With much commotion, Palestino was economically sanctioned by the disciplinary tribunal of the Chilean football association (Tribunal de Disciplina de la Asociación Nacional de Fútbol Profesional) and required to replace the map with a more traditional number one. The club president, Fernando Aguad, refused to budge and, rather than replacing the map with the number one he simply moved it to the front of the shirt, where it remains to this day. The decision to replace the number one with the Palestinian map was a complete success. Even though they weren’t able to use that shirt during an official match, they could sell it. Sales of the shirt increased more than 300% and the club received orders from France, Morocco, Turkey, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Colombia and, of course, the Middle East.

This incident showed the tremendous symbolic power of Palestino and also justified the club´s institutional decision not to become involved in politics, knowing that if they persisted and became involved in politics the club would quickly find themselves at the heart of a grand conflict. Palestino has the name, the colours and the Palestinian flag, which flies freely at the home stadium (Estadio Municipal de La Cisterna), but the club has decided to not directly involve themselves in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though they know that thousands of Palestinians follow them through the internet and satellite television from the occupied territories."



"PALESTINE AND PALESTINO

Roberto Bishara´s whole body was in pain, for 26 hours he had been on a plane that had been delayed in its journey from Santiago to Tel Aviv. We are talking about 2008, in the middle of Palestino´s epic championship campaign, the final which would end up being seen by hundreds of fans in Ramallah on the other side of the world. Bishara was walking through the airport in Tel Aviv, slightly limping with the pins and needles that are typical of those who undertake the transatlantic journey in economy class. It was the first time that he had gone to play for the Palestinian national team. The Faisal Al- Husseini stadium, just 600 meters from the wall that divides Israel and the West Bank, was holding its first game in two years after being destroyed by an Israeli shelling. It was, no less, the first Palestinian national match being played in Palestine. The rival was Jordan, or at least that is what Bishara was trying to explain to the Israeli security forces during two hours of questioning in a dark room at Ben Gurion airport. Bishara, who would one year later became captain of the Palestinian national team, had to leave behind his suitcase and his camera, but finally he was permitted to leave the airport so that he could play in the historic match the ended in a 1-1 draw.

Although there are many Chileans that have played for the Palestinian national team, Edgardo Abdala, Leonardo Zamora, Alexis Norambuena, Patricio Acevedo, Pablo Abdala and Matías Jadue, among others, but none of them are as emblematic as Roberto “Tito” Bishara. Even Roberto Kettlun, who played more than 20 games for the Palestine national team and played with Hilal Al-Quds in the local league, does not match the figure of Tito Bishara. Kettlun told us recently: “many times equipment that was sent to us by FIFA was blocked, together with specialist coaches and sporting manuals. When we tried to bring in coaches and trainers to provide us with support, often they were stopped at the border and prevented from entering. Further, we organised tournaments but were forced to send back half of our opponents as they were not permitted to enter.”

More than rival defenders, the greatest enemy of the Palestinian national team are the Israeli check points that limit the freedom of movement within the Palestinian territories. As Bishara tells, many players miss training as they are detained for hours without reason. However, worse than the restrictions on movement is the ever present threat of death. Bishara recounts a day when a friend of his arrived crying, but it was a quiet sobbing, without outward scandal – his grandmother had been killed when a bomb landed on her house. Bishara couldn´t believe what he was hearing, but the others simply got on with training the following day as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. As Bishara states, “I never got over the sensation of playing in the middle of a war zone, but the others seem to be accustomed to it”.

When the Palestinian national team play, the public display a great level of enthusiasm as everyone is aware of the tremendous value in the mere existence of the team, meaning that, sometimes, they celebrate goals with more euphoria than the fans of other nations. A Palestinian goal in our stadium sounds like more than a hundred cannons, once said Bishara. In that stadium, although fragile, in shattered Palestine, you can see – in many places – the shirts of Palestino being proudly worn, with the Palestinian map sitting on the back."
futboll  football  chile  palestino  shuaibahmed  2008  2014  2016  politics  geopolitics  refugees  santiago  sports  nicolásvidal 
july 2017 by robertogreco
CD Palestino: a Palestinian club in Chile
"The Crimean War of the 1850s, World War II and the Arab-Israel Wars in the mid 1900s resulted in many Palestinians taking refuge in neighbouring countries like Jordan and Syria. But, many are not aware of the fact that approximately 500,000 individuals somehow made their way to the Chilean capital of Santiago, to escape persecution and to provide a better life for themselves and their families. Santiago, and wider Chile, soon became home to the largest Palestinian diaspora outside the Middle East.

Fast forward to present times and there’s a unique club that was formed in the 1920s with the intention of benefitting – through sport – Santiago’s growing Palestinian community, fairly similar to the thought process behind Scotland’s Glasgow Celtic was shaped by Brother Walfrid.

In one way, it’s possible to consider Club Deportivo Palestino as the first football club ever founded by refugees globally, with its name intentionally pinpointing their Palestinian roots. Since then, the club had added two national (Primera Division) titles in 1955 and 1978, two Copa Chiles in 1975 and 1977, and a two Primera B titles, in 1952 and 1972. In current times, though the club has not lived up to its exaggerated expectations, the fan base continues to grow – primarily because of their continued devotion and support for the Palestinian cause, now thousands of miles away.

The club’s home colors include the Palestinian colors of red, green and white, and it would not be surprising for a neutral to observe Palestinian flags and Keffiyeh, a traditional headdress, adorning supporters during home games at the Estadio Municipal de La Cisterna stadium.

Roberto Kettlun, an ex-Palestino player of Palestinian origin, and an ex Palestinian national team player and current Hilal Al-Quds star, has only good things to say about his two seasons spent at the club.

“I played for two seasons with Palestino club, it was an amazing experience, professionally and also personally, it brought me closer to my origins, and also to the Palestinian national team which provided a platform for me to move to Greece.”

Every time the players step on to the pitch, there is a feeling of not only Chilean eyes but millions of others abroad watching them play. Twenty-seven-year-old Chilean radio commentator and Musician Sebastián Manríquez says: “CD Palestino stands not only for a football club in La Cisterna, but for a well-respected community in Chile, for the land where their founders and fans’ ancestors came from, and for people who are suffering maybe the most inexplicable consequences of an almost endless conflict in the Middle East.

“Palestino, in opposite to the other diaspora football clubs in our country, plays every match with their minds in the field and their hearts kilometers away, knowing that an even larger and greater amount of fans are supporting them from the distance despite the horror and the sadness that every day Palestinians suffer in their everyday lives. And having that in mind, it’s not uncommon that every match against Palestino becomes a hard, fierce and battled confrontation.”

“Fans are double fans, because despite football, here there is an entire country waiting to here for victories outside the territories in order to bring pride, happiness and pride into this occupied territories,” says Kettlun.

And to this accord, Palestinians across the globe, those with interest in football or without, have a similar and growing appreciation for the club.

“I thought it was really cool to have such an established side be part and parcel of the sporting scene in South America. There are only about 11 million of us in the world so to have a club carry our name on the other side of the globe is pretty neat,” says Bassil Mikdadi, a Palestinian football blogger and creator of Footbol Palestine."



"Today, the national team enjoys the technical elegance of the Chileans through the likes of Alexis Norambuena, Jonathan Cantillana and Daniel Kabir Mustafa. Their style of play directly complements the physical strength of the locally based players. This, along with several other factors, has taken Palestine to their current position of 130th in the FIFA World Rankings.

However, CD Palestino’s rise in the global mainstream can largely be attributed to a kit dispute in 2014, which gained instant PR among the many that show camaraderie with the Palestinians. In January 2014, the team walked on to the pitch wearing kits with the No. 1 depicting the 1947 map of Palestine, before the creation of Israel. It drew loud nuances along with appreciation from various parts of the world.

According to a complaint by Patrick Kiblisky, the club president of Chilean club Ñublense: “The figure 1 was replaced by a map of the historic Palestine, before the United Nations resolution of November 20, 1947, which established a Jewish state and an Arab state. This map, which does not take into account the present state of Israel, is a symbol for the Palestinian people. These circumstances mean that its use constitutes a political matter.”

CD Palestino was eventually fined approximately $1,300 by the Chilean FA and was forced to change the design of the jersey.

“It’s impossible to deny that the Tino Tino [Palestino] – as we Chileans call it – is a club like no other in the league. Most of Chilean fans recognize the contributions of Palestinian diaspora in Chile and the historical background that Palestino seek to represent. The majority of the Chilean population supports the Palestinian cause, and because of that I would say, despite the fact that Palestino is not one of the most popular teams in the tournament, their fans are the most respected and supported ones in the Chilean football.

“This respect comes even by fans of their main rivals: the Spanish diaspora’s club Unión Española and the Italian diaspora’s team Audax Italiano. As an example, in the middle of the controversy about replacing the number 1 with the Palestinian map, followers from almost all Primera División participants expressed their support to the club, including fans of Ñublense – club which denounced Palestino, who expressed their disagreement with the demand made by the club’s president, Alex Kiblisky, suggesting that Kiblisky’s Jewish background was determinant in that decision,” says Sebastián

And to the question if Palestino really aims to support the Palestinian cause? According to Roberto: “Yes it does. Specially this last management, they have been very active in our cause, very brave with certain things, and also very patriotic to be daily concern in what is happening on here.”

Though the club accepted the fine and agreed to change the uniform, the message on the club Facebook page was clear. “For us, free Palestine will always be historical Palestine, nothing less.”

It was a clear message from one of the most interesting, politically-charged and unique clubs in world football."
futboll  football  chile  palestino  shuaibahmed  2015  2014  politics  geopolitics  refugees  santiago  sports 
july 2017 by robertogreco
San Diego welcomes more refugees than any other California county | CALmatters
"For nearly a decade, no California county has received more refugees than San Diego County, followed by Los Angeles and Sacramento, according to state and federal data. A large number of refugees are assigned to San Diego because of its concentration of four resettlement agencies and the existence of several rooted immigrant communities already in the area. The trend dates back to the Vietnam War, when hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asians landed at Camp Pendleton for U.S. resettlement. Many stayed, helping make the area a beacon for people fleeing from violence, hunger and instability.

“San Diego historically has been a very welcoming county,” said David Murphy, executive director of the International Rescue Committee there that resettled Namagazuzyo’s family and hosted the English class. “There is now a vibrant multi-cultural population living in San Diego.

At a time when President Donald Trump cites terrorism as justification to crack down on immigration—the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld, for now, his ban on refugees—California lawmakers are working to extend the Golden State’s welcome to the world’s displaced people. Democratic legislators from counties with significant refugee populations are pushing bills to help with education and employment, and secured a $10 million budget allocation to help refugee children."



"You see it, hear it and feel it as you walk the streets of the City Heights neighborhood east of downtown San Diego, where shoppers throng Somali, Ethiopian and assorted Asian restaurants and a cacophony of languages ricochets in the air. In the nearby city of El Cajon, where Arabic speakers do a brisk business in shops along Main Street, Iraqi Christians known as Chaldeans number an estimated 60,000, and many arrived as refugees.

“San Diego has the fault of having the best weather in the world,” said Bishop Bawai Soro of St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Church, which is now looking for a third location in which to hold its overflow services. Soro himself arrived in Chicago as a refugee 40 years ago, and today he ministers to the infusion of Iraqi refugees in San Diego.

“The wars that took place in Iraq didn’t just destroy buildings and bridges and infrastructure—they destroyed the human soul as well,” he said. “These Iraqis are luckiest people in the word because they came to America.”

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines a refugee as someone who has “been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence.” The U.S. government further defines a refugee as someone who may “face persecution based on religion, political opinion, race, nationality or membership in a particular social group.” As a result, waves of refugees tend to reflect global conflict zones.

Once refugees have applied for refugee status from the U.N., the agency, the U.S. Embassy or other non-governmental agencies may refer refugees for resettlement in the U.S. That referral kicks off an application process that can take years.

The average wait time in a refugee camp is 17 years.

When considering a refugee, the U.S. conducts one of the most rigorous vetting processes of any person allowed into the country, according to the U.S. Department of State. Accepted refugees have little say about to which state or county they will be sent. Two factors play a role: if a refugee has family members in a certain locale, and if a large community of refugees from the same country has already settled in a given area. The idea, Murphy said, is to provide a home where refugees will find support and a network to help them settle in.

More than two-thirds of refugees, he said, do have some sort of family connection in the States.

Refugees enter the U.S. on refugee status and after a year they must apply to become a Legal Permanent Resident, which grants them a green card. After five years in the U.S. they can apply for citizenship.

In San Diego, the majority of recent refugees are from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the San Diego Refugee Forum, a collaboration between the four resettlement agencies in the county—IRC, Catholic Charities, Jewish Family Services, and the Alliance for African Assistance.

“We want California to put out the welcome mat for refugees, many of whom assisted our military as interpreters overseas, to help them normalize their lives and be more productive members of our communities,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a Democrat from San Diego and co-author of the refugee bills currently being considered in the state Capitol."
sandiego  refugees  california  2017  immigration  migration 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Earth Timelapse
[via: "Watch The Movements Of Every Refugee On Earth Since The Year 2000: The story we tell ourselves about the refugee crisis is very different from the reality."
https://www.fastcompany.com/40423720/watch-the-movements-of-every-refugee-on-earth-since-the-year-2000

"In 2016, more refugees arrived in Uganda–including nearly half a million people from South Sudan alone–than crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. While the numbers in Africa are increasing, the situation isn’t new: As the world continues to focus on the European refugee crisis, an equally large crisis has been unfolding in Africa.

A new visualization shows the flow of refugees around the world from 2000 to 2015, and makes the lesser-known story in Africa–and in places like Sri Lanka in 2006 or Colombia in 2007–as obvious as what has been happening more recently in Syria. Each yellow dot represents 17 refugees leaving a country, and each red dot represents refugees arriving somewhere else. (The full version of the map, too large to display here, represents every single refugee in the world with a dot.)

Here’s some of what you’re seeing: In 2001, tens of thousands of refugees fled conflict in Afghanistan, while others fled civil war in Sudan (including the “Lost Boys,” orphans who in some cases were resettled in the U.S.). By 2003, the genocide in Darfur pushed even more people from Sudan. In 2006, war drove Lebanese citizens to Syria; Sri Lankans fleeing civil war went to India. In 2007, as conflict worsened in Colombia, refugees fled to nearby countries such as Venezuela. After leading demonstrations in Burma against dictatorial rule, Buddhist monks and others fled to Thailand. In 2008, a surge of Tibetan refugees fled to India, while Afghan, Iraqi, and Somali refugees continued to leave their home countries in large numbers. By 2009, Germany was taking in large numbers of refugees from countries such as Iraq. In 2010, another surge of refugees left Burma, while others left Cuba. By 2012, the civil war in Syria pushed huge numbers of refugees into countries such as Jordan. Ukrainian refugees began to flee unrest in 2013, and in greater numbers by 2014.

By 2015, the greatest number of refugees were coming from Syria, though mass movement from African countries such as South Sudan also continued–and because most of those refugees went to neighboring countries rather than Europe, the migration received less media attention. In 2015, the U.S. resettled 69,933 refugees; Uganda, with a population roughly eight times smaller, took in more than 100,000 people. Developing countries host nearly 90% of the world’s refugees.

“Often the debates we have in society start with emotion and extreme thoughts, like, ‘Oh, refugees are invading the U.S.,'” says Illah Nourbakhsh, director of the Community Robotics, Education, and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, the lab that developed the technology used create the new visualization. “You can’t get past that–you can’t build common ground for people to actually talk about real issues and how to solve them.”

Showing people data in an animated, interactive visualization, he says, is “an interesting shortcut into your brain, where the visual evidence is more rhetorically compelling than any graph or chart that I show you. That visual evidence often moves you from somebody who’s questioning the data to somebody who can see the data. And now they want to talk about what to do about it.”

The lab began working on its Explorables project, a platform designed to help make sense of big data, four years ago. To make big data–with billions of data points, dozens of different fields of information, changing over time–easier to explore, the platform layers animations over maps.

The team has also used systems like Google Earth to explore big data, but even it can only display a few hundred markers, and it requires installation on computers. The researchers realized that they could use a graphics processor in someone’s computer directly, in the same way that a video game does. “What’s kind of cool is that the video game revolution has changed the computer’s architecture over the last decade,” he says. “So the computers have this amazing ability to very quickly render on the screen.” That technology is combined with an ability to display only the resolution needed for the data you’re zoomed in on, making it possible to share massive amounts of data."]
timelines  maps  mapping  refugees  migration  afghanistan  sudan  darfur  lebanon  syria  venezuela  colombia  burma  india  srilanka  southsudan  uganda  africa  europe  jordan  ukraine  cuba  tibet  somalia  thailand  germany  iraq 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Thinking and Friendship in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt for Now | On Being
[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BUht-yij3OyVQraCWufQICDNRQbRNmhMZd0s_M0/

"Still thinking about the recent @onbeing podcast with historian Lyndsey Stonebridge talking about the new/old/new wisdom of Hannah Arendt. Cannot recommend highly enough: the "organized loneliness" of totalitarianism, the limits of empathy as commonly defined, on refugees and belonging, on the theater of politics and neighborly love. Gonna have to re-listen with a notebook in hand."]

"MS. TIPPETT: I think, just for me, rereading The Origins of Totalitarianism, dipping back into her after quite a few years, that she wasn’t just — this is not historical. It’s not history-telling. It’s really delving into the human essence of what we experience and analyze as political historical events.

But something that struck me so much that I’d forgotten is this idea about the isolation of — that she wrote, “What prepares men for a totalitarian domination” — and here, again, is what happens in the human heart and psyche and society that makes these things possible — “is the fact that loneliness, once a borderline experience, usually suffered in certain marginal social conditions like old age, has become an everyday experience of the ever-growing masses of our century.”

And if I think about the Brexit experience in the UK, and I think about this last presidential election in the US, so much of the dynamic were human beings who had felt unseen and feel disconnected. It’s that language, she says, “atomized, isolated individuals.”

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Yeah. And she makes a further distinction in the last chapter of Origins of Totalitarianism, which she wrote later, between uprootedness, which is what people — since the Industrial Revolution, this has happened, but obviously, it’s got worse — and in periods of economic crisis, it gets far worse — is not feeling recognized, not feeling at home. So it’s a kind of malaise about rootedness. And then she contrasts and compares with superfluousness, which is not being not being treated like you’re in the world at all.

And that was the camps, and that is the refugee camps. So there’s this awful relationship between the uprooted of the world, in Europe, in the States, and the new superfluous of the world, which she understood very well because she was one of the superfluous of the world in the 1940s. So I think she was very interested in that relationship. And I think you’re absolutely right; the loneliness is absolutely crucial, but it’s the question of how we imagine a response to that. I think it’s very interesting — I discovered recently that Hannah Arendt taught George Orwell’s 1984 to Berkeley undergraduates in 1955. [laughs]

MS. TIPPETT: [laughs] Another new bestseller.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Exactly. Another new — and what would one give to have been in that classroom?

MS. TIPPETT: [laughs] Right.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Maybe your listeners were in Berkeley in 1955 being taught 1984 by Hannah Arendt. [laughs] I would love to hear. And she had — I think she read the novel earlier because she started rewriting the last chapter of Origins of Totalitarianism. So she’s getting that kind of analysis off Orwell. She’s in dialogue with Orwell, who’s, of course, dead by then. And he’s saying, “Actually, this is what happens.” The visional title of 1984 was The Last Man in Europe. I mean, if you can hear the Brexit resonance. [laughs]

MS. TIPPETT: Yeah.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: The Last Man in Europe. And the loneliness. And the reason why Winston Smith is so drawn to Big Brother in the end is he cannot bear being alone. And I think you’re absolutely right. Listening to that cri de cœur, that cry of the heart around not having a place to go. But I, on the other hand — she would have been, I think, very cautious of having too ready answers to what you do with that dilemma.

I mean, she’d been very, very suspicious of throwing up another worldview or ideology to end the loneliness or very — I think she’d be very impatient with the way that those of us who are trying to react to our current scenarios, both in the UK and the US, are either turning on each other, or blaming the liberal elite, or blaming high capitalism, or blaming whatever. Making people un-lonely is a good project, but how that’s going to happen, what politics you need for that to happen is going to be a very, very hard question.

MS. TIPPETT: Right. Or even if politics is the place where that would start, if it would be a political project, which is a different kind of question to raise in the 21st century than it was in the 20th century…

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Absolutely.

MS. TIPPETT: And that is something I wanted to ask you also because she had this insistence that people should be more political, which meant one thing for her, and maybe this is a way in which the foundation on which that idea was based in her century is so different. I mean, because politics itself is called into question in a different way as part of our crisis.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Yeah. I was very interested about your question about imagination because I think we talk a lot today about empathy and suffering. And I’m like Arendt. I’m always a bit wary. It sounds like a terrible thing to say. I’m really a bit wary about empathy. [laughs] I really don’t know about this.

MS. TIPPETT: I wanted to ask you about that because when we talk — talking about loneliness, as we’re discussing it in the context of her work, it’s clearly the human condition, and it can be a personal experience. But it’s not talking about loneliness as something that, if we can be compassionate towards each other’s loneliness, things will get better.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Well, I think for her — I mean, she was critical of pity, and she wrote very famously in her On Revolution book that what she didn’t like about pity is it kept the power relationship. Other people’s suffering for the one who’s doing the pitying or the empathizing keeps the power.

And also, she didn’t like it because once you have suffering as your ground zero, you can allow for anything in the name to end that suffering. And that was the tragedy for her of the French Revolution. We have to be piteous in order to save the suffering people. And she’s thinking about what it’s like to imagine not being in the place you’re in, to be imagine to be in the place of another.

And that’s slightly different from pity, and it’s a slightly different take from empathy, because it involves something a bit harder, actually. [laughs] So when she’s teaching to Berkeley students in 1955, she says, “Imagine what it was like to have the political experience of a European, which is an experience totally unlike yours.” And then she puts in brackets, “A bit like mine, but totally unlike yours.” [laughs]

MS. TIPPETT: [laughs] Right.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Which I thought was very sweet given what she’d just been through. And I think it’s that kind of — what she says to do is not just to empathize, but which is to actually build blueprints, or worlds, or frames for understanding experience that is not ours, that cannot be incorporated into ours. So why I think it’s different from empathy or pity is, when you are imagining — because you’re imagining to be empathetic or to share suffering — you’re immediately incorporating that experience into a view of yourself and your own worldview.

What Arendt wanted was actually something a bit more radical than that, is to imagine something that’s not your world, that makes you feel uncomfortable. And that’s where the work has to start. And that’s why she was also very committed to thinking. [laughs]

MS. TIPPETT: Right.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: To the activity of thinking.

MS. TIPPETT: Yes. And…

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Which is how you do that.

MS. TIPPETT: Which is how you do that. Right. And honestly, Americans have a very conflicted kind of relationship, historically and philosophically, with thought and ideas. It’s a different thing than it was, for example, in the Germany that Hannah Arendt was raised in. The power of ideas. But it feels to me like there might be a receptivity now precisely because we see that it’s not getting us anywhere to be meeting my emotion with your emotion. Her — as you say, you can only have moral imagination if you also think, if you are thinking.

You talked in this podcast I heard you in that brought me to you, In Our Time, about how she always talked about the dialogue we have in our heads, that we are constantly working out what it means to be human, to be a person, whether we realize it or not."



"MS. TIPPETT: So one of her famous phrases is the “banality of evil,” which was an observation she made about Eichmann, and that was controversial. But you said something about the bureaucratization, which was part of that banality, a refuge for — instead of thinking, you are part of the system, and you follow the rules, and you enact the rules.

And again, not to — I really would not compare Eichmann to anyone alive right now in full, but the revulsion and the sense of alienation people all over the place have from bureaucracy, which in our age is globalized, right? The way the phrase “the government” will be received in many places in the US, the way the phrase “the EU” is received in England, there are echoes of something that goes wrong — something that goes wrong in human societies that were still with us or we’re feeling again. I don’t know.

MS. STONEBRIDGE: Yeah, I think it’s — one of the first things Arendt did when she finally got to New York, one of her first jobs was to help edit Kafka’s diaries. You remember the story of The Castle near the stranger is kind of a — it’s certainly a migrant story. You know, stranger arrives in a new place, he comes for work, and then he can’t work out what’s going on, and he can’t settle, and he’s blocked by this … [more]
hannahjarendt  via:ablerism  kristatippett  2017  lyndseystonebridge  totalitarianism  empathy  refugees  belonging  politics  neighborliness  love  organizedloneliness  thinking  howwethink  acitivism  activists  isonomia  liberty  freedom 
may 2017 by robertogreco
People Of Color And Being Outside In Nature : Code Switch : NPR
"As the weather teeters between 1997 DJ Jazzy Jeff and 2002 Nelly, we've been spending a lot of time staring out the window, wishing to be anywhere but inside: the beach, the pool, the basketball court, Grand Teton National Park.

Well, maybe not that last one. Truth is, people of color aren't heading to national parks in droves. In fact, according to the National Park Service, last year about 80 percent of all national parks visitors, volunteers and staff were white.

And as this Funny or Die video gets at, REI-inspired activities like mountain biking, skiing and whitewater rafting don't really pull in the POCs, either.

But hold on a sec. People of color hang out outside all the time. Aren't we the champions of cookouts, supreme at summer block parties? Critics of anti-loitering laws say they're aimed at keeping us from hanging outside too much, and Mexicans and Mexican-Americans make up the vast majority of people who work the land for food.

Oh, right. Those last two are where it starts getting complicated. There are real reasons, both historical and contemporary, that can make stepping outside in your free time while black or brown a politically charged move.

At the same time, there are some really interesting organizations and individuals pushing the boundaries of what "being outdoorsy" looks like, and we wanted to know what they're up to.

So join us for the Code Switch Podcast, Episode 2: Made For You And Me, as we explore what it means to be a person of color outdoors. Listen as you hike, garden, or stare blankly at the walls of your windowless cubicle, waiting for the weekend."
outdoors  us  race  bikes  biking  2016  losangeles  sanfrancisco  pasadena  swimming  swimmingpools  camping  nationalparks  immigration  refugees  gardens  adrianflorido  shereenmarisolmeraji  leahdonnella 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Daughter – A podcast series dedicated to sharing the untold stories of my mother, who also happens to have been a refugee, a child bride, a prison escapee, and my everything.
"A podcast series dedicated to sharing the untold stories of my mother, who also happens to have been a refugee, a child bride, a prison escapee, and my everything."

"Hi, I’m Bhan and I’m an independent podcast producer who is passionate about sharing the stories of marginalized groups. Daughter, is a series that is dedicated to sharing the untold stories of my mother. A South Sudanese woman who was unfortunately forced to become a child bride, a prisoner, and a refugee all before she turned 21 years old.

The story of my mother and I is one that uniquely situates the mother-daughter dynamic against the backdrop of our social positions while at the same time highlights the importance of voice and representation in our collective history.

This project is my attempt at adding my mother, and the stories of so many, into the chronicles of history where they belong. But it’s also a project that highlights the dynamic of two different cultures colliding as a result of the mother-daughter relationship.

You can follow this journey with me on:
Twitter & Instagram @daughterpodcast "
podcasts  tolisten  refugees  sudan  southsudan 
april 2017 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
Refugee Education - Dec 22, 2016: Refugee Education: The Crossroads of Globalization
[via: "Contemporary and Critical Education"
http://steelemaley.io/2017/02/25/contemporary-and-critical-education/

"There are significant questions in global education ecologies. According to UNESCO “Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights.” It is abhorrent that children displaced by war suffer multiple violations of human rights. Dryden-Peterson is adroitly wading into very complicated waters and I thank her for this. We need to wade carefully and look closely at Global Education and war. As Muir has eloquently written,”When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”"]

"Abstract

In this article, I probe a question at the core of comparative education—how to realize the right to education for all and ensure opportunities to use that education for future participation in society. I do so through examination of refugee education from World War II to the present, including analysis of an original data set of documents (n = 214) and semistructured interviews (n = 208). The data illuminate how refugee children are caught between the global promise of universal human rights, the definition of citizenship rights within nation-states, and the realization of these sets of rights in everyday practices. Conceptually, I demonstrate the misalignment between normative aspirations, codes and doctrines, and mechanisms of enforcement within nation-states, which curtails refugees’ abilities to activate their rights to education, to work, and to participate in society."



"Annette laid her future in the hands of the nation-state, and yet—she came to realize—her future would not be of the nation-state. She could continue to go to school every day, but she would not be able to vote, she would not be able to own property, and since she would not have the right to work, she would not be able to practice as a nurse. Five years later, Annette still lived in the same refugee camp and was not in school; she was a subsistence farmer who tended, among other crops, her family’s bananas (see Dryden-Peterson, 2011, 2015)."



"Annette’s experience in Uganda is one example of what I argue are remarkably similar situations of refugee children globally: caught between the global promise of universal human rights, the definition of citizenship rights within nation-states, and the realization of these sets of rights in everyday practices. In this article, I demonstrate the ways in which refugee education sits at the nexus of these tensions, illuminating the tug-of-war between globalization processes and persistently national institutions, especially in the domain of education. The analysis probes questions at the core of comparative education—how to realize the right to education for all and ensure opportunities to use that education for future participation in society. I situate these questions theoretically and empirically in the context of mass migration across nation-state borders.

To do so, I first bring together concepts that situate refugees vis-à-vis nation-states and use global institutionalism as a framework for understanding the mechanisms and institutions of rights activation, specifically, the right to education. Second, I describe my historical and policy analysis research design and methodology, including analysis of an original data set of documents from 1951 to the present (n = 214) and semistructured interviews (n = 208). Third, I present findings, tracing important changes in underlying theories related to the purposes and provision of refugee education from World War II to the present and highlighting changing relationships between UNHCR and nation-states as they negotiate responsibility for the education of refugees.

This examination of refugee education is substantively urgent. The number of refugees globally is at its highest level since World War II. In 2015 alone, 1.8 million people were newly displaced to become refugees, fleeing primarily from Syria but also from Iraq, Mali, and South Sudan; they joined almost 17 million others who have remained refugees for multiple decades, from ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, DRC, and Somalia, for example (UNHCR, 2016a, p. 2). Education is important to the life chances of individual refugees, like Annette; to the present stability of the nation-states in which they find exile; to the future reconstruction of the conflict-affected societies from which they fled; and to the economic and political security of an interconnected world polity (see, for example, Collier, 2007; Davies, 2004). This article provides a framework to understand and address refugee education in the context of exclusions of noncitizens within nation-states."
citizenship  comparativeeducation  education  policy  globalization  historicalanalysis  migration  multisitestudies  policyanalysis  qualitativeresearch  refugees  history  nationstates  sarahdryden-peterson  via:steelemaley 
february 2017 by robertogreco
David Byrne | Journal | A Society in Miniature
"How does one learn to think different?

The Tate show is wonderful, even if it only covers a smattering of Bob’s prodigious output. The curator, Achim Borchardt-Hume, met my friend and I, and we began to ask about the place where Bob spent some of his formative years, Black Mountain College, in western North Carolina, near Asheville. We were curious what sort of place would nurture the innovation and free thinking of someone like Bob, as well as that of host of other writers, artists, architects, composers and choreographers who passed through that place. Ultimately one wants to know, can that spark be re-ignited, in a contemporary way?

That tiny place in Asheville North Carolina seemed to possess some magic ingredient during its relatively short life—pre- and post-WWII—that produced an incredible number of ground-breaking creators in a wide range of fields. It almost seemed as if everyone who was touched by that place, by their experience there, went on to a have a major impact in the 20th century, and beyond.

It was established in 1933, during the depths of the economic depression, and by the time the war was in full swing the faculty included an amazing group of people. Here is a partial list: Josef and Anni Albers, he a teacher and artist from the Bauhaus in Germany, she a textile artist; Walter Gropius, the innovative German modernist architect; painter Jacob Lawrence; the painters Elaine and Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell; Alfred Kazin, the writer; Buckminster Fuller the writer and architect—he made his dome there in ‘48; Paul Goodman, the playwright and social critic and poet Charles Olson. Poet William Carlos Williams and even Albert Einstein eventually joined the staff, as well.

The students were a hugely influential and innovative bunch, too. As word spread others visited there during their summer sessions to create new work—in 1952, John Cage came down and staged his first "happening" here while students Rauschenberg and Merce Cunningham assisted him with what later became known as performance art. There were painters Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Dorothea Rockburne, Ben Shahn, Franz Kline, film director (Bonnie and Clyde!) Arthur Penn, writer Francine du Plessix Gray and poet Robert Creeley.

What kind of place could attract and nurture this diverse group of people?

One can’t help but wonder if there was a formula and if the kind of radical innovation that happened there and that was carried out into the world can be repeated. What was that formula? Was it the teachers? The location? The philosophy? The students—the self-selected types who opted to try that kind of experiment?

Here are the basics of the school’s philosophy. John Rice, the founder, believed that the arts are as important as academic subjects:

1. There was less segregation between disciplines than what might find at a conventional school.
2. There was also no separation between faculty and students; they ate together and mingled freely.
3. There were no grades.
4. One didn’t have to attend classes. During break sessions the faculty trusted the students, and, as a result—without the top down rules—the students worked harder than during normal class times.
5. Here’s what now seems like a really radical idea—manual labor (gardening, construction, etc) was also key. Try that at Harvard!. No one had outside jobs; they they all chipped in to build the actual school and to help serving meals or doing maintenance. The schools finances were somewhat precarious, so this was an practical economical measure as well as being philosophical. In order to allow for these daytime activities and work, classes were often scheduled at night!

A Society in Miniature—Created by its Members

It was also believed that the school community should be a kind of miniature society and to that end it should be democratic and communal. Students were on the school board and they chimed in on hiring and all the other decisions. All of these things—the work, play and learning balance, the non separation of disciplines and the self determination—were believed by the founders to be equally important. Students, Rice believed, learned better through experience than from the passing on of rote information. It was not a top down kind of education—it was non-hierarchical in that sense—and one was encouraged to discover things for oneself. Not all students are cut out for this (some kids do need discipline!), but the ones that did thrived. Needless to say, that also meant that as a result collaboration, experimentation and work across disciplines was all encouraged. The idea was less to turn out clever academics, but rather to help students find themselves and become a “complete person”. You weren’t learning a trade, but learning how to think, how to collaborate and cooperate.

The overarching theme as I see it (but maybe not explicitly expressed) is that students—with the help of the faculty—were here to create a kind of society in miniature. THIS was the deep and rich experience that they would take with them—something far more profound than specific lessons in creative writing, engineering or color theory.

I asked the curator, Achim, if these new ideas about progressive education and their implementation were what was primarily responsible for the explosion of creativity in this tiny school. He said, yes, those factors were influential, but just as much were other factors—the fact that many of the faculty were refugees (those pesky immigrants!) from the rise of nationalism and intolerance going on in Europe at the time. So you had this influx of some of the best and the brightest. The little college reached out for talent and they came to this little tolerant oasis in the Smoky Mountains. Oddly they did not end up at the big name universities—they gravitated to the mountains of North Carolina. (Though later some did end up at Yale and elsewhere.)

Rice himself asked Josef Albers to create the arts curriculum (though Philip Johnson made the recommendation), as the Bauhaus was being shuttered as Nazi influence grew across Germany. Albers was key in mixing disciplines in the arts department; there was little distinction made between fine and decorative arts (Ani Albers made nice rugs), as well none between architecture, theater, music, dance and writing. A writer in the literature deparment developed the pottery program. I personally find Albers artwork boring, but as pedagogical aids (and demonstrations of how our eyes and brains work) they are gorgeous. There’s an interactive tablet app version of his course available now—lots of fun.

Rauschenberg was very receptive to Werklehre, Albers's teaching method that incorporated design elements. In his teaching, Alber used various non-traditional art materials like paper, wire, rocks and wood to demonstrate the possibilities and limits of those various materials. He would have his students fold paper into sculptures so that they might understand the three dimensional properties of what is ordinarily seen as two dimensional. He had them solve color problems by devising situations in which colors are perceived differently in different environments. For a comparison, this was not about learning oil painting techniques

Bob hated Albers—he was too didactic for Bob’s freewheeling sensibility. But to his credit, Albers realized his limitations and brought in others who were very different in sensibility than he and his wife. He allowed for difference. Bob too adapted, he recognized the value of the discipline that Albers espoused.

Achim pointed out that these innovative artists allowed the Black Mountain students to experience the most innovative ideas that had been emerging in Europe firsthand (see learning by experience above). They were getting this stuff before many others and in a more visceral way. Intolerance was draining the sources of innovation from large parts of Europe and they would find roots in this odd corner of the New World.

The place Asheville was and still is an island of open mindedness and tolerance in a state that is fairly conservative. Other southern colleges were still quite segregated, but Black Mountain bravely bucked that tradition. They admitted Alma Stone Williams, the first black student to attend an all white educational institution in the South. I’m going to propose that the atmosphere in Asheville might have helped to allow these things to happen; in other southern towns Ms. Williams would have been hounded and possibly driven out. (That said, some of the locals thought the school as all about wild behavior and orgies.) The school wanted to bring the (NY-based black) painter Jacob Lawrence to visit, but busses, as we know, were segregated at the time, so they had a car drive him all the way down from NY. Homosexuality was tolerated there, as well, which, given that word of this tolerance might have gotten out, all of this may have encouraged young men who didn’t fit in to attend this college—a place where they wouldn’t be viewed simply as perverts and freaks. In this too I’d argue that Asheville had a tolerant hand.

Bob continued to be active post Black Mountain, and, though we might consider the idea naive, he believed in the power of art to bring people together. His series of international collaborations—ROCI—produced some wonderful work, but maybe just as important, his presence in many countries kick started a whole generation of younger artists in those places around the world.

Is This a Model for Today?

Are you kidding? Yes, in all ways—in the collaborations and the innovative work, in the tolerance and welcoming of the persecuted and unappreciated. We need to look to this place and time as a model for today—and boy do we need it now more than ever!

Why should we emulate this? Well, because it works! The ideas that flowed out of this place changed the course of 20th century innovation in a wide range of fields, and the influence is still being … [more]
2017  davidbyrne  bmc  blackmountaincollege  via:austinkleon  sfsh  education  thinking  learning  society  pocketsofutopia  utopia  roberrauschenberg  anialbers  josefalbers  achimborchardt-hume  jacoblawrence  diversity  johnrice  segregation  integration  agesegregation  hierarchy  horizontality  grades  grading  bauhaus  refugees  werklehre  asheville  almastonewilliams  alberteinstein  inclusivity  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  johncage  process  tcsnnmy  progressive  johndewey  work  community  democracy 
february 2017 by robertogreco
The angel of history
"These are chaotic times. But to the angel of history, it’s not a sudden eruption of chaos, but a manifestation of an ongoing vortex of chaos that stretches back indefinitely, without any unique origin. When we’re thrust into danger, in a flash we get a more truthful glimpse of history than the simple narratives that suffice in moments of safety. As Benjamin puts it, “the tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.”

Global refugees, the stubborn pervasiveness of white supremacy, the arbitrary power of the state, the fragility of national and international institutions — we’ve been here for some time now, haven’t we? One day, you stir, and there you are — right where you’ve always been. With nothing under your feet, and ghosts pausing for breath next to your cheek.

This is not normal — and yet it’s the same as it’s always been. Because there is no normal. Not really. Just a series of accidents, a trick of the light, a collective hallucination we’ve all worked to diligently maintain."



"There are a lot of people, on the left and the right, who share a version of this idea as a matter of dogma, without anything like the Kierkegaardian leap of faith Benjamin took in order to suspend his disbelief in it. Better to knock everything down, to build something new to replace it; heighten the stakes, so we have no choice but to take drastic steps to build paradise. I’m a lot less sure. I know what it took to build those things, and the emergencies that forced us to build them. It’s not an algebra problem to me, a clever lecture, a witty conjecture. I like those. Those are fun. This is not fun. This is blood and bones and broken things that do not come back. It would be nice to have a political or religious framework in which all those things can be mended or redeemed. It’s not available to me, except in its absence.

But for all that, I think I do believe in something smaller, more limited:

• I believe that moments of emergency are shot through with new possibilities;
• I believe there are more of us and there is more to us than we know;
• I think that we are always becoming something new;
• and this is because we don’t have a choice in the matter.

I think James Baldwin is right (Baldwin, like Benjamin, is somehow always right) when he writes in “Stranger in the Village” that while so many “American white men still nourish the illusion that there is some means of recovering the European innocence, of returning to a state in which black [and brown] men [and women] do not exist,” that
This is one of the greatest errors Americans can make. The identity they fought so hard to protect has, by virtue of that battle, undergone a change: Americans are as unlike any other white people in the world as it is possible to be. I do not think, for example, that it is too much to suggest that the American vision of the world — which allows so little reality, generally speaking, for any of the darker forces in human life, which tends until today to paint moral issues in glaring black and white — owes a great deal to the battle waged by Americans to maintain between themselves and black men a human separation which could not be bridged. It is only now beginning to be borne in on us — very faintly, it must be admitted, very slowly, and very much against our will— that this vision of the world is dangerously inaccurate, and perfectly useless. For it protects our moral high-mindedness at the terrible expense of weakening our grasp of reality. People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.
The time has come to realize that the interracial drama acted out on the American continent has not only created a new black man, it has created a new white man, too. No road whatever will lead Americans back to the simplicity of this European village where white men still have the luxury of looking on me as a stranger. I am not, really, a stranger any longer for any American alive. One of the things that distinguishes Americans from other people is that no other people has ever been so deeply involved in the lives of black men, and vice versa. This fact faced, with all its implications, it can be seen that the history of the American Negro problem is not merely shameful, it is also something of an achievement. For even when the worst has been said, it must also be added that the perpetual challenge posed by this problem was always, somehow, perpetually met. It is precisely this black-white experience which may prove of indispensable value to us in the world we face today. This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again.
"



"In short, I believe in the future — not a paradise, not a tranquil place, not a reward, but in all its mundane possibility and broken uncertainty. I choose to believe in the future, simply because we have nowhere else to go."
timcarmody  2017  culture  history  walterbenjamin  fragility  refugees  jamesbaldwin  deadwood 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Is Children of Men 2016’s Most Relevant Film? -- Vulture
"Now, in 2016, Children of Men is having a remarkable resurgence — not just because of its tenth anniversary but because of its unsettling relevance at the conclusion of this annus horribilis. There have been glowing reappraisals on grounds both sociopolitical (Children of Men is “obviously something that should be on people’s minds after Brexit and after the rise of Donald Trump,” political scientist Francis Fukuyama declared in September) and artistic (“Children of Men, like no other film this century, and perhaps no other movie ever, solves the meaning of life,” wrote Vanity Fair columnist Richard Lawson in August). It’s getting the kind of online attention it sorely lacked ten years ago, generating recent headlines like “The Syrian Refugee Crisis Is Our Children of Men Moment” and “Are We Living in the Dawning of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men?” As critic David Ehrlich put it in November, “Children of Men may be set in 2027,” but in 2016, “it suddenly became clear that its time had come.”

Cuarón, however, is not feeling like taking an overdue victory lap. Curled over a table in an upscale Mexico City restaurant recently, the 55-year-old director gets a little irritated when I laud the film’s imaginative prescience. “This thing was not imagination,” he says, jabbing his index finger into the tablecloth. By Cuarón’s estimation, anyone surprised at the accuracy of his movie’s predictions was either uninformed or willfully ignorant about the way the world already was by 2006. “People were talking about those things, just not in the mainstream!” he says. He was reading about refugees, know-nothing reactionaries, and eerie disruptions in biological processes during the early '00s. If Children of Men can be said to have a message, Cuarón encapsulates it: “What’s really relevant now,” he tells me, “is to stop being complacent.”"



"Action. Owen ran, Richmond followed, and astoundingly, all was going smoothly. They got to a hollowed-out bus filled with people, through which Theo is supposed to scamper. Suddenly, one of the squibs misfired and, horror of horrors, a squirt of fake blood landed on the lens. Cuarón, watching on a monitor, felt his world collapse. “I yell, ‘Cut!’ ” he says, recounting the moment like a ghost story. “But an explosion happens at the same time, so nobody hears me.” The camera kept rolling, and Cuarón realized he had no choice but to let it play through, even though he was sure the shot was ruined and had no idea how he would proceed. “When we said, ‘Cut,’ Chivo starts dancing like crazy,” he says. “And I was like, ‘No, it didn’t work! There’s blood!’ And Chivo turns to me and says, ‘You stupid! That was a miracle!’ ” Chivo was right. One of the film’s enduring strengths is how it uses hyper-minute details to lull you into accepting the plausibility of this dire reality: bus advertisements that hawk trendy clothes for dogs (kids may be gone, but capitalism isn’t, so wouldn’t the Gap push you to dress your pets?); Theo casually asking Julian if her parents were “in New York when it happened” and never explaining what terrifying event “it” might have been; or the elderly, white, German refugee using her native tongue to indignantly weep about being herded alongside Schwarzen. The blood-squib shot encapsulates this aesthetic, and has since become famous — an eerie moment that, once seen, can’t be shaken, even ten years later. This dystopia doesn’t feel like a metaphor or a cautionary tale; it feels like a revelation of deeper truth. As one of Children of Men’s biggest fans, Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek, put it in a documentary featurette that accompanied the DVD release, “A good portrait is more you than you are, yourself, and I think this is what the film does with our reality … It simply makes reality more what it already is.”"



"I saw Children of Men by accident on January 1, 2007, after finding that the movie I’d intended to see — Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima, if I recall correctly — was sold out. I picked Children of Men despite knowing absolutely nothing about it, and seeing it was one of the most profound experiences of my life. I came back to the theater to see Children of Men at least a half-dozen times over the following weeks. Then, a strange thing started to happen at night. I would dream about the final scene, in which Theo and Kee sit in the rowboat, awaiting the ship whose existence Theo won’t live to confirm. Upon waking, I’d find myself sobbing uncontrollably, soaking my pillow and heaving my gut.

Only after speaking with Cuarón did I realize why I wept: not with sorrow, but with hope for my own future. Children of Men imagines a fallen world, yes, but it also imagines a once-cynical person being reborn with purpose and clarity. It’s a story about how people like me, those who have the luxury of tuning out, need to awaken. This has been a brutal year, but we were already suffering from a kind of spiritual infertility: The old ideologies long ago stopped working. In a period where the philosophical pillars supporting the global left, right, and center are crumbling, the film’s desperate plea for the creation and protection of new ideas feels bracingly relevant.

Even though that lesson eluded me for a decade, I retained a passionate affection for Children of Men, long ago losing count of the number of times I’ve watched it. So it’s been deeply satisfying to see its robust second life among critics: It was particularly gratifying to see that, when the BBC polled 177 critics for a master list of the greatest films of the 21st century, Children of Men clocked in at number 13, beating out canonical flicks like 12 Years a Slave, Brokeback Mountain, Lost in Translation, and The Master.

Oddly enough, Cuarón doesn’t seem interested in talking about the film’s critical reappraisal, nor in agreeing that it is more relevant now than it was in 2006. We met up 12 days after Trump’s victory, and I expected him to be in full end-is-nigh mode, but he was relentlessly pleasant. He said he was not surprised that the atavistic rage of the Brexiters and Trumpists had overcome the weakening forces of centrist democracy. But most important, Cuarón was, against all odds, confident that better days lie ahead. “I used to think that any solution would come from the paradigms that I know,” he says. “Now I think that the only thing is to think of the unimaginable. For the new generation, the unimaginable is not as unimaginable.”

But, I counter, thanks to climate change, won’t we all be underwater pretty soon? Sure, he says, climate change could decimate humanity, but that’s no excuse to give in to fatalism. “There would be, still, pockets of populations that will scatter around the world,” he says. “What’s at stake is the culture as we know it.” Humans will continue to exist — and we have a responsibility to build a culture of respect and mutual assistance. It seems so dreadfully unlikely, but we are obligated to hope.

Cuarón is very specific about what he means by that word. For him, it is not a passive thing. It is not a messianic thing, either — he speaks derisively of the idea that you could vote for Barack Obama, then sit back passively and feel disappointed. “The hope is something that you create,” he says. “You live by hoping and then you create that change. Hope is trying to change your present for a better world. It’s pretty much up to you.” The gap between our world and that of Children of Men is closing rapidly, but he refuses to give up his faith in our wayward species. There are dark days ahead, to be sure, but perhaps they will also be days of transformation. “Look, I’m absolutely pessimistic about the present,” Cuarón says. “But I’m very optimistic about the future.”"
alfonsocuarón  childrenofmen  2016  2006  film  movies  abrahamriesman  climatechange  optimism  hope  refugees  francisfukuyama  richardlawson  complacency  dystopia  emmanuellubezki  filmmaking 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Chris Hadfield on Twitter: "With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look."
[See also: "99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year: Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too."
https://medium.com/future-crunch/99-reasons-why-2016-has-been-a-great-year-for-humanity-8420debc2823#.tj7kowhpd

"With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look.

1. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.

2. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.

3. The Giant Panda, arguably the world’s second cutest panda, has official been removed from the endangered species list.

4. @astro_timpeake became the first ESA astronaut from the UK, symbolizing a renewed British commitment to space exploration.

5. Tiger numbers around the world are on the rise for the first time in 100 years, with plans to double by 2022.

6. Juno, a piece of future history, successfully flew over 588 million miles and is now sending back unprecedented data from Jupiter.

7. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.

8. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade have seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.

9. Air travel continue to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.

10. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.

11. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas. A 22 year vaccination campaign has led to the elimination of the historic virus.

12. After a century, Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been proven correct, in a ‘moon shot’ scientific achievement.

13. China has announced a firm date for the end of the ivory trade, as public opinion is becoming more staunchly environmentalist.

14. A solar powered airplane flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, highlighting a new era of energy possibilities.

15. Costa Rica’s entire electrical grid ran on renewable energy for over half the year, and their capacity continues to grow.

16. Israeli and US researchers believe they are on the brink of being able to cure radiation sickness, after successful tests this year.

17. The ozone layer has shown that through tackling a problem head on, the world can stem environmental disasters, together.

18. A new treatment for melanoma has seen a 40% survival rate, taking a huge step forward towards long-term cancer survivability.

19. An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with 100% efficacy. Humans eradicated horror, together.

20. British Columbia protected 85% of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, in a landmark environmental agreement.

21. 2016 saw the designation of more than 40 new marine sanctuaries in 20 countries, covering an area larger than the United States.

22. These marine reserves include Malaysia’s 13 year struggle to complete a million hectare park, completed this year.

23. This also includes the largest marine reserve in history, created in Antarctica via an unprecedented agreement by 24 nations.

24. Atmospheric acid pollution, once a gloomy reality, has been tackled to the point of being almost back to pre-industrial levels.

25. Major diseases are in decline. The US saw a 50% mortality drop in colon cancer; lower heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.

26. Uruguay successfully fought tobacco companies to create a precedent for small countries looking to introduce health-focused legislation.

27. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years, and with poverty levels dropping worldwide, seems likely to continue.

28. The A.U. made strides to become more unified, launching an all-Africa passport meant to allow for visa-free travel for all citizens.

29. Fossil fuel emissions flatlined in 2016, with the Paris agreement becoming the fastest UN treaty to become international law.

30. China announced a ban on new coal mines, with renewed targets to increase electrical capacity through renewables by 2020.

31. One third of Dutch prison cells are empty as the crime rate shrank by more than 25% in the last eight years, continuing to drop.

32. In August went to the high Arctic with some incredible young artists. They helped open my eyes to the promise of the next generation.

33. Science, economics, and environmentalism saw a reversal in the overfishing trends of the United States this year.

34. @BoyanSlat successfully tested his Ocean Cleanup prototype, and aims to clean up to 40% of ocean-borne plastics starting this year.

35. Israel now produces 55% of its freshwater, turning what is one of the driest countries on earth into an agricultural heartland.

36. The Italian government made it harder to waste food, creating laws that provided impetus to collect, share and donate excess meals.

37. People pouring ice on their head amusingly provided the ALS foundation with enough funding to isolate a genetic cause of the disease.

38. Manatees, arguably the most enjoyable animal to meet when swimming, are no longer endangered.

39. Grizzlies, arguable the least enjoyable animal to meet while swimming, no longer require federal protection in US national parks.

40. Global aid increased 7%, with money being designated to helping the world’s 65 million refugees doubling.

41. 2016 was the most charitable year in American history. China’s donations have increased more than ten times since a decade ago.

42. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.

43. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.

44. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.

45. SpaceX made history by landing a rocket upright after returning from space, potentially opening a new era of space exploration.

46. Finally - The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, giving hope to Maple Leafs fans everywhere. Happy New Year.

There are countless more examples, big and small. If you refocus on the things that are working, your year will be better than the last."
chrishadfield  optimism  2016  improvement  trends  humanity  earth  environment  economics  health  poverty  refugees  crime  news  imprisonment  incarceration  prisons  us  canada  india  reforestation  forests  vaccinations  measles  manatees  tigers  giantpandas  wildlife  animals  multispecies  endangeredanimals  change  progress  oceans  pollutions  peace  war  colombia  government  srilanka  space  science  pacificocean  china  energy  sustainability  costarica  electricity  reneableenergy  britishcolumbia  ebola  ozone  africa  uruguay  smoking  disease  healthcare  dementia  mortality  environmentalism  italy  italia  bears  grizzlybears  spacex  gatesfoundation  angusharvey 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The New High-School Outsiders - The New York Times
"When these students land in Idaho, they may know little or no English. The bucolic landscape looks nothing like the America they say they fantasized about from glimpses of pop culture abroad. In this alien setting, young refugees may not want to assert their adolescent independence from parents or other relatives, who most likely represent teenagers’ only earthly ties to the world they formerly knew or people they once held dear. “Some struggle a lot — that comes with these traumatic experiences,” says Christian Lim, a school counselor who runs a program at Hillside Junior High and Borah High School in Boise for recent immigrants. “But the initial couple of months, there’s so much positive energy, just the euphoria to be here.”

Soon, however, a heavier reality sets in. Although refugees receive initial cash assistance and help finding a place to live, these benefits last only eight months. Lim says the subsequent transition for students can be difficult. “They start dealing with financial issues, the family losing their house, and suddenly kids are having to work after school until midnight or two in the morning,” he says."



"For many students, the camaraderie among the refugee-filled classes at Borah begins to satisfy some of the normal adolescent pangs to belong. And many refugees cite the district’s E.L.L. programs for seeing them through. Zahraa Naser, who is Muslim and fled to Syria from her home in Iraq after her father was kidnapped and murdered, says: “I loved those teachers. They were always the nicest, and even after you went out of the E.L.L. program, they would always help you.”

Classmates, however, can be more of a mystery. Although some self-sorting occurs at all schools, refugee students express a desire to get to know their American peers better but acknowledge that closing the gap between newcomer and native can be tough. This may be especially so in the current political climate, where a debate over refugees — which ones and how many to admit — is roiling election-year politics. Language barriers can make exchanging teenage confidences hard, though technology helps. Many refugees are more comfortable texting, the lingua franca of adolescence, than talking anyway. Still, friendships are often forged not in school but through parties or extracurricular activities, which few refugees have time or money for. “Only rich white kids can do that,” one refugee says. “I have to work.”"



"Boise has been resettling displaced persons since 1975, when Idaho answered President Gerald R. Ford’s call to states to take in 130,000 Southeast Asians taking flight in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Angie Smith, a photojournalist based in Los Angeles who has family in Idaho that dates back three generations, first took notice of the growing refugee presence on a trip to Boise five years ago. In a state whose population is more than 90 percent white, these new arrivals were sometimes hard to miss. Curious about this migration, she began photographing refugees in 2015. Many didn’t possess a single picture of their families, and Smith would give them one. In time, she asked Hanne Steen, a journalist and an oral historian, also based in Los Angeles, to help with the interviews, including those of seniors in Boise’s class of 2016, whom Smith photographed for The New York Times Magazine. Steen grew up in Africa, the daughter of American aid workers, and at one point, she and her parents were evacuated from Rwanda in the wake of genocide there. An exhibit of Smith’s work, accompanied by transcriptions of interviews with refugees, opened in public locations around the city this month, supported in part by a grant from Boise’s Department of Arts and History.

Zahraa Naser, the Iraqi refugee, says that she has American friends but that for now, her closest friends are those with experiences of dislocation like hers. Last year, she started wearing a hijab for the first time, as is customary for girls in her culture once they reach puberty, but she felt some friends stiffen and pull away. In her mind, the step was overdue; a younger sister had already begun to wear hers. “I think most people, when they see me, because I’m wearing the head scarf and I’m Muslim, think that I am, like, a terrorist, but I’m not,” she says. “I’m just the same as them. I’m not any different.”"
highschool  refugees  idaho  boise  2016  us  immigration  migration 
october 2016 by robertogreco
"Nobody is ever just a refugee": Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls for a new way of seeing the global migrant crisis — Quartz
"The Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called on attendees of the United Nation’s World Humanitarian day last week to rethink the refugee crisis.

“Nobody is ever just a refugee,” said the novelist and non-fiction writer, delivering the keynote address at the event in New York. “Nobody is ever just a single thing. And yet, in the public discourse today, we often speak of people as a single a thing. Refugee. Immigrant.”

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than a quarter of the world’s refugee population, about 18 million people fleeing conflict in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, and elsewhere.

[on YouTube, "Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - World Humanitarian Day 2016": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj5F5XaLj2E ]

Adichie, the author of Americanah and several other books, has a personal connection to migration. Her parents were displaced during the Nigeria-Biafra war and lived as refugees for three years. She proposed a new way of thinking and talking about those in need:
In my language, Igbo, the word for ‘love’ is ‘ifunanya’ and its literal translation is, ‘to see.’ So I would like to suggest today that this is a time for a new narrative, a narrative in which we truly see those about whom we speak.

Let us tell a different story. Let us remember that the movement of human beings on earth is not new. Human history is a history of movement and mingling. Let us remember that we are not just bones and flesh. We are emotional beings. We all share a desire to be valued, a desire to matter. Let us remember that dignity is as important as food.
"
chimamandangoziadichie  love  refugees  multidimensionality  2016  seeing  immigrants  diversity  dignity  dehumanization  humans  words  language  meaning  igbo 
september 2016 by robertogreco
For the Children of Refugees, Marie Kondo's 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' Reveals the Privilege of Clutter - The Atlantic
"The Japanese author’s guide to “tidying up” promises joy in a minimalist life. For many, though, particularly the children of refugees and other immigrants, it may not be so simple."



"It’s particularly ironic that the KonMari method has taken hold now, during a major refugee crisis, when the news constantly shows scenes of people fleeing their homes and everything they have. A Vice article, “All the Stuff Syrian Refugees Leave Behind During Their Journey to Europe” shows discarded things ranging from trash to toys to ticket stubs. Each items looks lonely and lost: like evidence of a life left behind. For a project titled “The Most Important Thing,” the photographer Brian Sokol asks refugees to show him the most important thing they kept from the place they left behind. The items they proffer range from the necessary (crutches), to the practical (a sewing machine), to the deeply sentimental (photographs of someone deeply loved, treasured instruments, family pets).

Against this backdrop, Kondo’s advice to live in the moment and discard the things you don’t need seems to ignore some important truths about what it means to be human. It’s easy to see the items we own as oppressive when we can so easily buy new ones. That we can only guess at the things we’ll need in the future and that we don’t always know how deeply we love something until it’s gone. "



"Kondo says that we can appreciate the objects we used to love deeply just by saying goodbye to them. But for families that have experienced giving their dearest possessions up unwillingly, “putting things in order” is never going to be as simple as throwing things away. Everything they manage to hold onto matters deeply. Everything is confirmation they survived."

[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/31/magazine/the-oppressive-gospel-of-minimalism.html ]
ariellebernstein  clutter  mariekondo  minimalism  immigration  tidying  2016  refugees  privilege 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Photos: Migrants From Around the World Come to Tijuana — to Wait - Voice of San Diego
"Rabiu Musah spent a long time getting to Tijuana.

“I took a flight from Ghana to Brazil. From Brazil I took a bus to Peru, then Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, then Mexico,” said the 23-year-old Ghanaian native. “So I passed through 10 countries to make it up here.” He traveled by bus and on foot for more than two months.

Musah wanted to apply for refugee status in the United States, fleeing an increasingly unstable situation in his home country. Like thousands of others, he didn’t know of a better way to do it than to make his way to the U.S.-Mexico border and ask for help.

“I had some problems with my colleagues, when they tried an assault on me,” said Musah, who worked as a graphic designer in his home country. “So staying there might be a problem for me, so with the little money I had, I decided to leave.” He decided to try to get to New York, where some of his family lives.

Musah didn’t have anywhere to go while his application was processed by overwhelmed and backlogged United States border authorities.

“I slept at the park for five days,” he said, resting while he waited in line. Residents of Tijuana give him and hundreds of others waiting for a decision food and water. Now, he’s staying at the Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava facility, one of the many migrant shelters in and around Tijuana that generally caters to deported people and those waiting to find out whether they can cross into the United States. The shelters are seeing an unprecedented surge in people stranded from all over the world as they await an answer from the U.S.

In these shelters, which are supported by donations and help from the Mexican government, refugees and migrants from Ghana are sharing tables with Haitians, Hondurans and others. Many of the migrants are Mexicans themselves – a large number of people from the violence-plagued states of Guerrero and Michoacan are among those trying to get to the U.S.

The story of Ghana’s diaspora is very much like the story others asking for humanitarian relief from other countries tell. Ghana has experienced political, economic and social instability for decades, resulting in widespread violence and lack of opportunity, particularly for trained professionals. Traditionally, Ghanaian refugees have tried to travel to North Africa or Europe, but as the refugee crises in both regions have worsened, more are traveling longer distances out of desperation and necessity.

The United Kingdom’s surprise decision last week to leave the European Union could mean even more people fleeing violence in their home countries choose to seek shelter in North America. Already there are people from eastern Europe showing up alongside those from Haiti, Mexico’s interior, Central America and across the African continent — refugees and migrants who might otherwise travel to Europe, but are either denied or choose instead come to the U.S.-Mexico border, where they can take their chances on the immigration systems in the U.S. but fall back on staying in Mexico.

More than a thousand migrants have arrived at the San Ysidro crossing in the past few weeks. Most of the people coming to cross from outside Mexico appear to be from Haiti. Some people here want to get to their families in the United States, said Father Jesús Árambarri, director of Desayunador Salesiano. Others are just in Tijuana because it was easier to get here rather than one of the other ports of entry. He said his facility, like other shelters in the region, is overwhelmed and in need of donations.

“Men’s clothes, men’s shoes, razors, other toiletries, there are hundreds of people coming through here every day, every day who could use those things,” Árambarri said. “Thanks to God, we’re getting through this difficulty.”

People staying in Tijuana say they’re not opposed to asking for humanitarian visas from Mexico’s government, should they be denied the opportunity to travel to the United States; people from Ghana say they are not certain whether they will be able to learn Spanish sufficiently to get a job. It is a concern not shared by Rabiu Musah, who said he has already picked some up.

“If I’m denied, maybe I will choose living here,” said Musah. “If I go back, it could be something like … it might end up with my life in danger. So going back to my country — maybe in a future time, but for now, no.”"
tijuana  border  asylum  migration  borders  refugees  2016  ghana  haiti  mexico  us  honduras 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions
"IN SUM, THE West’s establishment credibility is dying, and their influence is precipitously eroding — all deservedly so. The frenetic pace of online media makes even the most recent events feel distant, like ancient history. That, in turn, makes it easy to lose sight of how many catastrophic and devastating failures Western elites have produced in a remarkably short period of time.

In 2003, U.S. and British elites joined together to advocate one of the most heinous and immoral aggressive wars in decades: the destruction of Iraq; that it turned out to be centrally based on falsehoods that were ratified by the most trusted institutions, as well as a complete policy failure even on its own terms, gutted public trust.

In 2008, their economic worldview and unrestrained corruption precipitated a global economic crisis that literally caused, and is still causing, billions of people to suffer — in response, they quickly protected the plutocrats who caused the crisis while leaving the victimized masses to cope with the generational fallout. Even now, Western elites continue to proselytize markets and impose free trade and globalization without the slightest concern for the vast inequality and destruction of economic security those policies generate."



"Because that reaction is so self-protective and self-glorifying, many U.S. media elites — including those who knew almost nothing about Brexit until 48 hours ago — instantly adopted it as their preferred narrative for explaining what happened, just as they’ve done with Trump, Corbyn, Sanders, and any number of other instances where their entitlement to rule has been disregarded. They are so persuaded of their own natural superiority that any factions who refuse to see it and submit to it prove themselves, by definition, to be regressive, stunted, and amoral."



"BUT THERE’S SOMETHING deeper and more interesting driving the media reaction here. Establishment journalistic outlets are not outsiders. They’re the opposite: They are fully integrated into elite institutions, are tools of those institutions, and thus identify fully with them. Of course they do not share, and cannot understand, anti-establishment sentiments: They are the targets of this establishment-hating revolt as much as anyone else. These journalists’ reaction to this anti-establishment backlash is a form of self-defense. As NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen put it last night, “Journalists today report on hostility to the political class, as if they had nothing to do with it,” but they are a key part of that political class and, for that reason, “if the population — or part of it — is in revolt against the political class, this is a problem for journalism.”

There are many factors explaining why establishment journalists now have almost no ability to stem the tide of anti-establishment rage, even when it’s irrational and driven by ignoble impulses. Part of it is that the internet and social media have rendered them irrelevant, unnecessary to disseminate ideas. Part of it is that — due to their distance from them — they have nothing to say to people who are suffering and angry about it other than to scorn them as hateful losers. Part of it is that journalists — like anyone else — tend to react with bitterness and rage, not self-assessment, as they lose influence and stature.

But a major factor is that many people recognize that establishment journalists are an integral part of the very institutions and corrupted elite circles that are authors of their plight. Rather than being people who mediate or inform these political conflicts, journalists are agents of the forces that are oppressing them. And when journalists react to their anger and suffering by telling them that it’s invalid and merely the byproduct of their stupidity and primitive resentments, that only reinforces the perception that journalists are their enemy, thus rendering journalistic opinion increasingly irrelevant.

Brexit — despite all of the harm it is likely to cause and despite all of the malicious politicians it will empower — could have been a positive development. But that would require that elites (and their media outlets) react to the shock of this repudiation by spending some time reflecting on their own flaws, analyzing what they have done to contribute to such mass outrage and deprivation, in order to engage in course correction. Exactly the same potential opportunity was created by the Iraq debacle, the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of Trumpism and other anti-establishment movements: This is all compelling evidence that things have gone very wrong with those who wield the greatest power, that self-critique in elite circles is more vital than anything.

But, as usual, that’s exactly what they most refuse to do. Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, they are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to de-legitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic, and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures that there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future."
glenngreenald  economics  europe  politics  brexit  2016  vincentbevins  michaelsandel  elitism  garyyounge  ianjack  jeremycorbyn  hillaryclinton  donaltrump  neoliberalism  policy  government  eu  uk  us  establishment  inequality  greatrecession  2008  freemarket  markets  finance  refugees  iraq  libya  tonyblair  financialcrisis  disenfranchisement  alienation  corruption  journalism  media  jayrosen  class  classism  globalization  insularity  oppression  authority  berniesanders  christopherhayes  capitalism  nationalism  racism  xenophobia  condescension  michaeltracey  authoritarianism  fascism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The big picture
"When it comes to very significant and complex issues such as the European refugee and migrant crisis, news organizations play a fundamental role in bringing the public’s attention to these events. In reporting the news, images are as important as words and in some way even more, because they are faster to deliver a message, easier to remember and more effective to convey emotions.

It was the terrible picture of a Syrian child laying dead on a Turkish beach that woke up the whole Europe, pointing out the dreadful humanitarian crisis that until then had gone almost unnoticed. However, due to either pressure from the economy, plain unprofessionalism or even political biases, some of the mainstream media did not cover this crisis in the most ethical and competent way."
ethics  refugees  unprofessionalism  professionalism  media  photography  2016  europe  migration 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Tijuana Shelters Help With US Immigration Backlog Of Haitians | KPBS
"U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that the agency will process these migrants on a “case by case” basis. While migrants await their turn, Tijuana's shelters offer food and a place to sleep. At Madre Asunta, the Haitian women made friends with women from Central America and southern Mexico, who were also staying at the shelter. Their children played together as they communicated in a mix of gestures, smiles, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

“We’re a family,” Mevil said.

She told a Mexican woman about her difficult journey through Latin America, concluding, “I have more lives than a cat.”

The Mexican woman responded, “That means you have six more,” and they giggled together.

Footsteps away from Madre Asunta, a men’s migrant shelter called Casa del Migrante is accepting Haitian men as well as some women and children, because there aren’t enough beds at the women’s shelter.

Director Pat Murphy called the influx of migrants a “crisis” and “an emergency.”

“People here have told us, ‘there are thousands of people coming behind us,’” Murphy said.

During an especially busy day last week, Casa del Migrante slept 56 Haitians in addition to about 150 migrants from southern Mexico and Central America.

In less than two weeks, Murphy said his shelter received migrants from 11 different countries, mostly from Haiti. Murphy said he considers them refugees.

Although these migrants seek to enter the U.S., Tijuana must address the surge during the immigration backlog.

Casa del Migrante and three other Tijuana shelters are offering the migrants food and beds. Mexican immigration officials let the shelters know when U.S. Customs and Border Protection is ready to process a few more people.

“When their place in the line is ready, they call us, and we transport them right to the front door of immigration,” Murphy explained.

But he said Tijuana officials are relying too heavily on the shelters, which depend on donations.

Haitian migrants came just as the shelter was seeing a spike in Central Americans and southern Mexicans fleeing violence, Murphy said. Some had to sleep on the floor.

He said he thinks Tijuana should open a shelter of its own, like those opened during heavy rains tied to El Niño.

“They have to just admit that this isn’t a temporary problem, that this is going to continue for a while,” he said.

In the meantime, Tijuana residents are bringing food, clothes and other donations for the Haitians, Africans and other migrants.

“The best news of all this was the generosity of the people, just showing up at the door, saying, ‘here’s food for 50 people,’” Murphy said. “Even though they’re not rich themselves, they realize, ‘I may have a little bit more to share.’”

Twenty-five-year-old Haitian Jeff Son Pascal arrived at Casa del Migrante in early June, also by way of a two-month journey departing from Brazil.

Like hundreds of other migrants, he slept on the sidewalk just south of the San Ysidro Port of Entry for the first few days. Then he was redirected to the shelter while awaiting his turn to see a U.S. immigration official.

He said he is grateful for Casa del Migrante, where he and other Haitians take turns helping with domestic duties, such as washing clothes and serving food.

“The Casa is very good, very good,” he said in broken Spanish.

Son Pascal embarked on his journey alone, without friends or family, but he said he has made many friends in Tijuana, both Haitian and Mexican.

He said he dreams of a better life in the U.S.

When asked how many people are coming behind him, Son Pascal sighed and said: “Many, many, many, many, many.”"
sandiego  haiti  immigration  border  borders  mexico  brasil  brazil  tijuana  refugees  casadelmigrante  2016  migration  sanysidro  us 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Frances Stonor Saunders · Where on Earth are you? · LRB 3 March 2016
"The one border we all cross, so often and with such well-rehearsed reflexes that we barely notice it, is the threshold of our own home. We open the front door, we close the front door: it’s the most basic geographical habit, and yet one lifetime is not enough to recount all our comings and goings across this boundary. What threshold rites do you perform before you leave home? Do you appease household deities, or leave a lamp burning in your tabernacle? Do you quickly pat down pockets or bag to check you have the necessary equipment for the journey? Or take a final check in the hall mirror, ‘to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet’?

You don’t have a slave to guard your door, as the ancients did, so you set the alarm (or you set the dog, cave canem). Keys? Yes, they’re in your hand. You have ‘the power of the keys’, the right of possession that connects you to thousands of years of legal history, to the rights of sovereigns and states, to the gates of salvation and damnation. You open the door, step through, and turn to close it – through its diminishing arc, the details of your life inside recede. ‘On one side, me and my place,’ Georges Perec wrote:
The private, the domestic (a space overfilled with my possessions: my bed, my carpet, my table, my typewriter, my books, my odd copies of the Nouvelle Revue française); on the other side, other people, the world, the public, politics. You can’t simply let yourself slide from one into the other, can’t pass from one to the other, neither in one direction nor in the other. You have to have the password, have to cross the threshold, have to show your credentials, have to communicate … with the world outside.

You lock the door. You’ve crossed the border. You’ve ignored Pascal’s warning that all humanity’s misery derives from not being able to sit alone in a quiet room. When the Savoyard aristocrat Xavier De Maistre was sentenced to six weeks’ house arrest for duelling in 1790, he turned his detention into a grand imaginary voyage. ‘My room is situated on the 45th degree of latitude,’ he records in A Journey around my Room. ‘It stretches from east to west; it forms a long rectangle, 36 paces in perimeter if you hug the wall.’ And so he sets off, charting a course from his desk towards a painting hung in a corner, and from there he continues obliquely towards the door, but is waylaid by his armchair, which he sits in for a while, poking the fire, daydreaming. Then he bestirs himself again, presses north towards his bed, the place where ‘for one half of our life’ we forget ‘the sorrows of the other half’. And so on, ‘from the expedition of the Argonauts to the Assembly of Notables, from the lowest depths of hell to the last fixed star beyond the Milky Way, to the confines of the universe, to the gates of chaos’. ‘This,’ he declares, ‘is the vast terrain which I wander across in every direction at leisure.’

Whether around your room in forty days, or around the world in eighty days, or around the Circle Line in eighty minutes, whether still or still moving, the self is an act of cartography, and every life a study of borders. The moment of conception is a barrier surpassed, birth a boundary crossed. Günter Grass’s Oskar, the mettlesome hero of The Tin Drum, narrates, in real time, his troubling passage through the birth canal and his desire, once delivered into the world, to reverse the process. The room is cold. A moth beats against the naked light bulb. But it’s too late to turn back, the midwife has cut the cord.

Despite this uncommon ability to report live on his own birth, even Oskar’s power of self-agency is subject to the one inalienable rule: there is only one way into this life, and one way out of it. Everything that happens in between – all the thresholds we cross and recross, all the ‘decisions and revisions that a minute will reverse’ – is bordered by this unbiddable truth. What we hope for is safe passage between these two fixed boundaries, to be able to make something of the experience of being alive before we are required to stop being alive. There’s no negotiating birth or death. What we have is the journey.

On the evening of 3 October 2013, a boat carrying more than five hundred Eritreans and Somalis foundered just off the tiny island of Lampedusa. In the darkness, locals mistook their desperate cries for the sound of seagulls. The boat sank within minutes, but survivors were in the water for five hours, some of them clinging to the bodies of their dead companions as floats. Many of the 368 people who drowned never made it off the capsizing boat. Among the 108 people trapped inside the bow was an Eritrean woman, thought to be about twenty years old, who had given birth as she drowned. Her waters had broken in the water. Rescue divers found the dead infant, still attached by the umbilical cord, in her leggings. The longest journey is also the shortest journey.

Already, in the womb, our brains are laying down neural pathways that will determine how we perceive the world and our place in it. Cognitive mapping is the way we mobilise a definition of who we are, and borders are the way we protect this definition. All borders – the lines and symbols on a map, the fretwork of walls and fences on the ground, and the often complex enmeshments by which we organise our lives – are explanations of identity. We construct borders, literally and figuratively, to fortify our sense of who we are; and we cross them in search of who we might become. They are philosophies of space, credibility contests, latitudes of neurosis, signatures to the social contract, soothing containments, scars.

They’re also death zones, portals to the underworld, where explanations of identity are foreclosed. The boat that sank half a mile from Lampedusa had entered Italian territorial waters, crossing the imaginary line drawn in the sea – the impossible line, if you think about it. It had gained the common European border, only to encounter its own vanishing point, the point at which its human cargo simply dropped off the map. Ne plus ultra, nothing lies beyond.

I have no theory, no grand narrative to explain why so many people are clambering into their own hearses before they are actually dead. I don’t understand the mechanisms by which globalisation, with all its hype of mobility and the collapse of distance and terrain, has instead delivered a world of barricades and partition, in which entire populations seem to be living – and dying – in a different history from mine. All I know is that a woman who believed in the future drowned while giving birth, and we have no idea who she was. And it’s this, her lack of known identity, which places us, who are fat with it, in direct if hopelessly unequal relationship to her.

Everyone reading this has a verified self, an identity, formed through and confirmed by identification, that is attested to be ‘true’. You can’t function in the world without it: you can’t open a bank account, get a credit card or national insurance number, or a driving licence, or access to your email and social media accounts, or a passport or visa, or points on your reward card. You can’t have your tonsils removed without it. You can’t die without it. Whether you’re conscious of it or not, whether you like it or not, the verified self is the governing calculus of your life, the spectrum on which you, as an individual, are plotted from cradle to grave. As Pierre-Joseph Proudhon explained, you must be ‘noted, registered, enumerated, accounted for, stamped, measured, classified, audited, patented, licensed, authorised, endorsed, reprimanded, prevented, reformed, rectified and corrected, in every operation, every transaction, every movement.’"



"All migrants know that the reply to the question ‘Who on earth are you?’ is another question: ‘Where on earth are you?’ And so they want what we’ve got, a verified self that will transport them to our side of history. Thus, the migrant identity becomes a burden to be unloaded. Migrants often make the journey without identity documents, and I mentioned one reason for this, namely that the attempt to obtain them in their country of origin can be very dangerous. Others lose them at the outset when they’re robbed by police or border guards, or by people traffickers en route. Many destroy them deliberately because they fear, not without reason, that our system of verification will be a mechanism for sending them back. In Algeria, they’re called harraga, Arabic for ‘those who burn’. And they don’t only burn their documents: many burn their fingertips on hobs or with lighters or acid, or mutilate them with razors, to avoid biometric capture and the prospect of expulsion. These are the weapons of the weak.

The boat carrying more than five hundred Eritreans and Somalis sank off Lampedusa in October 2013, barely three months after the pope’s visit. Whether they had lost their identity papers, or destroyed them, when facing death the people on board wanted to be known. As the boat listed and took on water, and with most of the women and children stuck below deck, those who knew they wouldn’t make it called out their names and the names of their villages, so that survivors might carry ashore news of their deaths.​5 There isn’t really any other way: there’s no formal identification procedure for those who drown. In Lampedusa’s cemetery, the many plaques that read ‘unidentified migrant’ merely tell us that people have been dying in the Mediterranean for at least 25 years – more than twenty thousand of them, according to current estimates.

Everyone must be counted, but only if they count. Dead migrants don’t count. The woman who drowned while giving birth was not a biometric subject, she was a biodegradable one. I don’t want to reconstitute her as a sentimental artefact, an object to be smuggled into the already crowded room of my bad conscience. But … [more]
borders  identity  cartography  francesstonorsaunders  georgesperec  lampedusa  güntergrass  refugees  identification  personhood  geopolitics  legibility  mobility  passports  pierre-josephproudhon  globalization  thresholds  homes  milankundera  socialmedia  digitalexhaust  rfid  data  privacy  smartphones  verification  biometrics  biometricdata  migration  immigration  popefrancis  facialidentification  visas  paulfussell  stefanzweig  xenophobia  naomimitchison  nobility  surveillance  intentionality  gilbertharding  whauden  lronhubbard  paulekman 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Transcript | This American Life: 406: True Urban Legends
"Act One. What's That Smell?

Ira Glass
What's that smell? The way Steve Poizner sees it, he did something admirable, something daring, something unusual. And when I read his account of what he did, he seemed sincere about it too. He's a bit of a corny writer. Though even that, you can kind of forgive him. He's not a professional author.

At the age of 45, after starting one Silicon Valley company that he sold for $30 million and a second one that sold for $1 billion, Poizner didn't need to work anymore. He says, he wanted to do some good for people. And so he called a dozen public high schools and volunteered to be a guest teacher of some sort. One called him back, a high school called Mount Pleasant. And Poizner got into his car, drove the 15 miles from his neighborhood in Los Gatos in Silicon Valley to East San Jose."



"I heard about Steve Poizner and the controversy over whether his book got things wrong when a publicist for the book contacted our radio program. She wrote an email describing the incident at the bookstore this way, "Liberal activist took offense at how he describes the school, accurately, as plagued by gangs, teen pregnancy, and disrepair. They are trying to shut him up and discredit his argument about charter schools." Poizner makes a case for charter schools late in the book. "This is a classic case of liberals refusing to listen to simple facts and rational solutions."

So I read the excerpt of his book online. There's a full chapter, and Poizner links to it from his campaign website. You can read it yourself. And it raised more questions than it answered. It's a very odd chapter, all about Poizner's first days teaching a class at Mount Pleasant. There's scene after scene where he's floundering, standing in front of the class asking big, abstract questions. "Would you want to live in a country where the leader didn't want to lead, if the money issued by the government wasn't any good, or people were treated unfairly?" None of the students respond.

He's a rookie teacher. He doesn't know how to engage them yet. Nothing unusual there. But here's the strange thing. The conclusion Poizner comes to, again and again, during these scenes isn't that he's doing anything wrong, or he has anything to learn as a teacher. Instead, he blames the kids. They're tough. They're unmotivated. They lack ambition. They're wired differently.

The students, meanwhile, in every scene in the book-- I've read the whole book-- seem utterly lovely. Polite, they don't interrupt, they don't talk back. They just seem a little bored. His very worst student is a graduating senior, who's hoping to go into the Marines. Checking school records, I learn that Poizner's unmotivated, unambitious class included one of the school valedictorians, Charles Rudy, who graduated and went to college.

Could he be getting this so completely wrong, I wondered? Could he have written an entire book misperceiving so thoroughly what was happening in front of his own eyes and was now trying to use that book to run for governor? It seemed too incredible. And that's what brought me to San Jose last week to visit the school and its neighborhood."

[PLUS]

"Foreigners arrive in the United States believing all kinds of misinformation about us...misinformation that turns out to be true. Mary Wiltenburg tells the story."

[audio here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/406/true-urban-legends

"Act Two. Fleeing is Believing.

A retired millionaire tries to understand the reality of a tough, seedy, inner city neighborhood. But what if the neighborhood is none of those things? Ira Glass evaluates the claims of this millionaire, Steve Poizner, who is also running for governor of California."]
stevepoizner  2010  sanjose  losgatos  california  education  schools  perception  class  poltics  urbanlegends  via:robertsears  data  statistics  mountpleasanthighschool  eastsanjose  condescencion  refugees  immigration  culture  society  thisamericanlife 
february 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 Data Tells Visual Stories of a Changing World - Scientific American Blog Network
"Two interactive infographics help users visualize today's global refugee crisis and compare it with similar crises in the past "



""While this visualization limits its scope to Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa, and only covers 2012-2015, these decisions allow for a remarkable level of granularity in the stories it tells. To leave all filters off and watch the continuous, daily flow of asylum-seekers is mesmeric, if rather overwhelming. But hover over Syria, and the formerly chaotic data becomes powerfully transparent. Moreover, as the slider inches toward September and October of 2015, the dense stream of white pixels becomes not only illuminating, but somehow, oddly moving.

As the current refugee crisis continues to transform lives and challenges more nations to respond—ideally with compassion—this map is bound to shift in new ways every day. I trust that, at the very least, someone will be there to visualize it.
datascience  data  refugees  datavisualization  via:willrichardson  2016  maps  mapping 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Zócalo Public Square :: For Refugees, Home Is a Place Called Never
"Having Fled Sarajevo as a Child, I Find It Hard Telling Syrians There Is No Going Back"



"Like Basel from Damascus, even after fleeing the terror of war, we still were not safe. I remember the danger we faced as I see scenes of refugees like Basel desperately making their way across Europe. We had to deal with the legions of those eager to take advantage of our vulnerability—the smugglers, the criminals, the traffickers, and the violent xenophobes. Countries like Hungary also closed their borders to us, as they are doing now to Syrians. Others humiliated us to deter more refugees from coming. One of my cousins fled to Denmark, where she was denied freedom of movement and kept in a barracks for a year. Another two were held in long quarantine after they arrived in the Czech Republic, as if they might contaminate the population with their sense of loss. Even those who welcomed us did so only to a point. When the refugee population swelled, when we overstayed our welcome, we were blamed for everything from overcrowded schools to currency inflation.

At some point, refugees must make a definitive choice regarding their identity. Some adopt an Anglicized nickname, a new persona, a new history to be proud of, a new flag to pledge allegiance to, a new city to love. Others, like myself, continued to identify as a Sarajevan and a refugee, clinging to memories. I had to remember where I sat in my classroom, the name of the boy I liked, the lady at the newspaper stand downstairs. If I forgot, that meant giving up hope that we would go back one day. I would have given anything on this earth to wake up at home in Sarajevo on a dull day, watch my parents rush around getting ready for work, and run downstairs to get the paper and a pack of Walter Wolf cigarettes for my mother. Just one more time.

The most important part of being a refugee is being a good loser; it’s the only way to survive this. You learn to lose your nationality, your home to strangers with bigger guns, your father to mental illness, one aunt to genocide, and another to nationalism and ignorance. You learn to lose your kids, friends, dreams, neighbors, loves, diplomas, careers, photo albums, home movies, schools, museums, histories, landmarks, limbs, teeth, eyesight, sense of safety, sanity, and your sense of belonging in the world.

Basel, and all Syrian refugees, must master living with whatever is left of a person after everything is stripped away. Once he arrives where he’s going and sets his bags down, that’s when Basel will have to process everything, when he will count everything he’s had to leave behind. He will reflect on the past four years and wonder how the world watched and did nothing.

In 2014, I went back to Damascus as part of a UNICEF mission. Crossing the Lebanese border into Syria, in a sea of women carrying children and bags of clothes, I saw my mother everywhere. It was profoundly disturbing to put on a blue helmet every day before going out, and I struggled greatly to reconcile my U.N., refugee and survivor identities.

One morning in April 2014, I put on that blue helmet to tour the schools with a colleague in Damascus. We were about 30 meters from the school entrance when the mortar hit in front of us, and I fell to the ground. A guard shouted at me to get up and run inside before the next one hit, but I was too scared to move. That’s when I remembered Zinka and the balcony shooting. There is a low, soft whistle that is heard before a mortar hits very close. It happens just a fraction of a second before it hits, and somewhere deep inside, I had buried that sound and that memory.

The most difficult part of my journey as a refugee is the coming to terms with the fact that I can’t prevent this from happening to someone else. In Damascus, I often found myself telling displaced children whom I worked with that “schools and houses can be rebuilt when the war is over.” Perhaps I should have said something more pragmatic, told them they would never go home again, at least not to the place where they left their toys and friends, where they felt safe and loved. But instead, I said things like, “You’ll go back home when the war is over.” It’s obvious now that I not only lied to them, but also to myself. I only stopped identifying as a refugee when I stopped fighting, and I acknowledged that nothing will ever put my family and my life back together the way it was.

Despite these dark recollections, it’s generally not war that refugees choose to remember, but the people who help you. My mother’s colleague who snuck us out of Serbia, French volunteers who took refugee kids camping, and those who came to welcome us at the airport when we were resettled in Ohio; those are the people I think of daily. I hope Basel finds such people on his path too."
refugees  syria  2016  draganakaurin  home  identity  war  terror  migration  memory 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Narrating the Chinese Vietnamese Identity
"Narrating the Chinese Vietnamese Identity is an oral history project that investigates the histories, cultural backgrounds, communities, and pre- and post- migration identities of the first and second generation of Chinese Vietnamese in America and shares their stories through interviews and photographs of the places they now call home.

This project seeks to provide an accessible space to share the first and second generation stories of the Vietnam War—an event that has shaped millions of lives both in and outside of the U.S.

This project focuses on the experiences of the Chinese Vietnamese (also known as Hoa people or ethnic Chinese in Vietnam) who settled there and how nearly one million refugees from a world away had come to call America their new home.

Having grown up on stories of escape, I was inspired by my family's story and many others whose walks of life were cut from the same fabric.

Through this project, I explored questions such as:

How do you navigate and construct what it means to belong within multiple historical narratives? In what ways have multiple narratives of history and place shaped the perceptions of how we understood identity?"
us  vietnam  china  migration  immigration  oralhistory  hoa  refugees 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Ominous Story of Syria's Climate Refugees - Scientific American
"Farmers who have escaped the battle-torn nation explain how drought and government abuse have driven social violence"



"Climatologists say Syria is a grim preview of what could be in store for the larger Middle East, the Mediterranean and other parts of the world. The drought, they maintain, was exacerbated by climate change. The Fertile Crescent—the birthplace of agriculture some 12,000 years ago—is drying out. Syria’s drought has destroyed crops, killed livestock and displaced as many as 1.5 million Syrian farmers. In the process, it touched off the social turmoil that burst into civil war, according to a study published in March in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. A dozen farmers and former business owners like Ali with whom I recently spoke at camps for Syrian refugees say that’s exactly what happened.

The camp where I meet Ali in November, called Pikpa, is a gateway to Europe for asylum seekers who survive the perilous sea crossing from Turkey. He and his family, along with thousands of other fugitives from Syria’s devastated farmlands, represent what threatens to become a worldwide crush of refugees from countries where unstable and repressive governments collapse under pressure from a toxic mix of climate change, unsustainable farming practices and water mismanagement.

40 YEARS OF FURY

Syria’s water crisis is largely of its own making. Back in the 1970s, the military regime led by President Hafez al-Assad launched an ill-conceived drive for agricultural self-sufficiency. No one seemed to consider whether Syria had sufficient groundwater and rainfall to raise those crops. Farmers made up water shortages by drilling wells to tap the country’s underground water reserves. When water tables retreated, people dug deeper. In 2005 the regime of Assad’s son and successor, President Bashar al-Assad, made it illegal to dig new wells without a license issued personally, for a fee, by an official—but it was mostly ignored, out of necessity. “What’s happening globally—and particularly in the Middle East—is that groundwater is going down at an alarming rate,” says Colin Kelley, the PNAS study’s lead author and a PACE postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s almost as if we’re driving as fast as we can toward a cliff.”

Syria raced straight over that precipice. “The war and the drought, they are the same thing,” says Mustafa Abdul Hamid, a 30-year-old farmer from Azaz, near Aleppo. He talks with me on a warm afternoon at Kara Tepe, the main camp for Syrians on Lesbos. Next to an outdoor spigot, an olive tree is draped with drying baby clothes. Two boys run among the rows of tents and temporary shelters playing a game of war, with sticks for imaginary guns. “The start of the revolution was water and land,” Hamid says."
johnwendle  2015  syria  drought  climatechange  globalwarming  environment  climate  agriculture  water  crisis  refugees  land  revolution 
december 2015 by robertogreco
What's in the UN Paris Climate Deal? - The Atlantic
"In some ways, the most hopeful news out of Paris—the new 1.5 degree goal—is also the least realistic. Recent science has indicated that warming to two degrees, still the stated international red line, might be catastrophic, creating mega-hurricanes and possibly halting the temperate jet stream which waters American and European farmland.

From that perspective, 1.5 degrees is an encouraging, ambitious goal. But it’s also a promise that costs negotiators nothing while indicating great moral seriousness.

Because here’s the thing: The math still doesn’t work. 2015 is the hottest year on measure. Because of the delay between when carbon enters the atmosphere and when it traps heat, we are nearly locked into nearly 1.5 degrees of warming already. Many thought the world would abandon the two degree target at Paris due to its impracticality.

In order to slide under the 1.5-degree target, global emissions have to peak in the next five or six years. (Emissions slowed this year, mostly due to China’s economic downturn, but they are expected to rise again soon as India adds industrial capacity.) The world has to completely stop emitting carbon around 2060. Can it be done?

Now we find out. If climate change worries you, think about not only how you vote, but also how you spend your civic attention and how you communicate your concern to policy-makers. Think too about how you’re supporting those already affected by it.

To my mind, climate is our great story. No other narrative envelopes all of humanity in quite the same way, forcing answers about the ethics of food, of oil, of technology, of economic security, of democratic republics and command capitalism, of colonialism and indigenous peoples, of who in the world is rich and who in the world is poor.

We live in the middle of history. Nations still bicker over borders, flaunt weapons of mass death, and abhor refugees in their midst. Today they tried, miraculously and inadequately, to care for their common good."
robinsonmeyer  climatechange  climate  policy  2015  capitalism  economics  oli  energy  borders  weapons  refugees  humanity  anthropocene  colonialism  decolonization  hope 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Rights of Refugees Who Do Wrong - The New Yorker
"In Sierra Leone, it is often said that female child soldiers grow up to be prostitutes, having lost their sexual purity, and that male soldiers dominate the okada industry, a motorbike taxi service, one of the cheapest forms of transportation. Theresa Betancourt, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said that many of the okada drivers are dismissed as crazy and dangerous. Betancourt has been following war-exposed youth in Sierra Leone and has found that child soldiers endured new forms of trauma once the violence ended. Some returned to communities that performed cleansing and atonement ceremonies, but others were blamed for their brutal deeds, and continued to do drugs. The latter group often became hostile, aggressive, and anxious; their inability to reënter their community as equals, she said, could serve as a reminder of their unresolved guilt and remorse.

Sarah Sherman-Stokes, of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at the Boston University School of Law, told me that she sees a similar dynamic in the U.S. The refugees she represents tend to respond to “any threats to their well-being or personal safety in a really disproportionate way. It has to be—that’s the only way they made it this far.” She added, “Their bad acts, which are often fuelled by substance abuse, tend to be responses to untreated, protracted complex trauma. And then we send them back to the place where the trauma was inflicted.”

In response to the Syrian-refugee crisis, the Obama Administration has promised to increase the number of refugees it resettles, from seventy thousand a year to a hundred thousand. The Department of State gives preference to the most vulnerable refugees, who have been tortured or persecuted at home. Their traumas will inevitably follow them here. Studies show that migration, especially when coupled with discrimination, elevates people’s risk of psychosis. An analysis of more than four million medical records in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that immigrants from East Africa and Southeast Asia were nearly twice as likely to develop psychosis as the general population was.

Within the immigration system, the link among crime, mental illness, and trauma is largely ignored. Heidi Altman, the legal director of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, in Washington, D.C., told me, “In recent years, we’ve seen this trend of people who survived the big civil wars of the nineties—Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone—come to the U.S. as refugees, and now, many years later, are struggling with the traumas they endured.” Immigration detention, she said, is even less suited for the mentally ill than are jails and prisons, which have become the default provider for Americans who need psychiatric care. “In the criminal justice system, at least there is some acknowledgment that jails are functioning as de-facto psychiatric facilities,” she said. “But that conversation isn’t even happening on the immigration side.”

Until 2011, the immigration system had no guidelines for dealing with people who were mentally impaired or incompetent, and they routinely appeared in court without lawyers. In the past few years, in response to a class-action suit, California, Arizona, and Washington, along with some cities, have begun providing government-appointed counsel for the mentally incompetent. But in most parts of the country these people must either find a lawyer on their own or, like eighty-four per cent of detained migrants, represent themselves. Immigration law is notoriously complex; to understand it, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has written, “Morsels of comprehension must be pried from mollusks of jargon.”"
refugees  ptsd  deportation  mentalhealth  2015  immigration  rachelaviv  us  policy  trauma 
december 2015 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
Imperial Designs | The Unforgiving Minute
[via: https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/667000828113260544 ]

"[image]

Here’s an example: the Chand Baori Stepwell in Rajasthan, built in the 8th and 9th centuries. (You can watch a video about Chand Baori, and another about stepwells, based on an article by journalist Victoria Lautman.) Stepwells were a critical part of water management, particularly in western India and other dry areas of Asia, the earliest known stepwell forms date from around 600AD. The Mughal empire encouraged stepwell construction, but the administrators British empire decided that stepwells should be replaced with pumped and piped water systems modelled on those developed in the UK – a ‘superior’ system. It was of course also a system that moved from a communal and social model of water management to a centralised model of water management – and the British loved centralised management, because it’s easier to control.

[image]

Here’s another model of water management – the Playpump, which received a lot of media attention and donor support after it was proposed in 2005. The basic idea was that kids playing on the big roundabout would pump water up from the well for the whole village. This doesn’t seem very imperial at first sight: it looks like these kids are having fun, and the village is getting water. Unfortunately it was a massive failure because it flat out didn’t work, although the Playpumps organisation is still around; if you want to know more about that failure, read this article in the Guardian and this lessons learned from the Case Foundation, and listen to this Frontline radio show on PBS. TL;DR: the Playpump didn’t work because it was designed by outsiders who didn’t understand the communities: a classic case of design imperialism. There are lots of examples just like this, where the failure is easy to see but the imperialism is more difficult to spot.

About 5 years ago there was a big hoo-hah about an article called “Is Humanitarian Design the New Imperialism?” by Bruce Nussbaum. Nussbaum accused people and organisations working on design that would alleviate poverty as yet another imperial effort. This depends on defining “empire” as a power relationship – an unequal power relationship, where the centre holds the power (and resources) and the periphery will benefit from those resources only when the centre decides to give it to them. At the time, there was a lot of discussion around this idea, but that discussion has died now. That’s not because it’s no longer an issue: it’s because a new imperial model, more subtle than Nussbaum’s idea, has successfully taken root, and few people in the design world even realise it."



"Q&A:

During the talk I mentioned that I was planning to show video of robot dogs, but I didn’t because they freak me out. They don’t really freak me out – I think they’re astonishing feats of technology – but what they say about our attitudes towards warfare worries me. They’re being built by Boston Dynamics, who started out under military contracts from DARPA, have recently been acquired by Google X, and who post a ton of promo videos. Particularly funny is this supercut video of robots falling over.

One question raised the issue of whether our education system enables people to recognise the trap that they might be in, and give them the tools to make their own way. The short answer is no. The industrial model of education is not equipped for the 21st century, although I remain hopeful that the internet will also disrupt education as it has other sectors. At the same time I am sceptical of the impact of the most-hyped projects (such as the Khan Academy and the wide range of MOOCs) – it seems to me that we need something that learns from a wider range of educational approaches.

We also discussed whether there is an underlying philosophy to the invisible empire of the internet. I believe that there is, although it isn’t necessarily made explicit. One early artefact of this philosophy is A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace; one early analysis of aspects of it is The Californian Ideology. Evgeny Morozov is interesting on this topic, but with a pinch of salt, since in a relatively short time he has gone from incisive commentator to intellectual troll. It’s interesting that a few Silicon Valley big beasts are trained in philosophy, although to be honest this training doesn’t seem to be reflected in their actual philosophy."

[See also: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/nov/24/africa-charity-water-pumps-roundabouts
via: https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/667031543416623105 ]
designimperialism  design  via:tealtan  humanitariandesign  2015  africa  paulcurrion  control  colonialism  technology  technosolutionism  evgenymorozov  siliconvalley  philosophy  politics  mooc  moocs  doublebind  education  bostondynamics  googlex  darpa  robots  yuvalnoahharari  californianideology  wikihouse  globalconstructionset  3dprinting  disobedientobjects  anarchism  anarchy  legibility  internet  online  web  nezaralsayyad  smarthphones  mobile  phones  benedictevans  migration  refugees  fiveeyes  playpumps  water  chandbaori  trevorpaglen 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Failures of Our Global Imagination | Civicist
"The problem with first world problems, and why we need to shift the way we talk about global tech"



"It’s time to abandon the First World/Third World dichotomy. Whether or not this dichotomy was a helpful one at some point in the past, it’s no longer helpful now. The “Third World” has glittering skyscrapers and glowing smartphones, and the “First World” has decaying neighborhoods and entire swaths of the country without broadband. There are very real and important differences between rich and poor countries, and these dynamics play out at the level of international relations, all the way down to the mundane and often humiliating work of applying for visas. But this framing creates a divide that limits our capacity to understand the vast spectra of the way human beings live in the 21st century. I don’t yet have a better vocabulary for this, but I hope someone smarter than me can figure that out. For now, I do use the phrases “developing world,” “global south,” and “poor countries,” but I’d like to have a better framework. Any suggestions?

Remember the diversity of ways we use communications technology: that includes connecting with people we care about and depend on. In contrast to narratives about vanity, slacktivism, and luxury when it comes to tech in the middle-class West, so much of the conversation about technology in the global south focuses on information and practical communications, like around agricultural trends and educational material. This is good and important work. But highly pragmatic use cases are just part of the reason anyone has used communications technology. Informal markets from Asia to Africa are filled with music and movies, like a Bluetooth-powered Napster, and people are just as likely to send text messages and Facebook posts to check in with friends and loved ones as they are to access important healthcare information and market reports. These things can coexist.

Like a city, the internet and mobile phones provide for a vast diversity of human needs, which include the basic human need for companionship, support, and access to joy in the face of suffering. Fortunately, this part of the global imagination doesn’t require too much effort: Just think of how everyone you know uses technology, the number of apps, the different ways they laugh, smile, cry, and scowl at what they see behind those plates of glass.

Shifting the narrative is such a critical part of the motivation behind my work with global internet cultures, and the above are just a few ideas for how I think we can do that. But more important than trying to know everything about the world is establishing a culture of knowing that we don’t know. The assumption that we can parachute into a foreign culture with formal expertise and knowledge and make things better has never been acceptable, and it has led to a lot of unnecessary suffering, especially in colonized countries. The fact that people in marginalized parts of the world can now call out misguided attitudes and perceptions about them will go a long way, and those of us with access to media and policy can do well to amplify and extend these voices.

But it is also not possible to know every detail about other people’s lives. Attention is limited, as is time. We can learn everything we can about the day to day of rural Laos, but the conflict in Mali will seem completely opaque. Instead, it’s more important to know that we don’t know, know that we need to listen to those who have greater familiarity, and to know that there are ways to go further. Adopting an attitude of humility and curiosity can take us much farther than an attitude of assuredness and assumption. This seems to me like a good place to start—and if you have other and better ideas, I’d love to hear them."

[Also posted here: https://medium.com/@anxiaostudio/failures-of-our-global-imagination-8648b2336c2c ]
anxiaomina  firstworldproblems  internet  thirdworld  firstworld  diversity  slacktivism  vanity  luxury  technology  globalsouth  communication  asia  africa  latinamerica  mobile  phones  smartphones  selfies  advocacy  refugees  2015  privilege  narrative  empathy  thirdworldproblems 
october 2015 by robertogreco
On the Political Dimensions of Solarpunk — Medium
[via: http://solarpunks.tumblr.com/post/131978924858/dont-ask-permission-from-a-state-beholden-to]

"Don’t ask permission from a state beholden to oligarchs, and definitely don’t expect those oligarchs to do any of this for you. Guerilla gardening is the model, but look further. Guerilla solar panel installation. Guerilla water treatment facility restoration. Guerilla magnificent temple to the human spirit construction. Guerilla carbon sequestration megastructure creation.

Figure out what a community needs to be prosperous, peaceful and sustainable in as long a term as you can wrap your head around, and start building whatever piece is most in reach before the absent state notices. Doing so just might create pockets of more effective, horizontal politics. As the state wanes, these pockets can grow in size and influence, creating a better world even if some government claims the authority of law and holds a monopoly on violence.

Now, political choices got us into this mess, and political choices could get us out. I for one argue for a comprehensive set of reforms that were inspired by the discussions held around the world during Occupy: a global debt jubilee to free both countries and individuals from debts that impoverish and enslave them; a tax on extreme wealth to control inequality and rein in the power of oligarchs; a guaranteed basic income to provide for the poor, the infirm and those more useful as caregivers, artists and thinkers than employees of businesses; a dramatic reduction in the workweek to slow down unsustainable levels of economic expansion and to eliminate the countless “bullshit jobs” that serve no function but to bore those who hold them; the regulation or even abolition of usury (once considered as great a sin as slavery), so that investments in sustainable infrastructure that will pay off in cathedral time are not hampered by interest payments that will eventually exceed principal."



"As I argued in my discussion of cities, solarpunk should be careful not to idealize either the gothic high tech or the favela chic. No matter how many High Line-style parks or vertical farms they build, Manhattan will be useless if it is only filled with the luxury condos of absentee financiers. And favelas may be full of jugaad-innovation and dense with diverse entrepreneurialism, but they feature a fatal flaw: no fire codes. Slums are fascinating from a design perspective right up until they burn down or wash away. In a world of more extreme weather, disasters will strike down favelas before their recycling-centric, low-carbon lifestyles can save the climate.

Instead, I like the idea of focusing on large-scale infrastructure projects that will provide value for communities into the long term. A seed bank; a hyper-dense vertical permaculture farm engineered for carbon fixing; a massive, low-maintenance desalination system; a space elevator. These projects could themselves be the organizing principle around which unique solarpunk communities are organized."



"I’ve seen many people describe solarpunk as optimistic. My last suggestion is this: don’t be optimistic, be hopeful. As Vaclav Havel explained: “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” Havel, an artist turned activist turned statesman who led his nation out of a time of crisis, in many ways embodies the transformational power of ideas and aesthetics — and thus the potential of a movement like solarpunk to do real good in the world.

This essay has been long, and it has discussed many troubling situations and possibilities. I wrote these things because I think it is important for any cohesive body of political thought to contrast what it wants with what it opposes: for transparency and privacy, against surveillance and deception; for conservation and abundance, against hoarding and exploitation; for neighborhoods and collaboratives, against gangs and police.

I also wrote this because I believe the enormity of our problems doesn’t have to paralyze us. Quite the opposite: seeing the world as it is is vital if you are going to figure out how it could be. Now is the moment to be galvanized, to know that we are on to something, and to make acting on these ideas a real part of our lives."
solarpunk  2015  andrewdanahudson  politics  favelachic  gothichightech  recycling  diy  optimism  hopefulness  scale  activism  jugaad  infrastructure  organization  horizontality  sustainability  solar  water  climatechange  gardening  hope  refugees  longnow  longnowfoundation  williamgibson  madmax  paolobacigalupi  bladerunner  overconsumption  overpopulation  thecomingrevolution  cities  urban  urbanism  brucesterling  drought  blackswans 
october 2015 by robertogreco
A Low and Distant Paradise - Pacific Standard
"My grandmother was born to the Italian lira, grew up under the British pound, revolted against the Ethiopian birr, lived under the American dollar in order to raise me, and died, finally, buried under her country’s first currency, the Eritrean nakfa. She was home to me, my link to a land generations had fought for and to the sand in Florida on which I played. A reminder of how far and against what odds my blood had traveled for the promise of autonomy. And now she was gone.

It’s been 12 years since I lived in Miami, and yet enough of the city is embedded in me that I feel at home wherever I stand in it. It’s in every exhalation. I feel this connection to the land and my past more than any kinship with my remaining family. I am at once grateful for the freedom and devastated by this tangible unmooring of blood. It is only appropriate that things feel adrift.

Erasure is a prickly topic for members of the African diaspora. We want recognition, we who have lost so much to attain it and are severed from those who know this best. I still look for my country every time I see a globe. Did we exist yet? Were we our own? It is a validation I can’t stop myself from seeking having grown up in a state intent on its own destruction.

One can look to Hawaii’s volcanoes to see exactly how land is formed. Florida, then, is where we look to see land’s undoing. In Florida, we are racing New Orleans into the sea. I tell most inquirers South Florida is what happens when people build cities on sponges and call it salvation. I tell them we will learn."



"It is clear to me that the history of Eritrea and Eritreans in the 21st century has stopped being one of how to win, but of how we might lose the least by the end of the century’s first quarter. Here in America, I am the only person with whom each member of my immediate family interacts. Two out of the three live on separate continents. Sometimes I’ll like a new song because it is the type my sister would play and I need a thread to hold on to. Some streets I’ll walk, as my father taught me, because they show more of the sky. But most days I’ll hold the weightless braid of my family in my palm and wonder when it will find the wind. I am trying to keep my own two halves from fracturing; I never learned to excavate the dread.

It all feels like too much.

When politicians campaign on platforms of keeping Africans out of their country. When the anti­-blackness in the surrounding MENA region goes largely unreported. When the refugee camps in the country you gained independence from are overflowing with your people. When the journey to South Africa, a popular refuge for African migrants, is met with xenophobic attacks. When crossing the Red Sea into Yemen means entering a war zone; when Yemenis are crossing the Red Sea into the Horn you fled. When human traffickers are harvesting your organs in the Sinai. When the open ports of Libya have no despot to keep you on your side of the grave. When drowning is the best option. When the world asks wouldn't it be convenient to stay in place? To see your doom as your salvation? Now that they have all tried their hand at exploiting your land, your people, your geography—and since autonomy can only be granted by those who have control over the physical world. After all this, how, how, how. How can we keep you there?"
2015  rahawahaile  eritrea  diaspora  place  identity  belonging  cities  climate  miami  nyc  asmara  family  freedom  ethiopia  migration  immigration  refugees  history  yemen  redsea  joandidion  race  climatechange  inequality  water  labor  work  economics  politics  everglades  hawaii  erasure  florida 
october 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
From Aleppo To Malmo: War-Weary Refugees Find A Home In Sweden
"MALMO, Sweden -- Nine months ago, Omar's parents decided that they could no longer stay in Turkey, where they had fled from Syria. Using a smuggler, Omar's dad made his way to the southern Swedish city of Malmo, where the family has friends.

He's not alone. This month, the Swedish Migration Agency's Malmo office is registering close to 900 new asylum seekers per day, a figure not seen since the Balkan wars 25 years ago. Malmo is not only a logical point of entry for the many asylum seekers who head for Sweden. It's also a destination.

"I only have one aunt left in Syria," says the 18-year-old Omar, who was later able to join his father along with his mother and sister. "Almost everyone else is in Malmo."

Indeed, many migrants specifically choose to come here.

"It's a big city and you can speak Arabic and English here," says Mohammad al-Balout, a young Syrian journalist who arrived last year after fleeing from Libya through Italy, then farther north, and now lives here permanently, having been granted asylum. (Sweden grants asylum to all Syrian citizens bar selected individuals such as war criminals.)

Ahmed, a Syrian teenager who arrived in Malmo 2 1/2 years ago, having made the journey via Turkey, Greece, Hungary, Austria, then on to Sweden, says his family had decided he should head for Malmo "because there are many Arabs here."

The Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) collects the new arrivals from Malmo's harbor and its train station, as well as the harbor in Trelleborg, a city to the south with ferry traffic to and from Germany. A steady stream of shuttle buses delivers the migrants to the Migration Agency's office, though from the train station the official buses are supplanted by cars and buses driven by volunteers.

The good Samaritans' activities at the train station, which also include providing food and beds to new arrivals, have caused some irritation among the authorities.

"The Migration Agency says they can receive everybody, but they can't," says Ali Jehad, an Iraqi who came to Sweden as a child via Saudi Arabia and now coordinates volunteer efforts at the train station. "We have enough food and beds for 600 people, but the authorities don't want our help."

Authorities acknowledge that they are wary of some forms of cooperation, but they say it is for good reason.

"We appreciate that volunteers want to help," says Betim Jahiri, deputy head of the Migration Agency's Malmo office, "but who's responsible when an undocumented migrant gets into a private person's car? As far as the law is concerned, such people are in the country illegally."

Regardless of how they are traveling, the result of the shuttle traffic is a crowded Migration Agency reception area and a long queue outside.

"We're setting new records every day," Jahiri says. "Malmo is a connection point for migrants."​

Seventy immigration officials staff the Malmo center to register the new arrivals, fingerprint them, take their photo, conduct a short interview, and give them a debit card for daily needs.

Copenhagen's twin city on the Swedish side of the Kattegatt strait, Malmo has a long history as a blue-collar city dominated by its shipyard. But over the past generation, migration has changed the city. Last year, 43 percent of the city's 318,000 residents were immigrants or first-generation Swedes, with Iraq and Bosnia-Herzegovina among the most common countries of origin. These days, they're joined by more Iraqis as well as many Syrians.

The Migration Agency is so busy that it's now hiring 50 more staff to process asylum registrations, and Jahiri says that his office is bracing itself for new records.

After their asylum claims have been registered, asylum seekers are assigned to Migration Agency housing in towns across Sweden. Many, however, have friends and relatives they can stay with and opt to do that. As a result, many asylum seekers stay in Malmo while their claims are being processed.

"Last week, we had eight additional people in our [three-bedroom] apartment," says Mohammed, an 18-year-old Iraqi who arrived with his family in Malmo three years ago, joining relatives already living here.

When their applications have been approved, many refugees logically stay put.

Malmo's politicians are doing their best to accommodate the rising number of residents, even creating, then expanding, a so-called Start School attended by migrant children until their Swedish is good enough for them to attend regular schools.

"Swedes respect everybody, even animals," says Raafat Amini, a Syrian who made it to Malmo 1 1/2 years ago and was able to bring his wife and four young children from Turkey earlier this year. "Here, refugees have the same rights as Swedes." His wife, Tahani Almousli, praises the fact that in Malmo's schools, her children are learning not just theoretical subjects but also skills such as swimming -- a point that seems a bit random were it not for the fact that Amini survived a capsizing dinghy by swimming to shore.

But a law intended to treat migrants humanely by allowing them to settle anywhere they choose is having unintended and difficult consequences.

The neighborhood of Rosengard, long home to a mix of working-class residents and immigrants, now has almost exclusively immigrant residents.

"The problem is that it's hard to get integrated in Malmo," says Balout. "Especially in Rosengard, people bring their own traditions, speak their own language. Malmo is a good place to live and work, but the thing is, you don't learn Swedish."

Soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the son of a Croatian mother and a Bosnian father who was born and raised in Rosengard, speaks with a foreign-infused accent and vocabulary now known as Rosengard Swedish.

"Immigration is an incredibly positive thing for Malmo. The city's diversity makes us an attractive city to live and work in," says Andreas Schoenstroem, Malmo's deputy mayor in charge of integration, secondary education, and adult education. Rosengard's concentration of immigrants is an economic matter, not an ethnic one, he adds: "In parts of Rosengard, housing is cheaper, and that's why people move there when they want to establish themselves here. When they get work, they often move to other neighborhoods."

Recently, Balout sent his teenage brother, who escaped to Sweden with him, to live in a small town. That way, Balout argues, his brother will have a chance of becoming part of Swedish society. Balout himself has quickly learned Swedish and made the conscious decision to live by himself in a majority-Swedish neighborhood.

Safeta Bajraktarevic arrived in Malmo during the previous record refugee wave: She and her family escaped from Sarajevo in 1992. Speaking in effortless Swedish, Bajraktarevic labels the government's policy of allowing refugees to choose their place of residence "madness."

"The result is that all the immigrants end up living in the same place," Bajraktarevic says.

That's the Swedish decision-makers' bind: Allowing new arrivals to settle in cities and neighborhoods where people from their home countries live may be beneficial in the short term but counterproductive in the long term.

Bajraktarevic, who trained as a lawyer in Bosnia, has found integration into Swedish society "super easy," she says. "You just have to go to school, go to work. Otherwise, you'll never meet any Swedes."

But many Swedes are uneasy about the rapid increase in immigration. Last year, 81,301 people applied for asylum in Sweden, up from 17,530 in 2004. This month, the Sweden Democrats, who want to reduce immigration, scored a record 20.8 percent of voter support in a nationwide poll.

And getting work is not as easy as just applying. Academic research shows that applicants with immigrant-sounding names are invited for job interviews less often than Swedish applicants with the same qualifications.

"Now I'm unemployed again," says Bajraktarevic, who nonetheless is about to leave for a holiday on Crete. "As long as my name is Safeta Bajraktarevic, I'll have a hard time finding work. We immigrants don't have as many contacts as Swedes, so we need a little shove.""
malmo  refugees  syria  sweden  2015  immigration  migration  asylum  nationalism 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive: Phuc Tran at TEDxDirigo - YouTube
"Phuc Tran is in his second decade as a Classicist and Tattooer. He has taught Latin, Greek, German, and Sanskrit at independent schools in New York and Maine and was an instructor at Brooklyn College's Summer Latin Institute. In 2010, he served on a committee to revise the National Latin Praxis exam for ETS. Phuc currently teaches at Waynflete School in Portland."
phuctran  language  english  subjunctive  refugees  2012  identity  indicative  reality  presence  future  imperative  perspective  immigration  immigrantexperience  grammar  depression  regret  creativity  imagination  experience  optimism  philosophy  via:juliarubin  french  vietnamese  france 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Migrants Welcome – The New Inquiry
"1
I’ve been reading the later work of Derrida, in which the intensity about language remains but there’s also a turn towards the thorniest questions of ethics. There’s a remarkable passage in “The Gift of Death” (1995) that gets at something the news isn’t touching on:

“…because of the structure of the laws of the market that society has instituted and controls, because of the mechanisms of external debt and other comparable inequities, that same ‘society’ puts to death or (but failing to help someone in distress accounts only for a minor difference) allows to die of hunger and disease tens of millions of children…without any moral or legal tribunal ever being considered competent to judge such a sacrifice, the sacrifice of the other to avoid being sacrificed oneself. Not only does such a society participate in this incalculable sacrifice, it actually organizes it.”

2
I’m seeing a lot of writing about not calling refugees “migrants.” This is in reaction to those who say refugees are “only” migrants, that this “flood” of migrants flows to richer countries for economic benefit. And it’s true that there’s an urgency in the condition of refugees (no one growing up thinks this will be their fate: to be a refugee, at the crucial mercy of others), and what is specially awful about being a refugee must be recognized and acted on, and not simply reduced to money.

But here’s the thing: migrants should be welcome too. Migrants are welcome. Some of the refugees become migrants, once the immediate danger is past. Some migrants become refugees, caught in an unexpected vortex of malice. Don’t let yourself be spun into a language of hatred and exclusion, at this hot moment in which it’s deemed OK to support refugees but still condemn migrants.

I say refugee, I say migrant, I say neighbor, I say friend, because everyone is deserving of dignity. Because moving for economic benefit is itself a matter of life and death. Because money is the universal language, and to be deprived of it is to be deprived of a voice while everyone else is shouting. Sometimes the gun aimed at your head is grinding poverty, or endless shabby struggle, or soul crushing tedium.

And more than “refugee” or “migrant,” I say “people,” and say it with compassion because everyone I love, and everyone they love has at some point said tearful goodbyes and moved from place to place to seek new opportunities, and almost all of them have by their movement improved those new places. Because I reject the poverty of a narrowly defined “we” that robs me of human complexity. Because I don’t believe that radical inclusivity is going to destroy “our” way of living, when I generally don’t know what “our” you’re talking about, and when I think we can do much better than this malevolent way of living anyway.

Did all sixteen of your great great grandparents live, work, and die in the same town where you now live? If no, then you’re a child of migrants. If yes, then y’all seriously need to get out more.

“OK, but where do we draw the line?” is a question you create in your head to distract you from your human duty to the other. If the line had been drawn in front of you instead of behind, you wouldn’t even be here now, wherever here might be.

We have to begin finding ways of dismantling this form of society that actively and passively organizes mass death and then, at the faintest flash of humane behavior, throws itself into paroxysms of self-congratulation."
tejucole  2015  refugees  migrants  migration  economics  humanism  jacquesderrida  immigration 
september 2015 by robertogreco
NaTakallam | A Different Kind of Arabic Learning
"The best way to learn a language is to immerse oneself in its environment. While Arabic’s popularity continues to increase worldwide, traveling to the Middle East, for reasons ranging from cost to time and safety, is not always an option. Furthermore, academic and language institutes tend to teach ‘Fusha,’ formal literary Arabic ( Classical or Modern Standard Arabic [MSA]) , yet students are increasingly interested in `Ammiyyah,’ the local dialect and primary spoken form of Arabic in a given region.

Lebanon, a country of 4 million currently hosts some 1.2 million Syrian refugees, fleeing the now four-year-old civil war. According to the International Labor Organization, almost all Syrian workers in Lebanon (approximately 60% of the total Syrian refugee population) are employed in unprotected and potentially exploitative conditions in the informal economy.

NaTakallam operates on the above two fronts, aiming to alleviate the struggle of jobless Syrians in Lebanon by pairing them with students learning Arabic for conversation-focused classes over the internet. In providing Syrians with work opportunities, the platform also caters to a specific need within the Arabic learning community interested in the spoken Levantine (especially Syrian) dialect.

NaTakallam believes that maximizing one’s language skills relies on complementing traditional academic courses with conversation sessions, ideally in a one-on-one setting. Through this online platform, students gain full flexibility with respect to the timing, length, and format of the sessions. They also engage in a unique cultural experience."
arabic  education  languagelearning  via:unthinkingly  lebanon  syria  refugees 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The first and last climate change refugee | Overland literary journal
"Three weeks ago, in a brief judgment issued by the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the world’s first application for climate change refugee status finally failed. ‘We agree with the Courts below’, declared a full bench of New Zealand’s highest court, ‘that in the particular factual context of this case the questions identified raise no arguable question of law of general or public importance’.

In other words, the decisions of the lower courts stand and Ioane Teitiota, the shy farmhand from Kiribati in the central Pacific, cannot claim refugee status as a victim of climate change. Ioane, his wife and his New Zealand-born children will be deported to Tarawa, a tiny sand strip perched at the western end of the enormous ocean state. All avenues for appeal have been exhausted.

The result mocks the liberal optimism of the climate change movement, many of whom hoped that – in the absence of a political solution for climate change refugees – there may be a legal solution. While the courts accept that Tarawa’s carrying capacity is ‘significantly compromised’ by climate change – a finding of fact – as a matter of law they cannot accept that this amounts to ‘persecution’ for the purposes of the Refugee Convention.

It’s a timely reminder that the legal system privileges the status quo. The court could have found a ‘pathway’ into the convention for Mr Teitiota, but it made a choice to apply the orthodox law (as I explained in the Guardian last year). Rather than assess where the balance of justice lies, the courts retreated to the security of formalism and merely asked a series of threshold questions (‘Was there a failure of state protection?’ etc.).

The unspoken fear, from common law courtrooms to international summits, is that a successful climate change refugee case could open the floodgates (so to speak). The precedent would compel the New Zealand government to develop a policy framework for accepting climate change refugees. The effect would be to partially redistribute the burden of immediate climate change action from developing states to developed states.

That’s an untenable political outcome, even for other common law countries like Australia. The developed world prefers to shift the costs of climate change adaptation to the developing world. Brian Fisher, the government’s former chief economic adviser on climate change, admitted as much when he ventured the view that it would be ‘more efficient’ to let the Pacific Ocean swallow its low-lying islands rather than require Australian industries to reduce their emissions.

Rather than being about applied science and international values, the developed world’s response to climate change has always been about applied ideology. In the lead up to the Kyoto Protocol the Australian government pressured Pacific countries to abandon their advocacy and proposals for strict emission reduction targets. The primary motive was to protect Australian capitalism against reform. States tend to prefer self-interest to social justice.

Except, of course, where there are profitable market mechanisms like emissions trading schemes which create opportunities for accumulation in carbon offsets (while generally failing to reduce overall emissions). Yet no one appears to have imagined a profitable framework for shifting and settling climate change refugees, which means there is little political will to solve the existing emergency or, indeed, to prepare for the oncoming human migration disaster.

In part, this is a failure of the left because – despite all the hot air emitted at party conferences, activist meet-ups and online – we have ceded the terms of the debate. (This actually has serious consequences for the expansion of neoliberalism through, for example, emissions trading markets). The Teitiota case should have been framed as a fight for justice, not a mere test case for the movement.

This is not an argument for better language – often ‘aspirational’ language in the climate change debate is designed to cover up disagreement – it is an argument for better strategy. The climate change movement should have done more than swing behind the legal case, it should have agitated for a political solution as well. We appeared to be hoping against experience that the courts would rule against the interests of power.

Now, all that’s left is political struggle."
climatechange  law  refugees  2015  newzealand  politics  policy  statusquo  morgangodfery  kiribati 
august 2015 by robertogreco
The Plight of Refugees, the Shame of the World - The New York Times
"Accepting, feeding, immunizing, resettling and helping this many people can be done only at an institutional level, with worldwide organizations. At the moment, most of this burden is on a few neighboring countries — Turkey, Lebanon and now Greece — that get little to no outside help. Unsurprisingly, many refugees are risking their lives to reach Europe.

A crisis of this scale cannot be met with individual heroism, however admirable. Huge numbers of people cannot be sheltered through ad hoc charity, however well intended.

In mid-July, a Palestinian teenager whose family faces deportation from Germany asked Chancellor Angela Merkel, in perfect German, why her family couldn’t stay, and why she couldn’t just stay in school and study like everyone else. Ms. Merkel had said, in a dry speech: “Politics is sometimes hard. ... But you also know in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are thousands and thousands, and if we were to say you can all come ... we just can’t manage it.” At that, the girl burst into tears and Ms. Merkel was taken aback. Her halting efforts to comfort the girl were recorded worldwide.

“Politics is hard” is just not enough.

It’s clear that our leaders aren’t stepping up to the gravity of the moment. We can, and we must, push them to do the right thing. If distributed properly, the cost is not that high. Today’s world is much richer than during World War II, and it’s not tangled in global war. In 2014, the entire World Food Program budget was a paltry $5.4 billion. The United Nations refugee agency’s budget is a mere $7 billion. To put these numbers in context, Amazon’s market capitalization climbed recently by $40 billion in after-hours trading after it announced that its web-hosting services were slightly more profitable than expected. Saving millions of refugee children fleeing war apparently isn’t worth a fraction of an evening’s speculation on a single stock.

Last month, the world lost a quiet hero, Nicholas Winton, who saved almost 700 mostly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia, by placing them with British families right before Hitler invaded. What was overlooked in the celebration of his remarkable life — he never sought credit for his good deeds — was his deep regret about the thousands of children he couldn’t save. The world’s governments turned their backs on these children. Have they learned nothing since?"
2015  zeyneptufekci  refugees  syria  nicholaswinton  politics  policy  inequality 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Everything Is Yours, Everything Is Not Yours — Matter — Medium
"Claire, unlike me, was not a kid when we got asylum in the United States, so nobody sent her to school or took her in. Instead, she worked as a maid, cleaning 200 hotel rooms a week."



"Claire kept on her toughest, most skeptical face, because she knows more about the world than I do. I leapt up onto the set smiling, because I learned some really useful skills as a refugee — like, I always could read what people wanted me to do."



"Around town, some people treated me like an egg, the poor, fragile refugee girl. People wanted to help in the ways that they wanted to help. One day one of Mrs. Thomas’s friends picked me up at school in her convertible, handed me a pair of sunglasses, and said, “We’re going shopping today. Call me Auntie Wilma.” She became my godmother of shopping. We drove to Nordstrom’s."



"Claire always taught me everything is yours, everything is not yours. The world owes you nothing; nobody deserves more or less than the next person. Even as a refugee she always kept one dignified outfit — early on, a crisp white blouse, well-fitting flare jeans, short black boots; later, a brown suit — so she could present herself to anybody, anywhere, as a smart, enterprising young woman, period. She asked no pity, no permission. She was a fact of life, an equal. Nobody needed to know more.

At Hotchkiss, Claire’s attitude, along with my refugee skills, served me well: Whose behavior do I model to achieve in this place? Who has real power and who is bluffing? Where are the dangers and how do I escape? My ability to hack the system got me there, into those long halls filled with portraits of pale, square-jawed men. But it couldn’t protect me from my inner life. I was also alone for the first time, away from Claire and the Thomases. I was 20 and felt so old and so young. One day, in a philosophy seminar, I sat around a table with my fellow students, the boys in sports jackets, the girls in sweaters. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day. The professor gave us a thought experiment: You’re a ferry captain with two passengers. Your boat is sinking. One passenger is old and one is young. Who do you save?

With this, my veneer of decorum started to crack. Before I arrived on campus I asked the headmaster not to share my history. Nobody knew who I was. “Do you want to know what’s that really like?” I blurted out. “This is an abstract question to you?” Everybody stared.

A few weeks later, around that same seminar table — mahogany, with a view of the golf course — the professor asked us all to share the presentations we’d prepared on whether or not to send troops into a Black Hawk Down-like war scenario, like in Somalia. I cracked for real. “You have no idea, do you?” I yelled as one girl spoke. “You’ve never been in that scenario. What gives you a right to even talk? This is real. That’s me — and I have a name, and I’m alive and there are people out there who are dead, or they’re living but they’re checked out, and they hate the world because people in your country sat there and watched all of us getting slaughtered.” I ran out of class.

When I returned to fetch my bag, the professor asked me to meet him later in his office. He was in his mid-50s, with a salt-and-pepper beard, contained but kind. He told me that I needed to learn how to be a less emotional student. I did not agree. “I can’t be less emotional. It’s personal,” I said, all the while thinking that I didn’t survive all that horror to sip tea and join his club. I dropped the seminar and started therapy.

The following fall, at Yale, I tried again — psychology, history, and political science classes, to learn about the world abstractly. But those courses didn’t help me make sense of my life. I found them unnerving, intellectualized, and cold. So I built a private curriculum. My sophomore year I signed up for a class on the intense, inscrutable German writer W. G. Sebald because Sebald had written a book called On the Natural History of Destruction, and that sounded like my history. Sebald dropped into his books random-seeming photographs of libraries, eyes, animals, windows, and trees, as a way to try to capture the mass amnesia that fell over his country after the Second World War.

Ever since my freakout at Hotchkiss, I’d been on a mission to piece together who I was. I’d been looking at my hands — they were my mother’s hands. I’d been looking at my feet — my right foot in particular, it looked like my father’s foot. I knew I couldn’t understand myself through my American family or my classmates in their YALE sweatshirts and J. Crew skirts, even though I dressed like them. But I had so few concrete artifacts from my past — just a vinyl pencil case from South Africa and a photograph of myself at age four, dressed up for my aunt’s wedding, that I’d now hidden so deep that I could no longer find it. But Sebald offered a method, a technique for navigating out of the fog: He implied that if a person wades deep enough into memory, and pays close enough attention to the available clues, a narrative will emerge that makes moral and emotional sense.

I read all of Sebald’s books — The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Vertigo. Then I started rereading. I also made a practice each day of walking by Annette, a woman who stood in front of Graduate Hall with a bucket of flowers that she purchased in bunches at the grocery store and sold as singles for a tiny profit. She was a fighter. Almost nobody noticed her until she called out, “Hey, sugar, come buy some of my flowers.” She had nothing to do with most students’ impressive, Ivy League lives. But to me she was a clue, a link to a buried past, a reminder of my sister who used to sell anything — salt, meat — so that she could save enough money for us to try to escape our deadening refugee lives. I had so many questions. Why did I use the GPS map on my phone, even on campus, when I knew where I was going? Why did I obsessively collect buttons and beads? Why did I talk so much — was I afraid I’d disappear? After Annette, I turned down Hillhouse Avenue and took pictures of the roots and vines growing outside the Yale cemetery. Then I studied the patterns in the images to see if they matched the patterns of the veins in my hands.

Once back in my dorm room, I retreated to the nest of pillows I built on my bed and pulled out my worn copy of Austerlitz, Sebald’s novel about a middle-aged man, who, as an infant, was shipped out of Czechoslovakia by his Jewish parents on the kindertransport, though nobody ever told him this. I twisted my earbuds to listen to Austerlitz on audiobook as I read. When my fair, green-eyed boyfriend, Ian, returned from his day — political science, crew team — I said, “Listen to this! Everything is connected!” I’d been with Ian for two years. I loved him and clung to him, but he often joked that I was having a more intense relationship with Sebald than I was with him. And it was true, in a way: I did want Ian to care more about Sebald, to interrogate the details of his own life. For instance, Ian was constantly playing and twisting pieces of paper or anything small in his hands, a nervous tic. But he wasn’t inclined to assigning much meaning to this, he didn’t want to investigate why he behaved as he behaved.

“Clementine, you’re so weird,” Ian said, gently dismissing me.

Still, my own interrogations did not feel optional. Why did I drink only tea, never cold water? Why did I cringe when the sun turned red?"



"We walked another week or two, south toward Maputo, until immigration again picked us up and put us in a camp, this one surprisingly nice and run by Italians. I wanted to stay forever, but Claire felt staying in a good camp was even worse than staying in a bad one — what if we started to think this life was okay?"



"I didn’t talk about my past. I didn’t want to be that refugee girl, I didn’t want to open that box. When I was in eighth grade, my class took a trip to Washington, D.C. Our first day there we visited the battle field at Antietam. I learned that 23,000 people had died there in a single day. Twenty-three thousand people. In one day. I broke down. The next day we visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum, where a docent handed me an identity card. It had a picture of a bald German man with round glasses — Jacob Unger, a salesman who died in the Sobibor extermination camp. He had two children and taught Hebrew in the evenings. My whole defensive shell cracked. Nobody in my family talked about all the people we knew who had been killed. I couldn’t hold it all inside anymore. At the Vietnam Memorial, I sat down and sobbed. I felt ashamed of being a human. I felt mad at everything and everyone. I’d thought I was the only one carrying this around and now… all those names."



"I still often feel like the seven-year-old girl, waiting for water at the refugee camp in Burundi, trying to assert that I have a right to take up space. I scan every room for the exits, in case I need to run, and I read people’s faces and body language so I know how they’d like me to walk, talk, and gesture, what they’d like me to do. I know I am ridiculously privileged. I now have so much, and I used to be considered worthless, and nothing about who I am changed. I try to be grateful, proactive, and normal."



"People listen, and they don’t listen. They’re amazed and moved, and they look bored and proud of themselves, like they’re checking a box. I try to be relevant and not frightening. I totally freaked out watching The Hunger Games movie. Maybe you did, too? Some people pity me, and want to help me, and can’t stand the idea that I am not defeated and could help them as well. Others cast me as a martyr and a saint: You must be so strong, so brave. You must have learned so much. A few ask if I feel guilty for surviving. Uh, no. I did everything I could … [more]
2015  refugees  clemantinewamariya  elizabethweil  rwanda  burundi  zaire  drc  congo  southafrica  tanzania  malawi  mozambique 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Refugee - Mare Nostrum on Vimeo
"Hearing about the EU's plan to ban operation Mare Nostrum, Ben Falk and John McCarthy travelled to Italy last year to try and meet some of the people making the crossing from North Africa. They wanted to get their stories, their true motivation for making such a perilous journey and try to gauge what effect the end of search and rescue operations might have.

They have recently finished this small documentary of the footage they came back with and interviews with some key people working in the field of migration. (WARNING: Contains graphic scenes) With the current tragic news of more drownings and EU policy makers meeting to discuss the situation we thought it important to get, in any way possible, their voices and stories into the discussion. So we're making this public today."

[via: ““Refugee - Mare Nostrum” by @asylumfilms. Why are people crossing the Med? Watch this film now: https://vimeo.com/125247024
https://twitter.com/jamesbridle/status/590159359797256192

See also: http://boingboing.net/2015/04/21/drowned-in-the-mediterranean.html ]
refugees  film  documentary  2-15  marenostrum  benfalk  johnmccarthy  africa  northafrica  europe  migration  policy  mediterranean  immigration 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Refugees don’t need our tears. They need us to stop making them refugees | Anders Lustgarten | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Migration illustrates one of the signal features of modern life, which is malice by proxy. Like drones and derivatives, migration policy allows the powerful to inflict horrors on the powerless without getting their hands dirty. James Brokenshire, the minister who defended cutting Mare Nostrum on the nauseatingly hypocritical grounds that it encouraged migration, never has to let the deaths his decision helped to cause spoil his expensive lunch with lobbyists. It doesn’t affect him.

But it does affect us. Right now we are a diminished and reduced society, bristling with suspicion and distrust of others even as we perversely struggle with loneliness and alienation. We breathe the toxic smog of hatred towards immigrants pumped out by Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins, and it makes us lesser people.

Forget the fact that this society wouldn’t work without migrants, that nobody else will pick your vegetables and make your latte and get up at 4am to clean your office. Forget the massive tax contribution made by migrants to the Treasury. This is not about economics. Far too often, even the positive takes on migration are driven by numbers and finance, by “What can they do for us?”. This is about two things: compassion and responsibility.

Lampedusa, my play currently running at the Soho Theatre, focuses on two people at the sharp end of austerity Europe. Stefano is a coastguard whose job is to fish dead migrants out of the sea. Denise is a collector for a payday loan company. They’re not liberals. They don’t like the people they deal with. They can’t afford to. As Stefano says: “You try to keep them at arm’s length. There’s too many of them. And it makes you think, about the randomness of I get to walk these streets, and he doesn’t. The ground becomes ocean under your feet.”

But eventually, the human impact of what they do breaks through. And in their consequent struggles, both Stefano and Denise are aided by a friendship, reluctant and questioning, with someone they formerly thought of as a burden. This is compassion not as a lofty feeling for someone beneath you, but as the raw reciprocal necessity of human beings who have nothing but each other. This is where we are in the utterly corrupted, co-opted politics of the early 21st century. The powerful don’t give a shit. All we have is us.

But equally important is responsibility. In all the rage about migration, one thing is never discussed: what we do to cause it. A report published this week by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reveals that the World Bank displaced a staggering 3.4 million people in the last five years. By funding privatisations, land grabs and dams, by backing companies and governments accused of rape, murder and torture, and by putting $50bn into projects graded highest risk for “irreversible and unprecedented” social impacts, the World Bank has massively contributed to the flow of impoverished people across the globe. The single biggest thing we could do to stop migration is to abolish the development mafia: the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, European Investment Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

A very close second is to stop bombing the Middle East. The west destroyed the infrastructure of Libya without any clue as to what would replace it. What has is a vacuum state run by warlords that is now the centre of Mediterranean people-smuggling. We’re right behind the Sisi regime in Egypt that is eradicating the Arab spring, cracking down on Muslims and privatising infrastructure at a rate of knots, all of which pushes huge numbers of people on to the boats. Our past work in Somalia, Syria and Iraq means those nationalities are top of the migrant list.

Not all migration is caused by the west, of course. But let’s have a real conversation about the part that is. Let’s have a real conversation about our ageing demographic and the massive skills shortage here, what it means for overstretched public services if we let migrants in (we’d need to raise money to meet increased demand, and the clearest and fairest way is a rise in taxes on the rich), the ethics of taking the cream of the crop from poor countries. Migration is a complex subject. But let’s not be cowards and pretend the migrants will stop coming. Because they won’t. This will never stop."
migration  refugees  2015  malice  immigration  modernity  borders  compassion  responsibility  anderslustgarten  europe  eu  somalia  syria  africa  middleast  demographics  aging  ethics  morality  poverty  economics  iraq 
april 2015 by robertogreco
6, 52: Continuity
"Pleistocene Park has been in the news, maybe off this Independent coverage. My hunch is that rewilding and de-extinction (and cautious geoengineering generally) are probably great ideas and we’ll come to regret that we didn’t do our scientific and political due diligence earlier. But that’s only a strong opinion weakly held, and what seems more interesting now is understanding how Pleistocene Park, as a flagship, plays in the media.

It’s telling, for example, that Jurassic Park is so often the introductory metaphor. A few months ago, this newsletter mentioned the Crescent Ridge Dawn Redwoods Preserve, another private rewilding project that’s more radical in at least five ways: (1) how close it is to people, (2) how far back in time it goes, (3) that it’s rewilding a species that was naturally locally extinct, (4) in terms of biomass turnover, and (5) how far along it is – already finding previously undocumented behavior. But Crescent Ridge is only charismatic megaflora, and Pleistocene Park just has to say “mammoth” to be news.

I think some of that comes down to people fearing mammoths. There’s maybe a sense that we would be in competition, that in a few years they might be intimidating joggers in Yakutsk and trampling wheat fields in Irkutsk. In other words, that large wild animals should probably not exist.

– I had buffalo burger for brunch today. The bison were the largest North American animals to survive the climate change and hunting at the end of the last glacial maximum. There were something like 25,000,000 of them before the United States. In 1890, there were about 1,100. Now there are about 500,000, many of them more or less sustainably ranched.

– Via @annegalloway’s more-than-human lab’s tumblr, 3,200 toy tigers around space for 40,000."



"Tangentially: the nearest big city to Bisie is Goma, on the Rwandan border, between Lake Kivu and Mount Nyiragongo. @jw_rosen has just written two articles about Goma and the lake: After years of war, Goma, DRC, is open for business and (with lovely photographs by Jason Florio) Lake Kivu’s Great Gas Gamble. Rosen is wary of many of the traps that certain other Western journalists are stuck in like wasps in bottles when they try to talk about the region. The gorillas, for example. Or the old National Geographic angle that I remember someone parodying with a line like “Biknis and Uzis: Beautiful, Troubled Brazil is a Land of Contrasts at a Crossroads”. Rosen manages to show a picture of Goma that encompasses complexity without absurdly exoticizing it, that can show M23, Au Bon Pain, natural disasters, and kombucha without being like “See?! This place is weirder than your place!”

(There are a couple angles here that I’m saving for another time, but just because I want to, here are two Goma-related videos I enjoyed: a cover of Pharrell’s Happy and Lake Kivu – Bukavu to Goma.)"



"This morning I read about the Mediterranean drownings, and the unidentified bodies of people who die of dehydration while crossing the border into Arizona, and then rich countries’ hesitations about bringing in Syrian refugees. I see the camps, you know. In the satellite imagery. It’s not as important as listening to the people in them. But helps me relate in other ways. The big ones – Zaatari, Dadaab – are as big as cities. They are cities, cities on life support.

My grandfather’s family were Czech Jews who narrowly avoided the Holocaust. The wealthy nations wouldn’t give them visas. Everyone could see what Hitler was up to. But the US and others still had antisemitic – anti–virtually-everyone – immigration quotas. When it mattered, there were two places in the world that would let them in: China and Bolivia. They went to Bolivia, and as antisemitism became less fashionable toward the end of the war they got to come to America. I’m grateful for what continuity I have with them: the saved letters, the family traits in stories. When I see people dying to cross borders today, I see more continuity. Not same-ness, just continuity. I can’t see people as desperate as my ancestors were and pretend it’s completely different. Everyone in danger of their life deserves help. They don’t earn that responsibility from the rest of us. They just have it, by being a person.

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, how can we guarantee that among these starving people and enemies of oppressive states there isn’t anyone who might fractionally lessen our own sense of security?”

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, first we have to process them!”

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, there’s all this darn paperwork!”

The thing about geography, for me, is continuity. Everywhere is related in calculable ways to everywhere else. There are walls on the ground, but the numbers move smoothly through them. The numbers come from land grabs and military ballistics. We can use them as invisible but omnipresent reminders that you can get there from here.

When I was small, I was used to worldbuilding fiction where the writer had left some things undiscovered. Often this must have been a way to build an ethos of mystery, of romance, of potential, of nascence. Other times it was probably a practical way of leaving options open for the settings of later books in the series. It was very unfair that on the real globe, everything habitable was explored. It felt mean to give the reader a world without the potential for huge lost societies who might have figured out a lot of surprising stuff. “This is all you get.” Rude."
africa  euope  us  migration  immigration  refugees  2015  charlieloyd  borders  border  mexico  congo  drc  bisie  goma  mining  lakekivu  landsat  landsat9  rewilding  crescentridgedawnredwoodspreserve  de-extinction  mammoths  magaflora  magafauna  science  sustainability  terraforming  bison  biomass  pleistocenepark  geoengineering  anthropocene  humanism  personhood  compassion  continuity  geography  society  policy  politics  politicalgeography  safety  security  fear 
april 2015 by robertogreco
White Hole Gallery
"White Hole is a platform devoted to the production and dissemination of critical investigations into the relationship between technology, authority, the landscape and everyday life.

It operates through an international network of people invited to curate one-month exhibitions, combining strategies of artistic practice and journalism to investigate, document and debate the forces — visible and invisible — that shape society and the landscape.

The space functions as a remotely-controlled micro-gallery. Borrowing from the theory of general relativity, in which a white hole is a hypothetical region of spacetime which is inaccessible from the outside, the space itself cannot be entered, although matter and light can escape from it. It projects critical debate, increasingly confined to the online realm, into the public domain.

The network of people contributing to the gallery operates as a peer-to-peer system, exchanging, producing or commissioning new contents that is fed into the network through a Dropbox folder activating and controlling the gallery from distance.

The first White Hole project space opened in Genoa, Italy, on January 31st, 2015 and will run until January 31st, 2016. It will exhibit 12 works over the course of its lifespan, displaying each piece for the duration of one month.

White Hole is a project by Lorenza Baroncelli, Marco Ferrari, Joseph Grima, Antonio Ottomanelli, Elisa Pasqual, in collaboration with Fitzgerald G. Saenger. Scientific direction by Simone C. Niquille.

The logo animation is by Aaron Siegel."



""White Hole is a new research platform and a project space in Genoa, Italy, which opened on January 31st, 2015, and will run until January 31st, 2016.

White Hole is a project by Lorenza Baroncelli, Marco Ferrari, Joseph Grima, Antonio Ottomanelli and Elisa Pasqual, in collaboration with Simone C. Niquille and Fitzgerald G. Saenger.

The third exhibition, Drone Strikes. The Miranshah Case by Forensic Architecture, will be on show from March 28th to April 24th, 2015. The opening will be on Saturday, March 28th at 7 PM in the square in front of the gallery."



"Environmental Migrants [28.02—27.03.2015]

As the pace of climate change accelerates, each year millions of people are forced to abandon their places of origin. By 2050, of the six billion people who live in cities, two hundred million will be climate refugees: six times more than political refugees. It is a phenomenon that is destined to become the humanitarian emergency of this century.

Environmental Migrants is a unreleased video recorded by Alessandro Grassani between Mongolia and Bangladesh. The video, edited by White Hole, is an uninterrupted sequence of discontinuous material sampled from Grassani’s archive. It is divided in two chapters, each of which dedicated to one country.

As the photographer reported: “The choice of these two sites was dictated by the desire to represent the different types of climate change that cause environmental migration to the cities, in the geographic areas most affected by this new phenomenon: from the extreme cold of Mongolia, through floods, cyclones and sea level rise in Bangladesh.”
whiteholegallery  italy  genoa  italia  galleries  technology  landscape  authority  everyday  everydaylife  lorenzabaroncelli  marcoferrari  josephgrima  antonioottomanelli  elisapasqual  simoneniquille  fitzgeraldsaenger  refugees  climatechange  migration  mongolia  nomads  alessandrograssani  bangladesh  urbanization  cities  environment  drones 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Guantánamo prisoners released to Uruguay: 'We are so happy to be here' | World news | The Guardian
"Six former US detainees who were never charged with a crime, were flown to Uruguay on Sunday to begin new lives as refugees"
uruguay  guantanamo  2014  josémujica  refugees  us 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Asylum center phonecard party | Princes of Ubiquity
"Friday October 31st, 2014. Refugees at the belgian federal asylum seekers center Klein Kasteeltje/Petit Chateau in Brussels were invited to gather in a so called ‘phonecard party’, initiated by Recyclart at the asylum center. The people from Syria, Afganistan, Albania, Palestine, Senegal.. were helped by the dj to plug-in their phones in the mixing table and play the favourite songs they stored on their device.

The result was an at least sweaty and astonishing event, with a hard to grasp atmosphere. The festive and somehow cosmopolitan mixing of local and often unshazamable mp3 hits had a dark and hysterical side to it. Nostalgia, hope, despair, trauma, adventure, melancholy, excitement and pride,.. all this was part of the melting pot and shared in a single room.

The disco gathering was loud in every aspect: the music, the cheering and the clapping, the way people danced, laughed and sweated or sat idle on a stool and stared. Loud.

Mixed groups of arab adolescent men, african women, eastern european families with childeren and elderly people all participated in what resembled an unfamiliar wedding party. Each new song that was played introduced a different traditional or less traditional dance to the floor, which was then interpreted by the others, or simply denied in favour of cheerful improvisation.

Apart maybe from my own presence, there was nothing exotic to this confusing reality of a hysterically loud transit zone.

[Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/bcrevits/asylum-seekers-phonecard-party ]

About the tracklist:

Not all songs could be recognized by Shazam. Actually, the most beautiful and mainly Arab songs were not. I’m still looking for people who could help identifying them.

For the tracks I could find, a quick research often showed a direct link between the status and quest of a refugee and either the lyrics or the biography of the singer: “European gipsy”, the Palestinian winner of Arab Idol 2013 singing “Raise your keffiea”, “I’m titanium, I’m bulletproof”, the Iraqi singer Hussam Al Rassam (a singer banned from Iraq by Muslim fundamentalists), Meda (an Albanian singer born in Kosovo and living in Stuttgart) etc, “taste the money – testimony” and the international polyglot release Shiki Riddim…

It is very clear however that this tracklist shows something else as well. Unsurprisingly, we a see what Henry Jenkins called pop cosmopolitanism through monocultural ‘urban’ music mixed with Bruce Sterling’s favela chic reflected by the phablets – you have lost everything material, no job or prospects, but you are wired to the gills and potentially big on facebook. And add to that a twist of cyberbalkanization.

Taste the money (Testimony) – P-Square
La Nueva y La Ex – Daddy Yankee
European Gipsy (Balkan Cigeni) – Koddok
Ala El Koufiea – Mouhammad Assaf
Gili Gili – Sinan Hoxha
Shaki Riddim – Sir Lewis
Edhe Pak – Dhurata Dora Feat. & Lumi B
Alef Mabrook – Hussam Al Rassam
Kar E Don, E Don – Meda
Titanium (Alesso remix) Lyrics – David Guetta feat. Sia

[YouTube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFBZkWA4dTE&list=PLMEpByAUUDHHfJaLjKMVpw8PFq8XAJJWN "
music  culture  refugees  mobile  phones  digital  henryjenkins  popcosmopolitanism  brucesterling  favelachic  cyberbalkanization  sharing  cosmopolitanism  projectideas  playlists 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Refugee Project
"Every day, all over the world, ordinary people must flee their homes for fear of death or persecution. Many leave without notice, taking only what they can carry. Many will never return. They cross oceans and minefields, they risk their lives and their futures. When they cross international borders they are called refugees.

The Refugee Project is an interactive map of refugee migrations around the world in each year since 1975. UN data is complemented by original histories of the major refugee crises of the last four decades, situated in their individual contexts."
maps  mapping  world  refugees  data  migration 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Silent University
"The Silent University is an autonomous knowledge exchange platform by and for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. It is led by a group of lecturers, consultants and research fellows. Each group is contributing to the programme in different ways which include course development, specific research on key themes as well as personal reflections on what it means to be a refugee and asylum seeker. This platform will be presented using the format of an academic program.

In 2012 the Silent University has involved those that have had a professional life and academic training in their home countries, but are unable to use their skills or professional training in the UK due to a variety of reasons related to their status. Working together, the participants have developed course topics connected to their qualifications. The Silent University started initially in London in 2012 in collaboration with Delfina Foundation and Tate and later hosted by The Showroom. It is currently being established in the Sweden in collaboration with Tensta Konsthall and ABF Stockholm, and in France, at Le 116 in Montreuil, Greater Paris region.

The Silent University aims to address and reactivate the knowledge of the participants and make the exchange process mutually beneficial by inventing alternative currencies, in place of money or free voluntary service. The Silent University’s aim is to challenge the idea of silence as a passive state, and explore its powerful potential through performance, writing, and group reflection. These explorations attempt to make apparent the systemic failure and the loss of skills and knowledge experienced through the silencing process of people seeking asylum."

[Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv_h8mOzxQU ]

[Related: http://www.visibleproject.org/blog/ ]
education  refugees  asylum  migrants  migration  openstudioproject  open  freeschools  ahmetögüt  2012  via:javierarbona 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Trevor Paglen: Turnkey Tyranny, Surveillance and the Terror State - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
"A few statistics are telling: between 1992 and 2007, the income of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States rose by 392 percent. Their tax rate fell by 37 percent. Since 1979, productivity has risen by more than 80 percent, but the median worker’s wage has only gone up by 10 percent. This is not an accident. The evisceration of the American middle and working class has everything to do with an all-out assault on unions; the rewriting of the laws governing bankruptcy, student loans, credit card debt, predatory lending and financial trading; and the transfer of public wealth to private hands through deregulation, privatization and reduced taxes on the wealthy. The Great Divergence is, to put it bluntly, the effect of a class war waged by the rich against the rest of society, and there are no signs of it letting up."



"…the effects of climate change will exacerbate already existing trends toward greater economic inequality, leading to widespread humanitarian crises and social unrest. The coming decades will bring Occupy-like protests on ever-larger scales as high unemployment and economic strife, particularly among youth, becomes a “new normal.” Moreover, the effects of climate change will produce new populations of displaced people and refugees. Economic and environmental insecurity represent the future for vast swaths of the world’s population. One way or another, governments will be forced to respond.

As future governments face these intensifying crises, the decline of the state’s civic capacities virtually guarantees that they will meet any unrest with the authoritarian levers of the Terror State. It won’t matter whether a “liberal” or “conservative” government is in place; faced with an immediate crisis, the state will use whatever means are available to end said crisis. When the most robust levers available are tools of mass surveillance and coercion, then those tools will be used. What’s more, laws like the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides for the indefinite detention of American citizens, indicate that military and intelligence programs originally crafted for combating overseas terrorists will be applied domestically.

The larger, longer-term scandal of Snowden’s revelations is that, together with other political trends, the NSA’s programs do not merely provide the capacity for “turnkey tyranny”—they render any other future all but impossible."
trevorpaglen  surveillance  terrorism  2013  edwardsnowden  climatechange  authoritarianism  thegreatdivergence  disparity  wealth  wealthdistribution  tyranny  global  crisis  society  classwar  class  deregulation  privatization  taxes  taxation  unions  debt  economics  policy  politics  encarceration  prisons  prisonindustrialcomplex  militaryindustrialcomplex  socialsafetynet  security  terrorstate  law  legal  secrecy  democracy  us  martiallaw  freedom  equality  fear  civilliberties  paulkrugman  environment  displacement  socialunrest  ows  occupywallstreet  refugees 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Episcopal Refugee Network of San Diego
[See also:

"Burma Refugees Struggling to Adjust in City Heights"
http://voiceofsandiego.org/2010/03/03/burma-refugees-struggling-to-adjust-in-city-heights/

"Finding Their Way Home: Burmese Refugees Establish a Community Center"
http://www.speakcityheights.org/2012/10/finding-their-way-home-burmese-refugees-establish-a-community-center/

"Burmese Refugees Making Home in San Diego
http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/nov/06/burmese-refugees-making-san-diego-home/

Karen Organization of San Diego
http://karensandiego.org/ ]

"The Episcopal Refugee Network of San Diego is a non-profit organization that started to help refugees in San Diego County, from many countries of origin. Most of our early clients were from Sudan, but now we also serve many Karen and Karinni refugees from Myanmar (Burma), and Bhutanese and Iraqi refugees."



"The Episcopal Refugee Network provides one-on-one tutoring for 95 young people from Burmese mountain groups. The majority are Karen but we have numbers also from the Karenni, Chin and Shan peoples. This program is offered in an elementary section and a secondary section each week at St. Mark’s Church in City Heights, San Diego. We have a program at St. Alban’s Church Hall in El Cajon City. More volunteer tutors will enable more children to be accepted into the El Cajon program twice a week.

Each week the children learn and practice basic reading and math skills. They also receive enrichment in current events, geography and map skills, research skills, and poetry. Field trips to art, history and science museums, and sporting events enhance their learning experiences. Positive reports from San Diego teachers have let us know we are helping these children."
sandiego  refugees  volunteering  myanmar  iraq  sudan  cityheights  elcajon  openstudioproject  episcopalrefugeenetwork  burma  karen 
june 2013 by robertogreco
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