Protest in St Louis, 2 October 2018
Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale write: Last Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford testified before the judiciary committee of the US Senate. She said that Brett Kavanaugh, the nominee for the Supreme Court, had attempted to rape her when she was 15. He denied it.
She told the truth and he was lying. Everyone in the room knew this, including the all eleven Republican senators.
What happened next was something else. The Republican senators rallied to defend the right to rape. Sure, class also mattered, and abortion, and Trump, and the midterm elections. But centrally, they did not want Kavanaugh to pay a price for his sexual violence.
An extraordinary moment of #metoo resistance had provoked that Republican backlash, and they closed ranks fast and hard.
When a system is working smoothly the mechanics of power are hidden. But when there is a breakdown, a ‘breach case’, we sometimes have an opportunity to see how the system works. And the links and deep loyalties that keep inequality in place become visible.
The hearing has offered such an opportunity. It gives us a chance to formulate seven useful ideas about sexual violence. Continue reading
Nancy Lindisfarne writes – We live in a world mad drunk on technology and political stupidity. Bob Hughes’ new book, The Bleeding Edge: Why Technology turns Toxic in an Unequal World (Oxford: New Internationalist. 2016) says more about this poisonous combination – its causes, consequences, and possible cures – than anything I have previously read. This is an ambitious and important book. The questions Hughes addresses about the relation between equality and creativity – and the converse, why inequality is so stifling of innovation and so destructive of the environment– are extremely pressing.
And they are questions that haunt us. Thinking hard about technology is frightening. Our world is so full of things that most of us don’t understand, perhaps it is better not to look. Continue reading
Rida Hus-Hus 1939-2016
Nancy Lindisfarne writes:
The Syrian painter and printmaker, Rida Hus-Hus, died in Mannheim, Germany on the 30 July 2016 at the age of 77. His courage, uncomplicated generosity and celebration of all that was beautiful is to be remembered and cherished. His life drawings and portraits reflected his affection and interest in other people. Through still-life drawing and flower pictures he celebrated the joy of quotidian detail, while his vibrant pastels captured the sweeping landscapes outside of Damasus, and literally painted Syria in a most beautiful light. Yet Rida was also intensely political in the dangerous environment of the Assad dictatorship, and to keep himself sane, and preserve the independence of his art, he lived an extremely modest and cleverly managed life. Continue reading
Netanyahu speaking to the US Congress: ‘Do a deal with Iran and nuclear war is inevitable’
Nancy Lindisfarne writes: One of the reasons Middle East politics is so confusing is that the alliances between the major players keep shifting. Changes in the balance of power are often extremely complicated, and leave plenty of gaps in our understanding of what is going on. In these gaps Islamophobia thrives. This post is meant as an antidote to the Western racism that targets Iran.
The shenanigans we’ve been watching this past week in anticipation of the Israeli election on Tuesday, the 17th March are a measure of the scale of the changes that have been taking place over this past year. We shall write about the new political alignments at length in a later post. Here I want to mark what hasn’t changed nearly as much.
New building, Isfahan
In 2005 I travelled in Iran for a month. I had recently left academic teaching to do art. Luckily, I had remnants of Persian left over from anthropological fieldwork in Iran in the 1960s, and fieldwork in Afghanistan in the 1970s. In 2005 Western propaganda against Iran was relentless and visually dominated by ugly images of dust, terrorists and women smothered in black veils. In Iran, however, people were kind, endlessly helpful, and above all, they lived their lives in colour! Continue reading
In a park in Isfahan, Iran, 2005.
Nancy Lindisfarne writes: Using labels which fasten on skin colour, ethnicity or religious identity to treat whole groups of people as Blacks, Chinese, Jews or Muslims, is racist. And there is plenty of it around. If we think of Islamophobia – which literally means a fear of Islam – as another form of racism, we get a better measure of what is going on.
Racisms, in whatever version they appear, always serve the people in power. Far too often one hears comments about Muslims which would be immediately recognised as racist if they were said about black or Jewish people. And often these days such comments go unchallenged.
And as the Charlie Hebdo outcry has made clear, many feminists, Marxists and liberals find any accommodation between feminism and Islam well-nigh impossible. This leaves a space easily filled by cultural racism.
In a series of posts we shall aim to disentangle some of the ideas which make Islamophobia seem acceptable to many people who otherwise loath and deplore global inequality and imperialist wars. Our aim is make it easier to speak out against this hatred of Muslims and Islam.
To do this, we use gender as our lens. It is a powerful device for seeing through racisms that can otherwise seem self-evidently correct. Sexist ideas and practices are often places where a dominant ideology does not quite cohere, where slippages, and contradictions, allow us to glimpse of what is actually going on.
We begin this series of posts on Feminism and Islamophobia with a brief note on cultural racism and ‘the veil’. Continue reading
Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale look at Ann Arnett Ferguson’s Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity (Ann Arbour, University of Michigan Press, 2001).
This is a very good book about the depth of American racism behind the school to prison pipeline, the Ferguson and Black Lives Matter protests, and the new civil rights movement which is emerging in the United States. Bad Boys should also be read as a model for sociological research and theory. It is a brilliant example of how to do intersectional analysis.
For Valentine’s Day, here is something light – a story by Nancy Lindisfarne from DANCING IN DAMASCUS, her collection of short stories about Syria in the 1990s (SUNY, 2000).
‘Come on. I’ll help you if you want.’ Rana grinned. She was lively, shiny, like her curly dark hair. And she was a gorgeous shape. So he didn’t really mind that she was also saying he was hopeless, the kind of guy who didn’t have the gumption to buy a Barbie doll for his kid. Continue reading