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)


‘“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.

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.”

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.
 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.



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

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

Due to post-polio residual paralysis of his lower limbs, he is over
ninety percent physically disabled and wheelchair bound. Since
incarceration, he has developed severe additional ailments that have
resulted in irreparable loss to his health. On May 9^th 2014, he was
abducted from Delhi by the Maharashtra Police and charged under several
sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).  None of
the electronic documents supposedly seized from G.N. Saibaba’s house
were displayed in the court or tested through any witness or made part
of the course of evidence. These electronic documents were directly
brought only as part of 313 statement, and not the main course of
evidence. The judge rejected all Supreme Court  judgments regarding
bringing these documents which were not part of the course of evidence
as part of 313. These documents used were not a part of the trial.
Gadchiroli Sessions court gave life imprisonment on March 7^th 2017 to
Dr. GN Saibaba along with five others. Excluding a brief reprieve in
2016, he has been kept in the solitary /anda/ cell of Nagpur Central
Jail since arrest. With Indian jails filled beyond capacity and lacking
in basic medical facilities, and with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping
across the country particularly affecting the aged and those with
serious pre-existing medical conditions, Dr. G. N. Saibaba’s future
looks exceedingly bleak.

Throughout his political life, Dr. G. N. Saibaba has been a vocal
advocate for the rights of Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims and other oppressed
communities. He has spoken against the state sponsored attack on people
in Central India under Operation Green Hunt. He stood by his students
and advocated for democratic principles and social justice within the
university. He has never shied away from speaking his mind and has
worked tirelessly to uphold the spirit of democracy. While hospitals in
Nagpur and jail authorities have stated that they lack of facilities
needed to care for a person with such severe disabilities and ailments,
he remains incarcerated, untreated and denied bail. Nonetheless, he
retains the spirit of struggle, even when dehumanised by the lack of
medical facilities and denied the basic fundamental right of a life with

Dr. G. N. Saibaba suffers severe physical pain caused by the
degeneration of muscles in his hands. He is plagued by pancreatitis,
high blood pressure, Cardiomyopathy, chronic back pain, immobility and
sleeplessness. The weather conditions of Nagpur, magnified by the
windowless solitary /anda/ cell have even strained the functioning of
his heart. Consequently, his physical ailments intensified while the
lack of pain relief and neglect due to inadequate medical facilities
further debilitate his already fragile health. Despite interventions
made by the National Human Rights Commission and authorities of
international human rights organisations, the Courts have repeatedly
denied him bail.

The Supreme Court of India has upheld the right to life and reflected on
prisoners observing that “the treatment of a human being which offends
human dignity, imposes avoidable torture and reduces the man to the
level of a beast would certainly be arbitrary and can be questioned
under Article 14”. India is also a signatory to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which recognises the
inherent dignity of human beings and the ideal of free human beings
enjoying civil and political freedom. Furthermore, India has ratified
the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on
October 1^st 2007. India has even adopted the United Nations Resolution
70/175 on Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also
known as the Nelson Mandela Rules). These covenants, conventions and
resolutions ensure life and dignity to all persons, prisoners and
persons with disabilities and layout the essential parameters necessary
for its implementation. When the National Crime Records Bureau states
that prisons across the country prison are filled at 117% with
Maharashtra exceeding the average at 149%, the impact of the spread of
the COVID-19 virus in such a space is likely to be a death sentence for
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

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


The end of Representation


The end of Representation

I have taught a lot of great students in my (eight!) years in the anth department at Goldsmiths, and now finally it looks like my escape to full time graft in the Centre for Cultural Studies is going to be confirmed – yippideee (for better or worse – its gotta be easier than two half time jobs = 150%). Its also a time for somewhat wistful reflections, and, gotta say, things have been pretty flat for obvious reasons the past few weeks…

Anyway, fact is, I won’t be teaching the Representation course anymore, so thanks to Chris, Richard, Atticus, Lia, Carrie, Nick and Will who taught alongside. Thanks also to all those who wrote and made work – fantastic films and photography projects, multimedia and chaos performances – which were really the greatest part. So many good films – onwards and upwards. I cannot list the…

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The Syndication of Plagiarism SZ: (For Nicole Pepperell)

Back on the elite theorists are plagiarists bandwagon, to remind you that Zizek does not only repeat himself. At best this is laziness. And I don’t mean its lazy to repeat yourself, but to romp with other people’s words.


Was reading and discussing with a comrade Dinesh Wadiwel about his stuff on animals in Marx, and took up discussion of the bit from Capital 1867 edn , cited by Endnotes 2, on animals as general equivalent (dropped in subsequent editions). This since I am giving a talk on related themes: Marx, Animals, India, a certain rhinoceros, in Senegal this Saturday.

But then I did a search of the phrasing (english trans of 1867 edn from Value Studies by Marx <download here>). There, discovered a bit of suspect website scrubbing.

Let me put it neutrally, and let the people decide <the people know I have nothing against Zizek, except for my polemic in Pantomime Terror, that is: (see here)

OK, this involves two instances of people we know using that quote. Nicole Pepperell’s one from her blog in 2008, and Slavoj Zizek from Less than Nothing in 2012. Of course there is no guarantee…

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two Bengals

Somewhere I have a photograph of a piece of graffiti from Kolkata in the early 1990s. It shows three palms behind a brick wall on which is painted “Like the two Germany’s Bengal should be reunited”. (Cannot find it right now but will post it when I do).Of course, there is other news from India today, tragic violence in Delhi, a buffoon invited a buffoon to address 100,000 and other atrocities, but the good news was buried on page 6 as usual, and yes I know that is not what this railways initiative means, but 150 metres of track to go sounds like a useful development (for the record, the first partition of Bengal was proposed in 1905 and resisted, the second in 1947 we call partition and it was brutal, with ongoing effects, not least on the Jute Industry which lurched from collapse to collapse). Now this minor item of return.

From the telegraph today 22 Feb 2020

Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 11.18.23

Is it the wrong time to say Make Bengal Great Again, and get some hats?

Of course, there already is a hat – but it is from Cincinnati…

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Potential History (of Trinketization)

Seems about to nail the head on the hit:

‘Surrounded here by the wealth of objects, documents, images, and resources available in public and private museums, archives and universities, I soon felt obliged to delve into the study of worlds that the accumulation and dubious ownership of such wealth helped to destroy. This was a natural expansion of my interest in the potential history of Palestine and its destruction. I came to understand that the structural deferral of reparations for slavery was the organizing principle of imperial political regimes as well as the intellectual wealth of universities. The challenge became how not to become imperialism’s ambassador and not to normalize the privileged access to these objects offered to scholars, and rather to recognize others’ rights to and in them’ (Azouley 2019:xv)

Ariella Aïsha Azouley 2019 Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism, London: Verso. 

The Higher Learning

“even the scholars occupied with the “humanities,” are at pains to find some colourable answer that shall satisfy the worldly-wise that this learning for which they speak is in some way useful for pecuniary gain” – Thorstein Veblen, 1919.


building my TB fan site.


Also: “Among the immediate consequences of this latter feature, as shown in the example of the law schools, is a relatively high cost. The schedule of salaries in the law schools attached to the universities, e. g., runs appreciably higher than in the university proper ; the reason being, of course, that men suitable efficiently to serve as instructors and directive officials in a school of law are almost necessarily men whose services in the practice of the law would command a high rate of pay. What is needed in the law school (as in the school of commerce) is men who are practically conversant with the ways and means of earning large fees, that being the point of it all”  Veblen on p214 of The Higher Learning. [My italics]

Trinkets from Bác Hồ

Always on the lookout for the anthro connection, so this hit high on my trigger warning system:

A gift from Uncle Ho to “Vuong Chi Sinh, a leader of the Mong ethnic people in Ha Giang” in recognition of his commitment to the revolution.

I don’t know how yet, but this will enter my discussion of anthropology and ethics in Vietnam (highlands Special Forces activity etc).

Great stuff – also, the Ho Chi Minh Museum is a great educational resource and well worth a visit. It used to be the Saigon Port Building.

Screen Shot 2019-08-04 at 17.50.29

Details here:


Derek Sayer. Ethnographic fragments #23: erasing history in San Francisco, censorship Canadian-style, and two women of courage and conviction – coasts of bohemia

Derek Sayer invokes Humphrey Jennings “Pandemonium” as explanation of how he sees his fragments [I read trinkets] series working. In particular these latest few seem worth the entry price – signing up new followers now. See:

Especially great are ‘studies in courage’ which are things widely seen already but really worth keeping on record. Here they are, followed by his Jennings link:

studies in courage (1)


“A protracted standoff between a ship carrying rescued migrants and the Italian government ended early Saturday [June 29], when the vessel docked at the southern island of Lampedusa and the captain was arrested,” reports the New York Times.

“Mr. Salvini said on Saturday that Italy’s objective was to avoid ‘drama and death’ by stopping migrants from leaving their homeland. He said he had heard that two more rescue ships were en route to Libya, and added that the arrest of Captain Rackete should serve as a warning of the risks of coming to Italy.

‘Now you know how things work,’ he said. ‘Finally, there is a government that ensures that its borders are respected.’”

studies in courage (2)


“It is wonderful as well as inspirational to see that our country, once again, has someone of such great talent, grit, & integrity representing our country on the world stage. Congratulations & thank you…..Megan Rapinoe!!!!! You make America proud!”

John O. Brennan, CIA Director 2013-17, on Twitter, June 29, 2019 in response to Donald Trump’s tweet “After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!”

Same Megan Rapinoe as announced to the world she would “not be going to the fucking White House” if the US Women’s soccer team won the World Cup.

The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemoniumas to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images. These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality. I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.”

These “snippets” are intended to function in the same way. Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.

Global South Asia On Screen: India only edition.

Screenshot 2018-12-26 at 10.22.29

Available from Aakar Books Here.

Rest of the world here (bloomsbury paperback in November)


Just because its only out cheaply in India does not mean you canot still buy stauff – the Hardback is 20 quid on some sites.

ANd there are a few older things still kicking about:


John Hutnyk is the author of Bad Marxism (Pluto Press, 2004) and Critique of Exotica …
The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation [John Hutnyk] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

trinkets not covered for removal

I am booking a removals company to move some stuff and reading their contract. Only one of the following prohibited items applies to this blog, but this is the list of what they will not carry. I am also concerned that most of almost everything I have is a media device. And I hope many paragraphs are potentially dangerous or explosive. Aiming at writing for the vermin too – we shall rise up!

4.1.1 Potentially dangerous, damaging or explosive items, including gas
bottles, aerosols, paints, firearms and ammunition.

4.1.2 Jewellery, watches, trinkets, precious stones or metals, money,
deeds, securities, mobile telephones, portable media and computing
devices, stamps, coins, or goods or collections of any similar kind.

4.1.3 Goods likely to encourage vermin or other pests or to cause
infestation or contamination.

Veblen trinkets – irksomeness of labour

Veblen-1024x768Thorstein Veblen discussing cultural practices before the advent of property, accumulation, branding, industrialiation and competition – the pathogens of the future are there in the collection of trinkets of work and war.

“There being little in hand worth owning and little purpose to be served by its ownership, the habits of thought which go to make the institution of ownership and property rights have not taken shape. The slight facts which would lend themselves to ownership are not of sufficient magnitude or urgency to call the institution into effect and are better handled under customs which do not yet take cognisance of property rights. Naturally, in such a cultural situation there is no appreciable accumulation of wealth and no inducement to it; the nearest approach being an accumulation of trinkets and personal belongings, among which should, at least in some cases, be included certain weapons and perhaps tools. These things belong to their owner or bearer in much the same sense as his name, which was not held on tenure of ownership or as a pecuniary asset before the use of trade-marks and merchantable goodwill.” (Veblen 1914 :144-5 – The Instinct of Workmanship and the Irksomeness of Labour. NY Macmillan).


Repost from – another set of outrageous attacks by the cowardly anonymous self-appointed guardians of we can’t really be sure what:



What you really just want to say is – you cannot be friends with this person.

Why can you not be friends with this person?

Because ‘we’ have cancelled them already – didn’t you get the memo! – because we – this fragile cobweb called something like ‘the left’ or ‘the artworld’ or ‘antifa’ or just ‘people we know and like… and not these other people we either don’t know and don’t like, or do know and don’t like, or once knew and liked and now don’t like’. The ‘we’ that has decided in favour of rumours and anonymous accusations and allegations, that has decided a lie is easier to believe than than truth, which is always more complicated.

A ‘we’ that has decided a loose grip on reality is a small price to pay for group belonging. I don’t think, in the end, though, that this is a small price to pay. I think actually it is an extremely high price to pay. It is to sell one’s soul (or mind or heart, or whatever word you prefer) to someone or something you cannot trust. It is to do this out of fear – fear of having to imagine that the world is more complicated than you think, that people are more complicated, that we might disagree on some things and agree on others, that we might change our mind. The easiest way to do this is to claim that ‘the other’ is filled with hatred, that they are possessed of bad thoughts and feelings, and that you, or you and your little group, are the best people to interpret and understand these bad feelings, and to punish those you have decided possess them. But we are really not so different, you and I, and this sameness, and this ‘hatred’ and these bad feelings…we all are capable of having them, even or especially the ones who desperately seek to be ‘good’.

I want people to trust themselves. To think for themselves. To be autonomous, to be free. To refuse the guilt, to know that what one thinks and what one believes – even and especially when these thoughts and beliefs are complicated and painful – is real. This does not exclude – in fact it precisely involves – listening to others, disagreeing with them, coming to a different conclusion, changing one’s mind sometimes, being open – but it does refuse coercion. It learns to recognise coercion, the manipulation of desire: the left desires to ‘be good’ to ‘do good’, and as such it must create an enemy: the bad other that thinks things we cannot countenance, that creates discomfort, that troubles us.

The truth is – we all just happen to be alive at the same time. There is a horror as well as a beauty to this. We are none of us wholly good or wholly bad. There is nothing and no one else. Everyone is ultimately responsible for their own desires and decisions. This does not mean that we cannot be hurt by others, that we do not sometimes want revenge. We often do. Men blame women. Women blame men. Lovers and friends turn on each other. We want to blame somebody or something – a person, a group of people, a structure, call it ‘fascism’, ‘capitalism’, ‘the patriarchy’, ‘the Church’, ‘the Jews’, whatever you like. There are of course real forces ‘out there’, real relations, real processes, real reproductions of injustice, and we can work together to ‘fight’ these – though it must be said that out strategies are often failures and should be recognised as such – but there are also real forces ‘in there’ as well, and where can or should we begin in our personal analysis? When we project and blame others for things we do, or have done, or want to do but feel afraid to do, we are often simply saying: ‘I really need to feel better’. We do not want to stay with difficult or uncomfortable feelings because we feel uncomfortable with ourselves, with our knots. So we make bonfires of others and warm our hands on the flames.

There are those people who – out of fear, a desire for simplicity, a need to bolster one’s own group standing or individual position – will think nothing of sacrificing another for a transgression, real or imputed. The internet especially allows for a ‘bloodless’ sacrifice, though we know the consequences can be real, material – job losses, the police knock on the door, social shunning, suicide. These reporters, information-gatherers, spies, inquisitors, paranoiac interpreters, prosecutors and punishers are by definition on the side of the law and the police, perhaps even especially when they think they are not. As Foucault puts it in the introduction to Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus: ‘How does one keep from being fascist, even (especially) when one believes oneself to be a revolutionary militant? How do we rid our speech and our acts, our hearts and our pleasures, of fascism? How do we ferret out the fascism that is ingrained in our behavior?’

What do I understand by fascism? Fascism is authoritarianism. It is control, and the desire for control, it is about creating enemies, about tapping into resentment and giving it a false name. It is about the violence you can induce in humanity by attaching bad feelings to an object and naming a blameable group. Fascism is top-down. Fascism is the state. Fascism controls the narrative. It doesn’t listen. It seeks to coerce by threats of violence. We are all individually possessed of the capacity to be fascist, and to be manipulated by others whose madnesses we would rather accept than challenge, whose paranoias spiral out of control, who, in their madness, seem to promise a solution to all our problems, who give us a simple explanation. We are all capable of being made mad by others. Human beings are easily swept up in social contagions, of mob feeling, of the desire to destroy. Fascism tells us that we are right and that the other is wrong and that the other must be ignored, punished, exiled, killed. Fascism is pushing a lie and forcing other people to accept the lie. Fascism is the groupthink that comes from resentment. It is the opposite of joy. It is death.

What the cancellers of today want to say is – we have decided that this person is ‘over’ – call them DC Miller, call them Sam Kriss, call them Deanna Havas, call them TERFs, call them Lucia Diego, call them Nina Power, call them Angela Nagle, call them Satan, call them fascists, call them Nazis, call them ‘problematic’, call them ‘cancelled’, try to stop them speaking, try to smear them politically and personally, use lies, use exaggeration, use anything you can think of to get rid of them. We are right because they are wrong, and they are wrong because they say something or behave in ways we do not.

We know these people, the people who have decided who gets cancelled and who remains in the circle. They used to be our friends and lovers, we used to speak to them and argue with them, enjoy their company and sometimes be irritated by them, be pleased for them and resent them, help them and be helped by them. They used to know us. They want to pretend they now do not, lest they too get infected by this thing they call ‘fascism’. They want to suggest that anyone who deviates from the script – and what is the script this week – oh I don’t know – that LD50 was a ‘fascist recruitment ground’, that no-platforming people who have a second-wave feminist position on sex and gender is a good and righteous thing to do, that anyone who voted to leave the EU is a terrible person, that we shouldn’t discuss fascist ideas and iconography, that talking about nature leads directly somehow to someone shooting up a mosque, that it is good to say that everyone is a victim apart from ‘cis white men’, that people need to be protected from views that disagree with their own, that irony should be banned, that memes are dangerous, etc. etc. We know this narrative because we have been told it many times, and even where it shifts, we know we should keep up with it lest we say the wrong thing and accidentally use old mantras.

Where we perhaps fundamentally disagree, my detractors and I – and I will still talk to you if you are willing, we have time – is on the question of what can be discussed, and where, and by who. Can we all talk about anything everywhere? How much time do we have? Those who want to say – and assume – that they know what the other thinks, and that what the other thinks is bad, bizarrely assume that they have access to someone else’s soul – that they know what this person really thinks and that this person is trying to manipulate others to accept ‘bad’ ideas. Let us never forget that projection is a real thing…In the glare of recent ‘investigation’, seeing random allegations and misrepresentations online, various claims and interpretations and accusations, I have felt a little like an ant under a microscope. But where and what is this thing you are trying to find in me? Where is it in you?

Those who want to shut things down have, it seems to me, something like a police relation to time – they want to say – not here, now, and not you! The ‘platform’ is a useful image for them, even where we live in a media landscape where there are ‘platforms’ everywhere, and that no one has to listen to anyone, ever, if they don’t want to. The platform is an image of a small stage, perhaps, with a captive audience, shackled to their seats and being brainwashed. The platform is useful for creating an image of scarcity – but, my friends, we have all the time and space in the world! And people think!

Paradoxically, imagining that the other is too stupid to make up their own mind, that they must be kept away from ‘dangerous ideas’ in case they think for themselves, is the most elitist and hierarchical attitude there is. Yet this is what the cancellers – those who believe themselves to be on the side of equality! – think, or at least they must do in order to behave in the way they do. Group membership is shored up by reinforcing the line, even where the line is crazy and troubling. Group membership is shored up by sacrificing people, preferable people closest to you, people who look and sound a bit like you, who are you, but who have transgressed somehow, however minimally. These people cannot remain close any longer, they must be cast out, they must be absolutely othered.

What does it mean to ‘cancel’ somebody, or to cancel an idea, or attempt to? It is to put one’s fingers in one’s ears, like a child overwhelmed by the world outside, and to scream ‘this person is bad! I am good! I don’t want to hear it! I am afraid!’ It is to hope that this person, or these ideas, will just ‘go away’ or ‘fuck off!’ or go elsewhere, or simply perish, to be never heard from again, to die, socially or actually. Life is much simpler when you can ‘cancel’ or ‘no-platform’ everything you don’t like, when you can defend your own identity by sacrificing an other every now and again – as Voltaire said “In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others.” There is the fear of being next, of listening to those voices inside and out that raise questions about the official narrative…and what might happen then?

You want to know why I went on the youtube show with Daniel. Why did I? Because I thought about it and decided for myself that that was what I wanted to do. It wasn’t a mistake, though you might think it foolhardy. I know very well that people want to think Daniel is a ‘fascist’ for holding up a sign outside LD50 gallery saying “The Right to Openly Discuss Ideas Must be Defended” on one side and “Stand-up to Violence and Intimidation” on the other. You want to think that Daniel thinks all the evil things you disagree with, that you think are bad, and though you can’t really prove that he thinks these things, you want to believe it. He functions as a kind of black mirror to you – perhaps he is used to playing this role, where people see something in a pool that scares them. Make it stop! It could be Daniel, it could be me, it could be any number of people. On some level it doesn’t really matter, we’re just fulfilling a role, a function. It’s just how groups, particularly weak groups, work. It’s how they always work.

You can – of course! – think what you like. I don’t even want to say that Daniel isn’t a ‘fascist’ because it’s not the point, I don’t want to play this game, because it’s your game, it’s a boring game. It reminds me of The Young Ones, where most everyone and everything is a ‘fascist’, although everyone seems to have forgotten that this was a comedy.

I personally think Daniel is an honourable, kind, brave and interesting man. A man who is against authoritarian behaviour of all kinds, including that on the left, which makes him very much not a ‘fascist’. He helped me to overcome my addiction, for which, come what may, is something I will always be grateful to him for. We are all capable of great things – of helping others, sometimes we don’t even know how or why. We are all complex beings. The best it seems to me we can do is – to not lie for any reason. To live as autonomously as possible. To be free and to help others be free – free from guilt, from dependency, from anxiety. To be strong enough to recognize where someone is unfree, be it because they are shackled to misery, in a relationship that is bad for them, or tied to an idea that hurts them. We will never understand anyone else unless we listen to their complaint and work out why they are suffering, and understand who they blame, and why.

I wonder once again if we can somehow engage in a kind of group psychoanalysis, and whether there will be a third summer of love (I’m thinking next year, let’s call it 2020Vision!), whether we can change our understanding of time and listening and talking, whether we can get outside of fear – whether we can be strong enough to talk to people we disagree with, to feel that we have ideas that are strong enough to stand up to those we disagree with, to not get trapped by ‘politics’, to know and trust in an outside, in the outside. To be calm enough to cope with multiple levels of reality. To talk and listen to everyone. To be autonomous – to decide for oneself, to govern oneself, to live without authority, to live truly without the policeman in our head. To not just say we are against fascism but to live in an anti-authoritarian way, with naughtiness and delight, if that’s what we’re into! To be thoughtful, to understand ‘hate’ and anxiety and paranoia, to get outside of fear, to defend ourselves when and where we must, to protect everyone we can, including, perhaps, first and foremost, ourselves.


I want to keep this response handy.

One may think that the essay form does not suit minimalism, and really you needed just to send a postcard. Something short. But the short descriptive, meaningful and useful thing is no easy task. Adorno here might have been critical of Benjamin for fetishising, and mystifying the aura, of reducing the complexity of capitalism into something that resolved itself into a singular image – the angel of destruction, the frozen moment in a glass snowdome. Maybe Benjamin was onto something, that I also call trinketization. My preference is for Adorno’s critique though – every small trinket has become a monetary cipher, and the profound cultures of tradition and meaning, and belonging cannot be reclaimed from the market – they just become exotica, a broken nostalgia that cannot be put back. Innocent no more. We are forced to face the naked truth at the end of every fork as consumers crunch down on every every thing.

“Poetry or Pogrom” – Interview at Erbacce Journal

Not often at all that I even acknowledge poetry (though my first paid work was a poem about concrete and pollution) but it’s even less often that I like the poetry. Even if there is much more to say about that Adorno quote (see “Pantomime Terror” for extended discussion of the paragraphs surrounding, and repetitions of, that quote). Nevertheless, you need to know that “Debasis Mukhopadhyay is a poet from Montreal, Canada. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals & anthologies, including Posit, The Curly Mind (UK), Erbacce (UK), Manneqüin.Haüs, Yellow Chair Review, I Am Not A Silent Poet (UK), The New Verse News, Writers Against Prejudice (UK), Rat’s Ass Review : Love & Ensuing Madness, Algebra of Owls, Of/With, Walking Is Still Honest, Leaving My Shadow : A Tribute to Anna Akhmatova, …” … and many more. Check out this link below to an interview with the poet that is worth it for the neglected inner life alone, but is also more…

debasis mukhopadhyay

I’m honored & deeply grateful to be the featured poet in Erbacce Journal (issue 55)! An interview followed by seven of my poems! My sincere thanks to Alan Corkish & Andrew Taylor at Erbacce Press! And my special thanks to Matt Duggan, the winner of the Erbacce Prize for Poetry (2015) for interviewing me. Matt is a fine poet & if you are not already familiar with his poetry, please dig his work. Below you will find his bio & book links.

Click here to read the interview : interview_erbacce

Thanks everyone!

Matt Duggan : Bio

Born 1971, Bristol, U.K.

Poems have appeared in A Restricted View from Under the Hedge, Osiris Poetry Journal, The Journal, Into the Void, Ghost City Review, and many more…his frst full collection Dystopia 38.10 won the Erbacce Prize for poetry in 2015, his poem ‘ Elegy for Magdalene’ won the Into the Void Poetry…

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De-centrifuedalised or tropicalization: Marx outside the Euro-American Circuits

So, a bit bemused at the appearance of various Marx readers or ‘companions’ filled with US and UK based scholars, mostly, I thought it worth pointing to a few other irruptions of old beardo in the world.

Saurav Kumar offers this short read about misreading Marx, the horror of Modi, and experiments between communists and Ambedkarites:

While experiments in truth are the topic, this piece in The Hindu by Ramin Jahanbegloo, the Director of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Peace at Jindal Uni, is both trying to retrieve Marx from a bad rep and ‘nonsense’ accusations, and making some strange associations of his own about our ‘Socratic Gadfly’ walking to the British Museum every day but, allegedly, preferring dry tomes of philosophy than talking to the British masses!! Also cites Raymond Aron! Still:

Famed scholar Armatya Sen manages to promote Satyajit Ray’s film, Agantuk in this piece. Also funny on Hamlet, the Nobel Laureate references Hobsbawn and 1955 Labour Party stuff (the days of Rajani Palme-Dutt in the CPGB should have got in here to – debates with). Sen is not yet embalmed:

As a contrast, one could ‘sharpen and deepen’ one’s understanding according to last years (199) version of this sort of thing (what is this sort of thing?) from the CPI(M):

OK, CMP stuff comes in various forms, but there is life in the old dog yet. Comrade Vijay Prashad, much respected, imagined Marx reading the blue books (I want to link to my forthcoming on the Blue Books, but its not out yet). LeftWord is one of the best new(ish) publishers in India so check out the blog and sales list too :

The comrades of CPI M-L are serious about scholarship as well – this piece by Amitabha Chakrabarti at the 200 bicentenary commemoration is worth a read for its discussion of ground rent, agriculture and modes of production debates,though repeats a slight distortion in saying that in ‘last decade of his study Marx wrote about 30000 pages on Russian agriculture’ – Kevin Anderson is on the case, 30k notes in the last decade sure, but not all on agriculture. Yet, this is a healthy change of perspective from the Euro-Am usual fodder:

And just as a taster, meanwhile in Vietnam (and I do want to do a roundup for several other non-centrifuegalisms), this piece describes a presentation in Ha Noi by Nguyễn Xuân Thắng, Secretary of the Communist Party of Việt Nam Central Committee, Chairman of the Central Theoretical Council and Director of the Hồ Chí Minh National Political Academy. The text gives a bit of a flavour of how things can look quite different when you are winning. All students study Mac-Len Nin, relevant to the country and the world:


Lal Salaam.

Marx’s 200th birth anniversary is in a week. what’s planned? [please add what’s on in your city]

marx cakeThe next few pages are a quick round up of what’s on for Old Beardo’s 200th. Add more in the comments please.

Many of these are linking to Facebook, sorry, but the ungated web is gone…

[The cake in the image to the side was made by my Capital reading group/class circa 2005].

Celebrating 200 Years of Karl Marx

Karl Marx, in full Karl Heinrich Marx (born May 5, 1818, Trier and died March 14, 1883, London, England) was a philosopher, revolutionary, sociologist, historian, and economist. Marx and Freud have influenced life and literature in the twentieth century more deeply and extensively than the earlier great thinkers and scientists like Copernicus and Darwin influenced the life and literature in their own respective eras.. He published The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, anticapitalist works that form the basis of Marxism. It was Capital’s 150th anniversary in autumn 2017, the 170th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto will be in February 2018, and it would have been Karl Marx’s 200th birthday in May 2018. The Communist Party of the Philippines calls on all Filipino workers to start a year-long commemoration and celebration of Marx’s 200th birthday on May 5, 2018. The whole revolutionary movement must salute Karl Marx’ and Marxism’s great role in history and in the continuing world struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat and the entire humanity. This celebration is of great relevance to the working class, from politics to philosophy to academics as Karl Marx made a lasting imprint on the face of history. The Centre for Positive Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies (CPPIS) has also an intention to commemorate the 200 years of Karl Marx by various activities including essay competition, seminar, special issues and books on this great thinker.


National Level Essay Writing Competition on “The Philosophy of Karl Marx”

Centre for Positive Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies (CPPIS)

Pehowa (Kurukshetra)-136128 Haryana or

Celebrating 200 Years of Karl Marx

National Level Essay Writing Competition on “The Philosophy of Karl Marx”

5th May, 2018


The Centre for Positive Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies (CPPIS) Pehowa (Kurukshetra) on the occasion of the World Philosophy Day-2017 and 200th Birth Anniversary of Karl Marx, going to organize a National Level Essay Writing Competition on “The Philosophy of Karl Marx”. The competition aims at giving an opportunity to the youth of country to come across the various aspects of the philosophy of Karl Marx and his contribution to the world of knowledge.

About Karl Marx:

”Karl Marx, in full Karl Heinrich Marx (born May 5, 1818, Trier and died March 14, 1883, London, England) was a philosopher, revolutionary, sociologist, historian, and economist. Marx and Freud have influenced life and literature in the twentieth century more deeply and extensively than the earlier great thinkers and scientists like Copernicus and Darwin influenced the life and literature in their own respective eras.. He published The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, anticapitalist works that form the basis of Marxism. It was Capital’s 150th anniversary in autumn 2017, the 170th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto will be in February 2018, and it would have been Karl Marx’s 200th birthday in May 2018. The Communist Party of the Philippines calls on all Filipino workers to start a year-long commemoration and celebration of Marx’s 200th birthday on May 5, 2018. The whole revolutionary movement must salute Karl Marx’ and Marxism’s great role in history and in the continuing world struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat and the entire humanity. This celebration is of great relevance to the working class, from politics to philosophy to academics as Karl Marx made a lasting imprint on the face of history. The Centre for Positive Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies (CPPIS) has also an intention to commemorate the 200 years of Karl Marx by various activities including essay competition, seminar, special issues and books on this great thinker”.

Eligibility: All students pursuing any Undergraduate or Post Graduate courses from recognized college/institute/university. Age limit is 25 years or below for this competition.

Prizes: Prizes will be given to top 5 entries and a certificate also provided to those who follow proper guidelines.

Submission Guidelines:

The essays submitted by the participants must be in ‘English and Hindi’ language only.

The essay must be typed in Microsoft Word with Times New Roman, Font size 12, 1.5 linear spacing.

Co-authorship is allowed.

Word Limit: 2000 Maximum words including footnotes.

The participants submitting an entry in this essay contest need to affirm that the entry is his/her own work. Plagiarism can lead to outright rejection of submission.

Criteria of Evaluation:

The criteria to be applied in evaluating the entries are:

• Originality of the content

• Creativity and Rationality

• Style and Presentation of content

• Clarity and proper citations

Registration and Submission:

There is no registration fee for this essay competition. Participants should submit their essay with 10th class certificate and institutional ID proof along with registration form till 31st March 2018 on the given address. An advance copy of all documents should be submitted before last date via email id

For any details, Contact:

Dr. Desh Raj Sirswal,

Department of Philosophy, P.G.Govt. College for Girls,

Sector-11, Chandigarh-160011. Mobile No.08288883993

Download details:

Essay Competition 2017-18

Registration Form Essay Cometition 2017-18

Celebration Page Link:




and in Brisbane:

Marx 200 Brisbane

  • 12 May – 13 May
    12 May at 13:30 to 13 May at 17:00 UTC+10

    74B Wickham St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006, Australia

May 2018 signals 200 years since the birth of German revolutionary theorist Karl Marx. Famous for his call to revolution in the Communist Manifesto and his thorough critique of the capitalist system in Capital, Marx’s ideas had a huge impact on the political, social and cultural landscape of the 19th and 20th centuries.

But are Marx’s ideas relevant today in the era of the internet, automation, and climate change? Is clinging to Marx a sign of dogmatism or fetishisation of outdated ideas of social change?

We don’t think so – in an age where we are told that capitalism’s global dominance is virtually complete, yet seems increasingly incapable of offering a future for all of us, Marx has a lot to offer those who want to change the world today. This weekend of seminars, discussion sessions and forums will provide an introduction to Marx’s ideas, how they were conceived in his own time and what relevance they have for today’s burning political questions.

Instead of a rigid dogma, Marx’s ideas can be seen as a set of important tools for understanding our society, in its political, economic, ecological and cultural dimensions. These tools can then help us shape how we think about strategies for changing this society towards a vision of equality and freedom.

***Stay tuned for details on program and speakers***

This is a free event – though we’ll pass around a donations bucket at the event to help cover some basic costs.

DRAFT PROGRAM (a full program with speakers and session descriptions will be posted soon):

Saturday 12 May
1:30pm Opening Panel: Marx After the End of History

3:15pm Parallel Session 1:
– How Capitalism Works
– Marx and the Environment

5:00pm Parallel Session 2:
– Understanding Capitalist Crisis
– Colonialism, Imperialism, Marxism

6:30pm Marx’s 200th B’Day Bash (+ film screening)

Sunday 13 May
11:00am Parallel Session 3:
– Social Class, Class Identity, Class Struggle
– The Philosophy of Marx and Engels

12:45pm Lunch

1:30pm Parallel Session 4:
– The State, Elections, and Social Struggle
– Marx and Gender

3:30pm Closing Panel: Automate This: Marx and Labour in the 21st Century. Featuring:
– Humphrey McQueen, socialist historian and cultural commentator, author of ‘A New Britannia’, ‘The Essence of Capitalism’, amongst many other titles
– Alison Pennington, unionist and political economist
– Feargal McGovern, organiser with Anti-Poverty Network Queensland and unite
– Max Chandler-Mather, state strategist for the Queensland Greens


Marx 200 at marx Memorial Library London.

A major international conference celebrating Marx’s work and exploring the significance of Marxism in the world today

Organised by the Marx Memorial Library on the bicentenary of Marx’s birth

9.45 – 10.45
Plenary: Marx’s contribution to political economy and its relevance today – why Marx was right
Chair: Harsev Bains
Ben Fine, Professor of Economics, SOAS, University of London
Luo Wendong, Professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Anne-Kathrin Krug, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Berlin

10.45 – 11.15 Coffee (refreshments not provided)

11.15 – 12.30 Parallel sessions
Marxism and the present as history
Chair: Vijay Prashad
John Foster, Emeritus Professor, Social Sciences, University of the West of Scotland
Isabel Monal, Editor of Marx Ahora, a Cuban theoretical journal

Neoliberalism, austerity and Marx
Chair: John Foster
Ben Fine, Professor of Economics, SOAS, University of London
Denise Christie, Scottish Secretary, Fire Brigades Union

Capitalism and new technology – has Marx been eclipsed?
Chair: Ann Field
Ursula Huws, Professor of Labour and Globalisation. Hertfordshire School of Business
Alan Blackwell, Professor of Interdisciplinary Design, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge

Class, race and gender: Marxism, exploitation and oppression
Chair: Will Sullivan
Mary Davis, Visiting Professor of Labour History at Royal Holloway, University of London
Sarah Mosoetsa, Associate Professor of Sociology, at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, CEO National Institute for Humanities & Social Science

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch (not provided)

13.30 – 14.45
Plenary: Marx, philosophy and human development – Marxism and the battle of ideas
Chair: Alex Gordon
David McLellan, Visiting Professor of Political Theory, Goldsmiths, University of London
Isabel Monal, Editor of Marx Ahora, a Cuban theoretical journal
Li Xiaoxiao, Deputy Director of Marxism Department at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

14.45 – 15.15 Coffee (refreshments not provided)

15.15 – 16.30 Parallel sessions
Marxism and culture
Chair: Bruni de la Motte
David Margolies, Emeritus Professor of English at Goldsmiths, University of London
Christine Lindey, Art historian and visual arts critic

Populist Nationalism
Chair: Nisar Ahmed
Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Francisco Dominguez, Head of Brazil and Latin American Studies, Middlesex University London

Marxism and the environment
Chair: Richard Clarke
Ted Benton, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Essex
John O’Neill, Hallsworth Chair in Political Economy, University of Manchester

The role of the state
Chair: Marj Mayo
Luo Wendong, Professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Vijay Prashad, Executive Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

16.30 – 17.45
Plenary: Into the 21st century: Marxism as a force for change today
Chair: Mary Davis
John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Sarah Mosoetsa, Professor of Sociology, at the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Johannesburg

2 May at 12:3019:00 EDT
In celebration of Karl Marx’s 200th birthday, the History & Theory Workshop at the University of Virginia is hosting a conference of 4 panels to discuss the continuing relevance of Marx’s writings to our world today. No invitation or ticket is required, anyone who is interested is welcome, and you are encouraged to come ready to ask questions and engage with both panelists and other attendees.


Marx & Activism: 12:30-1:30
1. Gillet Rosenblith (History), “To Lose Your Housing is Double Jeopardy: Public Housing in the United States, 1969-2001.”
2. Monica Blair (History), “Charlottesville’s General Strike: Teaching Local Histories of Black Reconstruction.”
3. Anup Gampa (Psychology), “Implicit and Explicit Racial Attitudes Changed During Black Lives Matter”
4. Lou Cross (Political & Social Thought), “The Virginia Student Environmental Coalition and Environmental Justice”

Marx & (Anti)Fascism: 1:40-2:40
1. Robert Stolz (History), “Tosaka Jun: The Uses and Abuses of Feudalism”
2. Charles Hamilton (History), “Solidarity Not Surrender: British Anti-Fascism Since 1970.”
3. Nick Scott (History), “Revolutionary Space: Cordon Industrial Vicuna Mackenna and the Chilean Road to Socialism, 1972-1973”
4. John Tiernan Low (History/Linguistics), “The Center’s Tepid Friendship with the Alt-Right and its Historical Precedents”

Marx & Social Movements: 3:00-4:00
1. Crystal Luo (History), “Asian America and the Specter of Immigration Reform, 1968-1975.”
2. Sree Sathiamma (Global Studies), “The ‘Maintenance’ of Women”
3. Gio Senzano (Philosophy), “The Proletarization of the Puerto Rican”
4. Abeer Saha (History), “Animal Factory: The Rise of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, 1945-2000.”

Marx & Culture: 4:10-5:10
1. Brooks Hefner (English, JMU), “Political Economy and Popular Culture”
2. Chris Ali (Media Studies), “Marx and the Study of Media policy: Methodologies and Expectations”
3. Jordan Bridges (Political & Social Thought), “Marx as Moral Philosopher”
4. Justin McBrien (History), “Charlton Heston: Prophet of Eco-Apocalypse or Propagandist of Eco-Resilience?”

Keynote: English Faculty Lounge, Brooks Hall, 5:30-7:00,
1. Matthew Garrett (Wesleyan University), “Reading Is Theft”


Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing has written an amazing book. The Mushroom at the End of the World (2015) is all about forests and foraging and revitalising teaching and diasporas and and and – it’s a dense thicket and forest of meanings. There is much in it, but towards the end where generalities are I guess expected, it is only possible to nod sadly in agreement:

“ONE OF THE STRANGEST PROJECTS OF PRIVATIZATION and commodificarion in the early twentieth-first century has been the movement to commoditize scholarship. Two versions have been surprisingly powerful. In Europe, administrators demand assessment exercises that reduce the work of scholars co a number, a sum total for a life of intellectual exchange. In the United States, scholars are asked to become entrepreneurs, producing ourselves as brands and seeking stardom from the very first days of our studies, when we know nothing. Both projects seem to me bizarre — and suffocating. By privatizing what is necessarily collaborative work, these projects aim to strangle the life out of scholarship” page 285

The book is very much worth a look and could be a model for research presentation on global commodity chains and/or Trinketization.

Recent-ish occasionals

recent-ish pieces of blogablabba

Klaus-Peter Koepping

Another obituary, this time in the Quarterly by Thomas Reuter. Time does not reconcile.

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The Quarterly Number 142/September 2017

In Fond Memory of…
Klaus Peter Koepping passed away in Berlin on
17 June, 2017
Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Koepping was a German anthropologist, born in Cottbus in 1940 into family with artistic and academic background. At the end of World War II his family was evacuated and eventually resettled in Kassel, and later to Aachen. Koepping developed an early interest in literature, music and foreign cultures. After finishing school in 1959, he began to study Law at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Bonn, but also attended lectures on Art History and Japanese Studies, and courses at the Institute for Ancient American Studies and Ethnology, where Hermann Trimborn was among his teachers.

In 1966 Koepping moved to Cologne and studied at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology under Helmut Petri, Enno Beuchelt and others. Koepping deepened his knowledge on Chinese and Japanese culture and went on a study tour to Japan in 1966/67. There he worked as a journalist and collected ethnographic data on modern millenarian movements and nativist religious cults.

In 1969 Koepping moved to the USA and took up an assistant professorship in Fullerton, California, and after completed his PhD thesis in 1971 he was promoted to associated professor.

Koepping moved to Australia in 1972, where he became senior lecturer at the Department for Sociology and Anthropology at the university in Brisbane, Queensland. He lectured and continued his fieldwork in Japan. In 1984 Koepping took up a professorship at the Melbourne University, as the Baldwin Spencer Chair of Anthropology. Apart from lecturing and researching, he was tasked with establishing the School of Asian Studies. Ultimately, however, his lasting legacy at Melbourne was the establishment of a very successful anthropology program. One of the many undergraduate students he trained at Melbourne was IUAES Senior Vice-President, Prof Koepping also held visiting professorships, for example in Aachen and Mainz, reflecting his continuing ties to Germany. In 1991 Koepping took up a professorship, first at the South Asia Institute and later at the newly reopened Institute of Ethnology, both at the University of Heidelberg. In the following years he taught and completed a number of research projects.

Koepping held visiting professorships in Japan until his retirement in 2005. Between 2005 and 2007 Koepping was Visiting Professor at the Goldsmiths College in London, where he lectured in Post-Colonial Studies and the Centre of Cultural Studies with his former student, John Hutnyk. He was also a visiting fellow as part of the international research project »Interweaving Performance Cultures« in 2008/09.
Thomas Reuter
A memorandum of his life and work has been created by one of his daughters, and can be found here.