robertogreco + culture   3140

Going Home with Wendell Berry | The New Yorker
[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/1150867868696772608 ]

[Too much to quote, so here’s what Anne quoted:]

“Lancie Clippinger said to me, and he was very serious, that a man oughtn’t to milk but about twenty-five cows, because if he keeps to that number, he’ll see them every day. If he milks more than that, he’ll do the work but never see the cows! The number will vary from person to person, I think, but Lancie’s experience had told him something important.”
via:anne  wendellberry  rural  slow  small  empathy  kindness  georgesaunders  relationships  neighbors  amish  care  caring  maintenance  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  culture  farming  agriculture  local  locality  place  trees  history  multispecies  morethanhuman  language  restorativejustice  justice  climatejustice  socialjustice  johnlukacs  environment  sustainability  kentucky  land  immigration  labor  work  gender  ownership  collectivism  conversation  lancieclippinger  god  faith  religion  christianity  submission  amandapetrusich  individualism  stewardship  limits  constraints  memory  robertburns  kafka  capitalism  corporations  life  living  provincialism  seamusheaney  patrickkavanagh  animals  cows  freedom  limitlessness  choice  happiness  davidkline  thomasmerton  service  maurytilleen  crops  us  donaldtrump  adlaistevenson  ezrataftbenson  politics  conservation  robertfrost  pleasure  writing  andycatlett  howwewrite  education  nature  adhd  wonder  schools  schooling  experience  experientiallearning  place-based  hereandnow  presence 
2 days ago by robertogreco
Arthur Jafa: Not All Good, Not All Bad on Vimeo
"We went to Los Angeles and visited the winner of the prestigious Venice Biennale's 2019 Golden Lion, American artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa. In this extensive interview, he talks about black identity in connection with his critically acclaimed video ‘Love is the Message, The Message is Death’, which became a worldwide sensation.

“I’m trying to have enough distance from the thing, that I can actually see it clearly. But at the same time, be able to flip the switch and be inside of it.” Jafa describes how he has rewired himself to push towards things that disturb him. He grew up in the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest regions in America, and admires the fearless and relentless pictures from that region by Danish photographer Jacob Holdt in ‘American Pictures’ (1977): “They exist outside of the formal parameters of art photography. I think they exist outside of journalism. They’re something else.”

Since childhood, Jafa has collected images in books, as if he was window-shopping, “compiling things that you don’t have access to.” The act of compiling and putting things together helps him figure out “what it is you’re actually attracted to.” When he “strung together” ‘Love is the Message, The Message is Death’, it was engendered by the explosion of citizen cellphone-documentation – the point in time where people discovered the power of being able to document. Jafa comments that his “preoccupation with blackness is fundamental philosophical” rather than political, and considers ‘whiteness’ a “pathological construction that’s come about as a result of a lot of complicated things.” In continuation of this, Jafa is against “highs and lows,” and some of the power of the work, he finds, is that it doesn’t make those distinctions. Instead of doing hierarchies, it accepts that opposites don’t have to negate each other, and tries to understand the diversity, differentiation and complexity in the world: “It’s not all good, it’s not all bad.”

Arthur Jafa (b. 1960) is an American Mississippi-born visual artist, film director, and cinematographer. His acclaimed video ‘Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death’ (2016), shows a montage of historical and contemporary film footage to trace Black American experiences throughout history. Jafa has exhibited widely including at the Hirshhorn in Los Angeles, Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Tate Liverpool in Liverpool and Serpentine Galleries in London. His work as a cinematographer with directors such as Spike Lee and Stanley Kubrick has been notable, and his work on ‘Daughters of the Dust’ (1991) won the ‘Best Cinematography’ Award at Sundance. In 2019, Jafa was awarded the Golden Lion for best artist at the Venice Biennale for his film ‘The White Album’. Jafa has also worked as a director of photography on several music videos, including for Solange Knowles and Jay-Z. Jafa co-founded TNEG with Malik Sayeed, a “motion picture studio whose goal is to create a black cinema as culturally, socially and economically central to the 21st century as was black music to the 20th century.” He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Arthur Jafa was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his studio in Los Angeles in November 2018. In the video, extracts are shown from ‘Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death’ (2016) by Arthur Jafa. The seven-minute video is set to Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Nordea fonden"
arthurjafa  art  film  filmmaking  identity  blackness  whiteness  photography  imagery  collection  images  books  compilation  compiling  access  collecting  collections  documentation  documentary  complexity  video  montage  marc-christophwagner  childhood  mississippi  bernieeames  distance  survival  experience  culture  mississippidelta  seeing  perspective  democracy  smarthphones  mobile  phones  cameras  jacobholdt  clarksdale  tupelo  patriarchy  race  racism  billcosby  duality  hitler  thisandthat  ambiguity  barackobama  keepingitreal  donaldtrump  diversity  hope  hierarchy  melancholy  differentiation  audience  audiencesofone  variety  canon 
11 days ago by robertogreco
bell hooks and Arthur Jafa Discuss Transgression in Public Spaces at The New School - YouTube
"An open conversation hosted by Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts (http://www.newschool.edu/lang) between bell hooks and Arthur Jafa.

bell hooks (née Gloria Watkins) is among the leading public intellectuals of her generation. Her writings cover a broad range of topics including gender, race, teaching, and contemporary culture. This fall marks the 20th Anniversary of the publication of Teaching to Transgress: Education as a Practice of Freedom, Dr. hooks’ seminal book on educational practices. This week long residency is an opportunity for The New School community to directly engage with Dr. hooks and her commitment to education and learning as a place “where paradise can be created”

For more information on the bell hooks residency | https://web.archive.org/web/20170701023758/http://www.newschool.edu/lang/bell-hooks-scholar-in-residence/ "
bellhooks  arthurjafa  blackness  publicspace  film  2014  decolonization  culture  history  depiction  gaze  imagery  instagram  tumblr 
11 days ago by robertogreco
The Rules that Rule Japan - YouTube
"Some people think Japan is a strange and different land, that they'll never understand. Why do the Japanese do what they do? Well, Japan and its people are not so hard to comprehend, once you realize that it's all about the rules. Once you know them, your time here will be easy peasy, Japaneasy. It'd be my pleasure if you join me in discovering the rules that rule Japan."
rules  japan  culture  2017  srg 
15 days ago by robertogreco
Paper Books Can’t Be Shut Off from Afar – Popula
[See also (referenced within):
"Microsoft is about to shut off its ebook DRM servers: "The books will stop working""
https://boingboing.net/2019/06/28/jun-17-2004.html ]

“Private ownership—in particular the private ownership of books, software, music and other cultural information—is the linchpin of a free society. Having many copies of works of art, music and literature distributed widely (e.g., many copies of the same book among many private owners, or many copies of the same audio files, torrents or blockchain ledger entries on many private computers) protects a culture against corruption and censorship. Decentralization strategies like these help to preserve press freedom, and individual freedom. The widespread private ownership of cultural artifacts guarantees civil liberties, and draws people into their culture immanently, persistently, giving it life and power.

Cory Doctorow’s comment on Friday at BoingBoing regarding private ownership of books is well worth reading; he wrote it because Microsoft is shutting down its e-books service, and all the DRM books people bought from them will thus vanish into thin air. Microsoft will provide refunds to those affected, but that isn’t remotely the point. The point is that all their users’ books are to be shut off with a single poof! on Microsoft’s say-so. That is a button that nobody, no corporation and no government agency, should be ever permitted to have.

“The idea that the books I buy can be relegated to some kind of fucking software license is the most grotesque and awful thing I can imagine,” Doctorow said.

At this very moment, governments are forbidding millions of people, Chinese people, Cubans, Belarusians and Egyptians and Hungarians and many, many others all over this world, from reading whatever they want.

So if there is to be a fear of the increasing adoption of e-books such as those offered by Microsoft, and to a far greater degree, Amazon, that’s by far the scariest thing about it. Because if you were to keep all your books in a remotely controlled place, some villain really could come along one day and pretty much flip the switch and take them all away — and not just yours but everyone’s, all at once. What if we had some species of Trump deciding to take action against the despicable, dangerous pointy-heads he is forever railing against?

Boom! Nothing left to read but The Art of the Deal.

I don’t intend on shutting up about this ever, and I’m sure Doctorow won’t either, bless him.”
mariabustillos  books  print  drm  decentralization  2019  microsoft  kindle  china  cuba  belarus  egypt  hungary  censorship  totalitarianism  georgeorwell  society  freedom  corporations  ip  intellectualproperty  ownership  ebooks  libery  power  culture  corydoctorow 
16 days ago by robertogreco
The Inordinate Eye: New World Baroque and Latin American Fiction, Zamora
"The Inordinate Eye traces the relations of Latin American painting, sculpture, architecture, and literature—the stories they tell each other and the ways in which their creators saw the world and their place in it. Moving from pre-Columbian codices and sculpture through New World Baroque art and architecture to Neobaroque theory and contemporary Latin American fiction, Lois Parkinson Zamora argues for an integrated understanding of visual and verbal forms.
 
The New World Baroque combines indigenous, African, and European forms of expression, and, in the early decades of the twentieth century, Latin American writers began to recuperate its visual structures to construct an alternative account of modernity, using its hybrid forms for the purpose of creating a discourse of “counterconquest”—a postcolonial self-definition aimed at disrupting entrenched power structures, perceptual categories, and literary forms.   

Zamora engages this process, discussing a wide range of visual forms—Baroque façades and altarpieces, portraits of saints and martyrs (including the self-portraits of Frida Kahlo), murals from indigenous artisans to Diego Rivera—to elucidate works of fiction by Borges, Carpentier, Lezama Lima, Sarduy, Garro, García Márquez, and Galeano, and also to establish a critical perspective external to their work. Because visual media are “other” to the verbal economy of modern fiction, they serve these writers (and their readers) as oblique means by which to position their fiction culturally, politically, and aesthetically.
 
The first study of its kind in scope and ambition, The Inordinate Eye departs radically from most studies of literature by demonstrating how transcultural conceptions of the visual image have conditioned present ways of seeing and reading in Latin America."
latinamerica  culture  literature  fiction  art  architecture  loisparkinsonzamora  visual  verbal  baroque  fridakhalo  diegorivera  borges  alejocarpentier  josélezamalima  gabrielgarcíamárquez  eduardogaleano  2006  neobaroque  severosarduy  elenagarro  modernity  conunterconquest  postcolonialism  disruption  transcultural  imagery  seeing  reading 
22 days ago by robertogreco
The Sum of All Beards | The New Republic
"How did facial hair win American men’s hearts and minds? Thank the war on terror."



"You could consume more than half a century of American popular culture, from World War II to Korea to Vietnam to September 11, without encountering many bearded manly heroes; facial hair was generally reserved for wild enemies foreign and domestic, swarthy terrorists and libertine hippies. Even American westerns posited a surprising number of neatly trimmed frontier protagonists, reserving scruff for their foes. Italian-produced spaghetti westerns, which introduced Clint Eastwood’s perpetually unshaven man with no name, seem the exception that proves the rule, deploying beards as to emphasize that their protagonists are deeply flawed antiheroes, operating outside mainstream norms."
beards  masculinity  culture  us  2019  waronterror  via:lukeneff 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Will the Renovated MoMA Let Folk Art Back In? - The New York Times
"Architectural historians argued against destruction, but protest was not universal. The Williams-Tsien building had problems. Conceived on the scale of a compact townhouse, it was only 40 feet wide. Its narrowness created a cramped interior, with corridor-like galleries inhospitable to art viewing. In addition, some people found its façade — composed of more than 60 plates of a copper-bronze alloy textured to look handworked — uninviting, even forbidding. It was hard to tell at a glance what was housed behind them, what the building was about.

At the same time, nobody denied that the design was distinctive, an interruption in a sea of midtown blandness to which MoMA’s facade contributes. Indeed, the Folk Art Museum looked about as un-MoMA as could be imagined: a small, dark, recessive sculpture set against the mega-museum’s stretch of glass and steel. Anyway, it went. A shame. If a work of architecture, loved or hated, has the weight and personality of an aesthetic object, which the Williams-Tsien building did, it should be considered “museum-worthy” and preserved.

There was another factor that made its loss regrettable. The work it housed — by folk artists, self-taught artists, and so-called outsider artists — was not only deeply charismatic, but filled out the story of Modernism in a way that MoMA itself, in recent years, has largely neglected to do.

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This wasn’t always true at MoMA, whose early leaders regarded folk or self-taught artists as foundational figures in Modern art. In 1938, when the museum was operating out of temporary quarters on West 49th Street, it organized a large exhibition called “Masters of Popular Painting,” described as a survey of “Modern Primitives of Europe and America.” Among its 22 artists were Henri Rousseau and Séraphine Louis, known simply as Séraphine, from France, and the Americans John Kane and Horace Pippin. Pictures by all four soon entered the permanent collection, as would work by the Pennsylvania landscapist Joseph Pickett and the Polish-born New Yorker Morris Hirshfield."



"The presence of the Folk Art Museum on 53rd Street picked up the slack. I even tended to think of the smaller museum as a kind of antechamber to the larger one — an entry point, the place you go to first for historical grounding. The museum still offers this, in its 2 Lincoln Square location on the Upper West Side and its “Self-Taught Genius Gallery” in Long Island City, Queens. But in midtown, MoMA is now again on its own with the tradition of self-taught art. And what, if anything, will it do with it?

The full answer remains, of course, to be seen in October and beyond. All we can do at this point is hope for the best, and give some advice. When, in 2014, the fate of the 53rd Street building was announced, MoMA’s director, Glenn D. Lowry, framed the decision in terms of the larger museum’s need for more space, which, he said, would permit the presentation of “transformative” acquisitions “by such artists as Marcel Broodthaers, Lygia Clark, Steve McQueen, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Mira Schendel, Richard Serra, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Cy Twombly, among many others.”

I would suggest that we, and MoMA, don’t need any more Rauschenbergs, or Richters, or Serras, or Twomblys. What we do need is “many others.” And some of those Others were, for 13 years, to be found in the Folk Art Museum next door. Maybe MoMA can now be persuaded to acknowledge its spirit, and their genius, in its expanded home."
folkart  architects  design  moma  2019  art  democracy  elitism  hollandcotter  folkartmuseum  culture  museums  nyc 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Remediation: Understanding New Media, by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin | The MIT Press
"Summary

A new framework for considering how all media constantly borrow from and refashion other media.

Media critics remain captivated by the modernist myth of the new: they assume that digital technologies such as the World Wide Web, virtual reality, and computer graphics must divorce themselves from earlier media for a new set of aesthetic and cultural principles. In this richly illustrated study, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin offer a theory of mediation for our digital age that challenges this assumption. They argue that new visual media achieve their cultural significance precisely by paying homage to, rivaling, and refashioning such earlier media as perspective painting, photography, film, and television. They call this process of refashioning "remediation," and they note that earlier media have also refashioned one another: photography remediated painting, film remediated stage production and photography, and television remediated film, vaudeville, and radio."

Review:

"The authors do a splendid job of showing precisely how technologies like computer games, digital photography, film television, the Web, and virtual reality all turn on the mutually constructive strategies of generating immediacy and making users hyperaware of the media themselves...The authors lay out a provocative theory of contemporary selfhood, one that draws on and modifies current notions of the 'virtual' and 'networked' human subject. Clearly written and not overly technical, this book will interest general readers, students, and scholars engaged with current trends in technology."]

[via:
https://twitter.com/thezhanly/status/1135170311941492736

in this exchange:

Venkatesh Rao (@vgr): "I think several new genres of fiction are being born right now that will break the Industrial Age ones (SFF, mystery, romance, horror, thriller).

One I think is alt-realism. Or adjacent-realism. Not counterfactuals, more like fictional conspiracy theories."

Me (@rogre): "Have you done the same for *form* of fiction? (Think length, type of prose, formatting, use of multimedia, etc.) I think there is something similar going on there too. I also think that these genres and forms are not necessarily as new as they seem, just finally gaining traction?"

Venkatesh Rao (@vgr): I think that’s probably overtheorized already by all the hypermedia studies people. I’m more interested in content. I suspect @thezhanly has good knowledge on state of art there. But overall I think media form evolves much less quickly than people want it too.

Zhan Li (@thezhanly): Bolter & Grusin’s remediation concept is a crucial perspective for this https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/remediation ]
books  media  jaydavidbolter  richardgrusin  1998  photography  film  painting  art  writing  howwrite  publishing  theater  filmmaking  radio  television  tv  refashioning  culture 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Verso: "The Funeral of C.L.R. James"
"C. L. R. James, the pioneering Trinidadian socialist historian and writer, died on this day 30 years ago in London with his funeral held a few weeks later at Tunapuna Cemetery, Trinidad. On the arrival back in Trinidad of his body, his long-time comrade John La Rose read passages of Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal - the great Caribbean poem of exile and return. In this article, Jackqueline Frost investigates the continental connections of James and Césaire, and the politics of return."



"In James’ systematic determinism, the return to the Caribbean for political intellectuals takes on the dimensions of a prophecy. This is the logic at work in the final paragraph of “Fanon and the Caribbean,” where James considers what the Algerian revolutionary would be doing in 1978 were he still alive. Though at the end of his life Fanon no longer considered himself Caribbean, James’ goal in this short text is to show that Fanon’s upbringing in Martiniquan society inescapably made him the political actor and thinker he was. In abandoning the West Indies for Africa, as part of a generation of Caribbean militants whose major political engagement took similar forms, Fanon affirms rather than negates his Caribbean identity. James claims here that “the moment Fanon heard that in the Caribbean Cuba was free and the other countries were gaining independence, he said then he would go back to struggle there with them.” Whether Fanon’s promise to return to the Caribbean can be considered authentic or apocryphal, the tendency of return permitted these sorts of thought-experiments. The ugly outcomes of James’ own return to Trinidad and Tobago and 1958 and his mid-60s venture into electoral politics, did not dissuade him from singing the accolades of West Indians and their society in advancing world civilization through their specific “creative contributions.” As James writes in Beyond a Boundary, he had discovered that what mattered was “movement: Not where you are or what you have, but where you have come from, where you are going and the rate at which you are getting there.”[xx] These are some of the words carved into his gravestone in Tunapuna, Trinidad. While returning to the place one comes from has a specific meaning for West Indians in the second half of the 20th century, James reminds us that no cultural object is ever disconnected from the society which produced its author. On the 30th anniversary of James’ death, his epitaph and the passages read at his Ceremony of Return caution us against ignoring the social worlds that we often hold in isolation from the political and poetic acts they generate."

[See also (referenced in the essay): https://www.marxists.org/archive/james-clr/works/1978/11/fanon.htm ]
2019  clrjames  caribbean  culture  franzfanon  aimécésaire  jackquelinefrost  cuba  trinidad  haiti  johnlarose  jorgelefevretavárez  decolonization  latinamerica  africa  claudiajones  jacquesstephenalexis  elsagoveia  géraldbloncourt  saragomez  jacquesroumain  nancymorejón  renédepestre  andrewsalkey  suzannecésaire  mikeysmith  walteriocarbonell  nicolásguillén  alejocarpentier  negrismomovement  negrismo  race  negritude  cam  sociology  orlandopatterson  wilsonharris  georgelamming  art  literature  politics  marxism  aubreywilliams  altheamcnish  stuarthall  1999  martinique  algeria  1978 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Welcome Japan Search to the web of Linked Open Data | Bodleian Digital Library
[Go here for Japan Search: https://jpsearch.go.jp/ ]

"Japan Search is an aggregator, holding metadata on 17 million items from 38 databases related to Japanese cultural institutions. It is like a Japanese counterpart to Europeana. Hosted by the National Diet Library, it is currently in beta phase – not officially released yet – but already an impressive service. It’s of interest to a Wikimedian working in Oxford because it has been designed in an open way, with connection to other databases and applications built in from the outset.

Part of its database is a table of nearly 8000 named entities: these are artists, depicted entities and sometimes locations. Japan Search has its own system of identifiers based on Japanese names, but thankfully they have incorporated identifiers from other systems, including VIAF, BnF, British Museum, DBPedia, and Wikidata.

Also helpful to joining up these data, there is a SPARQL endpoint. I think of SPARQL endpoints as genies or oracles that can answer any question about its domain, but only very pedantically and only if asked in the SPARQL language. The Japan Search genie can answer questions about its world of 17 million works and related entities. The Wikidata genie knows about its overlapping world of 56 million objects and concepts. They use different names for things, but luckily each genie is aware of the existence of other genies and other naming systems."
japan  museums  culture  search  database  aggregator 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Magic & Pasta (@__magicandpasta) • Fotos y vídeos de Instagram
"A cultural art & conversation space in Berkeley, CA. Welcoming POC/women/LGBTQ+ and their allies."

[See also: https://tinyletter.com/magicandpasta ]
berkeley  art  lcproject  openstudioproject  sanfrancisco  culture  studios 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Critics: Endgame
"But the discourse around art has not often included climate change, barring work which specifically addresses it. Following recent movements that have awoken the general populace to various systemic inequities, we have been slowly shifting toward an awareness of how those inequities inform contemporary popular culture. This has manifested in criticism with varying levels of success, from clunky references to Trump to more considered analyses of how historic disparity is reflected in the stories that are currently told. And while there has been an expansion in representation in the arts as a result, the underlying reality of these systemic shifts is that they don’t fundamentally affect the bottom line of those in power. There is a social acceptability to these adaptations, one which does not ask the 1 Percent to confront its very existence, ending up subsumed under it instead. A more threatening prospect would be reconsidering climate change, which would also involve reconsidering the economy — and the people who benefit from it the most."



"I am not saying that climate change must be shoehorned into every article‚ though even a non sequitur would be better than nothing — but I am saying that just as identity politics is now a consideration when we write, our planet should be too. What I am asking for is simply a widening of perspective, besides economics, besides race, beyond all things human, toward a cultural carbon footprint, one which becomes part of the DNA of our critiques and determines what we choose to talk about and what we say when we do. After more than 60 years of doing virtually the same thing, even nonagenarian David Attenborough knew he had to change tacks; it wasn’t enough just to show the loss of natural beauty, he had to point out how it affects us directly. As he told the International Monetary Fund last month: “We are in terrible, terrible trouble and the longer we wait to do something about it the worse it is going to get.” In Our Planet, Attenborough reminds us over and over that our survival depends on the earth’s. For criticism to survive, it must remind us just as readily."
climatechange  urgency  identity  identitypolitics  2019  soryaroberts  sustainability  globalwarming  economics  race  carbonfootprint  davidattenborough  imf  ourplanet  earth  criticism  priorities  culture 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

who concludes…
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122685558688485376
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."



"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"



"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"



"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
6 Kinds of Public - Dilettante Army
Long ago, I adopted the moniker “dilettante ventures” as a frame for my cultural activity. At the time it was envisioned as a collective comprised of three other art and curatorial collectives. Much like this journal seeks to do, I spent a fair amount of time trying to rehabilitate the word “dilettante.” Lately though, I’ve given up on worrying about that sort of framing, because now I have to rehabilitate another word—“republican.” In November 2018, I was elected to the Vermont State Legislature. As a candidate, I appeared on the ballot as the nominee of two political parties—the Democrats and the Progressives. But to be accurate about my political philosophy, I am a decentralist communitarian republican. Identifying as small-r republican, even though it isn’t the same as being a capital-r Republican, can be problematic for me. On my winding trajectory from an artist-that-doesn’t-make-art to a librarian/legislator, I’ve investigated how republican themes of interdependence, virtue, and civic responsibility might be usefully employed in the (neo)liberal political quagmire we find ourselves. Here are the key concepts I use to understand the links between art and community-making in a new era of progressive politics:

Public Art, new genre



Public Culture



Public Good, scale of



Public Library



Public Philosophy



Public Realm



Public Work



Public work brings me back to the inadequacy of social practice (art). I have proposed “social poiesis” as an alternative. “Poiesis” is a word, mostly used in literary theory, that describes creative production, in particular the creation of a work of art. “Social poiesis,” then, encompasses not only the production of art and art environments, but also the creative production of society through things like urban planning, sports leagues, communes, be-ins, residencies, raves, state fairs, theme parks, cults, encounter groups, Chautauquas, and even legislating. Governance, properly undertaken, is public work, positing “citizens as co-creators of the world.” This world of artistic citizenship demands a variety of public actions and inquiry, some of which I’ve touched on here. Above all it demands a reevaluation of the promise and potential of a revived republican spirit."
randallszott  public  publics  republican  2019  suzannelacy  roberthariman  montesquieu  thomasaugst  williamsullivan  libraries  publiclibraries  hannaharendt  harryboyte  publicwork  publicrealm  philosophy  socialpracticeart  art  publigood  publicculture  culture  republicanism  community  decentralization  interdependence  virtue  civics  governance  neoliberalism  liberalism  progressive  progressivism  vermont 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Decolonising Science Reading List – Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – Medium
"A note on Making Meaning of “Decolonising” — and in relation to that I want to be clear that the original motivation behind the creation of this list was to address a land claim issue: the use of Maunakea by non-Kanaka Maoli for science. Please be thoughtful about using “decolonising” if you’re not going to tie it into the physicality that colonialism necessarily requires. Intellectual colonialism only works when there is a physical threat associated with it.

A twitter thread by Melissa Daniels (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation) on engaging in colonialist activity under the guise of “decolonising education”

Thank me for my free labor maintaining this list by making a donation to The Offing via Paypal, Crowdrise, or a monthly donation at Patreon.

October 2016 Introduction
In April, 2015, one of the most visible topics of discussion in the Astronomy community was the planned Thirty Meter Telescope and protests against it from Native Hawaiians who didn’t want it built on Mauna Kea. I wrote a lot about this on social media, spending some significant time trying to contextualize the debate. This reading list was originally created in response to requests for where I was getting some of the information from. A lot of people asked me about what I’d been reading as reference points for my commentary on the relationship between colonialism and what we usually call “modern science.”

In August 2016 I updated to announce: I’m happy to report that Sarah Tuttle and I will be contributing to this list with our own publications in future thanks to this FQXi grant that we are co-I/PI on: Epistemological Schemata of Astro|Physics: A Reconstruction of Observers. The grant proposal was based on a written adaptation of a speech I gave at the Inclusive Astronomy conference, Intersectionality as a Blueprint for Postcolonial Scientific Community Building.

As part of this work, I’ve continued to expand the reading list, which seems to have become a global resource for people interested in science and colonialism. As I originally said, I make no claims about completeness, about updating it regularly, or even ever coming up with a system for organizing it that I find to be satisfactory. You’ll find texts that range from personal testimony to Indigenous cosmology to anthropology, to history to sociology to education research. All are key to the process of decolonising science, which is a pedagogical, cultural, and intellectual set of interlocking structures, ideas, and practices. This reading list functions on the premise that there is value in considering the ways in which science and society co-construct. It is stuff that I have read all or part of and saw some value in sharing with others.

I am especially indebted to the #WeAreMaunaKea movement for educating me and spurring me to educate myself.

Original April 2015 Commentary

There are two different angles at play in the discussion about colonialism and science. First is what constitutes scientific epistemology and what its origins are. As a physicist, I was taught that physics began with the Greeks and later Europeans inherited their ideas and expanded on them. In this narrative, people of African descent and others are now relative newcomers to science, and questions of inclusion and diversity in science are related back to “bringing science to underrepresented minority and people of color communities.” The problem with this narrative is that it isn’t true. For example, many of those “Greeks” were actually Egyptians and Mesopotamians under Greek rule. So, even though for the last 500 years or so science has largely been developed by Europeans, the roots of its methodology and epistemology are not European. Science, as scientists understand it, is not fundamentally European in origin. This complicates both racist narratives about people of color and innovation as well as discourse around whether science is fundamentally wedded to Euro-American operating principles of colonialism, imperialism and domination for the purpose of resource extraction.

This leads me to the second angle at play: Europeans have engaged what is called “internalist” science very seriously over the last 500 years and often in service and tandem with colonialism and white supremacy. For example, Huygens and Cassini facilitated and directed astronomical observation missions in order to help the French better determine the location of St. Domingue, the island that houses the modern nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Why? Because this would help make the delivery of slaves and export of the products of their labor more efficient. That is just one example, which stuck out to me because I am a descendant of the Caribbean part of the Atlantic Slave Trade, and I also have two degrees in astronomy (and two in physics).

There is a lot that has been hidden from mainstream narratives about the history of astronomy, including 20th century history. Where has the colonial legacy of astronomy taken us? From Europe to Haiti to now Hawai’i. Hawai’i is the flash point for this conversation now, even though the story goes beyond Hawai’i. If we are going to understand the context of what is happening in Hawai’i with the Thirty Meter Telescope, we must understand that Hawai’i is not the first or only place where astronomers used and benefited from colonialism. And in connection, we have to understand Hawai’ian history. Thus, my reading list also includes important materials about Hawai’i’s history.

tl;dr: science has roots outside of the Eurasian peninsula known as Europe, it likely has its limitations as one of multiple ontologies of the world, it has been used in really grotesque ways, and we must understand all of these threads to truly contextualize the discourse in Hawai’i around science, Hawaiian epistemologies and who gets to determine what constitutes “truth” and “fact” when it comes to Mauna a Wakea.

Finally, I believe science need not be inextricably tied to commodification and colonialism. The discourse around “diversity, equity and inclusion” in science, technology, engineering and mathematics must be viewed as a reclamation project for people of color. Euro-American imperialism and colonialism has had its (often unfortunate) moment with science, and it’s time for the rest of us to reclaim our heritage for the sake of ourselves and the next seven generations.

Note: this reading list is woefully low on materials about science in the pre-European contact Americas, Southeast Asia and parts of Australasia. I’m probably missing some stuff, but I think it signals a problem with research in the history of science too. Also I make no claims about completeness or a commitment to regularly updating it with my newest finds. Also see A U.S./Canadian Race & Racism Reading List.

May 2017 edit: I also just learned that there is a Reading List on Modern and Colonial Science in the Middle East.

October 2017 edit: I gratefully acknowledge Duane Hamacher of the Indigenous Astronomy twitter account for suggesting texts on Australian Indigenous astronomy and for introducing me to research on subarctic Indigenous astronomy.

Martin Kusch’s Sociology of scientific knowledge bibliography may be of interest.

As of May 2017 Beatrice Martini has posted Decolonizing technology: a reading list.

Works by me that may help you contextualize the list with problems I’ve been thinking about. These are partly here not because I particularly enjoy tooting my own horn but because I found that without them, people were assuming I hadn’t contributed to the dialogue myself beyond this reading list:

[lists follow]"
sciene  decolonization  readinglists  chandaprescod-weinstein  diversification  diversity  culture  race  gender  indigenous  indigeneity  imperialism  colonialism  science 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Desi Instagram artist tackling cultural appropriation | Dazed
"Maria Qamar’s satirical art paints a harsh, and hilarious, reality of Asian culture – and it isn’t all bindi-wearing bliss

9 December 2015
Text: Nadia Husen

In a world of fast-growing multiculturalism, the line between appreciation and appropriation of cultures steadily blurs. As far back as 2003, Gwen Stefani donned a bindi in No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” music video, and stars have been following suit ever since. Both Selena Gomez and M.I.A have come under fire in recent times for cultural tourism in their music videos, the latter being forced to scrap hers altogether. In the mainstream, cultural appropriation is perhaps most obvious by the sheer number of bindi-adorned girls at music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza. Asian, black, Native American and other marginalised groups are persistently having their cultures appropriated by those who feel entitled to it, thereby perpetuating a harmful power dynamic.

With everyone from actress Zendaya to fashion designer Dries Van Noten weighing in with an opinion, one self-defined ‘Desi artist’ (where Desi means a person of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin who lives abroad) encompasses all aspects of her culture ­– not just the shiny, pretty sticker for your forehead. Born in Pakistan, Maria Qamar of @hatecopy moved to Canada as a child. A natural artist, she began to depict the realities of growing up in two cultures in pop art and posted the results on her Instagram, rapidly gaining a following as other Desi women – myself included – identify with her bittersweet truths. I spoke to Maria to discuss her witty and provocative art ahead of her second exhibit, Shame Shame, in Toronto.

How did you first start drawing your pieces?

Maria Qamar: I actually had to hide the fact I was doing it. After I drew my first piece, ‘Burnt the Rotis’, I told my mother, ‘Oh, you know those drawings I was making at home, and you were asking what I was doing? OK, well I’m painting them now and the job search is going great too.’ But now my mum is getting very bold and savvy; she wants me to make this a full-time business.

So why did you choose pop art as your artistic style? Have you always drawn in that style?

Maria Qamar: Not really. A lot of it was testing the waters of different styles. It was kind of a long process getting to where I am now. And then more recently it was all about finding the style – ­that took my whole life. I didn’t actually know that this style I already drew was very similar to pop art, so I’m very comfortable drawing it.

It seems to be a very organic process, then?

Maria Qamar: Yeah, I can honestly draw in that way so I’m more comfortable drawing my ideas into the pop-art scenario than I would be (doing it in a) realist or abstract (way). I think of something that’s not Desi-related, an easily imagined scenario. I usually draw the characters first, and then I think about what they could be thinking at the time.

“We’re overshadowed by tradition and obligation and things that we can’t relate to because we’re not in it” – Maria Qamar

There are so many women and girls relating to your art because it’s very real to them as well as humorous. With all the recent focus in the media on cultural appropriation, what made you decide to hit back with your “Is This Gori Wearing a Bindi Again?!” piece? (‘Gori’ is a word used by Indians to describe white girls.)

Maria Qamar: As I said, I draw the images first, and then think about what to write. In this case it had to be something that puts them on the spot. It’s like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ I got fucking angry.

Your Instagram seems to be a space of community because it unites people who share similar experiences, such as the understanding that fairer skin is more valued in Asian culture, and the pressure to marry. These are the things you have to live through to really understand.

Maria Qamar: It is really funny, because the whole point of this pop-art Indian thing was so that I could take the most American – the most western thing – I could find, which were American romance comics or novels. I wanted to take the most iconic thing, which is the soap opera, and blend them together. Right now it feels like I’m taking their shit and throwing it back at them, saying, ‘Here it is, you made this. This is all you.’

Is anyone offended by your art?

Maria Qamar: A few people have been offended by me more than the work itself because they know I was born in Pakistan and they have their own opinions of what they think I might be. So they bring in factors that have nothing to do with the work. They look for a divide. ‘Well, OK,’ I say. ‘Look, it’s doing well. I’m making work that I really love. What’s wrong with it really?’ People are always looking for a fight, so my response to those things is that it’s Desi art. I don’t have an agenda. You relate to it, you laugh at it, and people love it.

Some of the topics you discuss in your art are more taboo, particularly in Asian culture. Your piece for marriage equality entitled ‘Uncle Pride’, for example, would certainly be considered forbidden by traditional types. Why do you choose to portray such messages?

Maria Qamar: Because I’m not like that. I’m not like that and I exist and I’m doing OK. It wasn’t ever supposed to be a rebellious thing, which is the concept of the show as well. I’m not trying to be rebellious for the sake of being rebellious and to piss everybody off and step on the toes of my family. It’s just that people exist differently in the west. We just do. We’re raised just like Americans or what-have-you in the west, but we’re overshadowed by tradition and obligation and things that we can’t relate to because we’re not in it. We don’t know. Yeah, we’re going to go out and hold hands with a guy or make out in public because these things are allowed here, and that’s all we know. It’s funny that it’s seen as rebellious, and, yes, I have a feeling that what I’m making might be a little bit offensive, with my parents in my head going, ‘Shame, shame, shame, you shouldn’t be doing this.’ But you know, why not? I just let it simmer, and the people who laugh with me, laugh with me.

So the art is very much as personal as it is public?

Maria Qamar: Yes, you get a taste of like Desi-American or Desi-Canadian culture – any Desis who are not living in India – because it’s just like somebody who’s from a place where if you’re caught kissing your husband, you could go to jail. So for somebody looking at the Instagram from there and seeing me do what I do, that would be like, ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy,’ but that’s the norm here. We’re all just out in the open. We’re all cool about it."
culturalappropriation  nadiahusen  mariaqamar  appropriation  culture  2015  desi  multiculturalism  culturaltourism  mia  zendaya  driesvannoten  selenagomez  gwenstefani  nodoubt  marginalization  power  colonialism 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Finding the Beauty in Cultural Appropriation - The New York Times
"“What beautiful cultural appropriation!”

I turned in my seat to look at the fashion editor nodding in approval next to me at Lagos Fashion Week.

By that point, I had seen fashion shows in nearly a dozen countries, and I was used to hearing the term “cultural appropriation” whispered around a runway. In Japan I saw Maasai necklaces paired with cargo shorts; in Namibia I saw models in geisha makeup with chopsticks in their hair; and of course, I’ve seen hundreds of European designers “elevating” African-American street fashion.

But this was the first time I’d heard it used as a compliment.

According to Mary Edoro, the editor of BellaNaija, a fashion publication based in Lagos, Nigeria, we were seeing the appropriation of traditional clothing — Calabar fabrics from southeast Nigeria and red ivie beads from the north — from rural communities once considered out of step in modern Nigeria. But in the past decade, integrating them into high fashion has become a source of pride.

“People did not appreciate these old fabrics and designs,” Ms. Edoro told me. “Cultural appropriation, when done in a good way, makes us appreciate things we might typically ignore.”

I’ve spent the past few years traveling around the world to investigate fashion subcultures. I’ve met Japanese women who dress as 1990s Mexican-Americans from East Los Angeles, white women in cornrows at Jamaican dance halls and African-Americans who call ankara cloth, popular in West Africa, “tribal prints.” Through it all, I’ve come to believe that the impulse to play dress-up in other people’s cultures goes beyond teenagers wearing qipaos to prom, or Coachella girls in feathered headdresses. It’s an impulse that is nearly universal.

In other words, cultural appropriation might cause outrage, but it will not stop. And so the question is why? What do people get out of adopting aesthetics from other cultures? Through my travels, I’ve come to see appropriation as a form of communication: Sometimes what people are trying to say is trivial, hurtful and condescending — a bindi to proclaim that they’re “exotic” for instance, or cornrows to say they’re “cool.” But other times, what is being said is difficult and important.

Last October, I interviewed a Japanese rapper named Mona who’s a self-described “chola,” a member of an urban Mexican-American subculture. Part of it was that she liked the look: bold makeup, hoop earrings.

But Mona’s experimentation coincided with her rebellion against how Japanese society shamed her for her outspokenness. In movies like “Selena” and “Mi Vida Loca,” she saw kindred spirits: women celebrated, not ostracized, for their aggression. Some of what Mona did made me cringe: She used gang symbols without the accompanying realities of gang life; she wore rosaries though she is not religious. And yet cholo culture gave her a way to act, speak and dress — all to communicate that she does not agree with how her own culture insists Japanese women should be.

Or consider the rise of Afropunk style. Among my black American friends and peers, Afropunk — which originated at a Brooklyn music festival celebrating black artists and has expanded around the world — has become a crucial cultural outlet. At its heart is a sense of rebellion against the realities of a racist world. That rebellion manifests in glorious, creative outfits that riff on centuries-old aesthetic legacies from Africa, beloved cultural traditions among African-American communities and a fantastical, futuristic sensibility.

These outfits are also, according to some Africans, inadvertently disrespectful. In Nigeria, I spoke to a stylist who mentioned that Afropunk style — which can mix Kenyan kitenge cloth with Bini coral beads and an Egyptian cobra headband — was one way that the African diaspora has betrayed African people, since it flattens so many individual ethnic communities into one Pan-African look. But, he also told me, he doesn’t begrudge this. He’s connected to a rich variety of African cultures. He recognizes that many black Americans aren’t.

When I asked the Harlem-based costume designer Delta Major about her mix-and-match approach to Afropunk fashion, she told me that she understood her clothing to be appropriation. She knew it wasn’t “authentically African” and so was, in a sense, disrespectful. But “getting it right” wasn’t the point. Her history was stolen from her; she doesn’t know where her family came from, and the purposeful inauthenticity made that very statement.

On some level, it doesn’t feel right to call what Afropunk attendees and Japanese cholas do “cultural appropriation.” The power dynamics at work are complicated; it’s unproductive to argue whether black Americans or Africans — or cholas and ostracized Japanese women — have more or less power, and whether one has contributed to the other’s oppression, the way we do when we talk about white Americans appropriating from marginalized groups. We reach for concepts like cultural appreciation and globalization to take into account that these forms of exchange might be less hurtful, or more thoughtful, even if there’s still harm and ignorance at play.

But of course, it is appropriation. These groups, in different ways, are adorning themselves with symbols from another culture and wearing them for their own purposes.

Now, contrast this appropriation with those notorious headdresses. No one except the most willfully obstinate would defend wearing a war bonnet to Coachella. But I’d argue that’s not only because the object is sacred, and the power dynamic direct and unjust, but also because the intended message — that you’re a free spirit, if only for a weekend — is uninteresting. It contains nothing significant to justify something so obviously hurtful.

Things like power, authenticity, respectfulness and credit are all important considerations to weigh against the damage that’s inherent in cultural appropriation. It’s also crucial to understand the maddening reality for many marginalized American groups whose money, livelihoods and creations are regularly stolen from them. But these litmus tests are not adequate by themselves.

We know because when we’re confronted with more complex messages and muddled power dynamics, we short-circuit. We don’t know what to do, or how to feel. We don’t know who the victims are, or what the crime exactly is — even if feels as if there might be one.

In the end, determining when cultural appropriation is O.K. can feel as if it requires a delicate calculus, more holistic than binary. It’s understandable that as a result, we’ve landed on treating cultural appropriation as a bad habit to be trained out of us; often it feels easier not to engage at all. But this balancing act is worth performing. Because the bad-habit model is not only exhausting; the result is often that people are so afraid of appearing “bad” that they self-censor good-faith impulses to try something new. Ironically, in doing so, they learn less about other cultures.

Reframing fashion-based cultural appropriation not as a bad habit but as a discussion of ideas helps make these calculations easier. We understand how ideas work: Sometimes they’re unnecessarily offensive, and sometimes they’re offensive because they need to be. Sometimes the controversy they generate is silly and piddling; other times, it’s enlightening. As my seatmate in Lagos told me, it can help us see something we would have otherwise missed.

And yes — it can be beautiful too."

[See also:
"In Defense of Cultural Appropriation" by Kenan Malik (2017)
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/opinion/in-defense-of-cultural-appropriation.html

"What Distinguishes Cultural Exchange from Cultural Appropriation?" by Rivka Galchen with Anna Holmes (2017)
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/08/books/review/bookends-cultural-appropriation.html ]
conniewang  appropriation  culture  culturalappropriation  2019  powr  authenticity  respect  respectfulness  powerdynamics  fashion  japan  gender  race  ethnicity  afropunk  coachella  kenanmalik  annaholmes  rivkagalchen  culturalexchange 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Temporary Academy for Un/Re/Learning
"TEMPORARY ACADEMY FOR UN/RE/LEARNING is a program driven towards the reformation of art and cultural production in the Philippines. Through a series of lectures, conversations, interventions, film screenings, performances, meditations, and other form of social activities, *URL aims to address local needs, find an effective approach in diluting existing hegemonies, and reevaluate our relationship with self, society, and the machine.

TAfURL No.1 is composed of Cru Camara, Czar Kristoff, Jem Magbanua, Aly Cabral, Abbey and Emen Batocabe. To be hosted by Dulo Manila.

IG @unrelearning
E unrelearning@gmail.com"

[See alo:
https://www.instagram.com/unrelearning/ ]
philippines  manila  unschooling  unlearning  learning  art  culture  society  lcproject  openstudioproject 
april 2019 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - New Ways of Seeing - Episode guide
[See also:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000458m

"A four-part series authored by journalist and artist James Bridle examining how technology is changing visual culture."]
jamesbridle  technology  radio  culture  tolisten  2019  visualculture 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Christina Torres on Twitter: "writing about "the canon" today. I have grown A LOT in thoughts on it. "well those old white dudes did say some good stuff..." no one is saying they didn't write great stuff. The problem is that it's all we've had, which perp
"writing about "the canon" today. I have grown A LOT in thoughts on it.

"well those old white dudes did say some good stuff..."

no one is saying they didn't write great stuff. The problem is that it's all we've had, which perpetuates idea that ONLY white dudes write great stuff.

honestly I bless @ChimamandaReal's name nearly every day for this TED talk so I can just link to it tbh https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

really I'm just reading myself in this piece

... and not really writing because I'm on here instead lol
Still, over the past year, I've really sat with that question: how much am I actually dismantling systemic oppression in my work if I'm still teaching within the confines of its language?

yup I'm putting together a chart folks. Send me arguments you've heard in favor of the canon and your rebuttal! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CaQ7OhhZlY1V_0xfoDxtzk0QtOjzuW8TKgttoGNfxH0/edit?usp=sharing

also: anyone interested in this, please know that #disrupttexts has been doing this work and got me on this train so mad props to them

https://twitter.com/DulceFlecha/status/1116459497768275969
ever since seeing Julia Alvarez and Elizabeth Acevedo I've been thinking about how kids of color are conditioned to write for white audiences, too. who do we teach young writers to prioritize.

and its perpetuated over and over, through canon, through college admissions, through the whiteness of the profession. I keep meaning to write about it.

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116458774405971968
For me, one of the deepest issues is that folks defend it using the words "tradition" and "shared knowledge" ignoring the fact that it centers only SOME traditions and SOME shared knowledge.

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116460583350669318
I cannot state this enough because a "shared cultural heritage" dominated by one culture at the exclusion of so many others is damaging and not a heritage I will choose to claim as my own. "Educational malpractice"...

https://twitter.com/triciaebarvia/status/1116638447484190720
Yup. And reminds me of what I think @Ready4rigor wrote (paraphrasing) about how all teaching is culturally responsive—it’s just a question of whose culture we’re responsive to. 🤔 #DisruptTexts

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116458934582304768
So, we need to all circle around whiteness and protect it by making sure kids learn MOSTLY about it for the sake of tradition? Nah, fam...

https://twitter.com/UmmJuwayriyah1/status/1116516073673842688
Definitely, nah! As an indigenous American Muslim author, I see it happening on this side of the pond, too! Asian and/or Middle Eastern and mostly male narratives are amplified for inclusion in the canon. While Black/Brown American Muslim narratives sit outside the door.

https://twitter.com/MelAlterSmith/status/1116461945731858437
Hard to believe there are still teachers out there who have “canon defender” in their bio. Actually, it’s not hard to believe at all... sigh. 😩

#DisruptTexts #THEBOOKCHAT & #TeachLivingPoets are growing- I hope we can help to make some serious change in complicating the canon

https://twitter.com/javramgoldsc/status/1116809046437183489
Covered Octavia Butler in class this yr (tbf I'm in Uni), but I think the hopepunk canon will be a major catalyst

https://twitter.com/Altair4_2381/status/1116091237281533954
I’m a white woman, and even I felt like my tastes were mostly ignored in HS, except when we read something like Pride and Prejudice (optional because we can’t make the boys read about women!).

https://twitter.com/biblio_phile/status/1116092299669229568
right?!?! honestly it was a few white women I was battling this out with. I wanted to be like-- if you were given books ONLY by men, you would have been ticked. Why is that okay when it comes to race/sexuality/class/other non-canon perspectives!??!?!

https://twitter.com/Altair4_2381/status/1116093753641644033
It makes me wonder how much the canon-lovers read. If they had experienced more variety, some classics by other types of people, some modern books, some great graphic novels, maybe they’d be more open to teaching more variety.

https://twitter.com/NaomiH_nothing/status/1116603199605989378
"History is written by the victors"~Churchill
Yes! Great stuff was written & said by victors:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created.." (only ~200 years before MLK was murdered)
"Liberty and Justice for.." [embedded: https://twitter.com/NaomiH_nothing/status/904754635222663169 ]
"Land of the.." etc.
thecanon  canon  christinatorres  2019  inclusion  inclusivity  tradition  chimamandaadichie  juliaalvarez  elizabethacevedo  admissions  colleges  education  inequality  universities  culture  heritage  exclusion  gender  race  racism  sexism  octaviabutler  hopepunk  sexuality  class  diversity  classics 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Luxury Interiors – Popula
"The question of “U.S.C. versus A.S.U.” in this piece was unclear to me; to what extent was Hess underwriting this hierarchy? I wrote to ask her, and she replied that she wished she’d had the space to elaborate in the piece. And for good reason:
I’m from a Sun Devil family. My mom worked at Arizona State… I don’t think any of the jokes about ASU are based on a real understanding of the kind of education you could receive there; it’s based on the number of people who can access that education […]

The same people who surely believe that every child should have access to a college education also make sure to rank some of those educations as enviable and others as embarrassing. The idea of an elite, high-class education must be hoarded by a select few, because if everybody had it, it would lose its value to the elite.

Which just begins to explain why someone like Mossimo Giannulli might want to be able to say, “my daughter is at U.S.C.”

***

When people are willing to drown themselves in debt and even commit literal crimes in order to obtain an elite college education for themselves or their kids, what, really, what exactly, do they they think they are buying?

Or selling. What are people thinking, who are selling an “education” that is actively harming a whole society; that wrecks the fabric of a city, that causes people to lose their grip on their conscience, their sanity; that makes them set so catastrophic an example, somehow both before, and on behalf of, their children. All this makes a mockery of the Enlightenment values—by which I mean the egalitarianism and erudition of Alexander Pope, and not Edmund Burke getting himself in a lather over Marie Antoinette—that a Western education was once imagined to represent.

Reaction to the admissions scandal has so far centered on these rich parents and their unworthy spawn, whose lawyers now prepare to spin a tale of misguided, but forgivable, parental devotion. No less a cultural authority than the playwright David Mamet wrote an “open letter” defending accused admissions cheat Felicity Huffman; according to him, “a parent’s zeal for her children’s future may have overcome her better judgment for a moment.” Except that the “moment” went on for months, according to court filings, and involved Huffman’s paying $15,000 to ensure that her daughter would have twice the time to complete her SAT exam that an ordinary, non-bribery-enabled kid would have. Also to hire a crooked proctor afterwards, who could change some of her daughter’s wrong answers to correct ones.

In any case, Hess is right: You can get an ultrafine education at A.S.U. That place is an R1 university, positively bristling with Nobel laureates and MacArthur fellows. Walter V. Robinson, who led the famous “Spotlight” newsroom at the Boston Globe, teaches there. It’s wild to think anyone would be willing to blow half a million dollars to ensure an admission to U.S.C. over A.S.U.

Anyone who has been to (any) college can tell you that the proportion of enlightenment to hangovers varies greatly from customer to customer. It’s something else altogether that calls for the half-million bucks.

***

Coming from a quite different angle—and on March 27th, the very same day as Hess’s piece—Herb Childress, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, asked: “How did we decide that professors don’t deserve job security or a decent salary?” (“This is How You Kill a Profession.”) Childress is one of tens of thousands of Ph.D.s in the United States who failed to find a place on the tenure track, and who were slowly forced out of a professional academic career as their prospects faded year by year in the academic Hunger Games, as this brutal process is not uncommonly described.

You might assume that people like Childress just “didn’t make it” through some fault of their own, but you’d be wrong. Over the last fifty years academic work has come to look more and more like indentured servitude: Grad students and postdocs are a species of flexible workers in a gig economy, toiling in low-paying jobs waiting for their once-a-year chance to play the tenure track lottery.

Please note that these are the very people who work in the “good schools,” who are compelled to “teach,” for insanely low pay—like, a few thousand dollars per class—people like Mossimo Giannulli’s daughter Olivia Jade, a famous YouTube “Influencer.” This lady’s dad paid hundreds of thousands to put her in the orbit of hugely educated, committed, job-insecure people like Childress. She, meanwhile, impishly bragged to her legion of YouTube followers that she doesn’t really “care about school.”

And yet scholars like Childress can’t let go of their romantic notions of the academy, and their sense of vocation, which can easily be exploited; unfortunately they’ll agree to live the dream even at cut rates, as Childress himself openly admitted in the Chron.
The grief of not finding a home in higher ed—of having done everything as well as I was capable of doing, and having it not pan out; of being told over and over how well I was doing and how much my contributions mattered, even as the prize was withheld—consumed more than a decade. It affected my physical health. It affected my mental health. It ended my first marriage. […]

Like any addict, I have to be vigilant whenever higher ed calls again. I know what it means to be a member of that cult, to believe in the face of all evidence, to persevere, to serve. I know what it means to take a 50-percent pay cut and move across the country to be allowed back inside the academy as a postdoc after six years in the secular professions. To be grateful to give up a career, to give up economic comfort, in order to once again be a member.

Consider the benefits-free, pension-free pittance paid to the vast majority of people providing the elite education, who never saw a dime of all those millions in bribes, and a more complicated and larger picture than we’ve yet seen emerges."



"I wasn’t nearly as much of a paragon, but as a brown-trash “gifted” kid who came up poor and went to fancy schools I can easily understand how listening to this brilliant lecturer dazzled my friend, and changed the course of his life. This feeling comes to students anywhere, everywhere, in every school with a good teacher with time and attention to give us. There was and still is something vital, something good and real, to want out of an “education,” something quite beyond the ken of the kind of people who would pay an SAT proctor to cheat.

Then there’s this other angle. I first went off to college already inured to the idea that I was involved in an economy; that we were trading. Everything had been made easier for the rich kids, of course, and it wasn’t their fault, all had been bought and paid for by their parents and grandparents, but also—a crucial thing—they had also lacked our luck; they lacked certain desirable qualities, qualities as randomly distributed as wealth, things with which some of us had won a different lottery, had skipped grades with and been celebrated for: the sort of “intelligence” that made school easy. There seemed to be a natural symbiosis in this structure, crazy and shameful as the whole business of “meritocracy” appears to me now.

But also like all college kids we mainly didn’t give a fuck about any of that and just got to be friends for true reasons, just loved one another. The rich kids happened to be able to teach the poor ones what fork to use and how to ski, and the poor and/or brown kids of halfway reasonable intelligence gave them books, new kinds of food and family, music and art, a view of the other side of the tracks, new ways to have fun. We poor ones brought, say, a taste for Lester Bangs, arroz con pollo, Brian Eno and Virginia Woolf; they treated us to foie gras and Tahoe and big old California cabs on our 18th birthday. Gross, right? Really gross. But the (grotesquely mistaken) idea was that we were bringing each other into a better world, a different world, and a little at a time the true, good world would finally come.

This may sound a bit tinfoil but now I suspect that the problem may have been, all along, that all the college kids started to realize together (as I think they are still) that there was something sick at the roots of this tree of knowledge as it was then constituted. Strangely, dangerously healing, egalitarian ideas began to take hold; demographics changed, and the country began to move to the left. The 90s was the era of the tenured radical on campus, and the culture wars grew white-hot. Al Gore was elected president, and was prevented by the merest whisker from taking office. Even a barely left of center President Gore would have made things a little too parlous for the powers that be, who are on the same side as the Giannullis of the world.

Hess told me that some people think there’s one kind of education within the purview of everyone willing to work to get it, the “embarrassing” kind, and then there’s another kind that is luxury goods, strictly for “elites” from “elite” institutions—however corrupt the latter may be—served tableside by an underpaid servant class.

But the egalitarian view of education and the luxury view are mutually exclusive. Pulling up the drawbridge around your ivory tower only cuts it off from the global commons, which alone can provide the intellectual atmosphere in which a free society, and its academy, can breathe and thrive. Power wants its “meritocracy”: thus the eternal cake-having rhetoric around higher education, the queasy mingling of “exclusivity” and “diversity.”

Note too that the ruling class protects its interests as starkly on the fake left of the centrist Democrats as it does on the right, where the Koch brothers have long bought professors like they were so many cups of coffee. In Jacobin, Liza Featherstone’s … [more]
education  elitism  highered  highereducation  2019  mariabustillos  culture  society  smartness  petebuttigieg  operationvaristyblues  meritocracy  us  capitalism  competition  scarcity  lizafeatherstone  donaldtrump  centrism  herbchildress  academia  colleges  universities  rankings  admissions 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Project MUSE - On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales
"Because computers zoom across magnifications, it is easy to conclude that both knowledge and things exist by nature in precision-nested scales. The technical term is “scalable,” the ability to expand without distorting the framework. But it takes hard work to make knowledge and things scalable, and this article shows that ignoring nonscalable effects is a bad idea. People stumbled on scalable projects through the same historical contingencies that such projects set out to deny. They cobbled together ways to make things and data self-contained and static, and thus amenable to expansion. In European New World plantations, the natives were wiped out; coerced and alienated plants and workers came to substitute for them. Profits were made because extermination and slavery could be discounted from the books. Such historically indeterminate encounters formed models for later projects of scalability. This essay explores scalability projects from the perspective of an emergent “nonscalability theory” that pays attention to the mounting pile of ruins that scalability leaves behind. The article concludes that, if the world is still diverse and dynamic, it is because scalability never fulfills its own promises."



"How is scalability created? It is not a necessary feature of the world. People stumbled on scalable projects through historical contingencies. They cobbled together ways to make raw materials (for both goods and knowledge) selfcontained and static, and thus amenable to expansion. In European sugarcane plantations, the natives were wiped out; exotic, coerced, and alienated plants and workers came to substitute for them. Profits were made because the general mess of extermination and slavery could be discounted from the books. Such historically indeterminate encounters formed models for later projects of scalability.

Do we live in a world of scalable nonsocial landscape elements—nonsoels? Yes and no. The great “progress” projects of the last several centuries have built on the legacy of the colonial plantation to make scalability work in business, government, and technology. But scalability has never been complete. In recent years, changes in global capitalism have challenged the assumption of scalability for labor and natural-resource management, and at least some theorists in the social sciences have pointed out the malevolent hegemony of precision. Meanwhile, critics of scalability have raised distress signals about the fate of biological and cultural diversity on earth. It is an important time to develop nonscalability theory as a way to reconceptualize the world—and perhaps rebuild it."

[PDF here: http://www.lasisummerschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Tsing-2012-On-nonscalability.pdf ]

[via:
"I can’t say enough how good Anna Tsing’s essay on nonscalabilty is. “On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales.” Common Knowledge 18, no. 3 (September 19, 2012): 505–24. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/485828/pdf "
https://twitter.com/samplereality/status/1098610615969562626

"Scalability is the enemy of difference. (Page 507)

via:
"On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing"
https://twitter.com/dantaeyoung/status/1108070233670123521 ]

[See also:
"“On Nonscalability” of teaching and learning"
https://www.jonbecker.net/on-nonscalability-of-teaching-and-learning/
annalowenhaupttsing  scale  scalability  slow  small  2012  difference  diversity  capitalism  knowledge  expansion  growth  degrowth  culture  technology  progress  labor  work  biology  humanism  humanity  sustainability  environment  sugar  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  antigrowth 
april 2019 by robertogreco
San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Entrevista a Gastón Soublette - Parte I: La Sabiduría Tradicional - YouTube
"Realizada en Limache el 3 de octubre de 2015 en ocasión del Premio Nueva Civilización por su contribución al estudio y valorización de la cultura y la sabiduría popular creativa.
El Galardón será otorgado el Miércoles 25 de Noviembre, a las 18.30 hrs. en el marco del Simposio Internacional 'Desafíos de la Política en un Mundo Complejo', ocasión en que don Gastón Soublette ofrecerá una Conferencia Magistral."

[Parte II: El Arte
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjn8B-aSFaE

Parte III: La Cultura Mapuche
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N27LAd906yM

Parte IV: El Conocimiento Científico
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjEj-i0dcUs

Parte V: Filosofía y Educación
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neci7LTwH_8

Parte VI: Religión y Cultura
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neyEPrRH_oQ

Parte VII: Una Nueva Civilización
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=930FCVu9_7M ]
gastónsoublette  chile  history  mapuche  science  education  philosophy  culture  religion  civilization  future  art  music  tradition  oraltradition  oral  orality  diegoportales  improvisation  wisdom  mexico  precolumbian  inca  maya  aztec  quechua  literature  epics  araucaria  aesthetics  transcendentalism  myths  myth  arthistory  2015  perú 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Pi Day is a lie: celebrate tau, the true circle constant instead - The Verge
[See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6acbBrLoi14 ]

"But Palais and Hartl’s arguments both boil down to some basic math. Step back in time to when you first learned geometry and recall the simple origins: no matter what circle you’re using, if you divide the circumference of the circle by the diameter, you’ll get the same answer: an endless number, starting with the digits 3.14159265... (aka pi).

And right there is the fundamental flaw. The thing is, we don’t actually use diameter to describe circles. We use the radius, or one-half the diameter. The circle equation uses the radius, the area of a circle uses the radius, and the fundamental definition of a circle — “the set of all points in a plane that are at a given distance from a given point, the center” — is based on the radius. Plugging that into our circle constant equation gives us a new circle constant equivalent to 2π, or 6.28318530717..., colloquially referred to with the Greek letter τ (tau). Switching to τ isn’t making some arbitrary change for the sake of it. It’s bringing one of the most important constants in math in line with how we actually do math."
math  mathematics  pi  2019  vihart  2018  tau  numbers  culture 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Digital Equity Laboratory
"The Digital Equity Laboratory uncovers and addresses structural inequities that persist and evolve as technology transforms our cultural, social, and political systems."
digital  inequality  technology  culture  society  politics  systemsthinking  justice  equity 
march 2019 by robertogreco
The Rise of the WeWorking Class - The New York Times
"IMAGINE YOU TRAINED an artificial intelligence on a comprehensive stock-photo set of every boutique-hotel lobby from Palm Springs to Stockholm to Milan, then connected it to a five-story 3-D printer fully furnished with pendant-dome lamps, waxy leaves and old-school hip-hop lyrics. The output would be a WeWork. So much serene, lavish and mechanical attention is allocated to every detail: the neon and the daybeds and the fiddle-leaf figs, the wallpaper and the playlists and the typefaces. The newest iteration of its ever-emergent design concept may be indebted to Luis Barragán and Carlo Scarpa, but the degree of thought and investment that goes into its terrarium construction is something its busy occupants are expected to register only as background noise. WeWorks feel voguish but never threatening; comfortable but never shabby; rousing but never intemperate; detailed but never ostentatious.

There’s also free top-shelf coffee, the sort of minor frill most office workers might take for granted in a way the self-employed never would. One premise of the company’s existence is that it’s good business to provide such minor luxuries to the otherwise unfrilled. The coffee — and the draft kombucha, which has come to supplement beer as WeWork distances itself from the frattier aspects of entrepreneurship — is, at any rate, only part of an environment engineered for felicitous exchange. This strategy is supported by narrow hallways, boxy plate-glass enclosures, distant bathrooms and centralized fruit-water dispensers, but the company’s architects never indulged the belief that if they built it, people would come. The spaces themselves are the staging ground for yoga classes, wine tastings, make-your-own-trail-mix bars and vendor workshops about how to cut cloud costs. For what remains of life outside the workplace, there are cross-promotional discounts on 1-800-Flowers.com and Crunch gym memberships.

Most of us have serious reasons to worry about the future of work, and it’s easy to object to WeWork’s thin consolations on the basis of aesthetic or moral principle. Once you get accustomed to the basic product, however, it’s hard not to find it ... pretty nice. Over the course of about a year, I stopped into locations in six or seven cities, and in each of them I sat in front of my computer alongside other people in front of their computers and felt at once marginally more productive and slightly less unmoored."



"The relentless sociability inspired by WeWork was always one of the founders’ aims, even as the composition of its membership has changed. When the company first opened in 2010, its spaces catered to entrepreneurs. The founders soon understood that the increasingly fluid and anxious labor market — its conditions exacerbated by the downturn but likely to exist in perpetuity — presented them with a much larger potential customer base. Uber and TaskRabbit and other labor-platform intermediaries positioned themselves to match those who needed something done with those who needed something to do, but they based their recruitment drives on a cynical reading of the economic mood. The subway I took to WeWork was plastered with tough-love ads from services like Fiverr, which made naked appeals to stoic virtues. (“Actually, it hasn’t all been done before”; “In doers we trust”; “Reading about starting your own business is like reading about having sex.”)

That sort of campaign felt manipulative: The platforms’ emphasis on self-reliance for the economically precarious merely disguised their rent-seeking. WeWork, by contrast, just charged rent. The company was perceptive enough to realize that disaggregated workers (or at least those of a certain class) did not want to hear that they should just kill it on their own, bro. They wanted to hear that nobody ever can. What WeWork offered was not just rhetoric — a more sympathetic description of the restless, fretful life of the deinstitutionalized worker — but true shelter from a pervasive sense of alienation. Where Fiverr issued an invitation to gladiatorial combat, WeWork promised a work environment remodeled for solace and dignity.

Thus is the business model of WeWork, recently valued at $47 billion, now only facially about commercial subletting. All its accessories serve to buttress its real product: “office culture” as a service. When people at the company try to explain that culture, they invariably resort to talk of positive energy sources and the obligation to heal the social fabric — a vocabulary traditionally associated with utopian architecture, 1980s academic communitarianism or ayahuasca experimentation. They affirm that all the ostensibly small incremental niceties add up to more than the sum of their parts, and on some level I couldn’t help agreeing. The market certainly seems to. As of this January, WeWork has 400,000 members in 425 locations in 27 countries, at least 30 percent of whom are employees of large existing businesses. This latter category has helped double that membership in only a year. Some of these enterprise customers are merely outsourcing their facilities management the way they outsource manufacturing or payroll; others anticipate the revitalization — or even wholesale procurement — of their corporate culture. The conviction behind the rapid growth of WeWork is that the office culture of the future is likely to be the culture of the future, full stop, and that it is WeWork’s special vocation to bring it to market.

THE IDEA OF “CORPORATE CULTURE,” long before it was identified and cultivated as such, emerged as a solution to the problems of the large, distributed mass-industrial firm. Ransom Olds is credited with inventing the concept of the assembly line in 1901, and it was over the following decades that businesses began to feel an imperative to address the question of what work was supposed to “mean.” This was both an internal bottom-line matter — employees who toiled in exchange for only a paycheck were difficult to retain and unlikely to prioritize efficiency or innovation — and a social one. By midcentury, large companies like the car manufacturers had come to represent the predominant institutional affiliation for legions of American men. Even if these firms had no explicit philanthropic interest in civic cohesion, they certainly had a stake in the preservation of the social order. If they could invest piecemeal labor with something like dignity, they could neutralize the political and economic threats posed by union solidarity.

What they arrived at was a generic set of strategies, applicable at any industrial organization, designed to help workers recognize the value of their personal contributions to the final product. The classic formulation of this approach was Peter Drucker’s “Concept of the Corporation”; though it’s now seen — if not much read — as a foundational text in the study of management, it reads like a sober contribution to midcentury sociology. The simplest form of recognition is advancement. Workers, Drucker believed, ought to be viewed not as exploitable resources but as human capital to be fostered, and thus provided with the training necessary to secure a path upward. Programs like project rotations — which exposed otherwise specialized employees to the breadth of company operations — should be put in place even if they seemed, in the short term, economically irrational; in the long term, they represented an investment in worker potential. Employees unlikely to advance might more gladly accept their place in the corporate scheme when given a holistic perspective on production: The maker of a car’s door hinge, for example, might be shown where his discrete, repetitive effort fits into the fully realized car.

The anthropologist Clifford Geertz defined culture as a collective act of interpretation, the stories we tell one another about ourselves in an attempt to make ongoing sense of why we do what we do. A car manufacturer could just point to a sensible Oldsmobile, something the world self-evidently needed. Because cars were public goods, corporate culture could easily borrow its energy from civic culture.

It could also borrow civic culture’s prevailing norms — and, in turn, reinforce them. The management classic “Built to Last” describes how Walt Disney, for example, did not manage a corporation so much as lord over an extended brood of subordinates, each of them expected not only to abide by the letter of company decorum but also to embody its founder’s spirit. Hourly theme-park workers were held to an imperious standard of personal upkeep: for men, no facial hair; for women, no dangly earrings or excessive makeup. As one biographer described it, “When someone did, on occasion, slip in Walt’s presence and use a four-letter word in mixed company, the result was always immediate dismissal, no matter what type of professional inconvenience the firing caused.” The people making the country’s cars could be forgiven a coarse exclamation; the people making the country’s cartoons were held to a loftier code.

As the economy shifted from industrial manufacturing to the service and knowledge sectors, it became increasingly necessary for businesses to articulate their “core purpose” as an organizational and motivational principle — and a way to differentiate “their” ethereal knowledge work from whatever it was other companies’ employees did. The separation of corporate culture in particular from general civic culture was also encouraged by the ascendancy of free-market economics; Milton Friedman told executives that their sole remit was to tend to their own shareholder garden. Shared goals, while important, ought to be strictly values-agnostic."



"Over the past year, as WeWork has been folded into what is now called the We Company — which encompasses WeGrow, its school, and WeLive, its communal housing projects — its Powered by We product has been refined and … [more]
wework  work  labor  workplace  2019  culture  gideonlewis-kraus  cliffordgeertz  economics  organization  peterdrucker  solidarity  unions  facilities  fiverr  uber  taskrabbit  business 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Against the Romance of Community — University of Minnesota Press
"An unexpected and valuable critique of community that points out its complicity with capitalism

Miranda Joseph explores sites where the ideal of community relentlessly recurs, from debates over art and culture in the popular media, to the discourses and practices of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. She shows how community legitimates the social hierarchies of gender, race, nation, and sexuality that capitalism implicitly requires. Exposing the complicity of social practices, identities, and communities with capitalism, this truly constructive critique opens the possibility of genuine alliances across such differences."

[via:
https://twitter.com/iebrisson/status/1101938531260395521
https://twitter.com/LabSpecEth/status/1097518720270794753 ]
mirandajoseph  community  capitalism  2002  art  culture  nonprofit  nonprofits  ngos  hierarchy  gender  race  nationalism  racism  sexism  sexuality  socialpractice  identity  differences  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
The Trouble with Knowledge | Shikshantar
"First Main Trouble with Knowledge and Education is Dishonesty

I do believe that one aspect which characterizes education, development and the production and dissemination of knowledge, in today’s world, is the lack of intellectual honesty. This belief is an outcome of reflecting on my experience during my school and university years and my almost 40 years of work. The dishonesty is connected to the values, which govern the thinking and practice in the fields of education, knowledge and development (mirroring the values in dominant societies and serving mainly the lifestyle of consumerism): control, winning, profit, individualism and competition. Having a syllabus and textbooks, and evaluating and judging people (students, teachers, administrators, and academics) through linear forms of authority and through linear symbolic values (such as arbitrary letters or grades or preferential labels), almost guarantee cheating, lack of honesty, and lack of relevance. (The recent reports that cheating and testing are on the rise in the Maryland and Chicago areas are just one example that came up to the surface. And of course teachers, principles and superintendents were blamed and had to pay the price.) I taught many years and put exams both at the level of classrooms and at the national level, and I labored and spent a lot of time and effort in order to be fair. But, then, I discovered that the problem is not in the intentions or the way we conduct things but, rather, in the values that run societies in general and which are propagated by education, development and knowledge -- among other venues. Thus, the main trouble with knowledge and education, is not so much their irrelevance or process of selection or the issue of power (though these are definitely part of the trouble) as it is with the lack of intellectual honesty in these areas. Giving a number or a letter to measure a human being is dishonest and inhuman; it is a degrading to the human mind and to human beings. Grading, in this sense, is degrading. It is one of the biggest abuses of mathematics in its history! Moreover, as long as the above-mentioned values remain as the governing values, education will continue to be fundamentally an obstacle to learning. Under these conditions, talking about improving or reforming education is naïve at best and hypocritical at worst. At most, it would touch a very small percentage of the student population in any particular region. Of course, we can go on putting our heads in the sand and refusing to see or care. But one main concern I will continue to have is what happens to the 80 some pecent of students whom the “compulsory suit” does not fit. Why imposing the same-size suit on all bodies sounds ridiculous but imposing the same curriculum on all minds does not?! The human mind is definitely more diverse that the human body.

Labeling a child as a “failure” is a criminal act against that child. For a child, who has learned so much from life before entering school, to be labeled a failure, just because s/he doesn’t see any sense in the mostly senseless knowledge we offer in most schools, is unfair – to say the least; it is really outrageous. But few of us around the world seem to be outraged, simply because we usually lose our senses in the process of getting educated. We are like those in Hans Christian Anderson’s story that lost their ability to see and had to be reminded by the little child that the emperor is without clothes.

Most people in the educational world (students, teachers, administrators, scholars, suprintendents, …) are dishonest (often without realizing it) either because we are too lazy to reflect on and see the absurdities in what we are doing (and just give to students what we were given in schools and universities, or during training courses and enrichment seminars!), or because we are simply afraid and need to protect ourselves from punishment or from being judged and labeled as inept or failures. This dishonesty prevails at all levels. I had a friend who was working in a prestigious university in the U.S. and who often went as an educational consultant and expert to countries to “improve and develop” their educational systems. Once, when he was on his way to Egypt as a consultant to help in reforming the educational system there, I asked him, “Have you ever been to Egypt?” He said no. I said, “Don’t you find it strange that you don’t know Egypt but you know what is good for it?!” Obviously, the richness, the wisdom and the depth of that 7000-year civilization is totally ignored by him, or more accurately, cannot be comprehended by him. Or, he may simply believe in what Kipling believed in in relation to India: to be ruled by Britain was India’s right; to rule India was Britain’s duty! In a very real sense, that friend of mine does not only abstract the theories he carries along with him everywhere but also abstracts the people by assuming that they all have the same deficits and, thus, the same solution – and that he has the solution.

Let’s take the term “sustainable development,” for example, which is widely used today and it is used in the concept paper for this conference. If we mean by development what we see in “developed” nations, then sustainable development is a nightmare. If we all start consuming, for example, at the rate at which “developed” nations currently do, then (as a friend of mine from Mexico says) we need at least five planets to provide the needed resources and to provide dumping sites for our waste! If “developing” nations consume natural resources (such as water) at the same rate “developed” nations do, such resources would be depleted in few years! Such “development” would be destructive to the soil of the earth and to the soil of cultures, both of which nurture and sustain human beings and human societies. The price would be very high at the level of the environment and at the level of beautiful relationships among people. Thus, those who believe in sustainable development (in its current conception and practice) are either naïve or dishonest or right out indifferent to what happens to nature, to beautiful relationship among people, and to the joyful harmony within human beings and between them and their surroundings. Nature and relationships among human beings are probably the two most precious treasures in life; the most valuable things human beings have. The survival of human and natural diversity (and even of human communities) are at stake here.

We do not detect dishonesty in the fields of education, knowledge and development because usually we are protected (in scools) from having much contact with life, through stressing verbal, symbolic and technical “knowledge,” through avoiding people’s experiences and surroundings, through the means we follow in evaluating people, and through ignoring history (history of people, of ideas, …). The main connection most school textbooks have with life is through the sections that carry the title “applications” – another instance of dishonesty. During the 1970s, for example, and as the head supervisor of math instruction in all the schools of the West Bank (in Palestine), one question I kept asking children was “is 1=1?” 1=1 is true in schoolbooks and on tests but in real life it has uses, abuses and misuses, but no real instances. We abstract apples in textbooks and make them equal but in real life there is no apple which is exactly equal to another apple. The same is true when we say that Newton discovered gravity. Almost every child by the age of one discovers it. (When my grandson, for example, was 15 months old, I was watching him once pick up pieces of cereal and put them in his mouth. Everytime he lost a piece, he would look for it down, never up!) By teaching that Newton discovered gravity, we do not only lie but also fail to clarify Newton’s real contribution. Similarly with teaching that Columbus discovered America …. Everyone of us can give tens of examples on dishonesty in the way we were taught and the way we teach."



"Second Main Trouble with Knowledge and Education: Lack of Connection with the Lives of the Social Majorities in the World"



"Building Learning Societies

From what has been said so far, two main approaches to knowledge and learning can be identified: (1) learning by doing; i.e. by the person being embedded in life, in one’s cultural soil. In this approach, learning is almost synonymous to living, and (2) the formal approach, which usually starts with ready pre-prepared content (usually fragmented into several subjucts, and usually put together in the absence of the two most important “actors” in learning: teachers and students). This approach also embodies tests and grades."



"Finally, I would like to affirm -- as a form of summary -- certain points, and point out to the need of dismantling others:

1. We need to dismantle the claim that learning can only take place in schools.

2. We need to dismantle the practice of separating students from life For at least 12 years) and still claim that learning is taking place.

3. We need to dismantle the assumption/ myth that teachers can teach what they don’t do.

4. We need to dismantle the myth that education can be improved through professionals and experts.

5. We need to dismantle the hegemony of words like education, development, progress, excellence, and rights and reclaim, instead, words like wisdom, faith, generosity, hope, learning, living, happiness, and duties.

6. We need to affirm that the vast mojority of people go to school not to learn but to get a diploma. We need to create diverse environments of learning.

7. We need to affirm our capacity for doing and learning, not for getting degrees.

8. We need to affirm and regain the concept and practice of “learning from the world,” not “about the world.”

9. We need to affirm that people are the real solution, not the obstacle and … [more]
munirfasheh  education  unschooling  schooling  schooliness  deschooling  diplomas  credentials  wisdom  degrees  faith  honesty  generosity  hope  learning  howwelearn  love  loving  lving  happiness  duties  duty  development  progress  excellence  rights  schools  community  learningcommunities  lcproject  openstudioproject  grades  grading  assessment  dishonesty  culture  society  hegemony  knowledge  influence  power  colonization  globalization  yemen  israel  palestine  humanism  governance  government  policy  politics  statism  children  egypt  india  westbank  religion  cordoba  cordova  gaza  freedom  failure  labeling  canon 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Killing the Buddha
"Killing the Buddha is an online magazine of religion, culture, and politics. It began on November 13, 2000, when Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet invited readers who are both hostile and drawn to talk of God to join them in building an electronic Tower of Babel, a Talmudic cathedral of stories about faith lost and found. They named it after a saying of the Chinese Buddhist sage Lin Chi. Think of it like this:
After years on his cushion, a monk has what he believes is a breakthrough: a glimpse of nirvana, the Buddhamind, the big pay-off. Reporting the experience to his master, however, he is informed that what has happened is par for the course, nothing special, maybe even damaging to his pursuit. And then the master gives the student dismaying advice: If you meet the Buddha, he says, kill him.

Why kill the Buddha? Because the Buddha you meet is not the true Buddha, but an expression of your longing. If this Buddha is not killed he will only stand in your way.


In 2003, Utne Reader declared KtB one of the “fifteen websites that could shake the world.” Now, for more than a decade, through deaths and resurrections and few torch passings, KtB is still shaking it. In 2010, CNN said, “Killing the Buddha makes religion interesting again.”

KtB is much more than an online magazine. Under the umbrella of Margins of Faith, our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we work to increase understanding about today’s living religions in relation to pressing social issues through public engagement and education. This includes:

• Publishing books with major presses, including Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible (Free Press, 2004), named one of Publishers Weekly’s best religion books of the year, and Believer, Beware: First Person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith (Beacon Press, 2009), which Library Journal called “shocking, exhilarating, and never dull.”
• Independently publishing pamphlets and chapbooks;
• Organizing live events around the United States, including readings, film screenings, panel discussions and lectures;
• Making space for spirited dialogue about a variety of marginalized issues, including the American prison system and LGBTQ concerns;
• Sponsoring retreats and workshops to support up-and-coming writers and artists.

We can only accomplish these things with the generous support of our readers. Please consider giving to KtB today."
religion  philosophy  culture  buddhism  jeffshartlet  petermanseau 
february 2019 by robertogreco
On M.I.A. | Momtaza Mehri | Granta
"To upwardly ascend from child refugee to Central Saint Martins art-school archetype is a kind of science fiction. Bored with both bourgeoisie navel-gazing and hackneyed postcolonial theory, M.I.A. was introduced to the ethical conundrum of the refugee artist long before she hit the headlines. Her cousin was killed the very week she graduated. They had played together as children before their paths diverged. She left for London. He joined the Tamil Tigers. Nothing elicits the gnawing bottomlessness of survivor’s guilt more than the death of someone who could have so easily been you. Caught in the immediacy of her grief, M.I.A. has spoken of the obscenity of preparing for a film-making career catered to the intelligentsia that ‘only 30 people would get to see at the Institute of Contemporary Art’. This is an existential crisis I know only too well. Grappling with what it means to be the one on this side of the waters is a life-long contortion act. I can’t remember a time before it. We are always in conversation with what it means to be the ones who escaped. Aged fifteen, my first pay packet from my weekend job went to my cousins in Mogadishu. I remain consumed by a sense of duty that overwhelms my belief in art’s redemptive capacity, in its ability to affect real change in the lives of those left behind both here and elsewhere. This guilt propelled M.I.A. out of England (the Land of the Spice Girls as she calls it) and towards a homecoming. In true gap-year fashion, she turned to the subcontinent to find her bearings. Intending to film a documentary on the fate of her cousin, she travelled to Sri Lanka in 2001. There, her artistic vision was crystallized amid the stories of relatives who had survived the unimaginable. She had always known what she had wanted to say. Now, she had a better idea of how to say it."



"Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. is a portrait of a survivor. A bona fide hustler. The M.I.A. that dazzled me. The M.I.A. that tapped into the alienation I wore like a scarlet letter. The M.I.A. who grew up with a similar slideshow of night terrors. From secretly taping Lynn Hirschberg during the Infamous Truffle Fries Incident to sending a private detective to steal her footage back from Loveridge when she suspected that he had sold her out, I shared her justified paranoias. To a generation haunted by debt and seemingly immortal warmongers, Fuck The New York Times is not just a T-shirt slogan. It’s a lifestyle. So much of what divides us from those we have left behind is dumb luck. M.I.A. has survived civil war, art school, misrepresentation, the Bush years, hatchet jobs, censorship, irrelevance, a louch into anachronism in the eyes of a generation that demands piously intersectional sound bites from its stars, the NFL, jealous lovers and the heartache of intending more than she could ever deliver. We are lucky that she has. We are lucky to have her."
mia  culture  documentary  film  music  politics  refugees  momtazamehri  2018 
february 2019 by robertogreco
On making work in new surroundings Visual artist Cory Arcangel discusses leaving NYC and moving to Norway, the change in process and perspective that results from having a child, and how he will always be just a media artist from Buffalo.
"Yes. It’s like everything else. It`s always worse before you jump. It’s been liberating to let things go, especially all the things that I’m not really good at. And the Scandinavians are such chill people. They’re very talented, and really understated.

It’s the opposite of New York in a way. In New York, there’s a focus on money or success. It’s what a lot of culture is built on, and all arrows are pointing in those directions. In Norway, and in Scandinavia as a whole, everything is built for family life."
norway  nyc  money  priorities  coryarcangel  2019  family  slow  small  scandinavia  success  culture  society 
february 2019 by robertogreco
On Instagram, Seeing Between the (Gender) Lines - The New York Times
"SOCIAL MEDIA HAS TURNED OUT TO BE THE PERFECT TOOL FOR NONBINARY PEOPLE TO FIND — AND MODEL — THEIR UNIQUE PLACES ON THE GENDER SPECTRUM."



"Around the same time, Moore became aware of a performance-and-poetry group (now disbanded) called Dark Matter. Moore became transfixed by videos of one of its members, Alok Vaid-Menon, who was able to eloquently dismiss conventional notions of gender, particularly the idea that there are only two. Seeing people like Vaid-Menon online gave Moore the courage to reconsider how they approached gender. Moore began experimenting with their outward appearance. Before Moore changed the pronoun they used, Moore had favored a more masculine, dandy-like aesthetic — close-cropped hair, button-down shirts and bow ties — in large part to fit in at work. Moore began wearing their hair longer and often chose less gender-specific clothing, like T-shirts or boxy tops, which felt more natural and comfortable to them. Vaid-Menon’s assuredness, Moore said, “boosted my confidence in terms of defining and asserting my own identity in public spaces.”

A shift in technology emboldened Moore, too. In 2014, Facebook updated its site to include nonbinary gender identities and pronouns, adding more than 50 options for users who don’t identify as male or female, including agender, gender-questioning and intersex. It was a profound moment for Moore. “They had options I didn’t even know about,” Moore told me. That summer, Moore selected “nonbinary,” alerting their wider social spheres, including childhood friends and family members who also used the site. For Moore, it saved them some of the energy of having to explain their name and pronoun shift. Moore also clarified their gender pronouns on Instagram. “I wrote it into my profile to make it more explicit.” To some, the act might seem small, but for Moore, their identity “felt crystallized, and important.”

Several societies and cultures understand gender as more varied than just man or woman, but in the United States, a gender binary has been the norm. “In our cultural history, we’ve never had anything close to a third category, or even the notion that you could be in between categories,” said Barbara Risman, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Risman, who recently published a book called “Where the Millennials Will Take Us: A New Generation Wrestles With the Gender Structure,” contrasted her early research with what she is seeing now. Few of the people she interviewed for the book in 2012 and 2013 were openly using nongendered pronouns, if they even knew about them. Just four years later, she began researching nonbinary young adults because the landscape had changed so radically. “It was reflexive with their friends at school, social groups. Many colleges classes start out with ‘Name, major and preferred pronouns,’ ” Risman told me. In Risman’s experience, it used to take decades to introduce new ideas about sex, sexuality or gender, and even longer for them to trickle upstream into society. “What’s fascinating is how quickly the public conversation has led to legal changes,” Risman said. California and Washington, among others, now allow people to select “x” as their gender, instead of “male” or “female,” on identity documents. “And I am convinced that it has to do with — like everything else in society — the rapid flow of information.”

Helana Darwin, a sociologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook who began researching nonbinary identities in 2014, found that the social-media community played an unparalleled role in people’s lives, especially those who were geographically isolated from other nonbinary people. “Either they were very confused about what was going on or just feeling crushingly lonely and without support, and their online community was the only support in their lives,” Darwin told me. “They turned to the site to understand they aren’t alone.” Most of her subjects said social media was instrumental in deepening their understanding of their identities. “A 61-year-old person in my sample told me that they lived the vast majority of their life as though they were a gay man and was mistaken often as a drag queen after coming out. They didn’t discover nonbinary until they were in their 50s, and it was a freeing moment of understanding that nothing is wrong. They didn’t have to force themselves into the gay-man or trans-woman box — they could just be them. They described it as transcendent.”

When Darwin began her study four years ago, she was shocked to discover that the body of research on nonbinary people was nearly nonexistent. “Even as nonbinary people are becoming increasing visible and vocal, there were still only a handful of articles published in the field of sociology that were even tangentially about nonbinary people and even fewer that were explicitly about nonbinary people.” What little research there was tended to lump the nonbinary experience into trans-woman and trans-man experience, even though all signs pointed to deep differences. The void in the field, she thinks, was due to society’s reliance on the notion that all humans engage in some sense of gender-based identity performance, which reaffirms the idea that gender exists. “There was an academic lag that isn’t keeping with the very urgent and exponentially profound gender revolution happening in our culture.”

Her research found that social media is a gathering place for discussing the logistics of gender — providing advice, reassurance and emotional support, as well as soliciting feedback about everything from voice modulation to hairstyles. The internet is a place where nonbinary people can learn about mixing masculine and feminine elements to the point of obscuring concrete identification as either. As one person she interviewed put it, “Every day someone can’t tell what I am is a good day.”

Nearly everyone Darwin interviewed remarked about the power of acquiring language that spoke to their identity, and they tended to find that language on the internet. But Harry Barbee, a nonbinary sociologist at Florida State University who studies sex, gender and sexuality, cautioned against treating social media as a curative. “When the world assumes you don’t exist, you’re forced to define yourself into existence if you want some semblance of recognition and social viability, and so the internet and social media helps achieve this,” Barbee said. “But it’s not a dream world where we are free to be you and me, because it can also be a mechanism for social control.” Barbee has been researching what it means to live as nonbinary in a binary world. Social media, Barbee said, is “one realm where they do feel free to share who they are, but they’re realistic about the limitations of the space. Even online, they are confronted by hostility and people who are telling them they’re just confused or that makes no sense, or want to talk to them about their genitals.”"



"Psychologists often posit that as children, we operate almost like scientists, experimenting and gathering information to make sense of our surroundings. Children use their available resources — generally limited to their immediate environment — to gather cues, including information about gender roles, to create a sense of self. Alison Gopnik, a renowned philosopher and child psychologist, told me that it’s not enough to simply tell children that other identities or ways of being exist. “That still won’t necessarily change their perspective,” she said. “They have to see it.”

In her 2009 book, “The Philosophical Baby,” Gopnik writes that “when we travel, we return to the wide-ranging curiosity of childhood, and we discover new things about ourselves.” In a new geographic area, our attention is heightened, and everything, from differently labeled condiments to streetwear, becomes riveting. “This new knowledge lets us imagine new ways that we could live ourselves,” she asserts. Flying over feeds in social media can feel like viewing portholes into new dimensions and realities, so I asked Gopnick if it’s possible that social media can function as a foreign country, where millions of new ideas and identities and habitats are on display — and whether that exposure can pry our calcified minds open in unexpected ways. “Absolutely,” she said. “Having a wider range of possibilities to look at gives people a sense of a wider range of possibilities, and those different experiences might lead to having different identities.”

When we dive into Instagram or Facebook, we are on exploratory missions, processing large volumes of information that help us shape our understanding of ourselves and one another. And this is a country that a majority of young adults are visiting on a regular basis. A Pew study from this year found that some 88 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds report using some form of social media, and 71 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 24 use Instagram. Social media is perhaps the most influential form of media they now have. They turn to it for the profound and the mundane — to shape their views and their aesthetics. Social media is a testing ground for expression, the locus of experimentation and exploration — particularly for those who cannot yet fully inhabit themselves offline for fear of discrimination, or worse. Because of that, it has become a lifeline for many people struggling to find others just like them."



"Although social media generally conditions users to share only their highlights — the success reel of their lives — Vaid-Menon thinks it’s important to share the reality of living in a gender-nonconforming body; they want people to understand what the daily experience can be like. “The majority of nonbinary, gender-nonconforming cannot manifest themselves because to do so would mean violence, death, harassment and punishment,” Vaid-Menon told me. … [more]
jennawortham  2018  instagam  internet  web  online  gender  gendernonconforming  culture  us  alisongopnik  maticemoore  alokvaid-memon  barbararisman  helanadarwin  psychology  learning  howwelearn  nonbinary  sexuality  jacobtobia  pidgeonpagonis  danezsmith  akwaekeemezi  jonelyxiumingaagaardandersson  ahomariturner  raindove  taylormason  asiakatedillon  twitter  instagram  children  dennisnorisii  naveenbhat  elisagerosenberg  sevaquinnparraharrington  ashleighshackelford  hengamehyagoobifarah  donaldtrump  socialmedia  socialnetworks  discrimination  fear  bullying  curiosity  childhood  identity  self  language 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | To Restore Civil Society, Start With the Library - The New York Times
"Is the public library obsolete?

A lot of powerful forces in society seem to think so. In recent years, declines in the circulation of bound books in some parts of the country have led prominent critics to argue that libraries are no longer serving their historical function. Countless elected officials insist that in the 21st century — when so many books are digitized, so much public culture exists online and so often people interact virtually — libraries no longer need the support they once commanded.

Libraries are already starved for resources. In some cities, even affluent ones like Atlanta, entire branches are being shut down. In San Jose, Calif., just down the road from Facebook, Google and Apple, the public library budget is so tight that users with overdue fees above $20 aren’t allowed to borrow books or use computers.

But the problem that libraries face today isn’t irrelevance. Indeed, in New York and many other cities, library circulation, program attendance and average hours spent visiting are up. The real problem that libraries face is that so many people are using them, and for such a wide variety of purposes, that library systems and their employees are overwhelmed. According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, about half of all Americans ages 16 and over used a public library in the past year, and two-thirds say that closing their local branch would have a “major impact on their community.”

Libraries are being disparaged and neglected at precisely the moment when they are most valued and necessary. Why the disconnect? In part it’s because the founding principle of the public library — that all people deserve free, open access to our shared culture and heritage — is out of sync with the market logic that dominates our world. But it’s also because so few influential people understand the expansive role that libraries play in modern communities.

Libraries are an example of what I call “social infrastructure”: the physical spaces and organizations that shape the way people interact. Libraries don’t just provide free access to books and other cultural materials, they also offer things like companionship for older adults, de facto child care for busy parents, language instruction for immigrants and welcoming public spaces for the poor, the homeless and young people.

I recently spent a year doing ethnographic research in libraries in New York City. Again and again, I was reminded how essential libraries are, not only for a neighborhood’s vitality but also for helping to address all manner of personal problems.

For older people, especially widows, widowers and those who live alone, libraries are places for culture and company, through book clubs, movie nights, sewing circles and classes in art, current events and computing. For many, the library is the main place they interact with people from other generations.

For children and teenagers, libraries help instill an ethic of responsibility, to themselves and to their neighbors, by teaching them what it means to borrow and take care of something public, and to return it so others can have it too. For new parents, grandparents and caretakers who feel overwhelmed when watching an infant or a toddler by themselves, libraries are a godsend.

In many neighborhoods, particularly those where young people aren’t hyper-scheduled in formal after-school programs, libraries are highly popular among adolescents and teenagers who want to spend time with other people their age. One reason is that they’re open, accessible and free. Another is that the library staff members welcome them; in many branches, they even assign areas for teenagers to be with one another.

To appreciate why this matters, compare the social space of the library with the social space of commercial establishments like Starbucks or McDonald’s. These are valuable parts of the social infrastructure, but not everyone can afford to frequent them, and not all paying customers are welcome to stay for long.

Older and poor people will often avoid Starbucks altogether, because the fare is too expensive and they feel that they don’t belong. The elderly library patrons I got to know in New York told me that they feel even less welcome in the trendy new coffee shops, bars and restaurants that are so common in the city’s gentrifying neighborhoods. Poor and homeless library patrons don’t even consider entering these places. They know from experience that simply standing outside a high-end eatery can prompt managers to call the police. But you rarely see a police officer in a library.

This is not to say that libraries are always peaceful and serene. During the time I spent doing research, I witnessed a handful of heated disputes, physical altercations and other uncomfortable situations, sometimes involving people who appeared to be mentally ill or under the influence of drugs. But such problems are inevitable in a public institution that’s dedicated to open access, especially when drug clinics, homeless shelters and food banks routinely turn away — and often refer to the library! — those who most need help. What’s remarkable is how rarely these disruptions happen, how civilly they are managed and how quickly a library regains its rhythm afterward.

The openness and diversity that flourish in neighborhood libraries were once a hallmark of urban culture. But that has changed. Though American cities are growing more ethnically, racially and culturally diverse, they too often remain divided and unequal, with some neighborhoods cutting themselves off from difference — sometimes intentionally, sometimes just by dint of rising costs — particularly when it comes to race and social class.

Libraries are the kinds of places where people with different backgrounds, passions and interests can take part in a living democratic culture. They are the kinds of places where the public, private and philanthropic sectors can work together to reach for something higher than the bottom line.

This summer, Forbes magazine published an article arguing that libraries no longer served a purpose and did not deserve public support. The author, an economist, suggested that Amazon replace libraries with its own retail outlets, and claimed that most Americans would prefer a free-market option. The public response — from librarians especially, but also public officials and ordinary citizens — was so overwhelmingly negative that Forbes deleted the article from its website.

We should take heed. Today, as cities and suburbs continue to reinvent themselves, and as cynics claim that government has nothing good to contribute to that process, it’s important that institutions like libraries get the recognition they deserve. It’s worth noting that “liber,” the Latin root of the word “library,” means both “book” and “free.” Libraries stand for and exemplify something that needs defending: the public institutions that — even in an age of atomization, polarization and inequality — serve as the bedrock of civil society.

If we have any chance of rebuilding a better society, social infrastructure like the library is precisely what we need."

[See also: "Your Public Library Is Where It’s At"
https://www.subtraction.com/2018/09/11/your-public-library-is-where-its-at/

"I’ve seen for myself real life examples of virtually all of these use cases. It really opened my eyes to how vital a civic institution the libraries in my community are. But I take mild exception to the emphasis that Klinenberg places on a library’s ability to “address all manner of personal problems.” That phrasing gives the impression that a library is a place you go principally to solve some kind of challenge.

While that’s often true, it’s also true that a library is a building that’s uniquely open to any purpose you bring to it. Your business there could be educational, professional, personal or even undecided, and you don’t need to declare it to anyone—you can literally loiter in your local public library with no fear of consequences.

Even more radically, your time at the library comes with absolutely no expectation that you buy anything. Or even that you transact at all. And there’s certainly no implication that your data or your rights are being surrendered in return for the services you partake in.

This rare openness and neutrality imbues libraries with a distinct sense of community, of us, of everyone having come together to fund and build and participate in this collective sharing of knowledge and space. All of that seems exceedingly rare in this increasingly commercial, exposed world of ours. In a way it’s quite amazing that the concept continues to persist at all.

And when we look at it this way, as a startlingly, almost defiantly civilized institution, it seems even more urgent that we make sure it not only continues to survive, but that it should also thrive, too. If not for us, then for future generations who will no doubt one day wonder why we gave up so much of our personal rights and communal pleasures in exchange for digital likes and upturned thumbs. For years I took the existence of libraries for granted and operated under the assumption that they were there for others. Now I realize that they’re there for everybody."
ericklinenberg  libraries  culture  publiclibraries  2018  community  education  self-directed  self-directedlearning  books  publicspaces  ethnography  nyc  neighborhoods  thirdspaces  openness  diversity  us  democracy  inequality  cities  atomization  polarization  khoivinh 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Stanford professor: "The workplace is killing people and nobody cares"
"From the disappearance of good health insurance to the psychological effects of long hours, the modern workplace is taking its toll on all of us."
work  labor  health  2018  workplace  culture  capitalism  management  administration  psychology  stress  childcare  jeffreypfeffer  socialpollution  society  nuriachinchilla  isolation  fatigue  time  attention 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Gritty the Meme, Gritty the Messenger, Gritty the Messianic - The Ringer
"Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers’ sensation-causing mascot, is a weird and scary avatar for a weird and scary time. The 7-foot-tall orange monster didn’t just put one city in touch with its identity: He is all things to all people. He is meme. He is messenger. He is message. And, in many respects, he is messianic."
philadelphia  hockey  culture  sports  fans  2018  gritty 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Ethnic markets and community food security in an urban “food desert” - Pascale Joassart-Marcelli, Jaime S Rossiter, Fernando J Bosco, 2017
"In recent years, the concept of food desert has come to dominate research and policy debates around food environments and their impacts on health, with mounting evidence that low-income neighborhoods of color lack large supermarkets and therefore may have limited access to fresh, affordable, and healthy foods. We argue that this metaphor, which implies an absence of food, is misleading and potentially detrimental to the health of poor and racially diverse communities because it ignores the contribution of smaller stores, particularly that of so-called ethnic markets. Current applications of the food desert concept in this setting reflect classed and racialized understandings of the food environment that ignore the everyday geographies of food provision in immigrant communities while favoring external interventions. Our investigation of ethnic markets in City Heights, a low-income urban neighborhood in San Diego with a diverse immigrant population, offers evidence of their positive role in providing access to affordable, fresh, healthy, and culturally appropriate foods. Our results contribute to research by providing a nuanced description of the food environment beyond access to supermarkets, focusing specifically on immigrant neighborhoods, and pointing to ethnic markets as valuable partners in increasing food security in diverse urban areas."
2017  sandiego  cityheights  food  supermarkets  markets  fooddeserts  race  ethnicity  class  culture  geography  immigration 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Bay Area Disrupted: Fred Turner on Vimeo
"Interview with Fred Turner in his office at Stanford University.

http://bayareadisrupted.com/

https://fredturner.stanford.edu

Graphics: Magda Tu
Editing: Michael Krömer
Concept: Andreas Bick"
fredturner  counterculture  california  opensource  bayarea  google  softare  web  internet  history  sanfrancisco  anarchism  siliconvalley  creativity  freedom  individualism  libertarianism  2014  social  sociability  governance  myth  government  infrastructure  research  online  burningman  culture  style  ideology  philosophy  apolitical  individuality  apple  facebook  startups  precarity  informal  bureaucracy  prejudice  1960s  1970s  bias  racism  classism  exclusion  inclusivity  inclusion  communes  hippies  charism  cultofpersonality  whiteness  youth  ageism  inequality  poverty  technology  sharingeconomy  gigeconomy  capitalism  economics  neoliberalism  henryford  ford  empowerment  virtue  us  labor  ork  disruption  responsibility  citizenship  purpose  extraction  egalitarianism  society  edtech  military  1940s  1950s  collaboration  sharedconsciousness  lsd  music  computers  computing  utopia  tools  techculture  location  stanford  sociology  manufacturing  values  socialchange  communalism  technosolutionism  business  entrepreneurship  open  liberalism  commons  peerproduction  product 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Ubiquitous Collectivism that Enables America’s Fierce Individualism
"Forbes recently released their 2019 “30 Under 30” list of “the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada” who are also under 30 years old. A persistent criticism of the list is that many of the people on it are there because of family or other social advantages. As Helen Rosner tweeted of last year’s list:
My take is: all 30 Under 30 lists should include disclosure of parental assets

In a piece for Vox, Aditi Juneja, creator of the Resistance Manual and who was on the 30 Under 30 list last year, writes that Forbes does ask finalists a few questions about their background and finances but also notes they don’t publish those results. Juneja goes on to assert that no one in America is entirely self-made:
Most of us receive government support, for one thing. When asked, 71 percent of Americans say that they are part of a household that has used one of the six most commonly known government benefits — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, or unemployment benefits.

And many people who benefit from government largesse fail to realize it: Sixty percent of Americans who claim the mortgage-interest deduction, which applies to homeowners, say they have never used a government program. If you’ve driven on public roads, gone to public school, or used the postal service as part of your business — well, we all rely on collective infrastructure to get ahead.

And then she lists some of the ways in which she has specifically benefitted from things like government programs, having what sounds like a stable home environment, and her parents having sufficient income to save money for her higher education.
I went to public schools through eighth grade. My parents were able to save for some of my college costs through a plan that provides tax relief for those savings. I stayed on my parent’s health insurance until I was 26 under the Affordable Care Act. I have received the earned income tax credit, targeted at those with low or moderate income. I took out federal student loans to go to law school.

Juneja’s piece reminds me of this old post about how conservatives often gloss over all of the things that the government does for its citizens:
At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issed by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

And also of mayor Pete Buttigieg’s idea of a more progressive definition of freedom:
Or think about the idea of family, in the context of everyday life. It’s one thing to talk about family values as a theme, or a wedge — but what’s it actually like to have a family? Your family does better if you get a fair wage, if there’s good public education, if there’s good health care when you need it. These things intuitively make sense, but we’re out of practice talking about them.

I also think we need to talk about a different kind of patriotism: a fidelity to American greatness in its truest sense. You think about this as a local official, of course, but a truly great country is made of great communities. What makes a country great isn’t chauvinism. It’s the kinds of lives you enable people to lead. I think about wastewater management as freedom. If a resident of our city doesn’t have to give it a second thought, she’s freer.

Lists like 30 Under 30 reinforce the idea of American individualism at the expense of the deep spirit & practice of collectivism that pervades daily American life. America’s fierce individuals need each other. Let’s celebrate and enable that."
kottke  us  individualism  collectivism  aditijuneja  resistance  culture  government  publicgood  helenrosner  petebuttigieg  politics  30under30  class  society  delusions  myths  entrepreneurship  privilege  infrastructure 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Is "Show Don't Tell" a Universal Truth or a Colonial Relic? | Literary Hub
"In his essay “The Storyteller” (1936), cultural critic Walter Benjamin mourns the death of oral and communal storytelling, taken over in modern history by the novel, the “birthplace of the solitary reader,” and information technology with a rise in capitalism. Yet, what Benjamin posits as the organic evolution of oral, communal practices of storytelling into modern modes of storytelling, consumed by a reader in “privacy,” is in fact, the understanding of a Western history of storytelling as a universal one. As Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell suggest in the introduction to their anthology The Postcolonial Short Story (2012), many non-Western countries did not transition “organically” from oral to written storytelling with a rise in capitalism. For many formerly or currently colonized spaces like South Asia, Africa, Caribbean, American South and Native America, there has always existed a rich, vibrant tradition of oral storytelling, one that was marginalized, often violently, through an imposition of an allegedly modern, white Western language and culture. In their study, Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts (1998), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin defend “orality” not as a cultural precondition that morphed into a more advanced written culture, but orality as a counterpart to writing, where both co-exist, complement and transform each other constantly. This coexistence of oral and written modes of storytelling continues to thrive in postcolonial spaces, including those of Asia and Africa.

In her now-canonical essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Zora Neale Hurston makes a strong case for the use of vernacular—especially dialect and rhythm—in Black writing. In his story collection, Creole Folktales (1988) and equally canonical co-authored essay, “In Praise of Creoleness” (1989), Patrick Chamoiseau offers a manifesto for Caribbean storytelling that aims to free itself of French colonial gaze by transforming Martinican-French literature through a militant use of Creole. And while not through cultural theories or essays, contemporary writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Chandra, Roxane Gay, Junot Díaz, and Edwidge Danticat, among others, bring a strong, self-conscious vernacular in their stories. Their fiction questions not only an allegedly mainstream Euro-American storytelling marked by narrative brevity and an economy of words, as lauded by Edgar Allan Poe, John Barth and Francine Prose in their critical writing, but also the dominance of visuality in many fiction writing workshops with their show-don’t-tell credo, bolstered by our cinematic and digital age with its preference for images over sounds."



"James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, Gish Jen, Tiphanie Yanique, ZZ Packer, Rajesh Parameswaran—the list of contemporary writing affirming oral and aural alternatives over a sight-based focus of storytelling is long. And I haven’t even gotten started with poetry-in-color, including an aesthetic legacy of rhythm in writing spawned by Papa Césaire and the Négritude movement. What I’ve explored above is a brief sampler on a multifaceted use of orality that challenges the boundaries of a more standard Euro-American literary English with its emphasis on brevity, clarity, and good grammar. In playing persistently with language, sounds and syntax, multiethnic fiction does not shy away from “writing in scenes,” however, it does dethrone the reign of eyesight to stress the importance of other senses in fiction, and hearing in particular.

That said, the use of vernacular or dialect is far from unique to non-Western writers writing within or outside the West. Time and again, major writers across the world have challenged the status quo of a hegemonic language by using the vernacular in different ways. I’m thinking here of Shakespeare and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s linguistic innovation within English and French respectively, and of pioneering poets like Kabir who used the vernacular in Bhakti poetry to challenge the rule of Sanskrit in medieval South Asian literature.

And yet, the examples of multiethnic fiction I’ve shared above have all been published in the last couple of decades, following complex literary and historic changes that include mid-20th century’s wave of decolonization that swept the “third world,” the Civil Rights Movement in the US, the institutionalization of Ethnic Studies in the American Academy, and the literary canon wars that followed. This recent, layered, global history has led to a higher visibility of non-white, non-Western voices in the Western metropolitan publication scenes of New York, London and Paris. The content within contemporary multiethnic fiction often talks of identity, home and displacement; they ask questions like who has power and voice and who gets marginalized or silenced, these ideas fleshed out obsessively in stories through plot, theme, form, language, or a combination.

Orality within fiction that is deliberately engaging with power dynamics between the West and non-West—as evident in the title of Rushdie’s story collection East, West—thus becomes more than just a stylistic device or virtuosity with craft. The shift in sensory focus within multiethnic fiction from images to sounds holds a mirror to our contemporary, complex literary history, guiding the reader further to ways in which these stories maybe constructed, read, or deconstructed. Orality here becomes a political stance, an ideological move reminding the reader over and again that what we consume as universal in story craft, literary history, or aesthetic taste is anything but universal."
orality  oraltradition  visual  via:vruba  2018  storytelling  walterbenjamin  culture  tradition  namratapoddar  globalsouth  maggieawadalla  paulmarch-russell  billashcroft  garethgriffiths  helentiffin  vernacular  zoranealehurston  creole  creoleness  folktales  writing  salmanrushdie  vikramchandra  junotdíaz  edwidgedanticat  edgarallanpoe  johnbarth  fancineprose  criticalwriting  howwewrite  literacy  multiliteracies  dialect  rhythm  patrickchamoiseau  caribbean  africa  asia  colonialism  english  alicewalker  imperialism  gishjen  jamesbaldwin  tonimorrison  tiphanieyanique  zzpacker  showdon'ttell  sandracisneros  roxanegay  ajeshparameswaran  négritude  papacésaire  haiti  aural  oral  sight  brevity  clarity  grammar  fiction  aimécésaire  martinique  léopoldsédarsenghor  léondamas  postcolonialism  louis-ferdinandceline  latinamerica  indigenous  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
“The Poetic Inflections of a Voice Addressing a Tribe of Men Besieged by Beasts”: Radio Haiti’s Cultural Programming - The Devil's Tale
"Sometimes it feels as though Radio Haiti’s story, like that of Haiti itself, is eclipsed by crisis — that Jean Dominique’s assassination has become the principal lens through which we understand and remember Radio Haiti. But the loss of Jean Dominique and the injustice of his murder matter because his life mattered, because Radio Haiti’s many decades of work and legacy matter. Before the symbolic weight of memory, before the burden of hindsight, before the doomed prophet, there was the daily work of the station — all of which lives on in this archive.

So much comes before death; so much remains when death is no more."



"Radio Haiti’s archive, like a cemetery, like Haiti itself, is a place that could be defined by tragedy, loss and death. The archive, like Haiti’s history, is filled with human rights violations, massacres, impunity, and assassinations.

Yet, listening to artists and iconoclasts, creators and truth-tellers, I recall those same words: It was not death that I found here, in Radio Haiti’s archive. I found intense life here; I did not find death at all."

[See also:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Haiti-Inter
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Dominique
https://soundcloud.com/radiohaitiarchives ]
haiti  radiohaiti  frankétienne  culture  2016  katrinamartin  laurawagner  archives  voodoo  vodou  voudoun  jeandominique  émileollivier  mimibarthélemy  edwidgedanticat  amoscoulanges  tiga  georgescastera  sytocavé  rogergaillard  jeanfouchard  kettlymars  danylaferrière  garyvictor  yanicklahens  ralphallen  jeanrenéjérôme  rose-mariedesruisseau  radiohaiti-inter 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Welcome to Unfold Studio — Unfold Studio 0.4.1 documentation
"Unfold Studio is an online community for interactive storytelling powered by a programming language called Ink. Interactive storytelling brings together the power of programming with the ability of stories to represent and explore our lived realities. Free and open-source, Unfold Studio was developed as part of my PhD research on youth computational literacy practices.

Unfold Studio is used in schools, clubs, and by many individual writers. Interactive storytelling can be a way to integrate Computer Science into English, Social Studies, or other subjects. It can also be an excellent way to introduce Computer Science as a subject relevant to questions of identity, culture, and social justice. (We are currently doing research with a school which uses Unfold Studio for several months as part of its core CS curriculum.)

This documentation is meant for several audiences. If you need help using Unfold Studio or writing interactive stories, see the User Guide. (If you’re impatient, try the Quickstart.) If you are interested in using Unfold Studio with students, see Teaching Guide. And if you’re interested in Unfold Studio’s back story or research on transliteracies, CS education, etc. please see Research. We welcome questions, feedback, and random ideas. Please see Contact to get in touch.

The documentation is also available in PDF form in case you prefer to read it that way or want to print out any pages (such as the worksheets in the Teaching Guide section) for classroom use.

-Chris Proctor
PhD candidate, Stanford Graduate School of Education
Unfold Studio creator and lead researcher"
chrisproctor  if  interactivefiction  storytelling  ink  opensource  free  onlinetoolkit  compsci  education  identity  culture  socialjustice  unfoldstudio  transliteracies  multiliteracies  coding  programming  writing  twine  classideas  via:hayim  teaching 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Dodie Bellany: Academonia
"In this lively, entertaining collection of essays, Dodie Bellamy has written not only a helpful pedagogical tool, but an epic narrative of survival against institutional deadening and the proscriptiveness that shoots the young writer like poison darts from all sides. By the 90s funding for the arts had dwindled and graduate writing programs—“cash cows”—had risen to fill the slack. Simultaneously, literary production moved from an unstable, at times frightening street culture where experiment was privileged beyond all else, to an institutionalized realm—Academonia!—that enforces, or tends to enforce, conservative aesthetic values.

Among the questions Bellamy raises: how does the writer figure out how to write? How will she claim her content among censorious voices? Can the avant-garde create forms that speak to political and spiritual crisis? Can desire exist in a world of networking structures? To the keepers of the status quo, what is so goddamned scary about experimental writing? Bellamy’s textual body morphs through sex, ravenous hunger, aging, displacement, cuddling with animals. Along the way she invokes Levi Strauss, Kurosawa, Marvin Gaye, Christiane (the faceless daughter in Georges Franju’s 1959 horror classic Eyes Without a Face), Alice Munro, Michael Moore, Quan Yin, Cinderella, and the beheaded heroine Lady Jane Grey. On Foucault’s grid of invisible assumptions, Academonia casts a blacklight vision, making it glow in giddy FX splendor.

*****

There are the institutions that are created without our input and the institutions that we create with others. Both sorts of institutions define us without our consent. Dodie Bellamy’s Academonia explores the prickly intersection among these spaces as it moves through institutions such as the academy, the experimental writing communities of the Bay Area, feminist and sexual identities, and group therapy. Continuing the work that she began in The Letters of Mina Harker pushing memoir and confession out of its safety zones and into its difficulties, this book provokes as it critiques and yet at the same time manages to delight with its hope.

--Juliana Spahr

Way back in the seventies, and before Bellamy, pastiche and bricolage as applied to literature made me yawn. Smug attacks on linear narrative through the use of tired language games aroused my contempt. As far as I was concerned, theory had ruined fiction by making critic and artist too intimate. Then Bellamy’s pioneering graftings of storytelling, theory and fractured metaphor changed all that, giving birth to a new avant-garde. Her writing sweeps from one mode of thought to another in absolute freedom, eviscerating hackneyed constructs about desire and language and stuffing them with a fascinating hodgepodge of sparkling sensory fragments. The result is true postmodernism, not the shallow dilettantism of the “postmodern palette.” She sustains it on page after page, weaving together sex and philosophy, fusing trash with high culture, injecting theory with the pathos of biography and accomplishing nothing less than a fresh and sustained lyricism. What is more, her transfiguration of the trivial details of life by the mechanisms of irony, fantasy, disjunction, nostalgia and perverse point of view prove that it’s not the life you live that matters, but how you tell it.

--Bruce Benderson"
writing  howwewrite  books  dodiebellany  institutions  proscriptiveness  academonia  academia  highered  highereducation  akirakurosawa  levistrauss  marvingaye  alicemonroe  michaelmoore  quanyin  cinderella  ladyjanegrey  foucault  institutionalization  julianaspahr  brucebenderson  bricolage  literature  linearity  form  feedom  structure  language  senses  sensory  postmodernism  dilettantism  culture  bayarea  experimental  experimentation  art  arts  funding  streetculture  2006 
october 2018 by robertogreco
4:3
"4:3 by Boiler Room is a multifaceted genre-spanning platform for curated and commissioned underground film exploring themes of performance, identity, youth culture and anti-establishment.

Platform agnostic, 4:3 is for curious minds and those connected to culture, offering an exploration of unseen films and as well as in real life experiences, an opportunity to discover the unknown.

Like Boiler Room, 4:3 is rooted in physical experience; our events are multi-faceted, connecting the dots between club culture and cinema to stretch the boundaries of what a film experience can be."
film  performance  identity  youth  youthculture  anti-establishment  culture  physical  art  streaming  video 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Black Twitter: American Twitter gets its new terms from Black Twitter — Quartz
"African American English may be America’s greatest source of linguistic creativity.

A new study, led by Jack Grieve, a professor of corpus linguistics at the University of Birmingham in the UK, analyzed nearly 1 billion tweets to find out how new terms emerge on the platform. By looking at words that go from total obscurity to mainstream usage on Twitter in a short period of time, the research can begin to answer questions like: Is one part of the country more linguistically creative than the others? And do new words spread from a geographical origin outward, or does the internet allow them to emerge everywhere, simultaneously?

To some extent, the answer to both questions is “yes,” as I have written previously. But the study points out the particular importance of one community on Twitter in particular, concluding, “African American English is the main source of lexical innovation on American Twitter.”

To get to that result, the authors extracted billions of words from tweets by users in the United States. They then identified the words that were very uncommon around October 2013, but had become widely used by November 2014. After getting rid of proper nouns and variations of the same term, they settled on 54 “emerging words,” including famo, tfw, yaas, and rekt.

Identifying those terms allowed the researchers to analyze out how new words spread. That pointed to five “common regional patterns” of lexical creation: the West Coast, centered around California; the Deep South, around Atlanta; the Northwest and New York; the Mid-Atlantic and DC; and the Gulf Coast, centered on New Orleans.

Of those five, the Deep South is exceptional in the way it brings about new terms. Usually, a term starts in a densely populated urban area, then spreads to urban areas in other parts of the country. In the case of the West Coast, for example, terms tend to start in Los Angeles and San Francisco, then make their way to Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.

That doesn’t happen as much in the Deep South. There, the spread of creative new words appears to be driven more by culture than population density. Atlanta, the authors point out, is small relative to urban powerhouses like LA and New York. And terms that originate in the South do not spread by jumping to other cities; instead, they spread via areas with large black populations.

The map below shows the different regions the study uncovered; each county in the US is colored based on the pattern of spread it is most closely associated with. As you can see, the West Coast map shows several red hotspots well beyond California, popping up as far away as Seattle, Florida, and the Northeast. Several other maps look like that, too—the Northeast pattern has green splotches in Louisiana, the South, and Southern California; the Mid-Atlantic map shows deep purple in Chicago, Texas, and elsewhere. The Deep South, on the other hand, spreads straight out from the area around Atlanta, with only a very faint blue on top of San Francisco.

[maps]

That alone wouldn’t be enough to say that African American English is the “main source” of new terms on American Twitter. But the paper adds that three of the five patterns above seem to be “primarily associated with African American English.” That is to say, these patterns reflect the distribution of the black population in the US. Often, the study finds, the percentage of a county that is black appears to be more important than just the number of people living there in fueling linguistic creativity. In Georgia and North Carolina, for example, linguistically innovative areas “are not necessarily more populous but do generally contain higher percentages of African Americans.” This, they conclude, shows “the inordinate influence of African American English on Twitter.”

Many of the Black Twitter terms identified in the study will be familiar to any frequent Twitter user. Among the ones most associated with the Deep South region are famo (family and friends), fleek (on point), and baeless (single). But the fastest-emerging terms come from other places and cultures, too. Waifu, for example, a Japanese borrowing of the English word “wife,” is associated with the West Coast and anime."
blacktwitter  language  english  communication  invention  culture  2018  2013  nikhilsonnad  jackgrieve  linguistics  deepsouth  sandiego  portland  oregon  seattle  lasvegas  phoenix  westcoast  losangeles  sanfrancisco  california  atlanta  nyc  washingtondc  nola  neworleans  chicago 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Has This Neighborhood in Seoul Figured Out the Secret to Slow Living? - The New York Times
"The decline of vernacular architecture in the face of global urbanization is, of course, hardly new, though traditional Korean hanok are a particularly stark contrast to modern city living. Sit inside one and you immediately notice how sound and light travel differently as they’re absorbed into pine wood beams and diffused through pale mulberry-paper windows. When newly built, hanok are redolent with the bright scent of a coniferous forest; as they age, the fragrance softens toward pu-erh tea and damp bark. Their center of gravity is lower than other homes, creating a cocoon-like sensation; their radiant heating system — the ondol — means that residents sit, work and sleep on the floor.

But while any Korean can describe how a hanok feels, defining what a hanok is has proved elusive. “Hanok” simply translates to “Korean house,” though the term wasn’t used until the late 19th century, which brought the opening of the peninsula’s ports to international trade and, in turn, Western architecture. Before this, the hanok was merely a house. Today’s hanok, with its soot-black scalloped clay tiles laid atop wooden beams, resembles its 15th-century forebears. In 2015, the government legally defined hanok as a “wooden architectural structure built on the basis of the traditional Korean-style framework consisting of columns and purlins and a roof reflecting the Korean traditional architectural style,” leaving acres of room for interpretation."



"Indeed, this nostalgia for a simpler form of living is fueled by the dissatisfaction that many locals have expressed in the face of their country’s breakneck economic growth. Here, digital culture is richer and vaster than anywhere else: South Korea, home to the technology giants Samsung and LG, may have the world’s fastest internet and the highest rate of smartphone use, but amid the country’s accelerated 30-year transition from military state — which it was until the ’80s — to tech superpower, there’s a growing sentiment that somewhere along the road, much of the country’s own culture was lost. The hanok, then, has come to represent a safe vessel for introspection and a reassertion of Korean identity: a romantic return to the national architecture and, therefore, to a mythic, prelapsarian age. Rebuilding these houses is not only a chance to revisit a past that once was, free of influences from globalized monoculture, but also to create a future in Seoul that might have been."



"Tändler designed Lee Eunyoung’s hanok, one of the few one-story buildings in the village. The home is disarmingly simple: a minimally furnished, U-shaped space, encircling a madang. For the four-person family, moving into a hanok wasn’t just an aesthetic choice but an opportunity to atavistically reorient their lives. “We each have five outfits for Monday through Friday, plus one wedding outfit, one funeral outfit and one exercise outfit,” Lee Eunyoung says. The 37-year-old mother doesn’t buy toys for her two young boys, instead giving them paper and crayons or sending them out into the madang to play. This is another way the hanok has made Seoulites reconsider the way they live: By forcing them to decide how much stuff they really need, it inverts the dynamic between the house and the people within it, making the residents accommodate the dwelling, not the other way around. In doing so, they’ve discovered a different, slower way of living. Eventually, Lee Eunyoung’s children will grow up and find their own homes. Maybe they’ll go somewhere modern: a skyscraper, a glass-and-steel penthouse. But Lee says she’ll stay here, in the hanok, for the rest of her life"
slo  seoul  korea  architecture  homes  wood  2018  design  cv  housing  economics  preservation  culture 
september 2018 by robertogreco
We Don’t Play Golf Here and Other Stories of Globalization. on Vimeo
"Using Mexico as an example of what much of the Third World has experienced, the filmmakers show how foreign investment in export factories distort both the culture and environment."
mexico  thirdworld  capitalism  globalization  footbal  futbol  golf  film  documentary  culture  environment  2014  inequality 
august 2018 by robertogreco
The Literary Canon Is Mostly White. Here's an Alternative Latin American Reading List
[interesting, I’ve read all or parts of six of these, I should make my own list to compare]
readinglists  latinamerica  literature  books  culture  2018 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Can we hope to understand how the Greeks saw their world? | Aeon Essays
"The Greek colour experience was made of movement and shimmer. Can we ever glimpse what they saw when gazing out to sea?"
color  history  language  mariamichelasassi  ancientgreece  perception  2017  at  culture 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Paper Road, by Nicole Lavelle
"PAPER ROAD is a book. It is a research narrative capturing my process of re-orienting myself to an important home-place. A heart-place.



This book is the final document of a year-long research project conducted while I was a Graduate Fellow at the Headlands Center for the Arts from July 2016 to July 2017.

What is PAPER ROAD about? See a weird concept framework I made for this project.

The research process and story both begin at my family's summer cabin in Lagunitas, California. I have spent a lot of time in this place. I use houses as vessels for situating my own located experience within broader California cultural contexts and land use histories. The book is a non-linear narrative of fragments, recontextualized image and text collected from private and public archives and collections. The content I assembled from research materials is annotated in first-person narrative, explaining the wild connections that emerged between everything.

The book contains 450 pages of annotated narrative, an introductory essay, a conversation with archivist and independent scholar Rick Prelinger, a non-functional (but poetic!) index, and a bibliography."
nicolelavelle  books  place  lagunitas  archives  rickprelinger  bibliographies  indices  culture  classideas  projectideas  lcproject  openstudioproject  experience  california  collections  curation  research  storytelling  identity  2016  2017 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Oakulture | Documenting the Oakland cultural renaissance
"Background and History

Historically, the city of Oakland has always been what can be described as a cultural mecca. In the 30s, 40s, and 50s, West Oakland’s 7th street was known as the “Harlem of the West,” and supported a thriving jazz and blues scene. In the 60s and 70s, Oakland was instrumental in the development of the funk sound through artists like Rodger Collins and Johnny Talbot, as well as the connection between music and social justice movements — exemplified by the Black Panther Party’s “house band,” The Lumpen – a legacy which continues to this day through socially-conscious artists and “artivists” like Boots Riley and The Coup, Kev Choice, and Jennifer Johns.

Oakland music culture has produced everything from the “East Bay Grease” funk sound of Tower of Power, to Latin percussionist extraordinaire Sheila E., to pop-hip-hop phenomenon MC Hammer, to independent rap legend Too $hort, to the urban R&B of Tony! Toni! Toné!, En Vogue, Raphael Saadiq, and Keyshia Cole. It’s no accident that Tupac Shakur, quite possibly the most celebrated rap artist of all time, spent the formative years of his career in Oakland, or that legendary hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics claim Oakland as their home base.

Visual art has also been a huge part of Oakland culture; the city claims to have the most artists per capita of any city in the country, which has manifested through the internationally-recognized Art Murmur, as well as the proliferation of street-oriented visual artists and aerosol art practitioners upholding the legacy of Mike “Dream” Francisco. Somewhat lesser-known is Oakland’s contribution to the film genre, which includes famous actors Danny Glover and Ted Lange as well as recent discoveries like director Ryan Coogler. Similarly, Oakland’s spoken word scene, one of the best in the country, has provided a supportive platform for emerging talents like playwright Chinaka Hodge.

Although Oakland is the center of the Bay Area from a geographic standpoint, for many years its arts and culture scene was overshadowed by San Francisco. But things have changed recently. Gentrification, skyrocketing rents, and the influx of tech workers displaced dozens of artists and musicians from SF; many of whom settled in Oakland. That change has not gone unnoticed by the media: the New York Times named the city one of the USA’s top 5 destinations, San Francisco magazine dedicated an entire issue to its East Bay neighbor, and the Bay Guardian declared Oakland was “cooler” than SF. Meanwhile, the proliferation of new and interesting restaurants has made Oakland a hot topic in the foodie world. It seems the media has finally discovered Oakland, much in the same was as Columbus “discovered” America.

While all the recent national media attention has been gratifying for a city which for years was unfairly maligned for negative portrayals, much of the press coverage can be accurately described as coming from an outside perspective, looking in at Oakland. As current Oaklanders brace themselves for a wave of newcomers with no connection to the city’s rich cultural history, raising concerns of gentrification and the displacement which comes along with it, Oakland finds itself in the midst of a cultural renaissance which has brought new life into the downtown area, symbolized by the First Friday parties which have attracted as many as 15,000 people, and made the city a destination for nightlife seekers.

Oakulture began as a cultural initiative masquerading as an arts and culture column in hyperlocal website Oakland Local. The mission was simple: to document the cultural renaissance in words and pictures as it was happening, from the perspective of an Oakland resident and longtime Bay Area scribe, Eric K. Arnold – a writer/photographer with an institutional memory of the region’s arts and culture scene. Particular attention was paid to spotlighting emerging new talent, to identifying cultural trends – such as the intersection of tech and arts — as they were breaking, and to covering artists of color who were typically underserved by both national and local media.

Oakulture took a radically innovative approach to arts coverage: rather than segregating music from film from visual art from spoken word, as conventional media outlets typically did, Oakulture amalgamated them all together, thus presenting a Big Picture view which was a more honest representation of Oakland’s cultural dynamic – illustrating how the city’s diversity is reflected through the intersectionality of artistic disciplines and cultural manifestations. The column also used the online platform to present more photographs than a typical print story would, giving it a unique visual look which distinguished it from all competition.

Oakulture ran for more than a year in Oakland Local, covering 60 columns in all, and routinely amassing page views 5-10 times the views of typical OL stories in the arts & culture section. Despite outperforming its peers to such a degree, OL’s publisher suggested cutting back on the column due to financial considerations, which made little sense, considering not only the analytics numbers, but also the fact that Oakland’s cultural renaissance was in full bloom, and that more coverage, if anything, was needed.

The choice was made to become an independent site, serving the progressive, diverse arts and culture community, and expanding coverage to become a comprehensive source and resource. Oakulture isn’t just hyperlocal, it’s hyperfocal, zeroing in on the arts and culture niche which informs every aspect of Oakland’s dynamicism, from lifestyle to politics. While currently existing on an online platform, Oakulture isn’t a static representation of the city’s cultural paradigm by any means; Oakulture isn’t just a website, it’s a lifestyle, a movement and a way of being, with plans to expand into other mediums when the time is right.

Right now, Oakulture’s goal is to document Oakland’s incredibly talented, historically slept-on scene and to promote the city’s artists locally, nationally, and internationally. All from an Oakland perspective. After all, Oakland is known for creating revolutionary movements, so why wouldn’t the city’s cultural arts be anything less?"
oakland  news  culture  blogs  bayarea 
july 2018 by robertogreco
standardized testing: the game
[via https://twitter.com/scumbling/status/1017793272662581249 (via Allen https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/1017797863542284288 ):

I made something.

Here's a prototype for my interactive zine:

😭 STANDARDIZED TESTING: THE GAME (A NARRATIVE) (THE PROTOTYPE)

i think you'll have a feeling (at least a short one)

i hope it starts conversations about ethnicity & culture

please share!

http://goingtocollege.club/ ]
via:tealtan  education  highereducation  highered  bias  ethnicity  culture  standardizedtesting  standardization  testing  exclusion  inclusion  inclusivity  games  gaming  interactivefiction  twine 
july 2018 by robertogreco
In What Language Does Rain Fall Over Tormented Cities? – Raiot
"Text of The W. G. Sebald Lecture on Literary Translation by Arundhati Roy
5 June 2018, The British Library, London."

[more excerpts coming soon]

"Twenty years after the publication of The God of Small Things, I finished writing my second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but if a novel can have an enemy, then the enemy of this novel is the idea of “One nation, one religion, one language.” As I composed the cover page of my manuscript, in place of the author’s name, I was tempted to write: “Translated from the original(s) by Arundhati Roy.” The Ministry is a novel written in English but imagined in several languages. Translation as a primary form of creation was central to the writing of it (and here I don’t mean the translation of the inchoate and the prelingual into words). Regardless of which language (and in whose mother tongue) The Ministry was written in, this particular narrative about these particular people in this particular universe would had to be imagined in several languages. It is a story that emerges out of an ocean of languages, in which a teeming ecosystem of living creatures—official-language fish, unofficial-dialect mollusks, and flashing shoals of word-fish—swim around, some friendly with each other, some openly hostile, and some outright carnivorous. But they are all nourished by what the ocean provides. And all of them, like the people in The Ministry, have no choice but to coexist, to survive, and to try to understand each other. For them, translation is not a high-end literary art performed by sophisticated polyglots. Translation is daily life, it is street activity, and it’s increasingly a necessary part of ordinary folks’ survival kit. And so, in this novel of many languages, it is not only the author, but the characters themselves who swim around in an ocean of exquisite imperfection, who constantly translate for and to each other, who constantly speak across languages, and who constantly realize that people who speak the same language are not necessarily the ones who understand each other best.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has been—is being—translated into forty-eight languages. Each of those translators has to grapple with a language that is infused with many languages including, if I may coin a word, many kinds of Englishes (sociolects is perhaps the correct word, but I’ll stay with Englishes because it is deliciously worse) and translate it into another language that is infused with many languages. I use the word infused advisedly, because I am not speaking merely of a text that contains a smattering of quotations or words in other languages as a gimmick or a trope, or one that plays the Peter Sellers game of mocking Indian English, but of an attempt to actually create a companionship of languages.

Of the forty-eight translations, two are Urdu and Hindi. As we will soon see, the very fact of having to name Hindi and Urdu as separate languages, and publish them as separate books with separate scripts, contains a history that is folded into the story of The Ministry. Given the setting of the novel, the Hindi and Urdu translations are, in part, a sort of homecoming. I soon learned that this did nothing to ease the task of the translators. To give you an example: The human body and its organs play an important part in The Ministry. We found that Urdu, that most exquisite of languages, which has more words for love than perhaps any other language in the world, has no word for vagina. There are words like the Arabic furj, which is considered to be archaic and more or less obsolete, and there are euphemisms that range in meaning from “hidden part,” “breathing hole,” “vent,” and “path to the uterus.” The most commonly used one is aurat ki sharamgah. A woman’s place of shame. As you can see, we had trouble on our hands. Before we rush to judgment, we must remember that pudenda in Latin means “that whereof one should feel shame.” In Danish, I was told by my translator, the phrase is “lips of shame.” So, Adam and Eve are alive and well, their fig leaves firmly in place.

Although I am tempted to say more about witnessing the pleasures and difficulties of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness being translated into other languages, more than the “post-writing” translations, it is the “pre-writing” translation that I want to talk about today. None of it came from an elaborate, pre-existing plan. I worked purely by instinct. It is only while preparing for this lecture that I began to really see how much it mattered to me to persuade languages to shift around, to make room for each other. Before we dive into the Ocean of Imperfection and get caught up in the eddies and whirlpools of our historic blood feuds and language wars, in order to give you a rough idea of the terrain, I will quickly chart the route by which I arrived at my particular patch of the shoreline."



"So, how shall we answer Pablo Neruda’s question that is the title of this lecture?

In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?7

I’d say, without hesitation, in the Language of Translation."
arundhatiroy  language  languages  translation  literature  2018  india  colonialism  nationalism  authenticity  elitism  caste  nativism  identity  culture  society  inbetween  betweenness  multilingual  polyglot  everyday  communication  english  hindi  nationstates  imperialism  urdu  persian  tamil  sinhala  bangladesh  pakistan  srilanka  canon 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Social media moderators should look to the oldest digital communities for tips about caring — Quartz
"Back when women only made up a tenth of the online population, Echo’s user base was 40% female. On its website, a banner read: “Echo has the highest population of women in cyberspace. And none of them will give you the time of day.” Stacy made Echo membership free for women for an entire year. She created private spaces on Echo where women could talk amongst themselves and report instances of harassment. She spoke to women’s groups about the internet, and she taught Unix courses out of her apartment so that a lack of technical knowledge would not limit new users to the experience of computer-mediated communication.

In short, Stacy achieved near gender parity on an almost entirely male-dominated internet because she cared enough to make it so.

For many in tech, caring means caring about: investing, without immediate promise of remuneration, in the pursuit of building something “insanely great,” as Steve Jobs once said. It means risking stability and sanity in order to change the world.

But what Stacy’s legacy represents is caring of another sort: not only caring about but caring for. It is this second type of caring that has been lost in our age of big social.

Moderators are a key part of this relationship. Stacy was a founder-moderator: a combination of tech support and sheriff who thought deeply about decisions affecting the lives of her users. She baked these values into the community: Every conversation on Echo was moderated by both a male and a female “host,” who were users who, in exchange for waived subscription fees, set the tone of discussion and watched for abuse.

In The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, an early book about online community, Howard Rheingold documents such hosts all over the early internet, from a French BBS whose paid “animateurs” were culled from its most active users to the hosts on Echo’s West Coast counterpart, The WELL. “Hosts are the people,” he wrote, who “welcome newcomers, introduce people to one another, clean up after the guests, provoke discussion, and break up fights if necessary.” Like any party host, it was their own home they safeguarded.

Today the role of moderators has changed. Rather than deputized members of our own community, they are a precarious workforce on the front lines of digital trauma. The raw feed of flagged Facebook content is unimaginable to the average user: a parade of violence, pornography, and hate speech. According to a recent Bloomberg article, YouTube moderators are encouraged to work only a few hours at a time, and have access to on-call psychiatry. Contract workers in India and the Philippines work far removed from the content they moderate, struggling to apply global guidelines to a multiplicity of cultural contexts.

No matter where you’re located, it’s not easy to be a moderator. The details of such practices are “routinely hidden from public view, siloed within companies and treated as trade secrets,” as Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly note in a 2016 study of moderation for The Verge. They’re one of Silicon Valley’s many hidden workforces: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter thrive on the invisibility of such labor, which makes users feel safe enough to continue engaging—and sharing personal data—with the platform. To sell happy places online, we are outsourcing the unhappiness to other people.

How did we stop caring about the communities we created? This is partially a question of scale. With mass adoption comes the mass visibility of brutality, and the offshore workers and low-wage contract laborers who moderate the major social media platforms cycle out quickly, traumatized by visions of beheadings and sexual violence. But it’s also a design choice, engineered to make us care about social platforms by concealing from us those who care after them. Put simply, we have fractured care.

The major platforms’ solution to the problem of scale has been to employ contract workers to enforce moderation guidelines. But what if we took the opposite approach and treated scale itself as the issue? This raises new questions: What is the largest number of people a platform can adequately care for? Can that number really be in the billions? What is the ideal size for a community?

Perhaps big social was never the right outcome for this wild experiment we call the internet. Perhaps we’d be happier with constellations of smaller, regional, and interest-specific communities; communities whose stakeholders are the users themselves, and whose moderators and decision-makers aren’t rendered opaque through distance and centralized authority. Perhaps social life doesn’t scale. Perhaps the future looks very much like the past. More like Echo.

Instead of expanding forever outward, we could instead empower groups of people with the tools to build their own communities. We have a long history of regional Community Networks and FreeNets to learn from. A generation of young programmers and designers are already proposing alternatives to the most baked-in protocols and conventions of the web: the Beaker Browser, a model for a new decentralized, peer-to-peer web, built on a protocol called Dat, or the zero-noise, all-signal community of Are.na, a collaborative social platform for thinkers and creatives. Failing those, a home-brew world of BBS—Echo included—exists still, for those ready to brave millennial-proof windows of pure text.

* * *

There is nothing inevitable about the future of social media—or, indeed, the web itself. Like any human project, it’s only the culmination of choices, some made decades ago. The internet was built as a resource-sharing network for computer scientists; the web, as a way for nuclear physicists to compare notes. That either have evolved beyond these applications is entirely due to the creative adaptations of users. Being entrenched in the medium, they have always had a knack for developing social commons out of even the most opaque screen-based places.

The utopian idealism of the first generation online influenced a popular conception of the internet as a community technology. Our beleaguered social media platforms have grafted themselves onto this assumption, blinding us to their true natures: They are consumption engines, hybridizing community and commerce by selling communities to advertisers (and aspiring political regimes).

It would serve us to consider alternatives to such a limited vision of community life online. For original tech pioneers such as Stacy, success was never about a successful exit, but rather the sustained, long-term guardianship of a community of users. Now more than ever, they should be regarded as the greatest resource in the world."
communication  culture  bbs  2018  claireevans  gender  internet  online  web  history  moderation  care  caring  scale  scalability  small  slow  size  siliconvalley  socialmedia  community  communities  technology  groupsize  advertising  are.na 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Why, in China and Japan, a copy is just as good as an original | Aeon Essays
"In the West, when monuments are restored, old traces are often particularly highlighted. Original elements are treated like relics. The Far East is not familiar with this cult of the original. It has developed a completely different technique of preservation that might be more effective than conservation or restoration. This takes place through continual reproduction. This technique completely abolishes the difference between original and replica. We might also say that originals preserve themselves through copies. Nature provides the model. The organism also renews itself through continual cell-replacement. After a certain period of time, the organism is a replica of itself. The old cells are simply replaced by new cell material. In this case, the question of an original does not arise. The old dies off and is replaced by the new. Identity and renewal are not mutually exclusive. In a culture where continual reproduction represents a technique for conservation and preservation, replicas are anything but mere copies."
china  japan  copying  originality  evolution  copies  culture  2018  byung-chulhan  history  museums  cloning  korea  southkorea  buddhism  christianity  life  death 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Matt Haughey on Twitter: "My favorite grad school geography/history tidbit came from a Soils professor that worked around mining. It goes like this: In the American West and Midwest you can tell who settled a city by how it looks on a map. Let me explain
"My favorite grad school geography/history tidbit came from a Soils professor that worked around mining. It goes like this: In the American West and Midwest you can tell who settled a city by how it looks on a map. Let me explain…

A town settled by miners or lumberjacks is interested in making money FAST. Roads go from mountains to town centers where the sawmill or assay office is. Adding switchbacks takes too much time & money. On maps, these cities typically follow a star pattern from above.

Farmers have time. Crops follow seasons, year after year, over decades. Making money is slow. Their cities follow grid patterns where the streets are 1st, 2nd, 3rd going one direction and A Street, B Street, C Street the other. On maps, farmer towns look like logical squares.

Here are two towns in South Dakota: one settled by farmers, one by miners. Spot the difference.

From now on, whenever you look at a map of the American West, you’ll know something about each town’s history in an instant.:"
matthaughey  geography  cities  towns  architecture  culture  design  environment  history  farming  time  mining  lumber  speed  money  americanwest  maps  mapping  patterns  midwest  settlement 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
If you have a meeting in Ethiopia, you better doublecheck the time
"Because Ethiopia is close to the Equator, daylight is pretty consistent throughout the year. So many Ethiopians use a 12-hour clock, with one cycle of 1 to 12 — from dawn to dusk — and the other cycle from dusk to dawn.

Most countries start the day at midnight. So 7:00 a.m. in East Africa Time, Ethiopia's time zone, is 1:00 in daylight hours in local Ethiopian time. At 7:00 p.m., East Africa Time, Ethiopians start over again, so it's 1:00 on their 12-hour clock."
time  ethiopia  africa  culture  protocol  standards  2015 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Are we overthinking general education? – Jonathan D. Becker, J.D., Ph.D.
"Many colleges and universities are trying to figure out new ways to tackle general education requirements. My own employer, VCU, has been undergoing an effort “to re-imagine our general education curriculum.” The proposed framework that my VCU colleagues came up with isn’t bad, but it still feels like picking courses out of individual boxes and checking boxes to complete a checklist. It feels like what happens when universities try to be innovative and break out of boxes, but turf wars ensue and departments dig in their heels. The result is an overwrought compromise that doesn’t serve anyone particularly well.

Here is something I wrote on Twitter back in 2015.

[embedded tweet: https://twitter.com/jonbecker/status/670360697105174529
@gsiemens I seriously want to teach a course where all we do is read and discuss @brainpicker and @Longreads.
]

Imagine this learning experience: 1 faculty member with 20-25 students just reading and discussing the Longreads Weekly Top 5. They’d meet once a week, in a meeting room or a coffee shop or outside on a lawn or in the forest; it doesn’t matter. And they’d just talk about what they learned. And maybe they’d blog about it so they could expand their discussion beyond the designated class time and space and could get others outside the class to weigh in. That’s it; that’s the whole instructional design. No predetermined curriculum; very little by way of planning. Learning outcomes? How about curiosity, wonder, critical thinking? Those are your “learning outcomes.” I’d bet students would learn more by reading and deeply discussing those 5 articles each week than they would in most other tightly-designed, pre-packaged curriculum-driven course.

I would also love to involve students in a learning experience built around food shows like Alton Brown’s Good Eats. Seriously. Watch just the first few minutes of this episode. In just the first 3+ minutes, we get history (information about the Ottoman Empire), science (cooking and surface area), and math (computing surface area). In a show about kabobs.

[embedded video: "Good Eats S09E2 Dis-Kabob-Ulated"
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5skv9x ]

What if general education was more like this? What if students read Longreads and watched episodes of Good Eats as part of an effort around interdisciplinary studies?

And then there’s Anthony Bourdain. To me, Parts Unknown was, at its heart, educational media.

I’m not from West Virginia like Craig Calcaterra (see below) is. But, I spent a lot of time in that state doing field research at the end of the 20th century. When I watched the episode of Parts Unknown that Calcaterra shares, I felt like Bourdain had really captured what I had come to know about the state and then some. Watch the episode and tell me that you didn’t learn a ton. The way Bourdain juxtaposes New York City and his fellow New Yorkers with the “existential enemy” in West Virginia is classic Bourdain."

[embedded tweet: https://twitter.com/craigcalcaterra/status/1005077364131422208
Anthony Bourdain went to West Virginia last year. In one hour he did way better capturing my home state than 1,000 poverty porn tourist journalists with pre-written stories parachuting in from coastal publications have ever done. https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6inwh4
]

Parts Unknown is an interdisciplinary curriculum. It is about culture, food, history, politics, economics, etc. It’s about people.

[embedded tweet: https://twitter.com/ablington/status/1005056496609169409
Anthony Bourdain had one of the only shows on tv that tried with all its might to teach Americans not to be scared of other people.
]

And isn’t that what general education is?

Replace the word “travel” with the word “learning” in the following quote from Anthony Bourdain.

[embedded tweet: https://twitter.com/Tribeca/status/1005073364531269633
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you... You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” — Anthony Bourdain #RIP
]

Maybe we’re overthinking general education in higher education. Probably, in fact.
jonbecker  education  generaleducation  anthonybourdain  2018  interdisciplinary  learning  travel  sharing  ideas  unschooling  deschooling  cv  culture  exploration  conversation  longreads  lcproject  openstudioproject  howweteach  howwelearn 
june 2018 by robertogreco
You Can’t Ruin Your Kids | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
"Why parenting matters less than we think"



"What Parents Can Do
Harris moves on to tackle specific issues concerning teenagers, gender differences, and dysfunctional families. She holds fast to her thesis, marshaling massive evidence for the influence of peer groups and genetics over parents and home environment.

It’s not that parents and home life don’t matter, she constantly reminds us — they obviously do matter in the short-run, because kids do react to their parents’ actions and expectations — but rather that life at home is just a temporary stop in the child’s journey, and the parents are temporary influencers. The direct effects of parenting that you believe you observe in your kids are either (1) simply your genes expressing themselves or (2) are temporary behavioral adjustments made by children, soon to be cast off when they enter the peer world “as easily as the dorky sweater their mother made them wear.”

So what can parents do, beyond carefully choosing a peer group (as discussed above)? Harris ends her book with an entire chapter dedicated to this question.

Some things that parents do — like teaching language to their young children — don’t hurt. That means that the child “does not have to learn it all over again in order to converse with her peers — assuming, of course, that her peers speak English.” Harris continues:

The same is true for other behaviors, skills, and knowledge. Children bring to the peer group much of what they learned at home, and if it agrees with what the other kids learned at home they are likely to retain it. Children also learn things at home that they do not bring to the peer group, and these may be retained even if they are different from what their peers learned. Some things just don’t come up in the context of the peer group. This is true nowadays of religion. Unless they attend a religious school, practicing a religion is something children don’t do with their peers: they do it with their parents. That is why parents still have some power to give their kids their religion. Parents have some power to impart any aspect of their culture that involves things done in the home; cooking is a good example. Anything learned at home and kept at home — not scrutinized by the peer group — may be passed on from parents to their kids.

Religion, cooking, political beliefs, musical talents, and career plans: Harris concedes that parents do influence their kids in these areas. But only because these are essentially interests and hobbies, not character traits. If you had a personal friend living with you for 18 years, their favorite meals, political beliefs, and career plans might rub off on you, too.

If your kid is getting bullied or falling in with the wrong crowd, you can move. You can switch schools. You can homeschool. These actions matter, because they affect the peer group.

You can help your kid from being typecast in negative ways by their peer group. You can help them look as normal and attractive as possible:

“Normal” means dressing the child in the same kind of clothing the other kids are wearing. “Attractive” means things like dermatologists for the kid with bad skin and orthodontists for the one whose teeth came in crooked. And, if you can afford it or your health insurance will cover it, plastic surgery for any serious sort of facial anomaly. Children don’t want to be different, and for good reason: oddness is not considered a virtue in the peer group. Even giving a kid a weird or silly name can put him at a disadvantage.

In Self-Directed Education circles where “being yourself” is holy mantra, such “conformist” concessions can be looked down upon. But Harris encourages us to remember what it is actually like to be a child: how powerfully we desire to fit in with our peers. Be kind to your children, Harris suggests, and don’t give them outlandish names, clothing, or grooming. Give them what they need to feel secure, even when that thing feels highly conformist.

Harris offers just a few small pieces of common-sense advice. There’s not much in the way of traditional “do this, not that” parenting guidance. But her final and most significant message is yet to come.

Saving the Parent-Child Relationship
My favorite quote from The Nurture Assumption introduces Harris’ approach to thinking about parent-child relationships:

People sometimes ask me, “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my child?” They never ask, “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my husband?” or “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my wife?” And yet the situation is similar. I don’t expect that the way I act toward my husband today is going to determine what kind of person he will be tomorrow. I do expect, however, that it will affect how happy he is to live with me and whether we will remain good friends.

While a spouse and a child are clearly not the same — a spouse has a similar level of lifetime experience to you, they are voluntarily chosen, and they (hopefully) don’t share your genes — Harris holds up marriage as a better relationship model than one we typically employ as parents.

You can learn things from the person you’re married to. Marriage can change your opinions and influence your choice of a career or a religion. But it doesn’t change your personality, except in temporary, context-dependent ways.

Yes, the parent-child relationship is important. But it’s not terribly different from a relationship with a spouse, sibling, or dear friend. In those relationships we don’t assume that we can (or should) control that person or how they “turn out.” Yet with children, we do.

Implicit in this analysis is a powerful message: Children are their own people, leading their own lives, worthy of basic respect. They are not dolls, chattel, or people through whom we might live our unfulfilled dreams. Just because parents are older, have more experience, and share genes with our children doesn’t give us long-term power or real control over them. That is the attitude that leads to the bullying, condescension, and micromanaging that scars too many parent-child relationships.

But while she calls for relinquishing a sense of control, Harris isn’t onboard with highly permissive parenting (what some call “unparenting”) either:
Parents are meant to be dominant over their children. They are meant to be in charge. But nowadays they are so hesitant about exerting their authority — a hesitancy imposed upon them by the advice-givers — that it is difficult for them to run the home in an effective manner. . . . The experiences of previous generations show that it is possible to rear well-adjusted children without making them feel that they are the center of the universe or that a time-out is the worst thing that could happen to them if they disobey. Parents know better than their children and should not feel diffident about telling them what to do. Parents, too, have a right to a happy and peaceful home life. In traditional societies, parents are not pals. They are not playmates. The idea that parents should have to entertain their children is bizarre to people in these societies. They would fall down laughing if you tried to tell them about “quality time.”


The message again is: Think of the parent-child relationship more like that of a healthy friendship or marriage. Hold them to a normal standards. Be frank and direct with them. Don’t worry about constantly entertaining them or monitoring their emotions. And whenever possible, Harris, says enjoy yourself! “Parents are meant to enjoy parenting. If you are not enjoying it, maybe you’re working too hard.”

In the end, Harris wants to free us from the guilt, anxiety, and fear that plagues so much of modern parenting, largely bred from the “advice-givers” who have convinced us that parenting is a science and you’re responsible for its outcomes:
You’ve followed their advice and where has it got you? They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t love all your children equally, though it’s not your fault if nature made some kids more lovable than others. They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t give them enough quality time, though your kids seem to prefer to spend their quality time with their friends. They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t give your kids two parents, one of each sex, though there is no unambiguous evidence that it matters in the long run. They’ve made you feel guilty if you hit your child, though big hominids have been hitting little ones for millions of years. Worst of all, they’ve made you feel guilty if anything goes wrong with your child. It’s easy to blame parents for everything: they’re sitting ducks. Fair game ever since Freud lit his first cigar.


Take care of the basics. Give your kid a home and keep them healthy. Connect them to positive peer groups. Teach them what you can. Build a home life that works for everyone. Try to enjoy the person who your child is. Do your best to build a bond between child and parent that will last for a lifetime. This is what Judith Rich Harris says we can do.

But when it comes to influencing your child’s behavior, personality, attitudes, and knowledge in the long run: stop. Recognize how little impact you have, give up the illusion of control, and relax. We can neither perfect nor ruin our children, Harris says: “They are not yours to perfect or ruin: they belong to tomorrow.”"
blakeboles  parenting  children  nature  nurture  environment  naturenurture  genetics  relationships  respect  peers  conformity  social  youth  adolescence  religion  belonging  authority  authoritarianism  marriage  society  schools  schooling  education  learning  internet  online  youtube  web  socialmedia  influence  bullying  condescension  micromanagement  judithrichharris  books  toread  canon  culture  class  youthculture 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Barbara Ehrenreich's Radical Critique of Wellness Culture | The New Republic
"Ehrenreich contemplates with some satisfaction not just the approach of her own death but also the passing of her generation. As the boomers have aged, denial of death, she argues, has moved to the center of American culture, and a vast industrial ecosystem has bloomed to capitalize on it. Across twelve chapters, Ehrenreich surveys the health care system, the culture of old age, the world of “mindfulness,” and the interior workings of the body itself, and finds a fixation on controlling the body, encouraged by cynical and self-interested professionals in the name of “wellness.” Without opposing reasonable, routine maintenance, Ehrenreich observes that the care of the self has become a coercive and exploitative obligation: a string of endless medical tests, drugs, wellness practices, and exercise fads that threaten to become the point of life rather than its sustenance. Someone, obviously, is profiting from all this.

While innumerable think pieces have impugned millennials’ culture of “self-care”—and argued that the generation born in the 1980s and ’90s is fragile, consumerist, and distracted—Ehrenreich redirects such criticisms toward an older crowd. Her book sets out to refute the idea that it’s possible to control the course and shape of one’s own biological or emotional life, and dissects the desire to do so. “Agency is not concentrated in humans or their gods or favorite animals,” she writes. “It is dispersed throughout the universe, right down to the smallest imaginable scale.” We are not, that is, in charge of ourselves."



"While workout culture requires the strict ordering of the body, mindfulness culture has emerged to subject the brain to similarly stringent routines. Mindfulness gurus often begin from the assumption that our mental capacities have been warped and attenuated by the distractions of our age. We need re-centering. Mindfulness teaches that it is possible through discipline and practice to gain a sense of tranquility and focus. Such spiritual discipline, often taking the form of a faux-Buddhist meditation program, can of course be managed through an app on your phone, or, with increasing frequency, might be offered by your employer. Google, for example, keeps on staff a “chief motivator,” who specializes in “fitness for the mind,” while Adobe’s “Project Breathe” program allocates 15 minutes per day for employees to “recharge their batteries.” This fantastical hybrid of exertion and mysticism promises that with enough effort , you too can bend your mind back into shape.

“Whichever prevails in the mind-body duality, the hope, the goal—the cherished assumption,” Ehrenreich summarizes, “is that by working together, the mind and the body can act as a perfectly self-regulating machine.” In this vision, the self is a clockwork mechanism, ideally adapted by natural selection to its circumstances and needing upkeep only in the form of juice cleanses, meditation, CrossFit, and so on. Monitor your data forever and hope to live forever. Like workout culture, wellness is a form of conspicuous consumption. It is only the wealthy who have the resources to maintain the illusion of an integral and bounded self, capable of responsible self-care and thus worthy of social status. The same logic says that those who smoke (read: poor), or don’t eat right (poor again), or don’t exercise enough (also poor) have personally failed and somehow deserve their health problems and low life expectancy."



"Ehrenreich’s political agenda goes largely unstated in Natural Causes, but is nonetheless central to her argument. Since at least the mid-1970s, she has been engaged in a frustrated dialogue with her peers about how they choose to live. In her view, the New Left failed to grasp that its own professional-class origins, status anxieties, and cultural pretensions were the reason that it had not bridged the gap with the working class in the 1960s and 1970s. It was this gap that presented the New Right with its own political opportunity, leading to the ascent of Ronald Reagan and fueling decades of spiraling inequality, resurgent racism, and the backlash against feminism.

The inability of her contemporaries to see themselves with enough distance—either historical distance or from the vantage of elsewhere in the class system—is the subject of some of her best books: Fear of Falling, a study of middle-class insecurity, and Nickel and Dimed, her best-selling undercover report on the difficulties of low-wage employment. At some level, it’s what all her work has been about. In the final pages of Natural Causes, Ehrenreich stages a version of this lifelong dialogue with her peers. She tries to convince them, in the last act, to finally concede that the world does not revolve around them. They can, she proposes, depart without Sturm und Drang.
Two years ago, I sat in a shady backyard around a table of friends, all over sixty, when the conversation turned to the age-appropriate subject of death. Most of those present averred that they were not afraid of death, only of any suffering that might be involved in dying. I did my best to assure them that this could be minimized or eliminated by insisting on a nonmedical death, without the torment of heroic interventions to prolong life by a few hours or days.


It’s a final, existential version of the same argument she’s made forever: for members of her generation and class to see themselves with a touch more perspective.

Despite Ehrenreich’s efforts, this radical message hasn’t resonated among them as widely as she hoped. She has, meanwhile, worked on building institutions that may foster a different outlook in the years to come. In 2012, she founded the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, an impressive, foundation-backed venture to support journalists reporting on inequality. Ever alert to the threat of social inequality and the responsibility of middle-class radicals, she served until just last year as honorary co-chair of Democratic Socialists of America—that renewed organ of radicalism for the millennial precariat. She is not giving up. “It’s one thing,” she writes, “to die into a dead world and, metaphorically speaking, leave one’s bones to bleach on a desert lit only by a dying star. It is another thing to die into the actual world, which seethes with life, with agency other than our own, and at the very least, with endless possibility.”

It takes a special kind of courage to maintain such humility and optimism across a whole lifetime of losing an argument and documenting the consequences. Barbara Ehrenreich doesn’t meditate. She doesn’t believe in the integral self, coherent consciousness, or the mastery of spirit over matter. She thinks everything is dissolving and reforming, all the time. But she’s not in flux—quite the opposite. She’s never changed her mind, lost her way, or, as far as I can tell, even gotten worn out. There’s the tacit lesson of Natural Causes, conveyed by the author’s biography as much as the book’s content: To sustain political commitment and to manifest social solidarity—fundamentally humble and collective ways of being in the world—is the best self-care."
barbaraehrenreich  mindfulness  wellness  culture  health  boomers  babyboomers  2018  gabrielwinant  politics  self-care  death  generations  perspective  socialism  inequality  dsa  radicalism  millennials  medicine  balance  body  bodies  lifeexpectancy  exercise  self-improvement  westernmedicine  feminism 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Future Imaginary Lecture: Kim TallBear. “Disrupting Settlement, Sex, and Nature” - YouTube
"Abstract
We live in an era of decimation dubbed the “anthropocene.” Settler-colonial states such as the US and Canada disproportionately consume the world. As we reconsider violent human practices and conceive of new ways of living with Earth in the face of a feared apocalypse, we must interrogate settler sexuality and family constructs that make both land and humans effectively (women, children, lovers) into property. Indigenous peoples—post-apocalyptic for centuries—have been disciplined by the state according to a monogamist, heteronormative, marriage-focused, nuclear family ideal that is central to the colonial project. Settler sexualities and their unsustainable kin forms do not only harm humans, but they harm the earth. I consider how expansive indigenous concepts of kin, including with other-than-humans, can serve as a provocation for moving (back? forward?) into more sustainable and just relations.

Bio
Kim TallBear is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota. She is also descended from the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. TallBear originally trained to become a community and environmental planner at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). She completed in 2005 a Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz in History of Consciousness. More broadly, she is interested in the historical and ongoing roles of science and technology (technoscience) in the colonization of indigenous peoples and others. Yet because tribes and other indigenous peoples insist on their status as sovereigns, she is also interested in the increasing role of technoscience in indigenous governance. What are the challenges for indigenous peoples related to science and technology, and what types of innovative work and thinking occur at the interface of technoscience and indigenous governance? Into her research she brings collaborations, and teaching indigenous, postcolonial, and feminist science studies analyses that enable not only critique but generative thinking about the possibilities for democratizing science and technology."

[via: https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/21/inside-the-animal-internet/ ]
kimtallbear  anthropocene  kinship  indigenous  us  canada  monogamy  polygamy  marriage  culture  society  property  race  racism  settlercolonialism  colonialism  sexuality  gender  sex  intimacy  relationships  families  resistance 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The respect of personhood vs the respect of authority
"In April 2015, Autistic Abby wrote on their Tumblr about how people mistakenly conflate two distinct definitions of “respect” when relating to and communicating with others.
Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority”

and sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say “if you won’t respect me I won’t respect you” and they mean “if you won’t treat me like an authority I won’t treat you like a person”

and they think they’re being fair but they aren’t, and it’s not okay.

This is an amazing & astute observation and applies readily to many aspects of our current political moment, i.e. the highest status group in the US for the past two centuries (white males) experiencing a steep decline in their status relative to other groups. This effect plays out in relation to gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and class. An almost cartoonishly on-the-nose example is Trump referring to undocumented immigrants as “animals” and then whining about the press giving him a hard time. You can also see it when conservative intellectuals with abundant social standing and privilege complain that their ideas about hanging women or the innate inferiority of non-whites are being censored.

Men who abuse their partners do this…and then sometimes parlay their authoritarian frustrations & easily available assault weapons into mass shootings. There are ample examples of law enforcement — the ultimate embodiment of authority in America — treating immigrants, women, black men, etc. like less than human. A perfect example is the “incel” movement, a group of typically young, white, straight men who feel they have a right to sex and therefore treat women who won’t oblige them like garbage.

You can see it happening in smaller, everyday ways too: never trust anyone who treats restaurant servers like shit because what they’re really doing is abusing their authority as a paying customer to treat another person as subhuman."
culture  diversity  language  respect  personhood  authority  jasonkottke  kottke  status  hierarchy  patriarchy  gender  race  racism  sexism  lawenforcement  humanism  humans 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Worlds of sense and sensing the world: a response to Sarah Pink and David Howes
"In a recent debate with Sarah Pink in the pages of Social Anthropology, concerning the prospects for an anthropology that would highlight the work of the senses in human experience, David Howes objects to what I have myself written on this topic, specifically in my book The Perception of the Environment (Ingold 2000). In doing so, he distorts my arguments on six counts. In this brief response, I set the record straight on each count, and argue for a regrounding of the virtual worlds of sense, to which Howes directs our attention, in the practicalities of sensing the world."

[See also: "The future of sensory anthropology/the anthropology of the senses"
https://monoskop.org/images/5/54/Pink_Sarah_2010_The_Future_of_Sensory_Anthropology_The_Anthropology_of_the_Senses.pdf ]
sarahpink  davidhowes  sensoryethnography  senses  ethnography  socialsciences  multisensory  anthropology  timingold  2011  perception  phenomenology  visualstudies  culture  sensoryanthropology 
may 2018 by robertogreco
DERC - Digital Ethnography Research Centre | Melbourne
"The Digital Ethnography Research Centre DERC focuses on understanding a contemporary world where digital and mobile technologies are increasingly inextricable from the environments and relationships in which everyday life plays out. DERC excels in both academic scholarship and in our applied work with external partners from industry and other sectors.

The Digital Ethnography Research Centre DERC focuses on understanding a contemporary world where digital and mobile technologies are increasingly inextricable from the environments and relationships in which everyday life plays out. DERC excels in both academic scholarship and in our applied work with external partners from industry and other sectors.

DERC approaches this world and how we experience it through innovative, reflexive and ethical ethnographic approaches, developed through anthropology, media and cultural studies, design, arts and documentary practice and games research.

Our research is incisive, interventional and internationally leading. Going beyond the call of pure academia we combine academic scholarship with applied practice to produce research, analysis and dissemination projects that are innovative and based on ethnographic insights.

DERC partners and collaborates with a range of institutions in Australia and globally, including other universities, companies and other organisations. This includes collaborative research projects, conferences, symposia and workshops, and international visits, fellowships and publications.

DERC members are aligned into Labs to represent their research interests, DERC Labs include:

• Data Ethnographies Lab
• Design+Ethnography+Futures (D+E+F) Lab
• Bio Inspired Digital Sensing-Lab (BIDS-Lab)
• Migration and Digital Media Lab

WHAT IS DIGITAL ETHNOGRAPHY?

Recognising the differential meanings and uses of the term ethnography across and between academic disciplines, DERC utilises a broad definition of ethnography that views ethnography as an approach for understanding the world that cannot be reduced to a single method. Through DERC, our aim is to engage in research and conversations that are committed to the following:

• transdisciplinary research that is inquiry-based;
• engagement with empirical research and/or materials;
• socially and historically contextualised analyses;
• comparison across local, national, regional and global frames.

DERC welcomes partnerships and collaborations with national and international centres with expertise in digital media and ethnography. Through research, workshops, talks and publications, we collectively seek to critically engage with and push the boundaries of ethnographic practice in, through and around digital media. To learn more about our perspectives on Digital Ethnography see our Introduction (Horst, Hjorth & Tacchi 2012) and articles by Sarah Pink and John Postill in the Special Issue of Media International Australia published in 2012."
ethnography  digital  digitalethnography  anthropology  online  web  internet  design  culture  documentary  games  gaming  videogames  transdisciplinary  inquiry  materiality  sarahpink  johnpostill 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Sarah Pink: A sensory Approach to Digital Media: beyond representation, beyond culture - YouTube
"A sensory Approach to Digital Media: beyond representation, beyond culture, Sarah Pink in DCC Section ECREA 3rd Workshop: Innovative practices and critical theories"
sarahpink  2011  ethnography  digitalmedia  senses  multisensory  culture  online  web  internet  anthropology  digital 
may 2018 by robertogreco
PIG/PORK: Archaeology, Zoology and Edibility: Pía Spry-Marqués: Bloomsbury Sigma
"Pigs unite and divide people, but why? Pig/Pork explores the love-hate relationship between humans and pigs through the lenses of archaeology, biology, history and gastronomy, providing a close and affectionate look of the myriad causes underlying this singular, multi-millennial bond.

What is it that people in all four corners of the world find so fascinating about the pig? When did the human obsession with pigs begin, how did it develop through time, and where is it heading? Why are pigs so special to some of us, but not to others? Pig/Pork sets out to answer these and other porcine-related questions, examining human-pig interactions across the globe through time, from the Palaeolithic to the present day. The book dissects pig anatomy and behaviour, and describes how this knowledge plays a major role in the advance of the agricultural and medical sciences, among others. The book also looks closely at the history of pig-human interaction; how they were domesticated and when, how they affected human history through their diseases, and how they have been involved in centuries of human conflicts, with particular reference to the story of the Iberian Jews and Muslims at the time of the Inquisition. The book goes on to look at how pigs' characteristics and our relationship with them have combined to produce many of the world's great dishes. All this is accompanied by a liberal peppering of pork recipes and the stories behind them, along with facts, wisdom and porker lore, providing a thought-provoking account of where our food comes from, both historically and agriculturally, and how this continues to influence many parts of our behaviour and culture."
pigs  books  pork  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  morethanhuman  multispecies  livestock  agriculture  history  culture  food  archaeology  zoology  gastronomy  biology  science 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The Best Mother's Day Gift: Get Mom Out Of The Box : Goats and Soda : NPR
"Secrets Of A Maya Supermom: What Parenting Books Don't Tell You"

[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/996812739073880064 ]

"As psychologist Ben Bradley argues in his book Vision of Infancy, a Critical Introduction to Psychology: "Scientific observations about babies are more like mirrors which reflect back the preoccupations and visions of those who study them than like windows opening directly on the foundations of the mind."

And sometimes the data supporting the recommendation are so flimsy that another study in a few years will come along and not only overturn the first study but completely flip the advice 180 degrees.

This is exactly what happened last year with peanuts. Back in 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents not to give babies peanut butter because one study suggested early exposure would increase the risk of developing an allergy. But last year, the medical community made a complete about-face on the advice and now says "Let them eat peanut butter!" Early peanut exposure actually prevents allergies, follow-up studies have found.

So if science isn't the secret sauce to parenting books, what is? To answer that, we have to go back in time.

In the early 1980s, the British writer Christina Hardyment began reviewing more than 650 parenting books and manuals, dating all the way to the mid-1700s when advice publications started appearing in hospitals. The result is an illuminating book, called Dream Babies, which traces the history of parenting advice from 17th century English physician and philosopher John Locke to the modern-day medical couple Bill and Martha Sears.

The conclusions from the book are as clear as your baby's tears: Advice in parenting books is typically based not on rigorous scientific studies as is at times claimed but on the opinions and experiences of the authors and on theories from past parenting manuals — sometimes as long as the 18th century.

Then there's the matter of consistency — or lack thereof. Since the late 1700s, "experts" have flip-flopped recommendations over and over, from advising strict routines and discipline to a more permissive, laissez-faire approach and back again.

"While babies and parents remain constants, advice on the former to the latter veers with the winds of social, philosophical and psychological change," Hardyment writes. "There is no such thing as a generally applicable blueprint for perfect parenting."

Take, for instance, the idea that babies need to feed on a particular schedule. According to Hardyment's research, that advice first appears in a London hospital pamphlet in 1748. Sleep schedules for babies start coming into fashion in the early 1900s. And sleep training? That idea was proposed by a British surgeon-turned-sports writer in 1873. If babies "are left to go to sleep in their cots, and allowed to find out that they do not get their way by crying, they at once become reconciled, and after a short time will go to bed even more readily in the cot than on the lap," John Henry Walsh wrote in his Manual of Domestic Economy.

Even the heated debate about breastfeeding has been simmering, and flaring up, for at least 250 years, Hardyment shows. In the 18th century, mothers didn't have high-tech formula but had many recommendations about what was best for the baby and the family. Should a mother send the baby off to a wet nurse's home, so her husband won't be offended by the sight of a baby suckling? And if the family couldn't afford a wet nurse, there was specially treated cow's milk available or even better, the baby could be nursed by a goat, 18th century parenting books advised. (If you're wondering how moms accomplished such a feat, Hardyment includes an 18th century drawing of a young mom pushing a swaddled newborn underneath a goat's udder.)

Goat udders aside, perhaps the bigger issue with parenting books and advice on the Web is what they aren't telling you. And boy, is there a large hole.

These sources ignore most of the world and come almost entirely from the experience of Western culture. But when it comes to understanding what a baby needs, how kids work and what to do when your toddler is lying on the sidewalk (just asking for a friend), Western society might not be the best place to focus.

"WEIRD," stressed-out parents equal anxious kids?

In 2010, three scientists at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, rocked the psychology world.

They published a 23-page paper titled "The weirdest people in the world?" And in it, uncovered a major limitation with many psychological studies, especially those claiming to address questions of "human nature."

First, the team noted that the vast majority of studies in psychology, cognitive science and economics — about 96 percent — have been performed on people with European backgrounds. And yet, when scientists perform some of these experiments in other cultures the results often don't match up. Westerners stick out as outliers on the spectrum of behavior, while people from indigenous cultures tend to clump together, more in the middle.

Even in experiments that appear to test basic brain function, like visual perception, Westerners can act strangely. Take one of the most famous optical illusions — the Muller-Lyer illusion, from 1889.

Americans often believe the second line is about 20 percent longer than the first, even though the two lines are exactly the same length. But when scientists gave the test to 14 indigenous cultures, none of them were tricked to the same degree as Westerners. Some cultures, such as the San foragers in southern Africa's Kalahari desert, knew the two lines were equal length.

The conclusion from these analyses was startling: People from Western society, "including young children, are among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans," Joseph Heinrich and his colleagues wrote. The researchers even came up with a catchy acronym to describe the phenomenon. They called our culture WEIRD, for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic societies.

With that paper, the ethnocentric view of psychology cracked. It wasn't so much that the emperor of psychology had no clothes. It was more that he was dancing around in Western garb pretending to represent all humanity.

A few years later, an anthropologist from Utah State University, David Lancy, performed a similar analysis on parenting. The conclusion was just as clear-cut: When you look around the world and throughout human history, the Western style of parenting is WEIRD. We are outliers.

In many instances, what we think is "necessary" or "critical" for childhood is actually not present in any other cultures around the world or throughout time.

"The list of differences is really, really long," says Lancy, who summarizes them in the second edition of his landmark book, The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings. "There may be 40 to 50 things that we do that you don't see in indigenous cultures."

Perhaps most striking is how Western society segregates children from adults. We have created two worlds: the kid world and the adult world. And we go through great pains to keep them apart. Kids have their own special foods, their own times to go to sleep, their own activities on the weekends. Kids go to school. Parents go to work. "Much of the adult culture ... is restricted [for kids]," Lancy writes. "Children are perceived as too young, uneducated, or burdensome to be readily admitted to the adult sphere."

But in many indigenous cultures, children are immersed in the adult world early on, and they acquire great skills from the experience. They learn to socialize, to do household chores, cook food and master a family's business, Lancy writes.

Western culture is also a relative newcomer to parenting. Hunter-gatherers and other indigenous cultures have had tens of thousands of years to hone their strategies, not to mention that the parent-child relationship actually evolved in these contexts.

Of course, just because a practice is ancient, "natural" or universal doesn't mean it's necessarily better, especially given that Western kids eventually have to live — and hopefully succeed — in a WEIRD society. But widening the parenting lens, even just a smidgen, has a practical purpose: It gives parents options.

"When you look at the whole world and see the diversity out there, parents can start to imagine other ways of doing things," says Suzanne Gaskins, a developmental psychologist at Northeastern Illinois University, who for 40 years has been studying how Maya moms in the Yucatan raise helpful kids.

"Some of the approaches families use in other cultures might fit an American child's needs better than the advice they are given in books or from the pediatricians," she adds."

Who's in charge?

So what kind of different philosophies are out there?

When I spent time with Maya families that Gaskins has studied, I saw a very different approach to control.

In Western culture, parenting is often about control.

"We think of obedience from a control angle. Somebody is in charge and the other one is doing what they are told because they have to," says Barbara Rogoff, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has studied the Maya culture for 30 years."

And if you pay attention to the way parents interact with children in our society, the idea is blazingly obvious. We tend to boss them around. "Put your shoes on!" or "Eat your sandwich!"

"People think either the adult is in control or the child is in control," Rogoff says.

But what if there is another way to interact with kids that removes control from the equation, almost altogether?

That's exactly what the Maya — and several other indigenous cultures — do. Instead of trying to control children, Rogoff says, parents aim to collaborate with them.

"It's kids and adults together accomplishing a common goal," Rogoff says. "It's not letting the kids do whatever they want. It's a matter of children — and parents — being willing to be … [more]
children  parenting  weird  anthropology  2018  control  maya  mothers  stress  guidance  motherhood  us  michaeleendoucleff  families  knowledge  indigenous  stephaniecoontz  culture  society  respect  johngillis  alloparents  interdependence  communities  community  collaboration  psychology  barbararogoff 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Kilauea: A Beginner’s Guide to Hawaii’s Sublime Lava - The Atlantic
"But Western scientists were not the first people to encounter Hawaii’s volcanoes. Native Hawaiians have lived on the islands, and among the volcanoes, for more than 900 years. And their history, literature, and culture all recognize the reality of living near such a powerful phenomenon.

(A brief language note: Everyone who lives in the archipelago is called a “Hawaii resident.” The term “Hawaiian” is reserved for someone with native Hawaiian ancestry. This distinction is regularly made on the islands, including in the state constitution.)

“There’s aʻa or pahoehoe, the rough lava or the smooth lava,” said Kuʻualoha Hoʻomanawanui, a professor of literature at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “But the word for both of them is Pele.”

Pele is the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes, lava, and fire—but deity in its Western sense doesn’t quite describe the scope of Pele’s power. Many Hawaiian families trace their lineage back to Pele, meaning they count her as an ancestor.

“Pele is not just the goddess of lava. Lava is Pele,” Hoʻomanawanui told me. “The lava flows basically reaffirm what our literature tells us—that the land is alive, that Pele is alive. When we talk about the lava being alive, it’s a metaphor for the earth itself being alive. The lava is Pele, the magma is Pele, the lava flow and then when the lava hardens—each you can just replace the word with Pele.”

Even the site of the new eruption makes sense within Hawaiian culture. The current eruption has focused primarily on a subdivision called Leilani Estates. But Leilani Estates is a new name, and the subdivision sits within a larger area that Hawaiians traditionally called Keahialaka, which means “the fire of Laka.” Laka is the goddess of hula and one of Pele’s daughters.

“The Hawaiians watching are looking at the names of these places and saying, ‘Oh yeah!’” said Noelani M. Arista, a professor of Hawaiian history at the University of Hawaii. “It’s like, sometimes people are amazed that a flood will hit a flood zone. But we’ve got place names that say flood zone.”

“Anyone can come and slap a new name on any thing: ‘Let’s call it Leilani Estates!’ And Leilani is a generic name. But that won’t take away from the mana, the spiritual power and characteristics of that place, that the old place name embodies,” agreed Hoʻomanawanui.

These new names “lull people into a sense of complacency,” she said. “[They think,] I’m not actually buying property and building a house in an active lava rift zone, but I’m buying a piece of paradise.”

But sometimes these new names can be ironic. Kilauea is surrounded by rainforest, and people in Hawaii customarily link its lava flows to the Kool-Aid-red lehua flowers that grow around it. So when Hoʻomanawanui read that one of the first lava fissures in Leilani Estates opened up on Mohala Street, she laughed. “Well, of course!” she said. “Mohala means ‘to blossom,’ or ‘to bloom.’ In a way, it’s all interconnected.”

Pele’s story takes many forms—Hoʻomanawanui has studied 14 different serialized newspaper versions of it, all of which first appeared in the 19th century. But many describe a similar journey: how Pele and her family came up from an island in the South Pacific, how they found the Hawaii archipelago, and how Pele traveled to every island, looking for a place to keep her fire. She visited every island, and dug a hole in every island, until she eventually found Hawaii Island and placed her fire in Kilauea. (Hoʻomanawanui recommended that mainland Americans watch Holo Mai Pele, a PBS-filmed hula about Pele, for a credible summary of her story.)

“The story of Pele is a poetic, literary telling of what scientists would maybe call the Ring of Fire, and how volcanic activity gets to the Hawaiian islands from other parts of the Pacific,” said Hoʻomanawanui. “It’s an ideological explanation for why we don’t have volcanic activity occurring now on the other islands.”

But it’s more than a just-so story. Arista, the Hawaiian historian, contrasts how non-native Hawaii residents and native Hawaiians have discussed the recent lava flow. Much of the national media attention has focused on an American-centric understanding of the destruction, she said—for instance, by talking about the extent of property loss.

“But then you’ve got Hawaii residents saying, how amazing is the presence of this in my life,” she said. “Native people who live in the subdivision are largely saying, ‘Yes, I knew I was living in this space where volcanic activity is a huge factor, because I’ve lived my life here. And because we have this respect for Pele, I wanted to live here.’”

Hoʻomanawanui said she saw many native Hawaiians greeting the lava flow not with dread, but with acceptance. “When the flows start, you clean the house, you open the door, and you say: ‘Tūtū Pele, this is your land, take it,’” she said.

(Since Hoʻomanawanui’s family tracks its lineage back to Pele, they call her Tūtū, or grandmother. But other Hawaiians and non-Natives will call her Tūtū Pele out of respect, even if she is not an ancestor to them. “They acknowledge she’s a special force of nature—literally,” she said. Others, including non-Natives, may call her Madame Pele for the same reason.)

Hoʻomanawanui and Arista told me that seeing the lava as Pele didn’t detract from the scientific understanding of it. Instead, Pele anchors the experience of the lava, envelops it, and connects it to the lives of people who came before.

“Through dance, through costuming, through specific flowers—there’s layers of representation that I think really evoke a sensory experience beyond just knowledge, beyond just understanding as a Western scientific geological process,” Hoʻomanawanui said. “It’s a complete experience that is inclusive of that [scientific] knowledge but goes way beyond it.”

“We don’t have the words for belief or faith in this stuff,” she said. Instead, she said, Westerners should see Hawaiian customary belief as a practice and as a way of understanding the world."
hawaii  lava  science  names  naming  knowledge  volcanoes  complacency  indigeneity  2018  culture  language  languages  morethanhuman  geography  local  classideas  placenames 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on Skipping High School and California Culture | Literary Hub
"Paul Holdengraber: I had the pleasure, a bittersweet pleasure, of speaking with John Berger two years ago (about two months before he died) and I was so amazed by his extraordinary freedom of thinking. I was wondering, though I was never able to ask him, how much of it came to him from not having been forced into a certain school, or not having gone to all the schools people feel they need to go to in order to think.

It strikes me that you have that same appetite, that same appetite that comes from not having had to follow a certain regime, but rather following what really interests you, what really fills you with passion. I wonder how much of that is true, and how much of that is true to the place you’ve committed yourself to live in.

Rebecca Solnit: I didn’t go to high school and I feel that was one of the great strategic victories of my life. In the 1970s everything was very nebulous and wide open, and I just managed by going to an alternative junior high school through tenth grade, which was a very kind place compared to the place I went to for seventh and eighth grade. Then I took the GED test and started college at 16, to avoid high school altogether.

I remember thinking the GED—which is supposed to test you on everything you’re supposed to know when you graduate from high school—and thinking, “I’ve basically goofed off for two years. I’m 15 and I’m apparently able to acquire all the knowledge you need to get out of high school—what are you doing for those other three or four years?” I’ve always felt that a lot of what people are taught to do is conform and obey a set of instructions about hierarchy. It’s really destructive of the people who succeed in that system, as well as the ones who fail. I know you didn’t grow up in this country—

PH: I’m not sure I grew up. I’m still trying.

RS: Well that too. There’s the people who feel damaged by being unpopular in high school, but there’s a different kind of tragedy of people who were so popular in high school—the homecoming queens, the football captains—who feel as though they’ve arrived at the end of the journey without ever having set out for it, who feel like now they can rest on the laurels, which aren’t the laurels that will matter for the next 50 or 60 years.

It’s a very destructive system of values. You look at schools in other countries and they don’t have proms and homecoming queens and team spirit—this kind of elaborate sports culture that is very heteronormative as well as hierarchical. It also creates monsters out of the boys who are able to get away with bullying and sexual assault because they’re good at sports.

PH: You were mentioning my own upbringing. I grew up, in part, in many different countries in Europe, but one of the countries I lived was Belgium. In the mid-70s they introduced something they called Le Test Américain, “the American test.” You know what that was: multiple choice. I was terrible at it because I always felt ambivalent. I always felt, if you look at it from this perspective, that would be the answer; but if you look at it from that perspective, this would be the answer. And of course that didn’t bode well for school.

I know now that teaching has become so much that—so much about getting the supposed right answer to a question, which really means the right answer to a question if you look at it only from one vantage point. Which is exactly the contrary of what literature teaches, or for that matter, what life teaches us to think and do.

RS: When I was young, in the 80s, I read a wonderful report on why we should teach art in schools, and one of the arguments was that there is no right answer in art. There might be good ways to do things, but there’s no simple one right answer. Two plus two might be four, but the way a bird flies can be represented in innumerable ways.

PH: I wonder also, in your escape from high school, how much California and your interest in California has had to do with the way you think.

RS: One of the things about being deinstitutionalized—because not only did I not go to high school, I did sort of sprint through college and then get a journalism degree that was training to be a writer in a practical sense rather than becoming an academic—was the freedom to be synthetic, to move through what’s considered to be many fields. In fact in Wanderlust, early on, I said that if the fields of study could be considered real fields, then the the history of walking trespasses through many of them on its trajectory. And my life has been kind of like that. There’s a curious thing in academia in which authority is demonstrated by specialization and that you have to color within the lines and stick within the lines of your discipline, which I know a lot of people feel fretful about.

California wasn’t inherently an interest in mine. It was just where my father was born and where I grew up and have lived most of my life. When I was young and working at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and going to the journalism school at UC Berkeley, I did my thesis on the artist Wallace Berman and I began the process of writing the history that wasn’t available to me to read. When I was growing up in California we were regarded, almost universally, as almost a barbarian hinterland that had gone, as I often say, from wilderness to shopping mall in a single bound. And there was a lot of sneering on the East Coast about us as a place without culture, as a place of yahoos and bimbos and babes and surfer dudes, as lacking the high seriousness.

I have a friend whose East Coast cousin once said to him, “people in California don’t read.” And it was just amazing having someone dismiss the state with the UC system and Stanford and some remarkable intellectuals, from Angela Davis to Garry Snyder.

So I really didn’t grow up here with it being treated as an interesting place, though I loved the landscape, wondered about the Native history, and actually went to Europe because of that yearning for a sense of deep past and time in history. And then came back and had to find a way to locate it in this landscape.

Of course a lot of things have changed. A lot of California history has been written by Mike Davis and many other people since then. But it really was treated as a blank and trivial place when I was younger. There were some California historians, but the public mainstream attitude was very dismissive.

PH: I remember a conversation I had with Werner Herzog who said that in New York they consume culture, and in Los Angeles they actually make it. And it struck me as very interesting because there is such an assumption in New York that everything emanates from here.

RS: I’ve noticed.

PH: That’s a fantastic response, Rebecca. We’ll leave it at that for now."
rebeccasolnit  unschooling  deschooling  2018  interviews  education  california  history  culture  nyc  johnberger  paulholdengraber  values  hierarchy  teaching  art  arteducation  pedagogy  mikedavis  journalism  wallaceberman  eastcoast  angeladavis  garysnyder  conformity 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Learning Reimagined Conference: Why Unschooling as Decolonisation | Growing Minds
"Almost 600 words later and you still don’t know why unschooling as decolonisation. It’s simple. Because schooling is colonising. Compulsory schools are designed in the image of colonialism. Colonialism’s modality was power and violence. Compulsory Schools’ modality is power and violence. Colonialism was/is oppressive. Compulsory schooling is oppressive. Colonialism took away people’s freedoms to define the trajectory of their cultures and nations for themselves. Compulsory schooling takes away from young people the freedom to define their own growths and potentials. Colonialism imposed on nations and peoples an economic system that is rigged in favour of a minority to the detriment of the majority. Its values are competition, winning, control, profit, individualism. Schooling imposes on young people an education system that is rigged in favour of a minority and to the detriment of the majority. The values of schooling are competition, winning, control, results and individualism. We’re all hurting in this system.

That the schooling system is fashioned in the image of colonialism is not its worst attribute. It’s real danger is that compulsory schooling upholds and maintains colonialism by upholding colonial values that the colonising countries or settlers still benefit from. It is one of the master’s primary tools that keeps the master’s house intact. It is a system of separation of parents and siblings, separation of different groupings, of the creation of the ‘other’, of separating knowledge into subjects while devaluing some knowledge and privileging others, of the ‘class’room that maintains the class structure, of dominion of humans over nature, of endless wars, of poverty, of loneliness, of diminishing mental health, of……..

As unschoolers we can see that the master’s tool won’t dismantle the master’s house. But unschooling potentially can!

And that is why Unschooling as Decolonisation."
unschooling  education  schooling  schools  colonization  2018  compulsory  class  race  ethnicity  power  loneliness  poverty  relationships  families  agesegregation  colonialism  individualism  control  competition  interdependence  freedom  liberation  zakiyyaismail  deschooling  learning  culture  society  violence  decolonization 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch – Unboxing Stories on Vimeo
"2015 Future of StoryTelling Summit Speaker: Michael Wesch, Cultural Anthropologist

A pioneer in digital ethnography, Dr. Michael Wesch studies how our changing media is altering human interaction. As an anthropologist in Papua New Guinea, Wesch saw firsthand how oral storytelling worked for much of human civilization: It was a group activity that rewarded participation, transformed our perceptions, and created a changing flow of stories across generations. Reading and writing replaced oral storytelling with linear, fixed stories. Upon returning from Papua New Guinea, Wesch created the 2007 viral video hit Web 2.0...The Machine Is Us/ing Us, about the Internet's effects on our culture. At FoST, he’ll explore how our evolution from a literate culture to a digital one can return us to collaborative storytelling, resulting in a more engaged, participatory, and connected society."
michaelwesch  stories  storytelling  anthropology  2015  papuanewguinea  humans  civilization  perception  connection  participation  spontaneity  immersion  religion  involvement  census  oraltradition  oral  wikipedia  society  web2.0  media  particiption  conversation  television  tv  generations  neilpostman  classideas  web  online  socialmedia  alonetogether  suburbs  history  happenings  confusion  future  josephcampbell  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  culture  culturlanthropology  srg 
april 2018 by robertogreco
University of the Underground
"The University of the Underground was founded in February 2017, as a charity with a ANBI status (RSIN 8575.82.781), with the purpose of creating a global engagement with society as a whole, bringing generations together, to democratise access to public institutions and trigger changes and critical reflections through the use of creative, experiential and design practices. With an explicit focus on social dreaming, critical design, social actions, politics, theatrical practices, film, music and experiential practices; it aims to provide toolkits for members of the public to actively participate in revealing power structures in institutions. The University of the Underground supports unconventional research and practices that apprehend and challenge the formulation of culture, the manufacture and commodities of knowledge. The University of the Underground believes in a transnational form of education, which goes across borders and beyond nation-states. We are based in Amsterdam but we are nurturing other tuition-free global initiatives.

We work on multiple outlets:

WE ARE AN EDUCATIVE STRUCTURE
What is the Master Design of Experiences?
What is the structure of the MA Design of Experiences?
Who is encouraged to apply?
Why is it a tuition free programme?
Why is it most urgent?
What is the output of the programme? What do students create?
What is the Design of Experiences' manifesto?
What are the criterias of the MA Design of Experiences?
Is the MA Design of Experiences an accredited MA curriculum?

WE ARE A CULTURAL INSTITUTION SUPPORTING UNCONVENTIONAL RESEARCH PRACTICES
We are a research office for unconventional creative practices
We are producing live events: The Dreamers of the Day talk series
We are a library
We are a radio station and sound studio"
lcproject  openstudioproject  education  culture  design  research  glvo  learning  altgdp  democracy  politics  change  amsterdam  alternative 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Isis Lecture (Lecture given at the Oxford Literary festival in 2003 ) - Philip Pullman
[from this page: http://www.philip-pullman.com/writings

"This was the first extended piece I wrote about education. I wanted to say what I thought had gone wrong with it, and suggest some better ways of doing things. The lecture was given during the Oxford Literary Festival in 2003."]

"I’m going to talk about culture this afternoon, in the widest sense; about education and the arts, especially literature. It’s my contention that something has gone bad, something has gone wrong in the state of education, and that we can see this very clearly in the way schools deal with books, and reading, and writing – with everything that has to do with literature, and the making of it. When more and more good teachers are leaving the profession in disillusion and disappointment; when the most able undergraduates are taking one look at a career in teaching, and deciding that it offers no scope for their talents, and turning away to do something else; when school headships are proving harder and harder to fill – then we’re doing something wrong.

I think it boils down to this: that education now is suffused with the wrong emotion. Somehow, over the past quarter of a century, ever since James Callaghan’s famous Great Debate speech, we have seen confidence leaking away, and something else slowly seeping in to take its place. What that something else is, I shall come to near the end. No doubt some of the confidence was misplaced; no doubt we needed a Great Debate. But I think the benefits that came from it have long since been exhausted. It’s time for another way of doing things.

So first of all, I’m going to look at what’s happening now, and I’m going right in to the glowing, radioactive core at the heart of the engine that drives the whole thing: the National Curriculum and the SATs. I won’t spend too long on these things, but we do need to look at the actual stuff to get a flavour of the thought behind it, and this is what the Qualifications Curriculum Authority says about the Reading part of the English tests at Key Stage 2 – that means, in human language, at age 11.

They think that reading consists of using a range of strategies to decode, selecting, retrieving, deducing, inferring, interpreting, identifying and commenting on the structure and organisation of texts, identifying and commenting on the writer’s purposes and viewpoints, relating texts to the social, cultural and historical contexts.

That’s it. That’s all. Nothing else. That’s what they want children of 11 to do when they read. They don’t seem to know that reading can also be enjoyed, because enjoyment just doesn’t feature in the list of things you have to do.

Mind you, it’s just as well that they don’t have to enjoy it, because they’re not likely to have a copy of the books anyway. In another unit of work – 46 pages, to get through in a fortnight – they are to study Narrative Structure. The work’s built around two short stories and part of a novel. It’s not expected – this is interesting – that the children will have their own copies of the complete texts, though some pages may be extracted and photocopied.

But the whole book doesn’t matter very much either, because books exist in order to be taken apart and laid out in pieces like Lego. One of the things the children have to do in this unit of work is to make a class list of “the features of a good story opening.” This is where it stops being merely tedious, and starts being mendacious as well. The teacher is asked to model the writing of an alternative first paragraph for one of the stories. The instructions say “Read through the finished writing together. Check this against the criteria for a good opening – does it fulfil all of these?”

I can’t say it clearly enough: this is not how it works. Writing doesn’t happen like this. What does happen like this is those Hollywood story-structure courses, where there are seven rules for this, and five principles of that, and eight bullet-points to check when constructing the second-act climax. You cannot write a good story by building up a list of effective openings. It is telling children a lie to say that this is the way you write stories. Apart from anything else, it’s profoundly vulgar.

Then there is the Reading Journal, which children have to keep. Among other things, they have to:

List the words and phrases used to create an atmosphere

Write a fifty word summary of a whole plot

Pick a descriptive word from the text and, using a thesaurus, write down five synonyms and antonyms for that word

And so on. What concerns me here is the relationship this sets up between child and book, between children and stories. Stories are written to beguile, to entertain, to amuse, to move, to enchant, to horrify, to delight, to anger, to make us wonder. They are not written so that we can make a fifty word summary of the whole plot, or find five synonyms for the descriptive words. That sort of thing would make you hate reading, and turn away from such a futile activity with disgust. In the words of Ruskin, it’s “slaves’ work, unredeemed.”

Those who design this sort of thing seem to have completely forgotten the true purpose of literature, the everyday, humble, generous intention that lies behind every book, every story, every poem: to delight or to console, to help us enjoy life or endure it. That’s the true reason we should be giving books to children. The false reason is to make them analyse, review, comment and so on.

But they have to do it – day in, day out, hour after hour, this wretched system nags and pesters and buzzes at them, like a great bluebottle laden with pestilence. And then all the children have to do a test; and that’s when things get worse."



"So said Ruskin in 1853. Again, we didn’t listen. Ruskin went on to point out that when you do trust people to act for themselves, they are free to make mistakes, to blunder and fail; but there is the possibility of majesty too. Do we want human beings teaching our children, with all their faults and follies and limitations, but with all their depth and grandeur as well? Or do we want managers, who are glib and fluent in the language of audits and targets and performance indicators and mission statements, but who are baffled by true originality, who flinch and draw back from it as if it were deadly poison?

The extraordinary thing is that they are the same people. They could all be free, if they chose. Some of the young people who come into teaching may be timid and narrow-minded, but don’t think for a moment that I think that they’re not capable of courage and curiosity. They’ve never had a chance to show it; their teachers are afraid themselves. Marilyn Mottram of the University of Central England in Birmingham, who has been studying the way the National Curriculum and the Literacy Strategy work in schools, wrote to me last month: “When I work with teachers on developing ways of using texts I’m frequently asked ‘… but are we allowed to do that?’ This sort of continuing anxiety about literacy teaching,” she goes on, “suggests that a culture of conformity has been quite securely established among our primary teachers and, like many others, I find this deeply disturbing.”

These young people are tigers born in cages, and kept caged until they think that being caged is a natural condition; and they look down at themselves, and they see their magnificent stripes, and the only way they can understand them is to think that they themselves must be made of bars: they are their own cage; they dare not move outside the little space they occupy. But they are tigers still, if only they knew."



"So here are five steps we should take, starting right now.

Do away with these incessant tests; they only tell you things you don’t need to know, and make the children do things they don’t need to do.

Abolish the league tables, which are an abomination.

Cut class sizes in every school in the country. No child should ever be in a class bigger than twenty.

Make teaching a profession that the most gifted, the most imaginative, the most well-informed people will clamour to join; and make the job so rewarding that none of them will
want to stop teaching until they drop.

Make this the golden rule, the equivalent of the Hippocratic oath: Everything we ask a child to do should be something intrinsically worth doing.

If we do those five things, we will not bring about a golden age, or an earthly paradise; there are more things wrong with the world than we can cure by changing a system of schooling. But if we get education right, it would show that we were being serious about living and thinking and understanding ourselves; it would show that we were paying our children the compliment of assuming that they were serious too; and it would acknowledge that the path to true learning begins nowhere else but in delight, and the words on the signpost say: “Once upon a time …”"
philippullman  education  canon  teaching  writing  howwelearn  howweread  howweteach  howwewrite  reading  literature  management  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schooling  policy  curriculum  culture  society  meaning  johnruskin  learning  schools  pedagogy  literacy  purpose  life  living  pleasure  via:derek  storytelling  stories  fear  intrinsicmotivation  children  self-esteem  self-confidence  language  communication  time  slow  results  accountability  measurement  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  2003 
april 2018 by robertogreco
After Authenticity
"Meanwhile, years of semantic slippage had happened without me noticing. Suddenly the surging interest in fashion, the dad hats, the stupid pin companies, the lack of sellouts, it all made sense. Authenticity has expanded to the point that people don’t even believe in it anymore. And why should we? Our friends work at SSENSE, they work at Need Supply. They are starting dystopian lifestyle brands. Should we judge them for just getting by? A Generation-Z-focused trend report I read last year clumsily posed that “the concept of authenticity is increasingly deemed inauthentic.” It goes further than that. What we are witnessing is the disappearance of authenticity as a cultural need altogether.

Under authenticity, the value of a thing decreases as the number of people to whom it is meaningful increases. This is clearly no longer the case. Take memes for example. “Meme” circa 2005 meant lolcats, the Y U NO guy and grimy neckbeards on 4chan. Within 10 years “meme” transitioned from this one specific subculture to a generic medium in which collective participation is seen as amplifying rather than detracting from value.

In a strange turn of events, the mass media technologies built out during the heady authenticity days have had a huge part in facilitating this new mass media culture. The hashtag, like, upvote, and retweet are UX patterns that systematize endorsement and quantify shared value. The meme stock market jokers are more right than they know; memes are information commodities. But unlike indie music 10 years ago the value of a meme is based on its publicly shared recognition. From mix CDs to nationwide Spotify playlists. With information effortlessly transferable at zero marginal cost and social platforms that blast content to the top of everyone’s feed, it’s difficult to for an ethics based on scarcity to sustain itself.

K-HOLE and Box1824 captured the new landscape in their breakthrough 2014 report “Youth Mode.” They described an era of “mass indie” where the search for meaning is premised on differentiation and uniqueness, and proposed a solution in “Normcore.” Humorously, nearly everyone mistook Normcore for being about bland fashion choices rather than the greater cultural shift toward accepting shared meanings. It turns out that the aesthetics of authenticity-less culture are less about acting basic and more about playing up the genericness of the commodity as an aesthetic category. LOT2046’s delightfully industrial-supply-chain-default aesthetics are the most beautiful and powerful rendering of this. But almost everyone is capitalizing on the same basic trend, from Vetements and Virgil Abloh (enormous logos placed for visibility in Instagram photos are now the norm in fashion) to the horribly corporate Brandless. Even the names of boring basics companies like “Common Threads” and “Universal Standard” reflect the the popularity of genericness, writes Alanna Okunn at Racked. Put it this way: Supreme bricks can only sell in an era where it’s totally fine to like commodities.

Crucially, this doesn’t mean that people don’t continue to seek individuation. As I’ve argued elsewhere exclusivity is fundamental to any meaning-amplifying strategy. Nor is this to delegitimize some of the recognizable advancements popularized alongside the first wave of mass authenticity aesthetics. Farmer’s markets, the permaculture movement, and the trend of supporting local businesses are valuable cultural innovations and are here to stay.

Nevertheless, now that authenticity is obsolete it’s become difficult to remember why we were suspicious of brands and commodities to begin with. Maintaining criticality is a fundamental challenge in this new era of trust. Unfortunately, much of what we know about being critical is based on authenticity ethics. Carles blamed the Contemporary Conformist phenomenon on a culture industry hard-set on mining “youth culture dollars.” This very common yet extraordinarily reductive argument, which makes out commodity capitalism to be an all-powerful, intrinsically evil force, is typical of authenticity believers. It assumes a one-way influence of a brand’s actions on consumers, as do the field of semiotics and the hopeless, authenticity-craving philosophies of Baudrillard and Debord.

Yet now, as Dena Yago says, “you can like both Dimes and Doritos, sincerely and without irony.” If we no longer see brands and commodity capitalism as something to be resisted, we need more nuanced forms of critique that address how brands participate in society as creators and collaborators with real agency. Interest in working with brands, creating brands, and being brands is at an all-time high. Brands and commodities therefore need to be considered and critiqued on the basis of the specific cultural and economic contributions they make to society. People co-create their identities with brands just as they do with religions, communities, and other other systems of meaning. This constructivist view is incompatible with popular forms of postmodern critique but it also opens up new critical opportunities. We live in a time where brands are expected to not just reflect our values but act on them. Trust in business can no longer be based on visual signals of authenticity, only on proof of work."
tobyshorin  2018  authenticity  culture  anthropology  hispters  sellouts  sellingout  commercialism  kanyewest  yeezy  yeezysupply  consumerism  commercialization  commodification  personalbranding  branding  capitalism  shepardfairey  obeygiant  tourism  sarahperry  identity  critique  ethics  mainstream  rjaymagill  popculture  aesthetics  commentary  conformism  scale  scalability  venkateshrao  premiummediocre  brooklyn  airbnb  wework  local  handmade  artisinal  economics  toms  redwings  davidmuggleton  josephpine  jamesgilmore  exclusivity  denayago  systems  sytemsofmeaning  meaning  commodities  k-hole 
april 2018 by robertogreco
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