In an essay last term, students Làu Cẩm Tú and Hồ Phạm Ngọc Trân brought out the problems and possibilities inherent in Ruth Benedicts work style – though there is still a very strong prejudice in anthropology that you must go to a place to see for yourself. The argument against this is an elaboration of Benedict just as they have done in their essays – but there is some magic still to consider, or necromancy – if anyone is to do comparative work, it cannot really always entail that go for a look yourself prime directive style of fieldwork since how can someone spend a year in so many different places? Even if it were just to look at several places on a theme, these days maybe, most likely, you can’t travel to each and every one (I’ve tried), you need to trust the anthropologists from that place to tell you something. And then, the idea that only a western anthropologist can do comparative work seems to pop up unexamined, all anthropology is comparative, still, but the Western anthropologist usually does not have to say more than let’s go and they can still claim their have-a-look credentials, whereas someone from ‘elsewhere’ cannot so easily, say, write on some place in the West without someone saying they need to see their perspective is…, their interpretations is…, and why don’t they write about home and so on… A Western anthropologist goes to one or two places, then becomes a comparativist! Ka-pow! A miracle.
This is how to do an announcement!. It is well worth reading for both what it says about translation work (as I work on the difficult texts of Bác Hồ) and for its deeply cautious and researched engagement with the GPCR
“It does not serve the interests of the bourgeoisie to train younger generations outside of their class to think independently and to ask critical questions—complicated questions that require investigation, study, and ongoing reflection to answer in an appropriately nuanced or dialectical way. This can be true of sincere, committed comrades as well. For instance, it’s simpler to read Mao, or quotations of Mao, or Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc. in order to find the evidence we need to “prove” that what we believe is correct, rather than do more in-depth reading and analysis. But the fact is, unless we tear away the lenses that obscure our understanding of the GPCR, ones that condemn it as a violent, chaotic expression of excess, as well as ones that take Mao’s word as gospel, we will fall into the same traps as the red guards of Beijing and Qinghua University, the very traps that Mao pointed out and roundly criticized in many of the articles in this volume.”
“The fact that the factionalism and dogmatism that eventually plagued the Red Guards (and caused Mao to disband them) plays out in Maoist circles today is an indication that we who call ourselves Maoist, have yet to understand and put into practice many important lessons of the GPCR. Some today continue to hold up Mao and what he said as proof of the righteousness of their own actions and the wrongheadedness of others—without real study and research into what he really thought and why. It’s the very practice of which Mao criticized Lin Biao and the Red Guard leaders: shouting that every word was absolutely true, but then disregarding what he actually said, much less trying to understand why”
Theres much more that’s interesting… Read the whole thing (about 10 mins) : https://www.redspark.nu/en/theory/flp-announcing-the-upcoming-release-of-the-selected-works-of-mao-zedong-vol-ix/
The blue plaque for Ho Chi Minh on the site of the former Carlton Hotel, where he worked as Van Ba. It is on New Zealand House in Haymarket. Google maps seems to indicate its on the east side.
Fairly obviously there should also be a plaque on the Drayton Hotel in Ealing where Bac Ho worked in the Kitchen in 1914: https://web.archive.org/web/20101213050535/http://www.ealing.gov.uk/services/leisure/local_history/historic_buildings/drayton_court_hotel.html
The integument bursts asunder (worst translation ever of Marx)
Die Hülle … wird gesprengt.
– Discussion [coming out soon-ish].Introducing the Commodity — Capital Course – multiple iterations
15 minutes approx per paper, what can we make of the lectures, reading and discussion that offers arguments to challenge readers and convey the relevance of anthro texts for contemporary issues and concerns (still).
From the very first Tecoma Youth CYSS(tem) one to a few neat things already linked here – The Paper, Invisible Finger – I’ve always enjoyed the Zine scene (not too seriously): Monoscop has a pretty handy, somewhat US-ocentric, list of links:
- Tokyo Zinester Gathering, Café Lavandería, Tokyo, annually since c.2014.
- Zine Camp, WORM, Rotterdam, 24-25 May 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019.
- Amsterdam Zine Jam, Felix Meritis Building, Amsterdam, 4 Oct 2014. 
- Here is Zine • Here is Hong Kong, PMQ, Hong Kong, 23 Dec 2016-9 Jan 2017.
- Alles behalve de inhoud #5: Zines, Leeszaal West, Rotterdam, 3 Apr 2017.
- ZineWiki, an open-source encyclopedia devoted to zines and independent media. It covers the history, production, distribution and culture of the small press.
- The Book of Zines: Readings from the Fringe, ed. Chip Rowe, est. 1996.
- Artzines.info, a database for zines self-published by contemporary artists.
- Artzines.net, a blog on artzines and art books operated by Moritz Grünke.
- Solidarity! Revolutionary Center and Radical Library. Located in Lawrence, Kansas the mission of Solidarity! Revolutionary Center and Radical Library is to organize as a non-hierarchical collective for the purpose of sharing and distributing information. The collection is compiled of Zines (personal, non-copy written, non-traditionally peer reviewed articles, journals, and art) that were specifically purchased, donated, traded, or created for the Solidarity! Collection. These works cover every topic from Globalization and the Industrial Prison Complex to first kisses.
- Independent Voices: An Open Access Collection of an Alternative Press, US periodicals and serials from the 1960s-80s.
- Solidarity! Revolutionary Center and Radical Library, zine collection online.
- Deutschsprachige Punkzines, 1977-1984.
- ZineDepo, a library with more than 1000 international zines collected over a period of 25 years, Arnhem/NL. Publications.
- Grrrl Zine Network, grrrl, lady, queer and trans folk zines, distros and DIY projects from around the world, ed. Elke Zobl, est. 2001.
- Elke Zobl, “The Power of Pen Publishing: International Grrrl Zines and Distros”, Feminist Collections 26:1, Fall 2004, pp 20-24.
- Zine Coop, an indie publishing artist collective that promotes zine culture in Hong Kong, est. 2017.
- Chip Rowe (ed.), The Book of Zines: Readings From the Fringe!, 1997. Anthology of pop culture writings from about 80 zines.
- R. Seth Friedman, The Factsheet Five Zine Reader: The Best Writing from the Underground World of Zines, New York: Three Rivers Press, 1997, 192 pp.
- Tristan Taormino, Karen Green (eds.), The Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1997. An anthology from zines created by women.
- Jen Angel (ed.), Zine Yearbook, since 1997. Annual anthology of zine writing.
- Ethan Clark (ed.), Stories Care Forgot: An Anthology of New Orleans Zines, Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2006, 149 pp. Reproductions of a dozen punk zines. Also includes author memoirs of their experiences during and after Hurricane Katrina.
- Fanzini Sa, dir. Siniša Dugonjić, 2011, 41 min. A documentary on the underground and DIY fanzine culture in Serbia during the 1980s and 1990s. EN subs.
- Nigel Fountin, Underground: The London Alternative Press 1966-74, New York: Routledge/Chapman & Hall, 1988. History of the underground press in the UK.
- Mike Gunderloy, How to Publish a Fanzine, Port Townsend, WA: Loompanics, 1988, 91 pp.
- Mike Gunderloy (ed.), Why Publish?, intro. Jacob Rabinowitz, Pretzel Press, 1989, 54 pp.
- Mike Gunderloy, Cari Goldberg Janice, The World of Zines: A Guide to the Independent Magazine Revolution, Penguin, 1992, 224 pp.
- Bob Black, Beneath the Underground, Portland, OR: Feral House, 1994, x+190 pp, IA.
- Counter Intelligence: Zines, Comics, Pamphlets, Flyers: Catalogue of Self-Published and Autonomous Print-Creations: Articles! Reviews! Contacts!, eds. Jason Skeet and Mark Pawson, London: 121 Centre, 1995, 24 pp. Catalogue of an exhibition held throughout Oct 1994 at 121 Centre, Brixton, South London.
- Pagan Kennedy, Zine: How I Spent Six Years of My Life in the Underground and Finally Found Myself–I Think, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995, 184 pp. Review: PW.
- V. Vale (ed.), Zines! Vol.1, San Francisco: RE/Search Publications, 1996, 169 pp.  
- V. Vale (ed.), Zines! Vol.2, San Francisco: RE/Search Publications, 1997, 137 pp. 
- Francesca Lia Block, Hillary Carlip, Zine Scene: The Do It Yourself Guide to Zines, Los Angeles: Girl Press, 1998.
- Alex Wrekk, Stolen Sharpie Revolution: a DIY Resource For Zines and Zine Culture, 2002, 96 pp; 2nd ed., 2003; 3rd ed., 2005. 
- Elke Zobl, “Persephone is Pissed!: Grrl Zine Reading, Making and Distributing Across the Globe”, Hecate 30:2, 2004, pp 156-175. 
- Stephen Duncombe, Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture, London: Verso, 1997; repr., Bloomington, IN: Microcosm Publishing, 2008, 256 pp.
- Elke Zobl, Do-It-Yourself. Feministische künstlerische Praxis am Beispiel von Zines und Magazinen, Vienna: Akademie der Bildenden Künste, 1999, 126 pp.  (German)
- Liz Farrelly, Zines, London: Booth-Clibborn, 2001.
- Chris Atton, Alternative Media, London: Sage, 2002, 172 pp.
- Elke Zobl, The Global Grrrl Zine Network: A DIY Feminist Revolution for Social Change, Vienna: Akademie der Bildenden Künste, 2004. PhD dissertation.
- Julie Bartel, From A to Zine: Building a Winning Zine Collection in Your Library, Chicago: American Library Association, 2004.
- Alison Piepmeier, Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism, forew. Andi Zeisler, NYU Press, 2009, 264 pp. 
- Janice Radway, “Zines Then and Now: What Are They? What Do You Do with Them? How Do They Work?”, 2009.
- Signs 35(1): “Comparative Perspectives Symposium: Feminist Zines”, ed. Agatha Beins, Autumn 2009. Texts by Elke Zobl, Feminist MAF(I)A, Val Rauzier, Red Chidgey, Noya Kohavi, Jenna Freedman, Claire Villacorta, and lolagouine (aka Riot Coco). 
- Teal Triggs, Fanzines: The DIY Revolution, Chronicle Books, 2010, 256 pp. Features hundreds of reproductions of zine covers plus a history of fanzines and examination of various genres.
- Janice Radway, “Zines, Half-Lives, and Afterlives: On the Temporalities of Social and Political Change”, PMLA 126:1, Jan 2011, pp 140-150.
- Elke Zobl, Ricarda Drüeke (eds.), Feminist Media: Participatory Spaces, Networks and Cultural Citizenship, Bielefeld: transcript, 2012, 292 pp. 
- Kate Eichhorn, The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013, xii+188 pp.
- Kate Eichhorn, Adjusted Margin: Xerography, Art, and Activism in the Late Twentieth Century, MIT Press, 2016, 216 pp. . Reviews: Mosher (Leonardo), Horne (Radical Phil).
- “Zinedepo Manifesto of Radical Zineculture”, Arnhem, n.d.
- Jan-Frederik Bandel, Annette Gilbert, Tania Prill (eds.), Under the Radar: Underground Zines and Self-Publications, 1965-1975, Spector Books, 2017, 368 pp. 
- Miloš Hroch (ed.), Křičím: „To jsem já.“, Prague: PageFive, 2017. On Czech fanzines from the 1980s until today. English extract.  (Czech)/(English)
- Momo Nonaka (野中 モモ), Barubora (ばるぼら), 日本のZINEについて知ってることすべて 同人誌、ミニコミ、リトルプレス―自主制作出版史1960～2010年代, Tokyo: Seibundo Shinkosha, 2017, 319 pp. (Japanese)
- Art Libraries Journal 43(2): “Zines and Libraries in the UK”, ed. Gustavo Grandal Montero, Apr 2018, pp 71-112. 
- Florian Cramer, “#Synchronicityofparasites @Zinedepo/Motel Spatie, 17-5-2019”, Making Public blog, Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 7 Jun 2019.
- Paula Guerra, Pedro Quintela (eds.), Punk, Fanzines and DIY Cultures in a Global World: Fast, Furious and Xerox, Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
- Lisa Gitelman: Amateurdom and Its Discontents, Or, What Is a Zine?, keynote talk for the June 2013 Symposium on Emerging Genres, Forms, Narratives—in New Media Environments. Held by the North Carolina State University program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media.
- Zine Coop, Hong Kong zine collective.
All great things – check out the original post for more: https://monoskop.org/Zine_culture
“La richesse des sociétés dans lesquelles règne le mode de production capitalisteMarx Le Capital 1872
s’annonce comme une «immense accumulation de marchandises1».
L’analyse de la marchandise, forme élémentaire de cette richesse, sera par
conséquent le point de départ de nos recherches.’
The first sentence of Marx’s Das Kapital rendered in French (by Marx) has the riches of the societies in which capitalist production reigns announce itself (s’annonce comme) as an accumulation of goods. Given that later Marx will ponder what would happen if commodities could speak, this announcing is perhaps better than the spirited multi-referent German ‘erscheint als‘ (alternatingly ‘presents itself’ or ‘appears’ in the competing english translations by Penguin or Progress//Fowkes or Aveling). The attached article discusses the latter, but I wanted to add this French tone as I prepare to discuss another translation problem (in the Working Day chapter) in my anthropology course lectures tomorrow (they are collected here – the next one – tomorrow’s – will appear in a subsequent post on that site).
Suffice to say, I will resist a bit at least spending too many hours on the wrinkle this French accent gives to the much discussed First Sentence. To announce itself – which both moneybags and capital in general too often and too portentously does all the time – is a ventriloquist’s trick of course. Tomorrow, the Working Day lecture, is about the voices in that most ethnographic of chapters, and indeed the first appearance of the worker’s voice, individually and then in a group. Let’s see how it goes on the day.
But for a long time I kept coming back to tinker with the article below on the first sentence, since it was originally published in Tom Bunyard’s 2008 book The Devil’s Party. In the meantime, it has been a while. So just now, for as I went to download the 1867 edition of Das Kapital to check the first version of the Working Day, I decided to grab the French version too. This is the one serialised and approved by Marx from 1872-1875.
This came up again last week, where in another discussion there was cause to recall that the French edition was the last edition published under Marx’s hand. He rewrote it extensively in French as it was serialised across 1872-1875. Rewritten in order to speak more clearly to the French workers who had recently risen up as the Commune (1871). Some say it is the most authentic version, and some 60 pages did not make it into the subsequent German editions (though some of it did) edited by Engels. Nor did it all make it into the English translation by various friends of Engels, a group which included Eleanor’s dubious husband Edward Aveling (fake double suicide ploy while he was married to another, apparently) . Of course this does not mean you should read the French, which was subsequently published in 2 volumes (so would not make an ideal pillow for Bac Ho [who allegedly slept with a copy under the sheets]). There are otehr versions too – when Marx died Engels or perhaps Eleanor also found that in his library there was a copy of volume 1 with annotations in his own hand which I show here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/…/marxs-own-copy-of-kapital/
John Holloway has a thing in the latest HM Journal on the first sentence, but I had not seen it before writing these notes. See a link to his – or at least another verion of it, I dunno if exactly the same – via here. Meanwhile, these notes are the 2011 update of a text published in 2008 in Tom Bunyard’s “Devil’s Party“:
The first sentence
Starting with the difficult scene of commodity exchange, this is nonetheless a very clear and accessible read. Marx’s presentation differs from the mode of inquiry. The commentary on commodities was not his first object of analysis, it is an abstracted presentation, a writerly, rewritten, text.
Marx’s introduction anticipates a great many themes that will recur over and over in the text. Readers are forewarned, the wealth of nations is at stake, there be monsters, in this drama, where production rules, and its very elements, and their abstract form, will be examined.
Look at the first sentence of the text (in English, Penguin translation):
‘The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an “immense collection of commodities”, the individual commodity appears as its elementary form’ (Marx 1867/1976)
I think it is crucial that the commodity is the opening scene of a drama that has a wider purpose for demystifying. It is the opening to a work that will provide the ‘implied reader’ of Capital (I follow Gayatri Spivak’s ‘Scattered Speculations’ essay of 1985 in seeing this reader as first of all a member of the German socialist workers party here, and by extension today, you and I) with the x-ray vision to see through the trick of market exchange, control of production, distribution, valourisation, credit, the varieties of subsumption and the crises of capital, so as to sublate the productive power of capital away from the exploitative production for profit of commodity wealth into a more plentiful abundance of life and creativity for all…
Marx wrote his analysis of capital not only because he wanted to set down the answers, but so that the working class would have the wherewithal to make their own analyses, to read the world. We can have issues with this metaphor, which privileges text as unproblematic transcription, but Marx himself would not have difficulty here.
Who to write for as important as what to say.
So what to say? I would argue that the first sentence is of utmost important because the whole of Capital, in its presentation, is a staged drama. Throughout the literary theatrical code is prominent. Characters when they appear (as personifications, as ‘Moneybags’) perform in Marx’s theatre, even at the very beginning – the ‘immense collection of commodities’ is characterised as something like the World Fair, those mad exhibitions of the produce of the world, before which – in 1851 for example – Marx had marvelled as a visitor at the plunder of the world. The society to be examined is one where the capitalist mode of production prevails – prevails as a kind of monstrous law or power over all (prevails is translated as herrscht , which might be better rendered as rule, govern or controls). And though we are starting with the commodity, the analysis will look to the provenance of all these things, and how production determines exchange, and what follows (see my dispute with Clifford in Hutnyk 2004 chapter 1)
The very first four words of Marx’s Capital are ‘The Wealth of Societies’, surely echoing, as Spivak notes, Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. ‘In the rational plan for socialism’, however, ‘there is no room for nationalism’ (Spivak 2008:100). Against Smith, Marx writes a book that is aimed at overcoming the exploitation and appropriation of wealth that prevails in the capitalist mode of production as a social (class) formation. He writes in order to expose the trick of capital, its deceit and deception.
The wealth of societies is a phrase that should be the first to stop us. Recall that society is not community, think of Tonnies, soon to be writing on this distinction, recall Thatcher, recall Cameron’s big one – the proposal that the support work of social reproduction be further socialized, via all manner of voluntarism, non-remunerated labour, free for all disregard of the hard won concessions that a strong labour movement had wrested fro capital – we will spend considerable time on struggles over the length of the working say, but this is relevant also for family, ethnicity, self-education and a range of other modalities of reproduction, including affective labour in sexual service, family reproduction, marriage and – lets call it compensation dating.
Now, I am not saying we should address each word of Capital with a view to thinking how it is relevant to our circumstances today, to the current conjuncture, etc., though that is pretty much the essay question, but i do think its worth keeping in mind that we read with a contexted eye. This year, of all years, threatens to be interesting and I would like to think reading capital again can help us think differently than we presently do – the only reason to go on thinking at all.
What clinches this argument? The very wording of the opening sentence includes two visual references. In the Penguin edition the German word erscheint is translated as ‘appearance’. The German reads:
‘Der Reichtum der Gesellschaften, in welchen kapitalistische Produktionsweise herrscht, erscheint als eine “ungeheure Warensammlung”, die einzelne Ware als seine Elementarform.’
The term erscheint occurs just the once here, rendered as two instances of the word ‘appears’ in the English (as cited earlier). This is grammatically acceptable; translation is no pure calculus, but I think there is an important significance that is lost. In the Lawrence and Wishart edition the translation is better: ‘The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as “an immense accumulation of commodities”; its unit being a single commodity’ (Marx 1867/1967:35 my italic). Both editions then go on to say that our investigation therefore begins with the analysis of the commodity. Noting that accumulation is perhaps a better translation that collection, my point is that revealed in the gap between the two English translations of erscheint is the entire burden of Marx’s project – to expose the trick of the commodity as social form so as to teach the working class to see into the mechanics of industrial capital. Erscheinung, in German usage, has a double, or even triple sense. It connotes ‘appearance’ both in terms of how something looks
, and in the theatrical sense of putting in an appearance, of staging something; in addition, it also has the sense of an apparition (which is what Derrida makes so much of in Spectres of Marx, although not actually from this sentence; it seems he prefers the Manifesto perhaps because it’s a shorter read [‘A spectre is haunting Europe’]). The ‘presents itself’ of the International edition gets closer to the theatrical sense, but does not capture the doubling nor the monstrous spectre, the trick that is perpetrated by the animated commodity – animated by the masses themselves, though they do not see it as such, yet.
Another point to be made here is that Marx, in that first sentence, quotes himself. Others have pointed to this curiosity (see Pepperell 2009), but Marx had already quipped in a preface that he was ‘coquetting’ with the presentation style of Hegel in setting out his rendering of Capital. This flirtation, that we do not need to take at its somewhat flippant word, is itself a machine for seduction, for storytelling, repetition, and a gamble that starts with a kind of doubled disguise (self quotation from the start) as a tactic. The wealth of societies is Smith, but not Smith, ‘ersheint’ is Hegel, but not Hegel, the commodity is the elementary form, but social, the monster accumulates.
I will also take up, in this first sentence that has detained us already for a long time, and further holds the rest of the text in abeyance, another translation slippage that I think is significant. Within the self quoted quote, the English renders the accumulation of commodities as ‘immense’. Ungeheure can certainly mean immense, or enourmous, but it also evokes a more Gothic meaning, that certainly fits the context – ungeheuerlich is ‘monstrous’, Ungeheuerlichkeit is ‘atrocity’. Perhaps it would be good, even in this first sentence, not to write out the evocations of Marx’s language – the theatrical and the gothic – a book populated by monsters is not merely comic, it is deadly serious, engaged in combat against demons and death.
Ungeheuer is immense but also monstrous. The demonic inflection is intended in Marx’s language. What today is the most monstrous appearance of capital? No longer a commodity economy but an economy economy, an immense collection of abstract shares, interest margins, affective attachement to interest rates and other markers of well-being, all of course based upon property and privilege still, but somewhat more clearly only the appearance of wealth is mediated through salary and bonus and all that can afford. Good schools, white entitlement, supremacy and privilege have never been less obvious as the marks of accumulated wealth of society types.
Appearance is theatrical, yet also a machine of domination. The point is to see though this trick, to see through the plastic appearances. We are not only talking of how things are, but also of how they are made to seem, and how we put up with them, even smiling as we do so. This needs a storyteller’s skill; so that rhetoric, metaphor, trope, coquetting; nothing escapes its role in the system. It might not even be impossible to imagine Marx as the system thinking itself in some contradictory, reflexive and critical manner (self quotation, doubling, haunting itself), but this is of course a fantastical deceit. Marx delivered a book that was itself a machine for narrative action (and still is, it gets inside your head and rewires thought, the tables dance). Now, the book could be read every time and for everyone as a potentially endlessly reorganized and renewed epic (it is hoped), still true to the project of teaching the implied reader to conjure with theory so as to unpack the real – to unpack the wealth of societies in which the capitalism mode of production prevails. Sure, it is a gamble to set out the analysis in a rhetorical style – inevitably part of the culture industry, the book itself still today engages with this gamble: Capital as a radical text sells more in times of crisis than not, and is sold as a commodity in bookshops for gain. It has its own commodity fetish format, precariously inserted into the DNA of the system of co-option and recuperation, even in the radical must-needs product. But the plastic will not remain forever – the reading of Capital is not merely system noise. We want people to read more than the first sentence, but also we want to read with care – and with a view to changing everything because, well – this is too quick, but we know the co-constitution of industry and exploitation cannot be merely described. The point is to change it. Books are also tools, plastic wealth is a trick, the screams of pain are real.
Note: Hans Ehrbar has prepared a resource that presents large sections of the English (Penguin, but often amended) and German (4th Edition) text of Capital in parallel, with significant explication. (Ehrbar 2009 http://www.econ.utah.edu/~ehrbar/akmc.pdf).
Ehrbar notes that this ‘new’ translation and interpretation of Marx ‘is deeply indebted to Critical Realism, a philosophical current founded by Roy Bhaskar’. He also says, unfortunately, that ‘I did not try to reproduce all ambiguities of the German text. If the German can be understood in two different ways, and interpretation a is, in my view, clearly right while interpretation b is wrong, then my translation will only try to bring out interpretation a’ (Ehrbar 2009 http://www.econ.utah.edu/~ehrbar/akmc.pdf)
My reading of the first sentence, prepared before I found Ehrbar, follows Spivak and attends to what might be called ambiguities, but which I think may be better rendered as dialectical style. The reading of the rest of the book will confirm or deny this assertion.
Marx himself rewriting the first sentence is here (which in turn links to this post, so a circuit metaphor is lurking there somehow… mis-en-about…)
The bit where haunted buildings are mentioned strangely has the sound drop out, but there are some great things to explore still… and the drone and inserts could have been cheesy however they work very well. Credit due.
The Corporate Imaginary, In Thesis Eleven August 13, 2020
Co research in Vietnam for the anthropology classroom with Do Thi Xuan Huong, in Education Philosophy and Theory, 2020, with supplement rept_a_1752187_sm3452
The Pecuniary Animus of the University in Education, Philosophy and Theory, 2020
If the Tigers and Cyclones Don’t Get You, the Law Will, South Asia 2019
Global South Asia on Screen. Book, India only edition 2019
What did you do in the war? History and Anthropology 2019
Marx in Calcutta, CITY 2018
Global South Asia on Screen, Book, World Edition, 2018
An article on the malaise that afflicts the UK university system, applicable to the US and Australia too possibly, not wholly tongue-in-cheek and riffing on true stories. Everyone will have their own versions of these tales, no doubt. Links below the screenshot.
Note: I am permitted to link here [The corporate menagerie] to the accepted version, but changes made during the editing process are not included so for those, and for citation, you should download the article from the journal using the doi identifier: https://doi.org/10.1177/0725513620949009. Cheers.
Innovating Institutions: Instituting Innovation
– section editor John Hutnyk
Published online: 20 Jul 2020
|The university in the global age: reconceptualising the humanities and social sciences for the twenty-first century.
Published online: 25 May 2020
|Meritocracy in Singapore
Published online: 28 May 2020
|Innovations in creative education for tertiary sector in Australia: present and future challenges
Published online: 10 Apr 2020
|Beyond borders: trans-local critical pedagogy for inter-Asian cultural studies
Published online: 15 Apr 2020
Published online: 26 May 2020
|Co-research in Vietnam for the anthropology classroom
Published online: 28 Apr 2020
Published online: 25 May 2020
|Regional aspirations with a global perspective: developments in East Asian labour studies
Published online: 28 May 2020
Reading Eugenia Zuroski Jenkins’ 2013 book A Taste for China: English Subjectivity and the Prehistory of Orientalism (Global Asias), Oxford: Oxford University Press, and seeing after Robinson, Defoe gets all a trinketty according to Jenkins:.
‘In fact, “trinket” was commonly used in this period as a verb: “to trinket” was to “have clandestine communications or underhand dealings with; to intrigue with; to act in an underhand way.” 33 The resulting inflation—or “trinketing”—of the coins’ value resembles the “monstrous generation” of capital identified by Ann Louise Kibbie in Moll Flanders (1722) and Roxana (1724). In those novels, Kibbie argues, traditional anti-usury arguments are channeled into narratives about female embodiments of capital that reproduce value in economically unsanctioned ways’ (p114)
‘“trinketing” of chinoiserie reverberates throughout writing of the eighteenth century, particularly in poems such as John Gay’s The Fan (1713) and Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock (1714) that parody women’s taste for toys and trifl es. 40 This strain of cultural thought, which relegates foreign ornamental goods to “toys,” and the English taste for them to fancy and folly, gains momentum throughout the eighteenth century.’ (p116)
Then, great to see, Adam Smith uses the term:.
‘In A Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), Adam Smith perceived that the English, still “lovers of toys,” continued to cut just such ridiculous figures:
“How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility? … All their pockets are stuffed with little conveniencies. Th ey contrive new pockets, unknown in the clothes of other people, in order to carry a greater number. They walk about loaded with a multitude of baubles, in weight and sometimes in value not inferior to an ordinary Jew’s-box, some of which may sometimes be of some little use, but all of which might at all times be very well spared, and of which the whole utility is certainly not worth the fatigue of bearing the burden”‘ (p116-117)
And while I think this is far too general an assertion, why not:
‘Defoe’s novels behave, in this sense, like the trinket itself, generating and circulating meaning and value by disavowing the material world in favor of an imaginary, figurative one’ (p120)
finally, in a footnote to Langford’s A Polite and Commercial People:
‘What I am calling chinoiserie Langford describes as “a wealth of trinkets, novelties, and knick-knacks in the French, Chinese, or Indian ‘manner,’ which invaded many homes”’ (Langford 68).
Early coinage – for numismatists: I am reading about Dampier and Jeoly (possible model for the fiction of Friday in Defoe’s Robbo book) and digging into texts about collections of curiosities and the like, and found this curio in the work of Barnes 2006, who refers to:
the Oxford Vice-Chancellor who looked, said the antiquarian Thomas Hearne, upon the Bodleian’s coin and medal collection “only as Trincketts . . . by which may be clearly seen that he has no relish of true Learning, & knows nothing of it” (Doble 2: 382).
Its not exactly clear when this was, though Hearn lived at that time (1678–1735) so I am guessing it was still currency… that is, about that time when Jeoly got to the UK – he travelled with William Dampier, who got back to London with just his manuscript and jeoly in tow, in 1691, havng met jeoly in India a year before and travelled with him to Bencoolen on Sumatra, then to England via the Cape and St Helena. I mean, I don’t know when the esteemed Oxfod VC disparaged the truth of coinage as but mere trincketts, but its great to see a reference so early as the 17th century. Ah, and Jeoly – exhibited by Dampier to raise some funds, which is as grotesque as it sounds, though quite the sensation then. In a pub. As the painted prince because he was royalty back home. He was, it seems, also introduced to Mary and William, then head parasites of those Isle.
And did someone mention tattoos?
Playbill advertising ‘Prince Giolo’ in London, 1692.
Etching by John Savage.
Image is marked, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Australia.
I can’t say I agree with evey aspect in the interpretation of Dampier’s ‘opportunism’ in Geraldine Barnes’s article, but its full of great detail: including an apocryphal autobiography – all the rage then I am sure. See ee Barnes, G. (2006) ‘Curiosity, Wonder, and William Dampier’s Painted Prince’. Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, 6(1), 31–50.
Barnes transcription of the fine print from the flyer above is not complete, but:
‘Prince Giolo, Son to the King of Moangis or Gilolo: lying under the Equator in the Long. of 152 Deg. 30 Min. a fruitful Island abounding with rich Spices and other valuable Commodities. This famous Painted Prince is the just Wonder of the Age, his whole Body, except Face Hands and Feet, is curiously and most exquisitely Painted or Stained, full of Variety and Invention with prodigious Art and Skill perform’d . .
“A similar fate befell the Miangas islander named Jeoly, who became popularly known as ‘Prince Giolo’ when he arrived in England in 1691. Perhaps the most famous of all the tattooed ‘curiosities’ exhibited in Britain, Jeoly was purchased as a slave by the buccaneer-adventurer William Dampier in Mindanao, the Philippines, in 1690. … Jeoly was put on display ‘as a sight’ at the Blue Boar’s Head Inn in Fleet Street in June 1692. A number of copies of the playbill advertising his public appearances survive (pictured above). The original advertisement includes a detailed etching of Jeoly by John Savage,
Back in 2003 Imogen Bunting, whose birthday it would have been today, wrote this on the film INJUSTICE by Tariq and Ken. To date the film still has not been shown on UK television, despite all the awards and media acclaim and THE RELEVANCE OF IT STILL TODAY.
Originally posted 2006
This piece was written by Imogen for a possible book on the film Injustice. We approached 19 publishers for the book, but while screenings do occur now, because the film was banned/threatened for so long by the court injunctions of the Police Federation, no publisher seemed able to risk a publication. As you can see from below, the failure of the publishers (some respected left wing houses) was not because of the quality of the writing – here as ever Imogen was on the case.
Reporting black deaths in the British press: Injustice and the right to reply.
‘Black deaths do not have a good press, especially when they occur in the custody of our custodians…the media leads the public to believe that our guardians can do no wrong. Racism leads them to believe that blacks can do no right. The silence of the custodial system is compounded by the silences of racism’ (Sivanandan).
It is from within these silences that Injustice speaks. As Sivanadan’s resolute remark suggests, the film was, in part, a necessary response to the media’s selective and often dubiously scarce reportage. Why is it that the one thousand deaths in custody that have occurred since 1969 can largely have slipped through the pages of our national press whilst at the same time the deaths of Stephen Lawrence, Victoria Climbe and Damilola Taylor have, for instance, frequently made the front covers of both broadsheets and tabloids? When the key suspects in the murder of Stephen Lawrence were charged with committing a racist attack on an off duty black police officer the Daily Mirror’s front page announced ‘GOTCHA! Two down, three to go, as justice finally catches up with racist Lawrence thugs’. And yet, in the post-Macpherson world it is all too easy perhaps to be seduced by such jubilance. After all, justice for the death of Stephen Lawrence never did catch up with his killers. The justice just delivered was for a racial attack on a police officer. And, if we are to be cynical, it mostly provided a perfect space for the press to celebrate an apparently reformed Metropolitan police.
The same week however, on page eight of the Guardian we are told that when Christopher Alder died face down in a police station in Hull in 1998, he was surrounded by police making monkey noises. In a letter to his sister, the CPS reported that ‘it is not possible to infer that there was a racist motivation here’. This, less impressive judicial decision is far from the front page – ‘black deaths do not have a good press’. Injustice was a way of exposing the long and continuing history of (black) deaths in custody where a politically correct rather than a politically [engaged?] press had not been adequate. Exploring the press’ handling of the cases featured in the Injustice provides a way of understanding the sticky politics of reporting deaths in custody and may open up a space in which to re-view the cases.
Whilst it is probably a truism for those involved in the campaigns for justice of people who have died in police custody, it is worth noting at the outset a point all too often forgotten when Britain celebrates the freedom of its press and the quality of its news, that is:
‘The media do not simply and transparently report events which are ‘naturally’ newsworthy in themselves. ‘News’ is the end product of a complex process which begins with a systematic sorting of events and topics according to a socially constructed set of categories’ (Hall et al 1978:53).
Deaths in custody are reported within a wider media context of black deaths, which more often than not, are associated with crime, gangs and drugs. The furore over guns from the ghettos at the concerts of the So Solid Crew was synchronous with the trial of the killers of schoolboy Damilola Taylor. And, whilst providing stark contrast to one another, together portrayed a kind of black underworld where, as the Guardian noted, ‘Gun crime in London is at an all-time high, and black violence against black people of particular concern, with 21 deaths last year’. A few months later, rising crime rates were the front cover of all the national press, and the shadow home secretary announced that ‘everyone on the estates in our inner cities knows…it is gangs and drug dealers rather than the forces of law and order that are in charge’ (Guardian 12/7/2002).
When gangs and drug dealers have been repeatedly inferred as being black, the violence of the police force towards to black people, or the disproportionate figures of black deaths in custody can be seen not as racism but rather as the inevitable result of black criminality. This might be one of the ‘socially constructed set of categories’ within which black deaths in police custody are reported, or not. And what it effectively creates is the idea that the force of the police is ‘reasonable’. However, when the controversial stop and search laws make it five times more likely to be stopped if you are black, then already there is a disproportionate chance that in being stopped, the police feel that a certain degree of force is reasonable. Indeed race and crime are so closely associated by the media that the Guardian chose to quote the Voice editor calling for more stop and search in the face of rising street crime and gun related offences,
‘Most people would prefer not to be stopped and searched, but increasing crime is warranting that and the majority of people who have nothing to hide won’t mind very much’ (Guardian 5/3/2002).
So, Mike Best, portrayed as a spokesperson for black people, has reiterated the most cunning of media tricks, creating the functional equivalent of the deserving and undeserving poor. The emphasis is shifted from the fact that stop and search, undertaken by a self confessed ‘institutionally racist’ police force is a dubious and dangerous tactic. And again, it obfuscates the fact that people stopped and searched, such as Brian Douglas, or arrested on suspicion of robbery such as Wayne Douglas, are dead. It is not even that the people who ‘have nothing to hide’ always get off lightly. Moreover, following the theme of the deserving and undeserving, a great deal of post-Macpherson media spin has played on the idea that the police are now too afraid of being accused of being racist that they won’t stop black people. The delight with which the nation mimicked Ali G’s ‘Is it cos I is black?’ was a serious indicator of how little the term ‘institutionally racist’ had been taken seriously and, like Mike Best, black M.P Paul Boateng was showcased demanding that:
‘The power [of stop and search] cannot be removed – it is a vital tool in the armoury of the police. We must never lose sight in our response to the Lawrence report what brought it about – a gang of thugs on the street obsessed by knives. The police must have the power to stop and search for knives’ (Observer 28/2/1999).
In fact this ‘gang of thugs’ were a white racist fraternity and yet stop and search renders black people five times more likely to be stopped. Indeed this kind of neutralisation of the police in the press is common. A crucial aspect of deaths in custody is that, by their very nature they might provoke terror and anger in the public eye as we are forced to ask who can protect us from those who are there to protect us? And yet, deaths in custody have repeatedly been portrayed as almost an inevitability, or the just deserves of a minority of people on the wrong side of the law. An example might be a report of the death of Shiji Lapite that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph which ran:
‘Mr Lapite was arrested outside a nightclub in Stoke Newington, north-east London. During a struggle he was pinned down and his larynx partially crushed. He died of asphyxia and cocaine intoxication.’
In the same way, the Times made sure to note that Brian Douglas was, at the time of his arrest, thought to be ‘under the influence of either drugs or drink’. Whilst the Sunday Telegraph described how, when Joy Gardner’s mouth was gagged with 13 feet of surgical tape, the police had arrived at her home,
‘with an arrest warrant, restraining equipment…and the information that she tried to evade deportation before and had a record of violence’.
This is perhaps the most telling account in that it shows how a criminalised history or an inference of involvement with drugs is a resource that can be used by the police in the same way as an arrest warrant might be. Similarly, both Joy Gardner and Shiji Lapite were described first and foremost as asylum seekers. Read within the context of a media who infamously echoed Enoch Powell’s speech of Britain being ‘flooded’ by immigrants, it is easy to see how these deaths might have been construed.
A demand for information, accountability, and justice that might arise through reporting a death in custody is augmented by an inference of criminality. In these instances, police action no longer, it seems, is under such scrutiny. Middle England, reading the paper over their breakfast can rest assured that it won’t be them on the floor of Stoke Newington police station. Whilst, bombarded with spectacular reports of rising crime, drugs and guns, the police must be justified in their actions.
Looking at the press reports of all of the cases featured in the film exposes a pattern in the press’ handling of both deaths in police custody, and the relationship between black people and (usually violent) crime. When these issues converge, deaths in custody, rather than being an outrageous – and in this sense – morbidly newsworthy issue, become part of publicising the police in favour of ‘mentally unstable’ (Press release from Stoke Newington police the night of Colin Roach’s death in the foyer of the police station) ‘immensely strong’ (Daily Telegraph quoting P.C Wright’s description of Ibrahim Sey 26/1/1996) ‘violent’ (Sunday Telegraph quoting P.C Brian Adam’s description of Joy Gardner 30/11/1997) victims. Such dramatic adjectives are an example of how
‘media forms produce the urban (ghetto) as lawless, anarchic and violent…[and] from pop videos, Hollywood cinema, American police series and surveillance videos, the black male body has been an object of scrutiny’(Sharma and Sharma 2000:109).
Victims who have died in custody are somehow posed as Goliaths to the Metropolitan’s Davids whose political and technological strength is creatively overlooked. The figure of the big, black dangerous criminal becomes mythical and the police can be posed as heroes, risking their own safety to keep the streets safe.
An example of this use, by the police, of the media might be found in a report such as that in the Daily Telgraph whose headline was ‘Met officers to be given body armour and C.S gas’. Here, the death of Brian Douglas, following his arrest is noted within the context of police deaths. The article reads:
‘all members of the metropolitan police are to be issued with body armour in the wake of gun attacks that have left seven officers dead in the past five years’.
The implosion of Brian’s death with the death of police officers seems to suggest three key themes. Firstly that death is inevitable within police work. Secondly, that the death of a police officer on duty might be equivalent to the death of a citizen who is, for any reason, stopped by the police. And, thirdly, that the death of an officer is enough to warrant the introduction of more repressive measures [technologies?]. It is the press who have juxtaposed the stories of Brian Douglas death and the police death and, in doing so, have occluded the seriousness of both the frequency and similarity in the death in custody cases. The 1000 deaths since 1969 are not of course, juxtaposed with the 7 police deaths in 5 years, a statistic that might put the police death rate into some kind of perspective.
Breaking up the continuity of black deaths in police custody through intermittent reporting distracts the public from the chilling similarities in the cases. Beyond that however, for those families, friends and allies involved in campaigning for justice, the press’ spectacularisation of particular cases is extremely damaging. It sets up a dis-jointed politics where alliance must be traded for sympathy. Whilst the Guardian headline of a report into the death of Roger Sylvester was ‘Another death in custody, another family mourns’ (24/1/1999), what the article actually stressed was to not see the death as another of the same. Yet again, another family mourns, and yet ‘they are wary…of Roger Sylvester’s death becoming another Stephen Lawrence or Michael Menson case’. The fact is that in many respects, the death is already another Stephen Lawrence or Michael Menson case. The depoliticising of yet ‘another death in custody’ happens through the emotiveness of a family, in obvious disbelief, who, it was reported, in response to questions over a demonstration held outside the High Court said, ‘it had nothing to do with us’.
Along similar divisive lines, a large part of a BBC Newsnight report after the death of Michael Menson in Stoke Newington police station in 1983 was given over to P.C Paul Pacey, who demanded that:
‘you go out and talk to those people on the streets, just in the normal course of your duty and they’ll…talk to you about the police and about what happens to you back at Stoke Newington station…and they’ll say, “things happen to you back there” and you’ll say “well what?”, “well, I’ve heard stories…”, “Well, who off?”, “Well, people”, “ Has it happened to you?” “Well, no…” And its very hard to find. In fact I can’t find these people its happening to’.
Death in custody becomes the urban myth of a paranoid black community rather than a serious and discrediting narrative in the history of Stoke Newington police station. Injustice found the families and friends of ‘these people its happening to’ and in calibrating the deaths that have occurred over the last thirty years fill in the gaps left by the media.
These gaps are, it seems, so easily maintained because the usual model of reporting is impossible. When death occurs in the ‘custody of our custodians’ what ‘actually happened’ is only known by the police involved. The ‘news’ of a death in custody is framed by information given by a whole brigade of officials from the police, to the police coroners, to the Crown Prosecution Service, to the Police Complaints Authority into the nature of the death. Stuart Hall (et al) has noted that,
‘what is most striking about crime news is that it very rarely involves a first-hand account of the crime itself…Crime stories are almost wholly produced from the definitions and perspectives of the institutional primary definers’ (1978:68).
Within this are assumptions about the relationship between race and crime, crime and violence and violence and state-protection. So, from a pre-established context, it is really only the police who have a voice on a particular case. This process may be highlighted by the extent to which the press uses direct quotes from the police officers involved in the deaths. Cloaked in the officialdom of their speaking position, deeply subjective descriptions are used:
‘P.C Wright : “He [Shiji Lapite] was immensely strong. I was in fear for my life and P.C Macullum’s life”…P.C Wright believed the suspect’s “tremendous strength” might have been the effect of crack cocaine’ (Daily Telegraph 26/1/1996).
‘“She [Joy Gardner] was the most violent woman I have ever encountered”, said P.C Brian Adam’ (Sunday Telegraph 30/11/1997).
There is no space for counter comment – for an opposing claim. Both the ‘facts’ of the death and opinion or comment are given by the state. Disentangling this tightly woven knot of (mis) information becomes the private struggle of each family rather than a public and publicised campaign. The silencing of Injustice is another thread in this cloth, where each time a screening was due to take place, the cinema was threatened by the Metropolitan police lawyers. In privileging the voice of the state over and above the voice of those harmed by the state, the media reaffirms the position of an institutionally racist police.
‘we are now at the very heart of the inter-relationships between the control culture and the ‘signification culture’…In this moment, the media – albeit unwittingly, and through their own ‘autonomous’ routes – have become effectively an apparatus of the control process itself – an ‘ideological state apparatus’(Hall et al 1978:76).
Indeed there is a curious levelling mechanism that needs to go on with cases of death in custody. The Metropolitan police, especially after the Stephen Lawrence case, has worked incredibly hard on its image. It is almost as if the sympathy of the press is needed in direct proportion with the violence of the police. As Cohen has noted,
‘The more resources allocated to increasing the efficiency of repressive policing, the more manpower has to be poured [in]…to restabilize the public image of the force’ (quoted in Jefferson 1991:171).
A thousand deaths in police custody since 1969 is not a statistic that might enhance the image of the police. The double movement of repression and promotion is mediated by the press who, for example, in reporting the death of Joy Gardner at the hands of police and immigration officers explain how ‘sticky tape was wrapped around her head to stop her biting more officers’ (Sunday Telegraph 30/11/1997). The police restraining technologies are laconically justified despite the fact that they were fatal for Joy Gardner. The press have maintained the police framing of the event to such an extent that the possibility of alternative opinions, transgressive questions and redressive actions are edited out. ‘In this lost world of politics without conflict, division or debate, the spin doctors are always right’ (Gilroy 1999:12) and the only sniff of disagreement reported surrounds the suitability of particular technologies in particular cases. The fundamental questions of race, class and institutionalised violence are obscured by the histrionics of endless police reviews.
Relying on a benevolent media however, also has its dangers and limitations, precluding the politics and economics of why there are deaths in custody and of why black people are five times more likely to die in custody. A sympathetic press may have its own agenda within the status quo. In a global and historical level, the story of Stephen Biko, the anti-apartheid activist killed in police custody in South Africa in 1977 is best known perhaps by the film Cry Freedom, which, instead of telling the story of Biko, actually tells the story of Donald Woods, a sympathetic white journalist who tried to expose the killing of Biko in police custody. We can see that the story becomes one of a sympathetic white media rather than of the political economy of black death within the apartheid regime. The connections between the media as an apparatus of the state are eroded in portraying a laudable exception to the rule. Similarly, the problem of the media’s treatment of death in custody can not possibly be solved by having more black journalists, just as the police won’t stop being racist if there are more black officers. As Hall has pointed out,
‘The media do not only possess a near monopoly over ‘social knowledge’, as the primary source of information about what is happening; they also command the passage between those who are ‘in the know’ and the structured ignorance of the general public’ (1978:64).
Alternative media such as Injustice, made in collaboration with the families of those killed and screened in cinemas, social centres, political meetings and festivals reconstitute the desiccated narratives of deaths in custody. Marxists are not imagining things when they note that the ideological state apparatus of the mainstream media will always voice the opinions of the ruling classes. Hoping for a sympathetic report is, it seems, both naïve and insubstantial. However, it is crucial that the press are interrogated, challenged and disturbed by other voices, voices normally excluded from the debates. For deaths in police custody, the problem will always be that the victim is criminalized, and, ‘the criminal by his actions, is assumed to have forfeited, along with other citizenship rights, his ‘right of reply’ (Hall 1978:69). Restoring this right of reply has been, in a sense the project of Injustice. As it traces the struggles of the families of those who died, it recreates the space of comment – it re-collects the testimonies, it redefines the parameters of the debate.
A text from nearly ten years ago:
Love these two:
Jan Griffier after Francis Barlow, ‘A true representation of the Rhinocerus and Elephant lately brought from the East-Indies to London, drawn after the life, and curiously engraven in Mezzo Tinto, printed upon a large sheet of paper. Sold by Pierce Tempest at the Eagle & Child in the Strand over against Somerset House, 1685’. © 2019, the Trustees of the British Museum
This is not the rhinoceros discussed in Marx in Calcutta, but some 60 years later, though clearly the drawing is influenced by Durer’s etching of that same reported beastie.
Please read the intro (free access) and follow up the rest (you know how):
I think something like this needs to be done for most cities. I mean, not just prepare an article like this, but implement versions of it. Would be necessary to unravel this from its capitalist renderings, and the issue of street vendors of a corporate nature sluicing out the informal sector is not negligible – eek, the prospect of Nike-sponsored street malls or Starbucks boulevard make me feel green in the wrong ways (boke). But with regulations and initiative – and a cultural brain-transplant to replace SUV-fetishism with bikes and some weather-related considerations … All in all, I am still mildly surprised NYT ran this story, and see it as a sign that a moment is still up for grabs even if the Californian Ideology seems set to blow it, and many other problematic aspects. Frankly, the problems seem solvable if there is time and inclination to discuss it, start on the buses…
As coronavirus lockdowns crept across the globe this winter and spring, an unusual sound fell over the world’s metropolises: the hush of streets that were suddenly, blessedly free of cars. City dwellers reported hearing bird song, wind and the rustling of leaves. (Along with, in New York City, the intermittent screams of sirens.)
You could smell the absence of cars, too. From New York to Los Angeles to New Delhi, air pollution plummeted, and the soupy, exhaust-choked haze over the world’s dirtiest cities lifted to reveal brilliant blue skies.
Cars took a break from killing people, too. About 10 pedestrians die on New York City’s streets in an ordinary month. Under lockdown, the city went a record two months without a single pedestrian fatality. In California, vehicle collisions plummeted 50 percent, reducing accidents resulting in injuries or death by about 6,000 per month.
But there is a catch: Cities are beginning to cautiously open back up again, and people are wondering how they’re going to get in to work. Many are worried about the spread of the virus on public transit. Are cars our only option? How will we find space for all of them?
In much of Manhattan, the average speed of traffic before the pandemic had fallen to 7 miles per hour. In Midtown, it was less than 5 m.p.h. That’s only slightly faster than walking and slower than riding a bike. Will traffic soon be worse than ever?
Not if we choose another path.
The pandemic should not stop us. There is little evidence that public transit is responsible for the spread of the coronavirus in New York or elsewhere; some cities with heavily used transit systems, including Hong Kong, have been able to avoid terrible tolls from the virus.
If riders wear face masks — and if there are enough subway cars, buses, bike lanes and pedestrian paths for people to avoid intense overcrowding — transit might be no less safe than cars, in terms of the risk of the spread of disease. In all other measures of safety, transit is far safer than cars.
What’s that you say? There aren’t enough buses in your city to avoid overcrowding, and they’re too slow, anyway? Pedestrian space is already hard to find? Well, right. That’s car dependency. And it’s exactly why cities need to plan for a future of fewer cars, a future in which owning an automobile, even an electric one, is neither the only way nor the best way to get around town.
A few weeks ago, I began talking to Vishaan Chakrabarti, a former New York City urban-planning official and the founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, a Manhattan-based architecture firm. Like other urbanists, Chakrabarti believes that the pandemic has created an opportunity for New York and other cities to reduce their reliance on cars.
Manhattan, already one of the most car-free places in the country, is the best place to start. Chakrabarti’s firm, known as PAU, had been working on an intricate proposal to show what it might look and feel like to live in a city liberated from cars, to show how much better life in New York might be with one simple change: Most cars would be banished from Manhattan.
PAU’s proposal would not ban all motor vehicles, just privately owned cars. There would still be delivery trucks, paratransit, emergency vehicles, and taxicabs and rideshare cars, if you needed them.
But private cars account for so many of Manhattan’s vehicles that banning them would instantly improve life for just about everyone who lives and works in New York.
In parts of downtown, pedestrians have to cross wide roads designed to carry traffic from the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges.
In a car-free world, the city could expand sidewalks to give those pedestrians more space.
Two-way bike lanes could replace car lanes in both directions. A concrete barrier would protect bikers.
Dedicated bus lanes, free of car traffic, would efficiently shuttle people in and out of Manhattan and relieve congestion on the subway system.
Source: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
You already know what’s terrible about cars: They’re dirty. They’re dangerous. They’re expensive to buy and maintain, and environmentally hazardous to produce and operate. Automobiles kill around 90,000 Americans every year — about 40,000 in car accidents, and an estimated 50,000 more from long-term exposure to air pollution emitted by cars.
But Chakrabarti is among a group of urbanists who’ve been calling attention to a less-discussed problem with cars. Automobiles are not just dangerous and bad for the environment; they are also profoundly wasteful of the land around us, taking up way too much physical space to transport too few people. It’s geometry.
In most American cities, wherever you look, you will see a landscape constructed primarily for the movement and storage of automobiles, not for the enjoyment of people: endless wide boulevards and freeways for cars to move swiftly; each road lined with parking spaces for cars at rest; retail establishments ringed with spots for cars; houses built around garages for cars; and a gas station, for cars to feed, on every other corner.
In the most car-dependent cities, the amount of space devoted to automobiles reaches truly ridiculous levels. In Los Angeles, for instance, land for parking exceeds the entire land area of Manhattan, enough space to house almost a million more people at Los Angeles’s prevailing density.
This isn’t a big deal in the parts of America where space is seemingly endless. But in the most populated cities, physical space is just about the most precious resource there is. The land value of Manhattan alone is estimated to top $1.7 trillion. Why are we giving so much of it to cars?
Without cars, Manhattan’s streets could give priority to more equitable and accessible ways of getting around, including an extensive system of bike “superhighways” and bus rapid transit — a bus system with dedicated lanes in the roadway, creating a service that approaches the capacity, speed and efficiency of the subway, at a fraction of the cost.
Eliminating most cars in Manhattan would also significantly clean up the air for the entire region. It would free up space for new housing and create hundreds of acres of new parks and pedestrian promenades, improving the fundamental health, beauty and livability of America’s largest metropolis.
There have been several proposals to ban cars in Manhattan, and the city has been working on a system to impose a toll on cars south of 60th Street. (This congestion-pricing project was scheduled to start early next year, but it has been delayed by the pandemic.)
What distinguishes PAU’s proposal is its visual appeal. Chakrabarti says his firm aimed to show, at a street level, how much better life without cars might be for most New Yorkers. “This is an amazing way to live,” he said.
Parking spots and piles of trash dominate much of the space on a typical residential street in Manhattan.
Eliminating parking would create space for large trash receptacles and more bike lanes. Additional crosswalks would make it easier for people to safely cross the street.
Source: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
Any proposal to ban cars had better look amazing, because in America, the automobile has never been just a way of getting from A to B. More than a century of car ads and a good deal of hagiographic cultural propaganda has done a job on a lot of us. For many Americans, cars are not just a consumer product but a rite of passage, a symbol of national pride, and an expression of liberty nearly as fundamental as anything promised in the Bill of Rights.
I know, because I, too, have long loved cars. I love them viscerally, the way a dog loves a bone, or an Instagrammer loves a sunset, and I am as surprised as anyone to be calling for their eradication from cities.
As a teenager growing up in Southern California, America’s center of car culture, I spent endless hours lusting after the vehicles in car magazines; these days my appetites are whetted digitally, with ridiculously detailed car-review videos on YouTube. My current ride is a car that only European automobile nerds would appreciate: an apple-red Volkswagen Golf R, a “hot hatch” that does 0 to 60 in under five environmentally disastrous seconds, which I bought only because driving it very fast touched me in unmentionable places.
Yet when I got my speedy ride, I quickly realized it was kind of pointless, because most of the time there’s too much traffic where I live to go any faster than a golf cart. This is the drab reality of driving you’ll never see in car ads — a daily, rage-inducing grind of traffic, parking and shelling out to fill up; an option that many people choose not for any love affair with cars, but often because driving is the least-inconvenient way of getting around where they live and work.
I was receptive to Chakrabarti’s proposal because in the last few years, I’ve grown increasingly disillusioned about America’s tolerance for the public health and environmental damage caused by cars, not to mention the frustrations of commuting by car. And I’m losing hope that the car industry will be able to fix the damage anytime soon.
I’ve spent much of the last decade watching Silicon Valley take on that industry, and I once had great expectations that techies would soon make cars substantially cleaner, safer, more efficient, more convenient and cheaper to operate.
But many of their innovations are turning into a bust — or, at the very least, are not making enough of a difference. Uber and Lyft once promised to reduce traffic through car-pooling. In fact, ride-hailing services have greatly worsened traffic in many big cities.
Tesla turned the electric car into a mainstream object of lust — but most of the rest of the auto industry is struggling to get consumers to switch over from gas, so it could take 15 years or more to electrify America’s entire fleet. The largest automakers still make most of their profits from dangerous, gas-guzzling S.U.V.s that will be on the roads for years to come, and automakers continue to mount aggressive legal and lobbying campaigns against mileage standards.
Electric cars are no environmental panacea — they are more efficient than gas-powered cars, but they still consume a lot of resources to produce, and if they result in people driving more, they may not greatly reduce overall emissions.
Then there’s the accident-free, self-driving car — the auto industry’s holy grail. Don’t hold your breath: The dream is proving to be far trickier than many carmakers imagined, and cars will remain reliably deadly for years to come.
When he wanted to underscore the unexpected nature of invention, Steve Jobs was fond of using a version of a line widely attributed to Henry Ford: “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’” Silicon Valley’s collective quest for a better car has begun to look similarly narrow: What if Ubers and Teslas are just faster horses — and what if the real way to revolutionize transportation is to think beyond the car entirely?
A more straightforward campaign against the automobile has been winning results around the world. This is a movement by urban planners, community groups and far-thinking elected officials to reduce the amount of land cars occupy.
The effort has resulted in the wresting of major tracts of land away from cars in some of the world’s largest cities. Late in Michael Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor, Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner, pedestrianized large sections of New York City, including Times Square, and created hundreds of miles of new bike lanes. Last year, the city banned cars from part of 14th Street in Manhattan, resulting in faster crosstown bus service.
Market Street in San Francisco has been turned into a car-free promenade. And in Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has made taking away land from cars the centerpiece of her politics, and it’s working. Traffic in Paris has fallen by 40 percent in the last decade; last month, Hidalgo handily won re-election.
How communities might redesign various types of streets.
Mid-block pedestrian crossing
Residential streets like 46th Street in Hell’s Kitchen
Recycling and waste pickup
Two-way protected bike lane
Commercial streets like 50th Street in Midtown
Taxi and rideshare drop-off
Crosstown arterials like 125th Street in Harlem
Dedicated bus lanes
Bus stopSource: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
It’s good urban policy, but it’s also a matter of equity and justice. Chakrabarti often refers to a concept he calls “street equity.”
Imagine you’d like to transport 50 people from one end of Manhattan to the other. If you were to send them by bus, you could stuff everyone in a single bus car — taking up around 450 square feet of road space, about the size of a tiny studio apartment. But if you were going to send 50 people by automobile, you’d need a lot more road. For 50 people, each driving alone, you’d need 2,750 square feet of space — basically a McMansion of roadway to transport 50 fat cats.
What does it take to move 50 people?
55 square feet per person
9 square feet per person
15 square feet per personSource: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
And cars take up space even while they’re not in use. They need to be parked, which consumes yet more space on the sides of streets or in garages. Cars take up a lot of space even when they’re just looking for parking.
Add it all up and you get a huge number: In addition to the 2,450 acres of roadway in Manhattan, nearly 1,000 more acres — an area about the size of Central Park — is occupied by parking garages, gas stations, carwashes, car dealerships and auto repair shops. There is three times more roadway for cars on Manhattan as there is for bikes. There’s more road for cars than there is sidewalk for pedestrians.
Cars have a way of gobbling up urban space.
Look at Park Avenue. When it was constructed in the early 20th century, it was true to its name — a large park ran down its center.
Over the years, much of the park was converted to roads for cars. Now just a small median remains.
A redesigned Park Avenue could reclaim its former glory, with a large pedestrian promenade winding down the commercial corridor.
Source: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
The amount of space devoted to cars in Manhattan is not just wasteful, but, in a deeper sense, also unfair to the millions of New Yorkers who have no need for cars.
More than half of the city’s households do not own a car, and of those who do, most do not use them for commuting. Of the 1.6 million commuters who come into Manhattan every weekday (or, who did, before the virus), more than 80 percent make the trip via public transit, mostly trains and buses, or by walking or biking. Only around 12 percent of daily commuters get to the island by car.
“It really does feel like there is a silent majority that doesn’t get any real say in how the public space is used,” Chakrabarti told me.
New York’s drivers are essentially being given enormous tracts of land for their own pleasure and convenience. To add to the overall misery of the situation, though, even the drivers are not especially happy about the whole deal, because despite all the roadway they’ve been given, they’re still stuck in gridlock.
And they most likely will be forever, because cars are not just greedy for physical space, they’re insatiable. There is even a term for the phenomenon: “induced demand,” which holds that the more land you give to cars, the more attractive driving becomes, leading to more traffic, leading to more roads — an unwinnable cycle that ends with every inch of our cities paved over.
In that sense, even drivers should have an interest in fostering alternatives to driving.
“The one thing we know for sure, because we understand geometry, is that if everyone drives, nobody moves,” Brent Toderian, the former chief planner for the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, told me. Even if you’re a committed daily driver, “it’s in your best interest for walking, biking and public transit to be as attractive as possible for everyone else — because that means you’re going to be able to drive easier.”
Indeed, PAU’s plan bears this out. Banning private cars on Manhattan would reduce traffic by as much as 20 percent on routes that start and end within New York’s other boroughs — that is, in places where cars would still be allowed — according to an analysis by traffic engineers at Buro Happold, a consulting firm that studied PAU’s plan.
Currently, wide uptown avenues like Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard are mired in traffic.
Eight lanes of traffic and parking take up most of the roadway, with pedestrians forced to hustle to cross long crosswalks.
In the new plan, community members could vote on how they wanted to use the space reclaimed from cars. There would be room for curbside vendors, gathering spaces and civic and social services.
Source: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
How would people get around in a Manhattan without private cars?
Mostly on foot, by bus or by subway; often on a bicycle, e-bike, scooter, or some future light, battery-powered “micromobility” device (things like one-wheeled, self-balancing skateboards); and sometimes, in a pinch, in a taxi or Uber.
Some of these may not sound like your cup of tea. Buses are slow, bicycles are dangerous, and you wouldn’t be caught dead on a scooter, let alone a one-wheeled skateboard. But that’s only because you’re imagining these other ways of getting around as they exist today, in the world of cars.
Cars make every other form of transportation a little bit terrible. The absence of cars, then, exerts its own kind of magic — take private cars away, and every other way of getting around gets much better.
Under PAU’s plan, road traffic in a car-free Manhattan would fall by about 60 percent. The absence of cars would allow pedestrians, buses and bikes to race across New York at unheard-of speeds. Today, a bus trip from uptown to downtown — for instance, from Harlem to City Hall — takes an hour and 48 minutes. With the sort of rapid bus system PAU imagines, and without cars in the way, the same trek would take 35 minutes.
Fewer cars, faster buses
Removing private cars would shorten bus commutes into and around Manhattan.
▼ 74 min.
Hunts Point to Union Square
▼ 74 min.
Hunts Point to Union Square
▼ 41 min.
Jackson Heights to Union Square
▼ 41 min.
Jackson Heights to Union Square
▼ 45 min.
Paterson, N.J. to Union Square
▼ 45 min.
Paterson, N.J. to Union Square
▼ 22 min.
Long Island City to Dumbo
▼ 22 min.
Long Island City to Dumbo
▼ 27 min.
Flatbush to Union Square
▼ 27 min.
Flatbush to Union SquareNote: Assuming a traffic reduction of 60 percent in Manhattan and 8 percent outside of the borough. Source: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, estimates from Buro Happold
The plan wouldn’t improve just Manhattan. A ban on private cars on the island would ripple across the Hudson, altering transportation and livability across the wider metropolitan region.
Today, cars clog the tunnels and bridges coming into Manhattan.
On the Manhattan Bridge, for example, there are seven lanes for cars.
A new layout would replace four of them with bus lanes, paths for cyclists and a pedestrian promenade. Three lanes would go to taxis and ride-share vehicles. The middle lane of traffic would switch direction depending on demand.
Source: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
The public health effects would ripple across the region, too. The most polluted air in New York hangs over the Bronx and Queens, in communities largely populated by immigrants and people of color. New York City has some of the dirtiest air in the nation, estimated to cause 3,000 premature deaths annually.
Among other ailments, long-term exposure to polluted air is thought to increase the deadliness of Covid-19. Much of the unhealthy air is caused by traffic sitting idle on the roads leading to Manhattan. Buro Happold estimates that PAU’s plan would lead to a 50 percent reduction in toxic air pollution in Manhattan, and a 20 percent reduction in the other boroughs.
It’s easy to forget that Manhattan is an island because roads block the view of the waterfront.
This is especially true on parts of the borough’s east side, where Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive runs along the edge of the water.
An expanded greenway would connect with the one on the island’s west side, making it easier for people to bike, run and walk around Manhattan’s perimeter.
Source: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
Given how completely automobiles rule most cities, calling for their outright banishment can sound almost ludicrous. (We can’t even get some people to agree to wear masks to stop the spread of a devastating pandemic.)
Instead of fighting a war on cars, Toderian told me, urbanists should fight a war on car dependency — on cities that leave residents with few choices other than cars. Alleviating car dependency can improve commutes for everyone in a city.
Chakrabarti acknowledges the political risks of trying to ban private cars. But Manhattan, he points out, is a special place. With a population that is already quite used to getting along without cars, the island is just about the only place in the country where you could even consider calling for the banishment of cars. Manhattan could be a place for all of America to witness how reducing an urban area’s reliance on cars can lead to a better life.
At the moment, many of the most intractable challenges faced by America’s urban centers stem from the same cause — a lack of accessible physical space. We live in a time of epidemic homelessness. There’s a national housing affordability crisis caused by an extreme shortage of places to live. And now there’s a contagion that thrives on indoor overcrowding.
Given these threats, how can American cities continue to justify wasting such enormous tracts of land on death machines?
Animations, illustrations and source material provided by Practice for Architecture and Urbanism with contributions from Vishaan Chakrabarti, Ruchika Modi, Julia Lewis, Skylar Bisom-Rapp, Junxi Wu, George Distefano and Mateo Fernández-Muro. Buro Happold provided additional source material with contributions from Francesco Cerroni, Alice Shay and Gabriel Warshaw. Satellite imagery provided by Google.
Produced by Gus Wezerek.
This was a surprise, at the least:
Solo Cello String Ensemble (4-4-4-3-2) c. 25 minutes
“Clifford uses the word to describe ‘a discourse that is travelling or hybridising in new global conditions’ and he stresses ‘travel trajectories’ and ‘flow’ (Clifford 1994, pp. 304 /6). Worrying that assertions of identity and difference are celebrated too quickly as resistance, in either the nostalgic form of ‘traditional survivals’ or mixed in a ‘new world of hybrid forms’ (Clifford 2000, p. 103), he sets up an opposition (tradition/hybrid) that will become central to our critique of the terms” (Hutnyk, 2005: 80).
Tradition – Hybrid – Survival is a work for solo cello and string ensemble. The requirements for the ensemble are 4-4-4-3-2 divided into the following groups:
Local: 1st Vln I 2nd Vln I 1st Vln II 2nd Vln II 1st Vla 2nd Vla Vc DB Diaspora: Vln I Vln II Vla Vc DB
Outsider: Vln I Vln II Vc
See fig.1 for a representation of how the groups should be arranged on stage.
Note that there should be a physical gap between the local and diaspora groups, and diaspora players should be either seated on a raised platform or standing. Outsider players should be offstage and unseen by the audience and musicians. The solo cello is intentionally partially concealed by the conductor. Groups and Their Meanings Each of the groups represents a certain kind of identity group and therefore uses musical material in a particular way. The local group represents identities that share a locality: persons of shared cultural heritage who are co-present, and whose actions are directed into greater alignment through the sharing of laws, practices, codes and customs. The diaspora group represents people of shared cultural heritage who are separated in space and time. They exchange material both amongst themselves and with the local group, but are variously distanced from these interactions, leading to a sense of fracturing and alienation.
The diaspora and local groups relate to each other in important ways. At many points during the piece (for e.g. letters R, S, V, W & Y) the local and diaspora groups play a similar or identical boxed phrase with distinct starting points. That is, all members choose their own tempo but the local group begin together at the conductor’s downbeat while the diaspora group start the phrase when they choose. This results in a blurred aural landscape in which all members explore the same basic idea but with some members more united in this process than others. Moreover, at other moments such as letter T, both groups come together and play in a united, frantic manner.
The outsider group stands apart from both the local and diaspora, and operates completely independently. They are unseen, unconducted and virtually unknown to the wider group since they do not join the ensemble prior to the final rehearsal. This is so that the music played by the outsider group comes as a surprise to the rest of the ensemble, who should not otherwise be informed of the nature of what this group will play. The outsider group represent vague and distant ‘others’; individuals who drop in from nowhere and then disappear again just as quickly. They do not interact with the complexities of diaspora/local relations since their music never relates to anyone else. Moreover, the outsider group parts are partially redacted so that they receive only a small amount of information on the activities of other members of the ensemble.
From AA, the outsider group begin playing a repeated figure at their own slow tempo. Their material is relatively simple – cycling through a series of chords – but since the rhythmic content is uneven and the tempo unknown, it should be practically difficult for the local and diaspora groups to work out when each chord will change. This is intentional and important, since at letter FF the local and diaspora groups are charged with attempting to align their material with these chords. This should be a difficult process that forces the ensemble to listen carefully to this group, momentarily providing the outsider group with the entire focus of the ensemble and a great deal of power as result. For these reasons, it is imperative that the local and diaspora groups do not see the notated outsider parts at any point. Due to the complexity of achieving such an alignment, it is recommended that the only rehearsal at which the outsider group are present should be focused on this section of the piece.
The solo cello charts a course between these three ensemble groups, weaving in and out of the different material they present; subverting, challenging, echoing or extending it. The solo cello remains most distinct from the outsider material, which they do not draw on explicitly until the final bars of the piece. At letter II the soloist detunes their C string to a B while playing, aligning with the tonal centre of the outsider group’s material and thus forming a sense of communion with this group for the first time. The solo cello therefore represents an individual who charts a course between each of these identities, never remaining entirely fixed in any grouping and with the ability to draw on each of these forms of being at particular moments.
For the rest of this confection see: https://escholarship.org/content/qt5c04v6g3/qt5c04v6g3.pdf
Great to see old stuff taken up in religious studies – where after all, I had my first job, thanks max Charlesworth and Purushottoma Billimoria, so a sort of return:
This below is from:
Peter Taehoon Lee and Godfrey Harold 2019
‘Potential or Threat?: Adopting Cultural Hybridity as a Concept for Diaspora Missiology’
October 2019, Project: Reflexivity and Missiology
One of the main concerns about hybridity is that the concept is too ambiguous and yet loaded with too many different ideas that its usage, if not careful, can easily become inconsistent and contradictory (Hutnyk 2015, 2005; Kraidy 2005, 2002; van der Veer 2015). It means that hybridity if covering too many angles at once, can become what John Hutnyk (2005:79–80) calls “a usefully slippery category” which is conveniently invoked to be an easy answer for all kinds of social and cultural situations. For example, if we state that everything is hybridised and everyone is hybrid, we are making the term lose much of its currency as a tool for social analysis. The same mistake can be made in missions if we conclude that certain religious traditions or cultural practices are hybrid without
looking at particularities of the specific hybrid phenomenon and how it differs from other hybrids and why it may be different.
And in case it is at all useful. Some texts discussing hybridity are:
Hybridity from Ethnic and Racial Studies 2005;
The chapatti story: how hybridity as theory displaced Maoism as politics in Subaltern Studies from Contemporary South Asia 2003;
Adorno at Womad from Postcolonial Studies 1998;
and you can get the book Diaspora and Hybridity, by Raminder Kaur, Virinder Kalra and me (its on book4you.org for example).
Don Miller was the mystical magical master of metaphor at Melbourne Uni in the politics department when it was mad for theory. In those days, Alan Fu Davies, John Cash, Nikos Papastergiadis, Scott McQuire, Glenda Sluga and others met regularly in the open coffee area (now boarded up as cubicle offices) to discuss psycho-social politics, Foucault, Derrida, Spivak, Rose, and where Anthony Giddens came and tore his stretch denim jeans on an armchair and Jean Baudrillard talked about everything as simulation and was asked ‘so why do you write’.
Don has now perpetrated another book, his fourth, a long time coming, but a beauty. Happily published by Pavement, it is endorsed by the great and the good of time studies, but it is much more. Also a theoretical book, but filled with examples, cases studies and commentary on everything relevant to Australian politics, global theory, matters of the minute and problems of the ages. It is infused with sport and science, India and Europe, Melbourne to its core yet never parochial in a way that will wind some people up and get others scratching their heads to think. The ‘think piece’ indeed was Don’s meter, asking his students to sit under a tree and consider their assignment before writing them in – as he encouraged – prose that challenged the stiff conventions of Political Science in its day, and today.
Time itself is more than a metaphor, but then nothing can escape time, or metaphor. The book benefits hugely from years beyond the university, talking to people as a conversationalist, a life coach, an advisor and a neighbour. A product of travels across the globe and across the shelves, armchair readings of psychoanalysis and on the spot samples of subcontinental conflicts, dilemmas and designs. The book is a conceptual challenge to tik-tok and clock time, taking temporality through its paces, trialling different angles, wearing away, shifting, displacing the assumptions of the watch, how duration has a face, apparent and hegemonic, which orders time and is thereby disrupted by those who champion fluidity of thought and action. McEnroe’s sublime.
In his blurb for the book, the China specialist Michael Dutton, also a one-time member of the Melbourne Uni Politics Department, says Miller ‘hones in on the ethereal and the everyday quotidian yet paradoxically political character of timing’. Too much perhaps, but that hits the head of the nail in ways most florid writing cannot. Don’s prose never exceeds its remit, but its remit is to provoke you to think again, to think of how style is bound up with what a book says, to think of multiple times of reading, and living. To accept the gift of being responsible for reading and thinking and living in your time and for all time as a finite yet multiple being. The longer perspective is not in the length of the book but the time that these thoughts will stay at the back of thinking, a contemplation engine informing and reforming thoughts and schedules. Make time to read this book, it will be worth the wait (for the delivery, in this time of Covid, will also pass fast enough, in due course).
Buy it here: http://pavementbooks.com/time-and-time-again/
A sacred site in Western Australia that showed 46,000 years of continual occupation and provided a 4,000-year-old genetic link to present-day traditional owners has been destroyed in the expansion of an iron ore mine.
The cave in Juukan Gorge in the Hammersley Ranges, about 60km from Mt Tom Price, is one of the oldest in the western Pilbara region and the only inland site in Australia to show signs of continual human occupation through the last Ice Age. It was blasted along with another sacred site on Sunday.
Mining company Rio Tinto received ministerial consent to destroy or damage the site in 2013 under WA’s outdated Aboriginal heritage laws, which were drafted in 1972 to favour mining proponents.
One year after consent was granted, an archeological dig intended to salvage whatever could be saved discovered the site was more than twice as old as previously thought and rich in artefacts, including sacred objects.
Most precious was a 4,000-year-old length of plaited human hair, woven together from strands from the heads of several different people, which DNA testing revealed were the direct ancestors of Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura traditional owners living today.
But the outdated Aboriginal Heritage Act does not allow for a consent to be renegotiated on the basis of new information. So despite regular meetings with Rio Tinto, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) Aboriginal Corporation was unable to stop the blast from going ahead.
“It’s one of the most sacred sites in the Pilbara region … we wanted to have that area protected,” PKKP director Burchell Hayes told Guardian Australia.
“It is precious to have something like that plaited hair, found on our country, and then have further testing link it back to the Kurrama people. It’s something to be proud of, but it’s also sad. Its resting place for 4,000 years is no longer there.”
Hayes said the site had been used as a campsite by Kurrama moving through the area, including in the memory of some elders.
“We want to do the same, we want to show the next generation,” he said. “Now, if this site has been destroyed, then we can tell them stories but we can’t show them photographs or take them out there to stand at the rock shelter and say: this is where your ancestors lived, starting 46,000 years ago.”
The Aboriginal Heritage Act has been up for review, in some form, since 2012. Draft legislation put forward by the former Liberal government in 2014 was rejected after even a National party MP argued it was unfair to traditional owners and did not allow for adequate consultation.
Re-writing the act was listed as a priority for Labor before their election win in 2017, and last month Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt pushed back the final consultation on his draft bill until later this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The new legislation will provide options to appeal or amend agreements to allow for the destruction of heritage sites, Wyatt said. He wasn’t aware of the risk to the Juukan site, or its destruction, until Monday.
“It will provide for agreements between traditional owners and proponents to include a process to consider new information that may come to light, and allow the parties to be able to amend the agreements by mutual consent,” he said. “The legislation will also provide options for appeal should either party not be compliant with the agreement.”
In its submission to the legislative review, Rio Tinto said it was broadly supportive of the proposed reform but that consent orders granted under the current system should be carried over, and that rights of appeal should be fixed, not broad or subject to extensions, lest it “prolong approvals or appeals processes at a critical point in the project.”
A spokesman from Rio Tinto said the company had a relationship with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people dating back three decades, “and we have been working together in relation to the Juukan area over the past 17 years”.
“Rio Tinto has worked constructively together with the PKKP People on a range of heritage matters and has, where practicable, modified its operations to avoid heritage impacts and to protect places of cultural significance to the group,” the company said.
The mining company signed a native title agreement with the traditional owners in 2011, four years before their native title claim received formal assent by the federal court. They facilitated the salvage dig in 2014, which uncovered the true age of the site.
An earlier 1 metre test dig, conducted in 2008, dated the site at about 20,000 years old, but the salvage expedition uncovered a “very significant site” with more than 7,000 artefacts collected, including grid stones that were 40,000 years old, thousands of bones from middens which showed changes in fauna as the climate changed, and sacred objects.
The flat floor of the cave allowed for a significant depth of soil and sand to build up, creating a layer almost two metres deep in parts. Most archeological digs in the Pilbara hit rock at 30cm.
Most significantly, the archeological records did not disappear during the last Ice Age. Most inland archeological sites in Australia show that people moved away during the Ice Age between 23,000 and 19,000 years ago, as the country dried up and water sources dried up. Archeological evidence from Juukan Gorge suggest it was occupied throughout.
“It was the sort of site you do not get very often, you could have worked there for years,” he said. “How significant does something have to be, to be valued by wider society?” he said.
• This article was amended on 27 May 2020 to correct the spelling of Burchell Hayes.
It seems like that old “goodness gracious me” sketch about the funny uncle that was claiming everything in Britain was ‘Indian’ was, – yup, Indian – accurate after all:
Reading Wittfogel and on page 214 he finds the Domesday Book, tdocumenting property rights for landlords of yore, has Arab [Saracen – Ghengis – ok, almost Indian] origins…
‘When in 1066 the Normans conquered England, some of their countrymen had already set themselves up as the masters of southern Italy, an area which, with interruptions, had been under Byantine administration until this date: and some of them had established a foothold in Sicily, an area which had been ruled by Byzantium for three hundred years and after that by the Saracens, who combined Arab and Byzantine techniques of absolutist government.
We have no conclusive evidence regarding the effect of this Byzantine-Saracen experience on William and his councilors. But we know that in 1072—that is, thirteen years before William ordered the description of England—the Normans had conquered the capital of Sicily, Palermo, and the northern half of the island. And we also know that there were considerable “comings and goings” 43 between the Italian-Sicilian Normans and their cousins in Normandy and England, particularly among the nobility and clergy. The latter happened also to be actively engaged in administrative work.44 No wonder, then, that on the basis of his knowledge of the period Haskins, the leading English expert on English-Sicilian relations in the Middle Ages, suggests “the possibility of a connexion between Domesday Book. and the fiscal registers which the south had inherited from its Byzantine and Saracen rulers.” [cites himself]
Haskins’ hypothesis explains well why a typically hydraulic device of fiscal administration appeared in feudal Europe. It also explains why for hundreds of years afterward this “magnificent exploit” had no parallel in that area. Evidently, systematic and nationwide registration was as out of place in feudal society as it was customary in the realm of Oriental despotism’ (Wittfogel 1957: 214)
from Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power and yes, the Orientalism and the anti-communism are strong in this one, and comparative studies on this scale are wild speculation at the level of conclusion, but int he detail, well, the detail is amazing. It is like a randomised global free association generator.
Highly unlikely, but if there were to be a collection of quotes for such an edition, this fine example would do very well as a back cover quote alongside the old ones. It is from a very fine-looking book by Nabaparna Ghosh – A Hygienic City-Nation: Space, Community, and Everyday Life in Colonial Calcutta 2020 Cambridge. I am excited to read the rest of the book, as I’ve only seen an early part so far. Of course, I mean the second part of this paragraph, though great to again be in the company of Arturo, and earlier Chris Pinney and others. This is on page 9:
The book itself – out in stores soon I believe (you can have a sneaky peak and read about 20 pages on Google books).
Many times mentioned on this blog, it is now more relevant than ever to write and support comrade Sai Baba whose conditions, like so many prisoners, are inhumane.
GN Saibana is one of the most prominent political prisoners in India and
one of the main leaders of the unification efforts of the Indian
revolutionary and anti-imperialist movements.
Press release by /The Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr. GN
Release Dr. G. N. Saibaba from Nagpur Central Jail
In the face of an imminent threat to his life exacerbated by the
Over the last six years, the health of Dr. G. N. Saibaba, incarcerated
in Nagpur Central Jail, has deteriorated alarmingly. Prof. Saibaba is a
teacher of English at the University of Delhi and is a human rights
Due to post-polio residual paralysis of his lower limbs, he is over
ninety percent physically disabled and wheelchair bound. Since
incarceration, he has developed severe additional ailments that have
resulted in irreparable loss to his health. On May 9^th 2014, he was
abducted from Delhi by the Maharashtra Police and charged under several
sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). None of
the electronic documents supposedly seized from G.N. Saibaba’s house
were displayed in the court or tested through any witness or made part
of the course of evidence. These electronic documents were directly
brought only as part of 313 statement, and not the main course of
evidence. The judge rejected all Supreme Court judgments regarding
bringing these documents which were not part of the course of evidence
as part of 313. These documents used were not a part of the trial.
Gadchiroli Sessions court gave life imprisonment on March 7^th 2017 to
Dr. GN Saibaba along with five others. Excluding a brief reprieve in
2016, he has been kept in the solitary /anda/ cell of Nagpur Central
Jail since arrest. With Indian jails filled beyond capacity and lacking
in basic medical facilities, and with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping
across the country particularly affecting the aged and those with
serious pre-existing medical conditions, Dr. G. N. Saibaba’s future
looks exceedingly bleak.
Throughout his political life, Dr. G. N. Saibaba has been a vocal
advocate for the rights of Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims and other oppressed
communities. He has spoken against the state sponsored attack on people
in Central India under Operation Green Hunt. He stood by his students
and advocated for democratic principles and social justice within the
university. He has never shied away from speaking his mind and has
worked tirelessly to uphold the spirit of democracy. While hospitals in
Nagpur and jail authorities have stated that they lack of facilities
needed to care for a person with such severe disabilities and ailments,
he remains incarcerated, untreated and denied bail. Nonetheless, he
retains the spirit of struggle, even when dehumanised by the lack of
medical facilities and denied the basic fundamental right of a life with
Dr. G. N. Saibaba suffers severe physical pain caused by the
degeneration of muscles in his hands. He is plagued by pancreatitis,
high blood pressure, Cardiomyopathy, chronic back pain, immobility and
sleeplessness. The weather conditions of Nagpur, magnified by the
windowless solitary /anda/ cell have even strained the functioning of
his heart. Consequently, his physical ailments intensified while the
lack of pain relief and neglect due to inadequate medical facilities
further debilitate his already fragile health. Despite interventions
made by the National Human Rights Commission and authorities of
international human rights organisations, the Courts have repeatedly
denied him bail.
The Supreme Court of India has upheld the right to life and reflected on
prisoners observing that “the treatment of a human being which offends
human dignity, imposes avoidable torture and reduces the man to the
level of a beast would certainly be arbitrary and can be questioned
under Article 14”. India is also a signatory to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which recognises the
inherent dignity of human beings and the ideal of free human beings
enjoying civil and political freedom. Furthermore, India has ratified
the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on
October 1^st 2007. India has even adopted the United Nations Resolution
70/175 on Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also
known as the Nelson Mandela Rules). These covenants, conventions and
resolutions ensure life and dignity to all persons, prisoners and
persons with disabilities and layout the essential parameters necessary
for its implementation. When the National Crime Records Bureau states
that prisons across the country prison are filled at 117% with
Maharashtra exceeding the average at 149%, the impact of the spread of
the COVID-19 virus in such a space is likely to be a death sentence for
/The Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr. GN Saibaba/fears for
his life and appeals to the Government of India and the Government of
Maharashtra for the immediate release of Dr. G. N. Saibaba, in light of
the impending threat to his life from the COVID-19 virus. The committee
urges all democratic organisations and individuals to appeal for the
release of all political prisoners.
Prof G. Haragopal
Prof Jagmohan Singh
Prof Manoranjan Mohanty
Prof Amit Bhaduri
Srikrishna Deva Rao
Subrat Kumar Sahu
Co research in Vietnam for the anthropology classroom with Do Thi Xuan Huong, In Education Philosophy and Theory, 2020, with supplement rept_a_1752187_sm3452
The Pecuniary Animus of the University in Education, Philosophy and Theory, 2020
‘If the Tigers and Cyclones Don’t Get You, the Law Will’, outh Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 2019
Global South Asia on Screen. Book, India only edition, Aakar, 2019
What did you do in the war? Revisiting the WW2 memoirs of Stoker Thomas Mouat Tate’ History and Anthropology 30(5): 581-599, 2019
Marx in Calcutta, CITY 22(4): 490-509, 2018,
- ‘Museum of Vernacular Regeneration’, CITY, 22(4): 584-594, 2018
Global South Asia on Screen, Book, World Edition, Bloomsbury, 2018
‘Screen violence and partition’, Inter Asia Cultural Studies, 19(4): 610-626. 2018
‘Mela: festival scenes in South Asian cinema’, Inter Asia Cultural Studies, 19(1): 129-147, 2018
- ‘Cine-Politics: Film Stars and Political Existence in South India, by M. Madhava Prasad’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 41: 236-238, 2018 https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4826-8949
Co-research in Vietnam for the anthropology classroom
Do Thi Xuan Huong & John Hutnyk
50 free ‘eprints’ for those who want to read it now – https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/DJGVNGGB5JEUHXFUPYZF/full?target=10.1080/00131857.2020.1752187
This will in due course belong to a special issue on Education.