Opiates and the Volk

Digging out old snippets I’d forgot I kept handy – clearly not that handy, but near enough to the top of my inbox that I could find them again by accident: here it is: – in Marx’s ‘famous’ quote, it is really noticeable that few people open up the quote to see what Marx said in context. There are several translations, but I will spare you my cod philology about the differences between volkes as masses or peoples etc. But see this in context and it looks quite remarkably different. Marx writes:

“Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.”

So. there it is – I hope you agree that the opium looks a little different now, eh god-botherers.

And that’s also why we keep religion and politics for conversations at Parties. Currently cooking the books on several hot plates, so here also today’s earlier word dump on debates: cf, thinking about the electioneering piggy pollies in the primaries in the US and the Brexit-Smexit in the UK – the great political debate non-starter for small-fry (on cuisine and writing hors d-oeuvres). What is going on though? Both sides serving up braised spam or an inflammatory buffet of irradiated beef and biscuit, half-baked pyromaniacs and home-brewed arsonists across the table mess with even the most poultry offers to cauterize this combustible stew, while gourmet confectioners dine out on a smorgasbord of swill, a catered distillation of half-chewed gum fed to the gluttons of the press, all consumers malnourished on a formulaic diet of ill-digested ruminant crud, while the butchers of etiquette gnaw the bones of contention at the feast of the dead, garnished with an aroma of burnt offerings on a menu of left-over table scraps. A dinner party of despair, sandwiches without meat, potatoes or ham.

Critique of Anthropology

This journal deserves your support – it has always been the go-to place for anthropology as it is now. Owes much to John Gledhil and the much-missed Steve Nugent.

My bits in CoA have been:

Bataille’s Wars 2008

Clifford’s Ethnographica 1998

Media Research Politics Culture 1996

Comparative Anthropology 1990

There is a vast amount of work goes into any journal, most of it without payment by a phalanx of younger anthros (they do not all march in step – more’s the better).

 

Bougainville Independence in 10 Days to shake the world…

A long time coming, it is likely that Bourgainville will be independent – and still may or may not reopen the mine that made Riotinto billions. 15k dead seems a bargain for all that copper now, right guys (ps. you deserve to be dragged from the boardroom at 6 St James Square and fed to the sharks).

This is from Australian Foreign Affairs (dodgy source, sure but its for hte details):

 

13 NOVEMBER 2019

WITH JONATHAN PEARLMAN

The future of Bougainville

 

In ten days, the people of Bougainville will start voting in a referendum on whether to break away from Papua New Guinea and create a new state. A decisive majority is expected to vote for independence. The long-awaited referendum marks the start of a new era for the province, following Australian colonial rule for most of last century and the civil war (from 1988 to 1998) that left between 10,000 and 20,000 people dead. Last Wednesday, Mauricio Claudio, an American who is the chief electoral official, said the two-week voting period is likely to be peaceful, credible and “joyous”. “The people of Bougainville have waited for this moment for decades,” he said.

But challenges will arise in the aftermath of the referendum. According to a peace deal signed in 2001, the result of the vote will not be binding but will be followed by negotiations between the Port Moresby and Bougainville governments. This process was proposed by former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer, in December 2000, to end a deadlock in talks between PNG and Bougainville leaders.

In a recent book on the referendum, Anthony Regan, an Australian National University researcher and former adviser to Bougainville parties, noted that Downer gave both sides “separate assurances” to win support for the referendum. To the Bougainvilleans, Downer insisted that a pro-independence vote – like the one in Timor-Leste – would be backed by the international community and lead to statehood. To Port Moresby, he said that the fate of Bougainville would ultimately depend on PNG’s parliament – a claim that persuaded PNG’s leaders that they could reject a vote for independence and retain Australia’s support.

Now, as the referendum finally arrives, Canberra will have to abandon this evasive diplomacy. Instead, it should endorse Bougainville’s peaceful and seemingly inevitable move towards independence. Australia is well positioned to use its close ties with PNG to encourage swift and equitable post-referendum talks. During the civil war between the PNG military and Bougainville separatists, Australia was perceived by Bougainvilleans as being on PNG’s side, particularly as Canberra continued to support its military. But Australia has since conducted peacekeeping operations and provided substantial aid to the region, which has improved its reputation there.

As journalist Ben Bohane wrote in the most recent issue of Australian Foreign Affairs, Australia has largely avoided commenting on the prospect of independence – which has prompted many Bougainvilleans to assume it supports PNG. Bohane, who covered the civil war and will be in Bougainville for the referendum, said Australia should now help to resolve the island’s status and must not be regarded as blocking independence. “Australia, along with New Zealand, should act as ‘honest brokers’ and help to nudge all sides towards a final settlement, rather than allow long-running resentments to fester, which could result in more distant powers such as China increasing their involvement,” he wrote.

One of the main challenges facing the province involves the reopening of the controversial Panguna mine, which has one of the world’s biggest copper deposits. In the 1960s and 1970s, Australia – then the colonial power – allowed the development of Panguna. It was this mine, originally operated by a forerunner of Rio Tinto, that sparked the tensions between local landowners and the PNG military that led to the civil war. The mine was closed in 1989 but in recent years, various Australian entities have been eyeing its reopening. However, the initial concerns of local landowners, such as over environmental degradation and financial exploitation, still remain.

The PNG government’s attitude towards independence is unclear, but there are signs that it is ready to embrace a new collaborative future with Bougainville. Last Wednesday, a reconciliation ceremony was held in PNG between former fighters from the PNG military and from Bougainville. Both sides apologised, and accepted each other’s apologies – they shook hands, broke bows and arrows, and together planted a coconut tree. PNG’s former military commander, Major General Jerry Singirok, described the war as the worst event in his country’s history, adding that he blamed it on his government and on foreign entities. Bougainville’s fate, he said, should be determined by Bougainvilleans. “It was not my choice to go to Bougainville,” he said. “I was only an instrument of a state institution.”

 

 

Immigration force

Some may wonder why Britain quite likes having a cheap labour force available for illicit work, yet politicians spend huge amounts of time presenting their tough on immigration and border control credentials. Here is the previous PM when she was Home Office minister playing her immigration card: Theresa May’s statement in parliament from 26 March 2013 is at the root of the problem: May was announcing that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) was being split up, but she was whistling another doggy tune:
 
“The government is splitting up the UK Border Agency. In its place will be an immigration and visa service and an immigration law enforcement organisation. By creating two entities instead of one, we will be able to create distinct cultures. First, a high-volume service that makes high-quality decisions about who comes here, with a culture of customer satisfaction for businessmen and visitors who want to come here legally. And second, an organisation that has law enforcement at its heart and gets tough on those who break our immigration laws”
 
Get that – a law enforcement organisation, with a separate culture of being tough on immigration (the other part will just kow-tow to big business mates). Now no-one thinks the UKBA was up to snuff. I mean even the doyen of Labour moral fibre, molasses spine, Keith Vaz called it the UK Backlog Authority that day, but letting loose the dogs of a special policing unit, under her own office, and of course obsessed with being seen to be tough, was, well… you know how it pans out, again and again and again. And this does not end with trite pointing fingers only at those that encourage people to risk entering refrigerated tombs on wheels. The Tories have a huge share of the blame here, and if Labour didn’t still have a bunch of immigration phobic rightwingers in the bloated centre-right of the parliamentary party, I’d say it would be reason to vote the tories out in the coming election. If one went in for that voting malarkey (as opposed to offering them all a free trip on the Virgin Orbit test rocket – Launcher one, 31 October – having set the controls for the heart of the sun).
Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 20.42.49

downloads

WordPress started counting text downloads of articles in July this year. Interesting stat.

So the books get quite a few

56 for Rumour of Calcutta 1996  (buy here)

26 for Pantomime Terror 2014

But just the occasional hit for individual papers  like:

10 for British Asian Communism (2005)

6 for Semi-Feudal Cyber Colonalism (on the multimedia super corridor 1999)

and just the 1 for poor old The Authority of Style (first serious essay published 1987)

Unfortunately, Icannot easily cut and paste all the totals, but some are in the hundreds (thanks) and most of the papers are here.

Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities #ISSH2019

ISSHo (28)
Chairing the conference (note, no actual chair)

An International Conference at Ton Duc Thang University October 4-5, 2019

Innovations are the key. In method and analysis, in the ways in which scholarship engages with society and organisations today, there can be no doubting the relevance of the social science and humanities to all our pressing questions. The Innovations discussed at the conference challenged our thinking. The topics were wide-ranging and varied, the approaches distinctly alive; some of the papers demonstrated a vivid combination of theoretical and practical research, some were insistently in a humanities’-oriented style, others more forthright and strictly social science, and still others experimented with the form and tone of the social sciences. Perhaps while bringing new methods to Vietnam, the creativity of the social sciences and relevance of the humanities for contemporary understanding was brought out even more by the diversity of themes and perspectives. Of course the traditional scholarship of the social sciences was also represented, but in writing that has an urgency and verve that excited discussion.

\
guido
Guido Abbattista, University of Trieste (middle)
\
Professor Guido Abbattissta from the University of Trieste in Italy said the conference ‘was an exciting experience’. Dr Arnab Choudhury from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, said it was an ‘immensely wonderful conference, by far one of the most well-organised conferences I have ever attended’.
/
ISSH (5)
Stephen Muecke Flinders University

/
The featured keynotes included a powerfully engaging presentation from Professor Stephen Muecke of Flinders University Australia. Prof Muecke is a hugely important voice in cultural studies and theorist of notions of the cultural landscape and ways of reading cultural relations between settler and Aboriginal Australia. His explanation of the walking method innovated by Aboriginal traditional landholders will inspire reflection and new practices, and perhaps some in Vietnam will want to take up the invitation of Aboriginal elder Paddy Roe to visit Western Australia and walk the ancient dreaming tracks near Broome with his family.
\

ISSH (54)
Professor Joyce Liu (NCTU Taiwan) and Professor Ursula Rao (Uni Leipzig, Germany)

\
A keynote lecture by Professor Joyce Liu from National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, on new methods of inter-Asian joint and multi-site research inaugurated a perspective on political and cultural research that promises new opportunities for collaboration and debate across borders. She spoke with an engagement that should never be sacrificed in scholarship while there are so many urgent and relevant issues upon which scholars must comment as the leading presenters of, explorers of, and advocates for ideas.

The conference as a whole addressed debates about why innovation and new methods in the social sciences and humanities in Vietnam are needed. This was to respond to clear demands within Vietnam for such methods and enthusiasms (perspectives of a number of Government and non-Government agencies have supported this with relevant statements, such as the government Global Challenges position papers in 2018, and the work of independent research units like Social Life). Mild Hombrebueno from the Philippines said she had ‘learnt a lot from the conference, built new networks, friendships and linkages’ and claimed enthusiastically:

‘I have been to other international conferences, but so far, this is the best experience I’ve ever had. The host university and the organizing committee were so accommodating even up to the last leg of the program. It was indeed full of intellectual discussions, where I made many realizations’

/
ISSH (93)
Professor Rao

/
Participatory development projects need a new lease of life and a major rethink – and this was provided by Professor Ursula Rao from the University of Leipzig in Germany as she explored new thinking on the challenges of development in anthropology.

Ms Hombrebueno again commented:

‘meeting with Prof. Rao and her advocacy on Shaping Asia is just so exciting one! I am grateful [to have] the chance to be with the team’

Professor Elaine Carey from Purdue NorthWest in Indian a, USA, spoke on women and research on drugs in the archive, the depredations of the war on drugs and the lives of women drug lords were fascinating topics, with side excursions into the interests of American author William Burroughs and images from the press of mid-20th century Mexico and South America. The thinking here was deep as well as a gripping story – if there are no short cuts and no easy solutions, we are challenged at least to think hard – and it is also an inspiration to hear how we can also care about writing well, and hear this from the leading international scholars of our times.
\

ISSH (66)
/
The conference had articles/panels on over 40 topics by cutting edge thinkers and on themes that remain urgent and pressing – for example, there was a session on the new area of sociobiology, there was the panel on education provision and socialization with a discussion of Vietnam and Australia on higher education successes. There was an engaging panel on participatory methods as a research tool eminently suited for new ways of doing research in the social sciences and humanities. Experts were involved and risking their ideas and critiques in every panel of the conference, though the discussions also spilled over into conversations in the corridors and in cafes afterwards. And the conference will continue to have an impact on scholarship in Vietnam and the region because the papers were published in a conference volume and some will be rewritten for journals and books in the coming months. The effect of the conference will help make TDTU one of the major centres in Vietnam for discussion of new research in these areas.
\
ISSH (51)
/
The conference was open-ended and its assessment will continue long afterwards, with consequences that will shape ongoing research. As such, the papers presented are not only about new results, so much about new ways of going about getting those results and discussing those results – fostering a culture of research in the Universities that are open to the experience of social change, the challenges of the times and globally, shifting the locus of advanced research towards the region again, so that perhaps we will begin to arrest the so-called brain-drain where so much budding talent leaves the country for several, sometimes many, years . The conference will be part of a much-needed boost to refresh the social sciences and humanities.
/
ISSHo (9)
\
The key point to make is: that with such a large number of regional delegates – from India, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines – and a significant number of wider international guests – from the USA, Europe and Australia – this conference can be seen as a crucial establishing part of the project of making Vietnam, and TDTU, a key hub in the region for discussions about innovative research in the social sciences and humanities. It is highly appropriate then that this conference was held at TDTU – a young university, able to do things in a creative and exciting new way. We can only hope for more of this.
JH
Roshni Kamalika Giocvanni
ISSHo (23)
ISSHo (55).jpg

International Conference: Innovation in the Social Sciences and Humanities TDTU 2019 prime time

television news does not usually highlight academic conferences I guess:

The conference website itself is here: https://issh2019.tdtu.edu.vn
ISSHo (55)