Recent stuffs:

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

Journal of Asian and African Studies – vol 55 no 6

jasa_55_6.tocjasa_55_6.tocScreen Shot 2020-08-23 at 17.45.05

Table of Contents

Special Isssue: Sociology in Vietnam Today

Previous Issue

Volume 55 Issue 6, September 2020
Guest Editor: John Hutnyk
Introduction
No Access
 
 

Sociology in Vietnam

 

First Published August 21, 2020; pp. 783–785

Original Articles
No Access
 
 

The Model of Population Transition in Vietnam in Relation to Europe and Asia: A Quantitative Approach

 

First Published August 21, 2020; pp. 786–800

Preview

No Access
 
 

Tube Housing as Dominant System and Everyday Urban Culture of Saigon-Ho Chi Minh City

 

First Published August 21, 2020; pp. 801–817

Preview

No Access
 
 

Social Structure of Changing Labour Relations in Vietnam

 

First Published August 21, 2020; pp. 818–831

Previe

No Access
 
 

Camaraderie and Conflict: Intercultural Communication and Workplace Interactions in South Korean Companies in Bình Dương Province, Vietnam

 

First Published August 21, 2020; pp. 832–847

Preview

No Access
 
 

Forestry Policy and Legitimacy: The Case of Forest Devolution in Vietnam

 

First Published August 21, 2020; pp. 848–862

Preview

No Access
 
 

Promoting Participation in Local Natural Resource Management through Ecological Cultural Tourism: Case Study in Vam Nao Reservoir Area, An Giang Province, Vietnam

 

First Published August 21, 2020; pp. 863–879

Preview

No Access
 
 

Community Initiatives and Local Networks among K’ho Cil Smallholder Coffee Farmers in the Central Highlands of Vietnam: A Case Study

 

First Published August 21, 2020; pp. 880–895

Preview

No Access
 
 

Travel Branding in Tourism 4.0: Case Study Vietnam Travel

 

First Published August 21, 2020; pp. 896–909

Preview

No Access
 
 

LGBTQIA+ at the Blue Sky Club in Ho Chi Minh City

 

First Published August 21, 2020; pp. 910–925

Preview

The Corporate Menagerie – Thesis Eleven

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.

Screen Shot 2020-08-12 at 20.29.23

 

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.

 

Education Philosophy and Theory Vol 52, Issue 11

Volume 52, 2020 Screen Shot 2020-08-05 at 12.25.05

Innovating Institutions: Instituting Innovation

– section editor John Hutnyk

Introduction

An intuition of innovative new institutions

Le Thi Mai & John Hutnyk

Pages: 1120-1125

Published online: 20 Jul 2020

First Page Preview|Full Text|References|

PDF (721 KB)

|

Articles

The university in the global age: reconceptualising the humanities and social sciences for the twenty-first century.

Scott DoidgeJohn Doyle & Trevor Hogan

Pages: 1126-1138

Published online: 25 May 2020

Abstract|Full Text|References|

PDF (1353 KB)

 

 

Meritocracy in Singapore

Stefano Harney

Pages: 1139-1148

Published online: 28 May 2020

Abstract|Full Text|References|

PDF (726 KB)

 

 

Innovations in creative education for tertiary sector in Australia: present and future challenges

Hiep Duc NguyenLe Thi Mai & Duc Anh Do

Pages: 1149-1161

Published online: 10 Apr 2020

Abstract|Full Text|References|

PDF (916 KB)

 

 

Beyond borders: trans-local critical pedagogy for inter-Asian cultural studies

Joyce C. H Liu

Pages: 1162-1172

Published online: 15 Apr 2020

Abstract|Full Text|References|

PDF (899 KB)

 

 

Innovations of education socialisation in Vietnam: from participation towards privatisation

Thi Kim Phung Dang

Pages: 1173-1184

Published online: 26 May 2020

Abstract|Full Text|References|

PDF (897 KB)

 

Co-research in Vietnam for the anthropology classroom

Do Thi Xuan Huong & John Hutnyk

Pages: 1185-1200

Published online: 28 Apr 2020

Abstract|Full Text|References|

PDF (1377 KB)

|Supplemental

 

 

Ways of life: Knowledge transfer and Aboriginal heritage trails

Stephen Muecke & Jennifer Eadie

Pages: 1201-1213

Published online: 25 May 2020

Abstract|Full Text|References|

PDF (944 KB)

 

Regional aspirations with a global perspective: developments in East Asian labour studies

Kim Scipes

Pages: 1214-1224

Published online: 28 May 2020

Abstract|Full Text|References|

PDF (929 KB)

 

 

Some recent texts on academia.edu

PAPERS
Education Philosophy and Theory, 2020
Introduction to the special issue Education Philosophy and Theory. Innovating Institutions: Insti… more 
by John Hutnyk and Hương Đỗ thị xuân
Education, Philosophy and Theory, 2020
In the university system today, co-research may be a decolonising strategy. We evaluate teaching … more 
Education, Philosophy and Theory, 2020
This essay suggests an alternative accountability process on the basis of critiques of current ev… more 
History and Anthropology, 2019
‘To write history and to live history are two very different things’, said Marc Bloch in 1943. In… more 
South Asia, 2019
An outpouring of books on the Sundarbans delta and other Bengal waterways immerses us in a new ec… more 
City, 2018
This paper considers the importance of examples from India in the text of Marx’s Capital. In trac… more 
Inter Asia Cultural Studies, 2018
Recent film and television treatment of South Asia from UK producers have introduced new angles o… more 

Trinkets in Defoe

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 13.20.12Reading 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)

and

‘“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).

 

Seventeenth-Century Trincketts

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?

Screen Shot 2020-08-01 at 20.53.47

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 . .

The engraving is widely known, though some texts quite mistakenly muddle the story. Dampier picks up Jeoly in Madras not Mindanao, though yes, he is from Miangas’:
“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,
More to come of course… have to talk again with my friend Makiko Kuwahara on tattoos.

Double Injustice: Media Racism

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

MEDIA RACISM

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.

Media Racism:
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.

Imogen Bunting

Rhino

Love these two:

Screen Shot 2020-07-25 at 12.44.26

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.

Do this. [Ban Cars – NYT].

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…

[The Times version of this article has pretty excellent graphics and a video if you can read it on their site – may be paywall, seems like a free sub from Vietnam – I could not reproduce the dynamic graphics on here, but they are slick for a print paper – go here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/opinion/ban-cars-manhattan-cities.html]

I’ve Seen a Future Without Cars, and It’s Amazing

Why do American cities waste so much space on cars?

By 

Opinion Columnist

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.

As the roads became freer of cars, they grew full of possibility. Rollerblading and skateboarding have come back into fashion. Sales of bicycles and electric bikes have skyrocketed.

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.

Rather than stumble back into car dependency, cities can begin to undo their worst mistakegiving up so much of their land to the automobile.

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.

Manhattan reimagined

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

Social services

Two-way protected bike lane

Commercial streets like 50th Street in Midtown

Taxi and rideshare drop-off

Sidewalk expansion

Street vendors

Crosstown arterials like 125th Street in Harlem

Dedicated bus lanes

Bus stop

Source: 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?

50 cars

55 square feet per person

One bus

9 square feet per person

50 bicycles

15 square feet per person

Source: 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.

BRONX

BRONX

74 min.

Hunts Point to Union Square

74 min.

Hunts Point to Union Square

NEW JERSEY

NEW JERSEY

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

QUEENS

QUEENS

22 min.

Long Island City to Dumbo

22 min.

Long Island City to Dumbo

BROOKYLN

BROOKYLN

27 min.

Flatbush to Union Square

27 min.

Flatbush to Union Square

Note: 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.

 

Bác Hồ’s Security Detail Lesson

Theodor is in grade 2 of primary (7 years old) and they study Ho Chi Minh thought. Here is an example of their little parables about Bác Hồ (Uncle Ho):
Screen Shot 2020-06-24 at 09.23.05
My rough translation is:
“Security like that is excellent*
Uncle Ho’s security unit at the battlefield.
The unit has a new soldier. It is Le Phuc Nha, an ethnic minority San Chi soldier.
The first day he stood guard in front of the camp house of Uncle, soldier Nha was both proud and nervous.
This Brother watches the road leading to the house. Observing, suddenly he saw from a distance a tall, skinny old man, wearing rubber sandals.
Nha at first did not react, the old man took it as greeting, nodding, he said:
– you are the guard here?
And saying that he went to go into his house.
Before he could go inside, Nha quickly said:
– Please show me your papers!
The old man happily said:
– Here they are.
– You must have a different additional paper. There is a new paper you need to pass here.
At that moment, the company commander ran up, flustered. He said to Nha:
– Uncle Ho is here. Why didn’t you let Uncle come into Uncle Ho’s house?
But Uncle Ho said quietly:
– He is very good at security. Very good.

Hybridity in music – for Cello.

This was a surprise, at the least:

Solo Cello String Ensemble (4-4-4-3-2) c. 25 minutes

https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5c04v6g3

 

Screen Shot 2020-06-21 at 13.02.08

 

“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

Vietnam v. Covid19 (1-0)


Advanced, Proactive Measures: How Vietnam Kept Its Coronavirus Death Toll at Zero

02-Jun-2020 Intellasia | News18 | 6:02 AM

When the world looked to Asia for successful examples in handling the novel coronavirus outbreak, much attention and plaudits were paid to South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

But there’s one overlooked success storyVietnam. The country of 97 million people has not reported a single coronavirus-related death and on Saturday had just 328 confirmed cases, despite its long border with China and the millions of Chinese visitors it receives each year.

This is all the more remarkable considering Vietnam is a low-middle income country with a much less-advanced healthcare system than others in the region. It only has 8 doctors for every 10,000 people, a third of the ratio in South Korea, according to the World Bank.

After a three-week nationwide lockdown, Vietnam lifted social distancing rules in late April. It hasn’t reported any local infections for more than 40 days. Businesses and schools have reopened, and life is gradually returning to normal.

To skeptics, Vietnam’s official numbers may seem too good to be true. But Guy Thwaites, an infectious disease doctor who works in one of the main hospitals designated by the Vietnamese government to treat Covid-19 patients, said the numbers matched the reality on the ground.

“I go to the wards every day, I know the cases, I know there has been no death,” said Thwaites, who also heads the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in HCM City.

“If you had unreported or uncontrolled community transmission, then we’ll be seeing cases in our hospital, people coming in with chest infections perhaps not diagnosedthat has never happened,” he said.

So how has Vietnam seemingly bucked the global trend and largely escaped the scourge of the coronavirus? The answer, according to public health experts, lies in a combination of factors, from the government’s swift, early response to prevent its spread, to rigorous contact-tracing and quarantining and effective public communication.

Acting early

Vietnam started preparing for a coronavirus outbreak weeks before its first case was detected.

At the time, the Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization had both maintained that there was no “clear evidence” for human-to-human transmission. But Vietnam was not taking any chances.

“We were not only waiting for guidelines from WHO. We used the data we gathered from outside and inside (the country to) decide to take action early,” said Pham Quang Thai, deputy head of the Infection Control Department at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi.

By early January, temperature screening was already in place for passengers arriving from Wuhan at Hanoi’s international airport. Travellers found with a fever were isolated and closely monitored, the country’s national broadcaster reported at the time.

By mid-January, deputy prime minister Vu Duc Dam was ordering government agencies to take “drastic measures” to prevent the disease from spreading into Vietnam, strengthening medical quarantine at border gates, airports and seaports.

On January 23, Vietnam confirmed its first two coronavirus casesa Chinese national living in Vietnam and his father, who had traveled from Wuhan to visit his son. The next day, Vietnam’s aviation authorities canceled all flights to and from Wuhan.

As the country celebrated the Lunar New Year holiday, its prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc declared war on the coronavirus. “Fighting this epidemic is like fighting the enemy,” he said at an urgent Communist Party meeting on January 27. Three days later, he set up a national steering committee on controlling the outbreakthe same day the WHO declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.

On February 1, Vietnam declared a national epidemicwith just six confirmed cases recorded across the country. All flights between Vietnam and China were halted, followed by the suspension of visas to Chinese citizens the next day.

Over the course of the month, the travel restrictions, arrival quarantines and visa suspensions expanded in scope as the coronavirus spread beyond China to countries like South Korea, Iran and Italy. Vietnam eventually suspended entry to all foreigners in late March.

Vietnam was also quick to take proactive lockdown measures. On February 12, it locked down an entire rural community of 10,000 people north of Hanoi for 20 days over seven coronavirus casesthe first large-scale lockdown known outside China.

Schools and universities, which had been scheduled to reopen in February after the Lunar New Year holiday, were ordered to remain closed, and only reopened in May.

Thwaites, the infectious disease expert in HCM City, said the speed of Vietnam’s response was the main reason behind its success.

“Their actions in late January and early February were very much in advance of many other countries. And that was enormously helpful… for them to be able to retain control,” he said.

Meticulous contact-tracing

The decisive early actions effectively curbed community transmission and kept Vietnam’s confirmed cases at just 16 by February 13. For three weeks, there were no new infectionsuntil the second wave hit in March, brought by Vietnamese returning from abroad.

Authorities rigorously traced down the contacts of confirmed coronavirus patients and placed them in a mandatory two-week quarantine.

“We have a very strong system: 63 provincial CDCs (centers for disease control), more than 700 district-level CDCs, and more than 11,000 commune health centers. All of them attribute to contact tracing,” said doctor Pham with the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

A confirmed coronavirus patient has to give health authorities an exhaustive list of all the people he or she has met in the past 14 days. Announcements are placed in newspapers and aired on television to inform the public of where and when a coronavirus patient has been, calling on people to go to health authorities for testing if they have also been there at the same time, Pham said.

When the Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi, one of the biggest hospitals in Vietnam, became a coronavirus hotspot with dozens of cases in March, authorities imposed a lockdown on the facility and tracked down nearly 100,000 people related to the hospital, including medics, patients, visitors and their close contacts, according to Pham.

“Using contact-tracing, we located almost everyone, and asked them to stay home and self quarantine, (and that) if they have any symptoms, they can visit the health centers for free testing,” he said.

Authorities also tested more than 15,000 people linked to the hospitals, including 1,000 health care workers.

Vietnam’s contact-tracing effort was so meticulous that it goes after not only the direct contacts of an infected person, but also indirect contacts. “That’s one of the unique parts of their response. I don’t think any country has done quarantine to that level,” Thwaites said.

All direct contacts were placed in government quarantine in health centers, hotels or military camps. Some indirect contacts were ordered to self isolate at home, according to a study of Vietnam’s Covid-19 control measures by about 20 public health experts in the country.

As of May 1, about 70,000 people had been quarantined in Vietnam’s government facilities, while about 140,000 had undergone isolation at home or in hotels, the study said.

The study also found that of the country’s first 270 Covid-19 patients, 43 percent were asymptomatic caseswhich it said highlighted the value of strict contact-tracing and quarantine. If authorities had not proactively sought out people with infection risks, the virus could have quietly spread in communities days before being detected.

Public communication and propaganda

From the start, the Vietnamese government has communicated clearly with the public about the outbreak.

Dedicated websites, telephone hotlines and phone apps were set up to update the public on the latest situations of the outbreak and medical advisories. The ministry of health also regularly sent out reminders to citizens via SMS messages.

Pham said on a busy day, the national hotlines alone could receive 20,000 calls, not to count the hundreds of provincial and district-level hotlines.

The country’s massive propaganda apparatus was also mobilised, raising awareness of the outbreak through loudspeakers, street posters, the press and social media.

In late February, the health ministry released a catchy music video based on a Vietnamese pop hit to teach people how to properly wash their hands and other hygiene measures during the outbreak. Known as the “hand-washing song,” it immediately went viral, so far attracting more than 48 million views on Youtube.

Thwaites said Vietnam’s rich experience in dealing with infectious disease outbreaks, such as the SARS epidemic from 2002 to 2003 and the following avian influenza, had helped the government and the public to better prepare for the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The population is much more respectful of infectious diseases than many perhaps more affluent countries or countries that don’t see as much infectious diseaseEurope, the UK and the US for example,” he said.

“The country understands that these things need to be taken seriously and complies with guidance from the government on how to prevent the infection from spreading.”

Hybridity again

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;

Hybridity Saves: Authenticity and the Critique of Appropriation Amer-Asia 1999;

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’s new book! Time and Time Again

via Don Miller’s new book! Time and Time Again

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/

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Rio Tinto: the Highest stage of rampant plunder Capitalism of the very worst kind

by  @callapilla

Rio Tinto blasts 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site to expand iron ore mine

Mining company was given permission to blast Juukan Gorge cave, which provided a 4,000-year-old genetic link to present-day traditional owners

This cave in the Juukan Gorge, dubbed Juukan 2, was destroyed in a mining blast on Sunday. Consent was given through outdated Aboriginal heritage laws drafted in 1972.
This cave in the Juukan Gorge, dubbed Juukan 2, was destroyed in a mining blast on Sunday. Consent was given through outdated Aboriginal heritage laws drafted in 1972. Photograph: The Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation.

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 cave in Juukan Gorge that was blasted. It was the only inland site in Australia to show signs of continual human occupation through the last ice age.
Pinterest
 The cave in Juukan Gorge that was blasted. It is the only inland site in Australia to show signs of continual human occupation through the last Ice Age. Photograph: The Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation.

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.

 

 

Domesday’s eastern roots.

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.

Back cover copy for the 25th-anniversary edition of Rumour of Calcutta?

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:

Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.50.17

 

The book itself – out in stores soon I believe (you can have a sneaky peak and read about 20 pages on Google books).

Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.50.53Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.51.05Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.51.17
Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.50.17Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.51.05Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.51.17

 

Release G.N. Saibaba

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
Saibaba/

Release Dr. G. N. Saibaba from Nagpur Central Jail
//

In the face of an imminent threat to his life exacerbated by the
COVID-19 virus

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
activist.

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
dignity.

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
Dr. Saibaba.

/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

Arundhati Roy

Nandita Narain

Karen Gabriel

Sumit Chakravorty

Ashok Bhowmick

Sanjay Kak

PK Vijayan

Vikas Gupta

Biswajit Mohanty

Rakesh Ranjan

Hany Babu

Srikrishna Deva Rao

Seema Azad

AK Ramakrishna

N Raghuram

Anirban Kar

Subrat Kumar Sahu

************************************
Anti-imperialist Camp
www.antiimperialista.org
camp@antiimperialista.org

Recent stuff to read

Co-research in Vietnam for the anthropology classroom

New paper:
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.

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The Rumour of Marx. Happy May Day.

marx cover bangla style (Ray)Emailing a friend today – a Leftist of significant standing, and seven decades – who has found joy in reading Marx after attending a workshop here.

She writes:

‘Very fun reading, which you’d never guess just based on his reputation.’

Exactly exactly exactly.
And the footnotes are really worth their time in gold, where he calls Pop Malthus a sycophant and plagiariser, and later Burke, whom Malthus plagiarises, is in turn unable to have an original thought…
Even John Stuart Mill, whom Marx has around for lunch on occasion, comes in for hefty shots of gnarled abuse, as should be the case for an agent of. the East India Company.
And the immortal line in the text at the end of chapter 6 about the market as that perfect utopia of freedom, property, equality and Bentham. Poor Mr Bentham, having started the London Port police force – a hidden barb is there where Marx says the police invent the criminal – his name also comes to stand for the entire system. Foucault’s later attribution of Benthamite to the surveillance state is misty-eyed in comparison.

How great.
But it must have been so hard to translate into Tieng Viet, so its no surprise there are occasional liberties taken with the text. Mostly improvements :)
Happy May Day

John

Honky Tonk University

As I was chatting to Tony who wanted an update, here it for economies sake for the family and friends too: we are in week 12 of homeschooling. Heaven forfend, help the kids. We sailed past the ‘we have this’ phase into stir crazy part three in and out the other end of ‘this is how it will be forever’. Playing the Animals ‘We Gotta get Out of This Place’ over dinner. Vietnam = 0 deaths, under 300 infections found, yaaay, and all of those traced to a couple of folks returned from pommyland, one airline pilot who went clubbing!! Nevertheless, great effort and a system that works – go figure, communism for all, I say – and we hope it will just be a few weeks more before the schools welcome us back, otherwise, its forever and, well, at least life is cheap here. On the other hand, life is cheap here. Thankfully some factories and businesses have been paying wages and there’s a lot of govt support, but marginal, part-time, street-level workers, waste-pickers., lottery tix people, etc, must have it tough, so very, tough times for many people, but I am still surprised, a little, since not all that many are visibly losing it. People sit around as casual as ever in the smaller outdoor street cafes that are still functioning in a minor way; for the bigger cafes – and in our area, every second house is a small cafe or foodie joint – in terms of the near-subsistence level businesses here must be a lot of pain – 80% of shops still closed (though the guy selling Security System’s can’t be an essential service can he? I mean, everyone is at home, and the restaurant tips are empty. Who needs security gadgets right now?). There was a moment when we could think, ah, it is just like a long long staycation, – endless Tet – but its harder to concentrate on anything the longer this goes on without a clear outcome/prognosis. I guess we have a lot of people starting to construct these. Home kit versions mostly – and often prognosis by numbers. And Guesswork. When I do get a moment to think work things, apart from just getting the few articles out with others, the analytic side is a minefield of doom and chaos. Again, maybe in some ways, Vietnam should be ok because not so many foreign students come here compared to say, Australia, UK and US uni’s, who are gonna suffer extreme measures – part inflicted by the ‘crisis’, partly by the bodgy silver budgie management types that will cut to the bone to save their skins. Especially UK ones who recently spent tonnes of money on tarting up their facilities to attract more students. Expect a huge crash in the higher education sector there. That, plus travel, are going to be a long time coming back. Venture capital will no doubt be looking to invest in remote digital services for rich folks on islands. If they can secure private armies to defend their fibre optic links and helicopter/drone Amazon deliveries, their life will be the same – well, wall-to-wall Rolling Stones ‘at home’ videos are the saddest part of it. Quite a long way from the Honky Tonk, eh Mick.

https://www.academia.edu/42809668/The_pecuniary_animus_of_the_university

Walter Benjamin and Asja Lācis

Well, he might be the ‘Marxist you can take home to meet your mother’ (as Vijay Prashad once said to me) but here some Benjamin, plus one – Asja Lācis -, for unpacking in between the consequential chaos of homeschooling – its a reassurance for parents that comparatively home school is going to be ok so long as they are making sure its not only endless playing of the ‘game’ monopoly (well, and a whole lot more, including Disney, but an exemption for the magical thinking of Dorothy who seeks to make it over the rainbow with a couple of workers so their dreams come true. The Emerald City is no communist Utopia, but putting that self-appointed snake-charmer wizard guy in a hot air balloon should be a lesson too. And dropping a house on the wicked witch to the approval of the good witch leaves some room for interpretive license): Anyway, here is Andris Brinkmanis on Walter Benjamin and Asja Lācis:
 
‘During the hot 1968 season, the name Anna Ernestovna “Asja” Lācis (1891–1979) unexpectedly reemerged among young leftist cultural “archaeologists” as an unearthed ruin of a historical “dream city.” A crucial missing element of a certain political-cultural trajectory had been rediscovered. With it, Benjamin’s short essay “Program for a Proletarian Children’s Theater” regained the character of a concrete and dialectical political-aesthetical pedagogical praxis, based on real experience. His writings on childhood and pedagogy thus assumed a programmatic character too: to oppose the dominant “bourgeois” education and behavioral models by all means, locating the very foundations of the capitalist ideological edifice in early childhood education’.
 
And Asja:
“In times of struggle, art has to be both an ally and friend of those in conflict. In this century of struggle, we look for art in the magnificent, free life. In it the creative process reveals itself through an intense and free action of the spirit, through masses that flow united by a common exhilarating rhythm’.
 
Read it all here:
 
 

Vietnam – Brazil

Comparative. Who’d have thought to do this one – but, its done, and there’s an intriguing and generous review – of J. Warren’s Cultures of Development: Vietnam, Brazil, and the Unsung Vanguard of Prosperity, from the Journal of Vietnamese Studies Vol 14, No 4 (they have made their content free up till May). Unfortunately, the book itself is mega expensive.

Click on the image to get the review:

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exoticism, revolutionary tourism, solidarity

What does solidarity look like? There have not been enough in the way of critiques of revolutionary tourism, of the exoticist trap of romanticising rebel movements abroad while ignoring practical tasks at home. A critique of that from an internationalist position would have to stress the co-constitution of the oppressions over there and over here. Often the same corporate and government players, yet, also often the same sort of privileged myopia within and among those who say co-constitution and act only, or at best, in the ways Amnesty International or similar might do – insisting on the expertise of the well placed, thriving on the time drain of those accessed at the front lines. Trying to hold the two ends together is no doubt hard, but hang on to only one and you float away into la la land. Learn from those cut at the cutting edge, and don’t be the cutter.

Robinsonades: we are all a bit Robbo now.

Several Robinsinades are coming soon.

But folks seem a bit confused about which Daniel Defoe to get into right now. As the world splutters towards total collapse,  I mean, do you read his notes on the plague year first, or go for a refresher course on self-isolation in Robinson?

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I’ve articles in the works on this, and have been translating an excellent essay from German on Crusoe/Croix/Kreutznaer/Kreutzer by Wulf Hund. But today, recognizing the new viral potency of the Crusoe effect, I am stumbling through a new version. We are all Robbo now.

A bleeding process with a vengeance

There are few better descriptions of colonial extraction than this one where Marx eviscerates the Brits in India. He was on the case right till the end, in this case just before he heads off to Africa. Here is part of the letter to Danielson, in case you have not looked at it in a while:

In India serious complications, if not a general outbreak, is in store for the British government. What the English take from them annually in the form of rent, dividends for railways useless to the Hindus; pensions for military and civil service men, for Afghanistan and other wars, etc., etc. – what they take from them without any equivalent and quite apart from what they appropriate to themselves annually within India, speaking only of the value of the commodities the Indians have gratuitously and annually to send over to England – it amounts to more than the total sum of income of the sixty millions of agricultural and industrial labourers of India! This is a bleeding process, with a vengeance!

Marx, Letter to Nikolai Danielson
London, February 19, 1881

 

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See here for Marx in Calcutta