Archive for April, 2011

30 April 2011

Translocal Underground: Anglophone Poetry and Globalization

Alistair Noon’s inspiring essay, drawing on postcolonial theory, anthropology and globalisation theories, Translocal Underground: Anglophone Poetry and Globalization by Alistair Noon, is now available online.

The last few years have seen an increased number of Anglophone poets living, writing and publishing outside of English-speaking countries. Bordercrossing Berlin’s poetry editor Alistair Noon argues that the categories of national literature fail in many ways to apply to them, and that a new word is needed to describe the poetry they write: translocal.

29 April 2011

Contests over meaning in a CLA classroom

A beautifully reflective article on an action research project on literacy practices conducted in South Africa in 1993/94. The author shows her own conflicts with a course as she had designed it, explores her dissatisfactions with the way she had reproduced dominant power relations, and outlines her design for a more collaborative project the following year.

The article illustrates the shift in academic interest from encouraging oppositional readings towards a focus on understanding the (socio-historical) development of how particular readings came to be the way they are.

Granville, Stella (2003). Contests over meaning in a South African classroom: Introducing critical language awareness in a climate of social change and cultural diversity. Language and Education 17(1): 1: 20. (pdf)

18 April 2011

Civil discourse and social change

Students and faculty at California State University at Northridge have been organising campus-wide activities, public events, workshops, films and more und the heading “civil discourse and social change“. Addressing concerns about the state budget crisis/increasing tuition, immigration issues, and the ongoing wars, the initiative began 2010 and runs till the end of this semester.

13 April 2011

Net neutrality under attack

From Tomothy Carr, Free Press Action Fund, US:

Late last week, the House voted to block the FCC from protecting our right to access an open Internet.

If this measure, called a “resolution of disapproval,” is approved by the Senate and the White House, the FCC would lose its authority to protect our free speech online. This comes at a time when phone and cable companies are already restricting our ability to connect with others and share information.1

We can stop the resolution in the Senate by getting 51 members to stand with us for online freedom:

Tell Your Senators: Defend Our Right to an Open Internet

President Obama has vowed to veto this resolution, but let’s make sure it doesn’t get that far. Take action now to urge your senators to stop it in its tracks.

If we don’t defeat this measure, the FCC will be barred from enforcing its already weak Net Neutrality rules, and from acting in any way to protect Internet users from corporate abuses by AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.

This is not a symbolic congressional exercise — it’s a scorched-earth campaign that leaves Americans at the mercy of a corporate Internet cartel.2

Imagine if these companies could do anything they want, ban any speech they don’t like, charge anything they can get away with, and hold innovation hostage to their profit margins. If this resolution passes, there’s nothing anyone could do about it.

The resolution is filibuster-proof. We need at least 51 senators to beat it. Will your senators stand with us?

Sign this letter to demand that Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand protect our Internet freedom. We will deliver it to their offices in Washington and provide you with tools to spread the word across New York.

Thank you,

Timothy Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press Action Fund

1. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps outlined the recent history of “real threats” to Internet openness during his opening remarks Wednesday before the House Commerce Committee (pdf).

2. To learn more about the impact this would have on all Internet users, read Monday’s Seattle Times editorial, “House GOP Sides with the ‘Haves’ on Net Neutrality.”

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11 April 2011

The irrational in Russian history and culture

Conference in Moscow next week from 14 to 16 April 2011, at the German Historical Institute. Programme:

Thursday 14 April 2011
9.30-9.45 Welcome
9.45-12.00 Panel 1: The Irrational and Religious Experience

  • Michail Dmitriev (Moskva) 0b irratsional’nom v traditsionnoy pravoslavnoy kul’ture Moskovskoy Rusi i Rossii
  • Ekaterina Emeliantseva (Bangor) Emotional Styles within Ekaterina Tatarinova’s Spiritual Brotherhood (1817-37)
  • Irina Paert (Tallinn) Preternatural, Irrational, Bizarre and the Russian spiritual elders (startsy)
  • Page Herrlinger (Bowdoin College) Healing Russia: Religious and Secular Perspectives on the “Miraculous” powers of brother Ioann Churikov in St. Petersburg, 1894-1917

12.00-12.20 Coffee Break

12.20-14.00 Panel 2: Anthropology/Narodnaya kul’tura

  • Jule Herzberg (Munich) On the Rationality of Dreams: Visions, Nightmares, and Dreams in Peasant Writing from Tsarist and Soviet Russia
  • Anton Salmin (Sankt-Peterburg) Znacharstvo u chuvashey kak irratsional’noe yavlenie
  • Ekaterina Chodzhaeva (Kazan’) «Sumasshedshie» i militsionery

14.00-15.30 Lunch

15.30-17.15 Panel 3: Literature

  • Mariya Mayofis (Moskva) Sumasshestvie, slaboumie ili sotsial’nyy nevroz? Poet Aleksandr Kvashnin-Samarin
  • Ilya Vinitsky (Pennsylvania) Mystical Undercurrents of Russian Realism
  • Nikolay Bogomolov (Moskva) Simvolizm kak pogranichnoe sostoyanie: vzglyad iznutri i izvne

Friday 15 April 2011
10.00-11.45 Panel 4: Psychology

  • Michail Velizhev (Moskva) Chaadaevskoe delo 1836g. i istoriya bezumiya v Rossii
  • Sabina Maier (Moscow) Analyzing Dostoevsky: Concepts of the Irrational in Early Russian Psychoanalysis
  • Gregori Dyufo (Paris) Ratsional’naya organizatsiya dlya bol’nych umov? Psichiatricheskie uchrezhdeniya v Sovetskom Soyuze 1920-ch godov

11.45-12.15 Coffee

12.15-13.50 Panel 5: The Irrational Self

  • Lynn Patyk (Florida) The Terrorist State of Mind: I. Kaliaev
  • Julia Mannherz (Oxford) Occultism and Irrational Insight
  • Polina Barskova (Hampshire College) The Super-Fantastic Reality of Historical Disaster: The Siege Self in Contact with the Irrational (1941-1944)

14.00-15.30 Lunch

Trip to Muzey istorii Moskovskoy gorodskoy psichiatricheskoy bol’nitsy im. N.A. Alekseeva

Saturday 16 April 2011
10.00-11.45 Panel 6: Musical and Literary Aesthetics

  • Rebecca Mitchell (Urbana-Champaign) In Search of Orpheus: Music and Irrationality in Late imperial Russia
  • Amrei Flechsig (Hannover) The multi-faceted Russian irrational in Music: Alfred Schnittke’s opera Life with an Idiot
  • Yelena Karlinsky (Rutgers) Performance Vision: Psychic Break and Aesthetic experience in Andrei Monastyrskii’s Kashirskoe shosse

11.45-12.15 Coffee Break

12.15-13.50 Panel 7: Science

  • Nikolay Mitrochin (Bremen) Sovetskaya intelligentsiya v poiskach chuda: religioznost’ i paranauka v SSSR v 1953-1985 godach
  • Aleksandr Panchenko (St. Petersburg) “Sacred energies”: History of Science and Esoteric Culture in Twentieth Century Russia

12.55-14.00 Concluding Discussion

8 April 2011

Psychologising news

BBC World, 12:35 GMT. A story reports on the subdued celebrations of the first cherry blossoms in Japan. Usually the parks are full of karaoke singing groups. But, says the reporter:

Deep within the Japanese psyche is the idea that hardship should be endured together.

That’s the reason for the current subdued activities, says the reporter. The logical conclusion of this would be that if there had been a major catastrophe in, say, Newcastle, with over 12,000 dead, a further 15,000 still missing, a 30km radius around a Newcastle power station evacuated, with the US urging this to be extended to an 80km “protection zone”, Londoners told at one point that their tap water was not safe for babies, massive stretches of land barren, and 500,000 or 600,000 homeless, then people across the UK would be out partying and celebrating as normal?

Perhaps the far more simple explanation offered by one interviewee sitting in a park in Japan is more useful and less reifying of apparent “cultural difference”. She said:

I think a lot of people would feel guilty about those affected by the disaster if they had fun and partied.

6 April 2011

Remembering colonialism in the UK

Working on representations of colonialism in Germany, I’ve been asked recently what Britain’s perspective on its role in imperialism and colonialism is. Today’s Daily Telegraph presents a clear image of an entirely uncritical, unreflective view of the glory of the British empire. A comment piece berates David Cameron for apologising for the British role in Kashmir.

[I]t is the job of a British prime minister, as Cameron knows all too well, to stand up for his country when abroad. He could have pointed out that we gave Pakistan (and indeed the rest of the world) many splendid bequests: parliamentary democracy, superb irrigation systems, excellent roads, the rule of law, the English language and, last but not least, the game of cricket.

Is that the job of the prime minister? I thought it was a more complex affair of negotiations, diplomacy, etc. (and including something about making business deals). Cameron could have pointed out what “we” “gave” Pakistan, writes the Telegraph. This long “we” includes all of today’s British citizens in the “we” of colonialism. Including the Brits of Pakistani origin? “Gave”: so the most important thing to remember about colonialism is the “giving”, not the “taking” of the globe’s natural resources, the arbitrary splitting of traditional collectives, the silencing of local voices, the millions of dead, and the horrors of the slave trade.

The article has more on slavery in a sweep at Tony Blair’s similar attempts to address the colonial legacy:

In fact, our role in slavery is a very complicated one, and certainly not susceptible to Tony Blair’s school of facile analysis. It is true that private merchants were heavily involved. But Britain was the first country to ban the slave trade, on March 25 1807, and thereafter our navy swept the high seas in search of slave traders. We acted in this highly principled and moral way in defiance of wealthy private interests – it was one of the proudest moments in our history.

“Heavily involved”? So the analogy would be that a thief who sweeps the countryside in search of thieves (without in any way being sanctioned for his/her deeds) is acting in a highly principled and moral way? A rapist who sweeps the cities in search of rapists (without in any way being sanctioned for his/her deeds) is acting in a highly principles and moral way. Etc. etc.

That’s quite a different take from the usual Telegraph take on crime: Once a criminal, always a criminal; tough on crime, etc.

6 April 2011

Wallonia occupies Brussels

5. April 2011. Ghent. A decision by the French Community of Belgium to rename itself the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Wallonia-Brussels Federation) could mark a dramatic shift in Brussels’ status. The French Community, one of the three official institutions with legal responsibilities for particular geographic regions within Belgium, has shifted its discursive boundaries. Will the Flemish Community reply by renaming itself the Flanders-Brussels Federation?

“If you change the language, you change the world” commented one bystanding linguist in Ghent on Tuesday.

5 April 2011

Education articles for free

Routledge tells me to tell you that its education journals are freely available throughout the month of April. All articles are available for free download including (ahem) this one:

Macgilchrist, Felicitas, & Christophe, Barbara. (2011). Translating globalization theories into educational research: Thoughts on recent shifts in Holocaust education. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 32(1), 145-158.

Abstract: Much educational research on globalization aims to prepare students to be successful citizens in a global society. We propose a set of three concepts, drawing on systems theory (Nassehi, Stichweh) and theories of the subject (Butler, Foucault), to think the global which enables educational research to step back from hegemonic discourses and reflect on current practices. Globalization is understood in this approach as referring to: (1) a cognitive shift; (2) expanding relevancy spaces; and (3) new forms of subjectivation. The framework is illustrated with examples from educational policy and learning materials, with an extended look at how globalization is articulated in recent shifts in Holocaust education.

And other articles in

…and many more education journals.

4 April 2011

“Arab Spring”

Oliver Kearns on has drawn my attention to a powerfully multimodal critique of the narrative of the “Arab spring” that the mainstream news has been following. Swamppost‘s dynamic map highlights the truly global range of protest. North Africa and the Middle East are there. And so is – by mid-February – South Korea, the USA, the UK, and a long stretch along the eastern coast of Africa.


My point in highlighting this is not necessarily to argue that all protests happening across the world should be understood as developing as part of a homogeneous protest wave – each protest movement has its own particular dynamics and reasons for evolving the way it has. What I am arguing is that the public narrative of an Arab Spring excludes much of the world’s population both from public attention and concern and from discussion of what meaningful political change might look like and how it can be supported by people in other places.