Today marks the 1-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street (See my previous posts here and here) a global social movement that brought income inequality in the national consciousness. In a recent piece in The Nation, activist and anthropologist David Graeber, highlights the system that reinforces the relationship between the have’s and the have-nots, the creditors and the debtors, the owners and the workers:
The rise of OWS allowed us to start seeing the system for what it is: an enormous engine of debt extraction. Debt is how the rich extract wealth from the rest of us, at home and abroad. Internally, it has become a matter of manipulating the country’s legal structure to ensure that more and more people fall deeper and deeper into debt.
Early on, Occupy was criticized for not having a clear set of demands. Today, Graeber writes:
Occupy was right to resist the temptation to issue concrete demands. But if I were to frame a demand today, it would be for as broad a cancellation of debt as possible, followed by a mass reduction of working hours—say to a five-hour workday or a guaranteed five-month vacation. If such a suggestion seems outrageous, even inconceivable, it’s just a measure of the degree to which our horizons have shrunk. After all, only fifty years ago many people assumed we would have gotten to such a point by now. It is only by breaking the power of the engines of extraction that we can once again begin to think on a scale and grandeur appropriate to the times.
Many of you have probably seen or at least heard about the film Kony 2012 which has been trending on twitter and making the rounds on facebook. It seeks to motivate people to speak out against the Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony and bring him to justice for the atrocities and suffering he has imposed upon Ugandan people and children. The film has spread virally and seems to be especially directed at, and disseminated by 18-22 year olds. Intially at least, it appears to have achieved its objective to publicize Kony as a war criminal in the hopes that this publicity will bring him to justice and presumably end the suffering of those in Uganda. But there has also been a lot of criticism associated with the film. See this video and this article. Is it possible that this film does more harm than good? Does it represent a neo-colonial style of thinking? I am curious to know your thoughts.
Update: a poignant picture
There are 4 articles (see below) in module 2 that discuss female genital cutting practices. How does this debate relate to an understanding of cultural relativism? What is your opinion regarding this practice?
Try to read these in order.
- A New Debate On Female Circumcision
- Circumcision or Mutilation?
- Sexual Consequnces of an African Intiation Rite
- A comprimise on Female Circumcision
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged FGC, FGM
Check out this video on the physical divide, and ongoing conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Belfast.
On Monday the E.P.A. announced a ruling that greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and 5 others) were detrimental to human health and the environment. This enables the E.P.A to impose regulations on polluters without the approval of congress.
In other climate news, the UN climate talks are in disarray in Copenhagen after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN’s role in all future climate change negotiations.
Claude Levi-Strauss, a French anthropologist most known for his contributions to structuralism, died on Friday, October 30. I have pulled together a few resources on his life and contributions to anthropology.
Finally, as an aside, I really liked what Sahlins says about anthropology’s contribution to knowledge:
Finally, one finds more than one suggestion in Levi-Strauss’s works that since anthropologists are of the same intellectual nature as the peoples they study, they have possibilities of knowing the cultures of others that are in some respects more powerful than the ways natural scientists know physical objects. The more one learns about the composition of rocks, the less they are like anything in human experience. Unlike the way rocks will always appear to us, science shows there are spaces between and within the molecules, and beyond that, at the level of quantum mechanics our knowledge defies all common sense of space and time. But if natural science starts off with the experientially familiar and ends in the humanly remote, anthropology works the other way around.