Intimacy in Africa (on film) Chandani Patel writes: When Hollywood does Africa, there’s little in the romance and love department, unless it’s about Karin Blixen making ill-fated choices (in white colonial men) or some random family who move to Africa and fall in love with the land … and the flame trees (you know the... Continue Reading →
Last week, we read Bornstein and Redfield's introductory chapter to Forces of Compassion. In it, the authors outline a distinction among development, human rights, and humanitarianism. The temporal orientation, disciplinary foci, and the professions associated with each of these forms of social action seem to distinguish them from each other. The authors state, for example,... Continue Reading →
Last week in my anthropology and global social problems class, students learned about bureaucracy and how anthropologists engage with the concept. We read the introduction to Hummel's famous book on The Bureaucratic Experience, which is a pretty good primer on how bureaucracy transforms social action, human relations, and bureaucrats themselves. We started class with this... Continue Reading →
Sarah Kendzior, in a recent opinion piece on Al Jazeera, compares the aftermath of President McKinley's assassination by a Polish-American to that of last week's Boston Marathon bombings. In the piece, she argues that Chechen ethnicity became demonized (and criminalized). She writes: Knowing nothing of the Tsarnaevs' motives, and little about Chechens, the American media tore... Continue Reading →
Op-Ed: Egg Freezing: WTF?* Lynn Morgan and Janelle Taylor take fellow anthropologist Marcia Inhorn to task for her suggestion that her female students freeze their eggs in efforts to balance home and work life.
more on the politics of representation in relation to childhood in Africa.
In 1995 Dorling Kinderlsey published a book, Children Just Like Us, sponsored by UNICEF, which brought pictures of children from “all over the world” into its pages, complete with facts and apparently direct quotations from the children (who all seem to speak perfect English). The book feels friendly, ecumenical: children certainly have some funny habits and names, but underneath, of course, they are all alike! What effects do these kind of books, which make faraway places and different cultures specularly available to middle-class children, have on the young minds who read them. Do they inform a harmlessly cosmopolitan, global outlook? Or ambitions to travel, to see and know the world as benevolently different as it was promised? Is there another perspective hidden within, which involves a dangerous sense of moral and intellectual superiority? The cause of these thoughts are a photo-series of children with their toys, by an Italian…
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This semester, I've been testing out several new kinds of assignments. Reading themes, podcasts, blogs. All are to get the students thinking about how to be observant, critical thinkers and how to communicate their analyses. Each of the exercises builds into one big final project: a This American Life style podcast. (Yes, I know. High... Continue Reading →
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRQHraheNzQ In this clip from Showtime's House of Lies, we see a parody of celebrity 'humanitarianism' and charity. The critique begins with Damon's hiring a management consulting firm to cultivate his humanitarian brand. The video draws together all the tropes of celebrity humanitarianism: suffering children; war-torn, dusty African town; members of the clergy protecting the... Continue Reading →
Yesterday, Max Fisher, foreign affairs blogger at the Washington Post, put together a helpful primer, "9 Questions about Mali You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask." It is funny, accessibly written, and a good start for those unfamiliar with the conflict. But as is the case in most simplified (but not simple) explanations of complex conflicts,... Continue Reading →